Hopefully, I won’t write anything with political overtones from now on. That is the problem with politically charged subjects- the overtones. You can’t say one thing you do mean without people hearing a dozen things you don’t. Don’t believe in global warming? Well, you must hate women. Think George Bush’s paintings are cute? You probably think gay people are going to hell. James was recently called a “disgusting racist” because he doesn’t like the extremely white senator Elizabeth Warren. Politics is like a distortion pedal; simple ideas get turned into horrendous cacophonies of meanings.

For example, one opinion I hold but would never share, based on what people might deduce, is my feelings about the dreaded “n” word. It makes me shiver to think of people being fined $20,000 (even black people!) for saying one of the most popular words in pop music. How does treating a word like a monster help the human race? I have heard people say that this one word must remain taboo until the end of time, that it’s horrible connotations can never be erased. But I don’t think that is nature of words. It is their nature to forget, to shed the nastiest of associations with ease. Words are like clouds, shifting and changing, they never stay the same. See the cloud that looks like Hitler? Give it a moment and it will turn into your mother. Likewise, let a word blow around and its meanings will transform.

But I understand when people don’t want the tragedies of the past to be forgotten. I’m not a “let bygones be bygones” sort of person myself. I just don’t think that words should be turned into memorials- that is what stones are for. They record the past and honor it, long after humans have tired of remembering. I would suggest building as many statues and monuments as it takes to honor the suffering caused by racism and make people feel balanced again. But words are for change and fresh beginnings. They should always fly free.

That is why I also believe in free music, free books, free on-line education. I think it would be magical for every last piece of content on the internet to be completely free of charge. The greatest library ever created! Of course, I’m now using a different meaning of the word free, but really, is a heavy price tag all that different from a heavy chain? Is the expense of education really that different from a fence that keeps the “lower” classes out? Does it actually behoove the human race to put a price on goods which can be infinitely multiplied at no cost to the creator?

People are always worrying about the impact free content has on writers and musicians, but before thinking of them, I’d rather think about all the people in the world who have barely enough money to fulfill their material needs. Why should they have to choose between new music and a new sweater when they could just as easily have both? Free content could enrich the world both immaterially and materially. Which would be a great thing, because, financially, life is strained enough. We have to pay just to have place on this earth where it’s legal to stand. Money for taxes or you’ll go to jail. Money for food, money for water. How refreshing that we can still drink our fill of air for free! How nice would it be if music and literature were just like air, there for the taking, no strings attached? I’ve always thought that the emotional health of a society is closely linked to how much free stuff it has to offer. Not the intimidating “free” services of governments and charities, but truly free things, which are shared just for the joy of sharing.

But what about the musicians and writers themselves? Don’t they deserve to be paid for their efforts? I guess so. Still, I wonder… what would happen if every musician knew, up front, that they would never see a penny from their efforts? Would this be bad ? Or good? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t be the death of music. People don’t expect to make money from sex, and yet they keep going. Even sex addicts manage to find other ways of supporting themselves.

Sometimes I wonder how compatible art is with capitalism in the first place. Capitalist art is profitable, popular, pleasing. Whatever good or bad appetites exist in society, capitalist art will be there to satisfy them. Whatever values and ideals we share, capitalist art will be there to capitalize on them. I suppose American Idol-type shows are a good example of capitalist art with a little democracy throw in.  Surely a vote is a good way to determine what has value. It worked for Jesus, right?

I think of art as energy, which- like Jesus- comes to us from a different world.  A subtle, ethereal impulse that will one day sink down into the heavier aspects of our culture to change the way we think and dress, the food we eat, the wars we wage. But in the beginning, it’s just a little picture, a story, a song. In essence, art is a new way of looking at things. New perceptions which gradually lead to new possibilities. Before the airplane comes the fanciful dream of flying.

But is it reasonable to expect something so strange and delicate to fend for itself on the streets, to fistfight its way to victory on the free market? Should art have to win the approval of the crowd or else, like Jesus, be crowned in shame? Should art even have to bear the burden of supporting it’s creator?

Many of our culture’s great artists did not support themselves, financially, with their work. Emily Dickinson was supported by her parents, Van Gogh by his brother. Thoreau worked at a pencil factory, and Henri Rousseau at a toll booth. William Carlos Williams was a doctor. Artists can always make money in other ways, or else be supported by others. Why not reinvigorate the ancient ideal of patron, for example?

Still, if artists DO want to make a living from art there are zillions of ways to do it without charging the listener. I once read a book about people making a very expensive expedition across Antarctica who paid for it by removing little chunks of their butt meat along the way and selling them to scientists who were studying the effects of extreme cold on muscle mass. Painful, but still, a win-win situation. Or maybe artists could be sponsored by corporations, the way athletes are.

But to be realistic, whatever the future holds, it can’t be much worse than the current situation. Out of the many musicians I have met, I can’t think of one who makes their living from selling CDs/MP3s. Most of them lose more money than they make. Meanwhile, they are still gearing their work to appeal to the very market which will never support them, losing both money and integrity in one fell swoop. Adding insult to injury, they are made to feel that their lack of financial success reflects the worthlessness of what they are creating. If only they had as much to offer as Bono, they would be living in a castle as well. So, if art was no longer expected to make money, perhaps they would be no richer than before, but at least they wouldn’t have to live with the shame of being a failed human being. They could seek new, internal forms of validation. This would lead to more meaningful art.

Just as capitalism motivates us to make money, it can also discourage us from pursuing other sorts of goals. But we shouldn’t let this happen, because a society in which every person’s goal is to make money will be a very poor society, spiritually and emotionally. I think we should have all sorts of people working for free- not just musicians, but also scientists, do-gooders,  inventors, and more. We need inputs uninfluenced by the market to create a vibrant amount of diversity. In the end, of course, this could only work if the people who do make money wanted to use some of it to freely support others. But I think people would enjoy this. After all, who would slave over a roast turkey if they had to eat it all by themselves?

 

Feminism and Me

9 Dec
0

Feminism is not something I resonate with. Had I lived in the 19th century, I would probably have been a feminist, and if I lived in a Muslim country, I might be one as well. But in 21st century America, where women already have the same rights as men, the idea of getting still more “rights” feels a bit threatening. I don’t want any more rights, especially when these rights seem to entail having a job, paying half the rent, joining the army, lifting heavy boxes, and being fascinated by science. I would rather just decorate cookies and leave the extra rights for somebody else.

In a way, I like where gender relations stand at the moment, how ambiguous they are. I don’t want to go back to a time when women were expected to wear high heels and have dinner on the table when their husband came home (if such a time existed), but I also don’t want to go forward to a time when women have all the pressures and burdens of men on their shoulders. Is there another alternative?

Do you ever think of a nation-state as a living organism? I do. And sometimes I feel that feminism represents our nation’s desire to have all of it’s population involved in taxable labor, and all of it’s population available for the draft, in order to double it’s power.  After all, equalizing men and women was always a big focus of communists movements. It meant that no one was exempt from the government’s needs and desires.

Regardless, it is hard for me to see feminism as anything other than a social engineering campaign “encouraging” women to embrace more masculine aspirations. And it hard to see, in a nation already overflowing with masculine aspirations, how funneling more humans into the rat race will make life better for anyone. Do we really need life to run faster and harder, with no one sitting on the sidelines to watch and reflect? Do we really want more lawyers and fewer homemade cookies?

I can see why women don’t necessarily want to stay home and bake cookies, though. We are a nation of masculine values and we respect masculine qualities much more than feminine ones. In the movies, the “strong” female characters tend to be rocket scientists who love to shoot hoops on the side.  A “good role model for girls” means a female who puts her career first and rapidly rises to the top. The external self, competing and receiving awards, is placed high above the internal, subjective self.  The “office” is the place where you can fulfill your potential. Home is a place to recover from the office, a place where you’ll rot if you linger too long.

To me, women represent the home, and the home represents the inner self. Many aspects of feminism make me feel that the inner self is under attack, being urged to spend more and more of itself seeking external validation. A society can’t tip too far in the direction of the masculine without becoming mechanical, robotic, unable to reflect or decide what has value. Life becomes a game, a game we can never stop playing even when it ceases to be fulfilling.

Sometimes I wonder what it means to be a woman. I think of all the women I have known, mean and aggressive, sweet and kind, cunning and malicious, nurturing and caring… what do they all have in common? So far I have thought of only one thing. They all like to decorate. Maybe cookies, their home, hair, greeting cards, scrapbooks, makeup, flowers, clothes, weddings and theme parties… I have yet to think of a female who doesn’t get a bit giddy when given the chance to express herself aesthetically. Some like to knit, and some want to glue rhinestones to their phone, but they all want to make something pretty. Selecting new towels for the bathroom, making fuzzy teddy bears to hang on the Christmas tree- I like to think these are powerful and important actions, little magic spells that vibrate outwards, setting a course for the future, travelling back in time to rewrite history. In my fantasy, women are the magicians of humanity, and men have traditionally protected them for a reason- because they are valuable.

*

Now I’d like to get petty for a moment, and list some of feminism’s current sentiments which I do not share.

1. Some feminists are concerned that preteen girls tend to lose interest in math and science.

Good for them, I say! If they are losing interest in math and science, they are probably gaining interest in other subjects, like art and literature. That is the way life works- we all bend towards our own sunshine. In my opinion, the real problem is believing math and science are more important than the subjects girls tend to favor.

2. Some feminists are concerned that women account for only about 5% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies.

This seems like a reason to celebrate! After all, what percentage of humans truly want to devote their life to climbing the corporate ladder? If there are fewer women at the tip tops of these ladders, it could be because they have more opportunity to escape from the pressurized, regimented lifestyle that so many humans feel trapped in. Perhaps this is a sign of chivalry- husbands gallantly allowing their wives to climb down from the punishing ladders while they stay behind to toil.

3. Some feminists are concerned that women are discouraged from being bossy.

I wish! But unfortunately, mean and bossy women are all around me, showing no signs of discouragement. Take a moment to think back through all the people you have known, and- if your life has been anything like mine- you will realize there a quite a few more bossy women in the world than there are bossy men.  If women are being discouraged from bossiness, it clearly isn’t working.

4.Some feminists seem to equate female empowerment with promiscuity and self-objectification.

In my women’s studies classes, for example, people would empower themselves by entering “hot legs contests” and that sort of thing.  Why do I think this is a bad idea? Because it makes you attractive to the worst sort of men. Some say it’s always flattering to be found attractive, but I disagree. Humans are attracted to all sorts of things- from dead bodies to men’s butts. To feel good about yourself because a sex predator finds you gorgeous is a dangerous habit. Same with being a slut. Sluttishness gets a bad reputation, because it puts the slut in physical and emotional danger. Could it be a decent lifestyle for the Indiana Jones, bungee cord jumping sort of female? Maybe. But generally, people get hurt.

5. Some feminists believe, when a rape has been committed, we should believe the victim.

In this case, I would like to agree, because look around- victims are frequently punished for speaking up while their perpetrators go on to win golden medals of honor. Ugh. But, once again, look around- some women are tricky. And playing the victim is the psychopathic female’s most common method of attack. A rape is like a murder, we have to dig and peer behind the curtains until we find the real truth. We can’t safely assume anything.

6. Some feminists (like Russell Crowe) do weird things like stick the words “#he for she” on their heads with post-it notes.

At first I felt flattered by this. Wow- Russell Crowe likes me! I even imagined myself calling him to borrow twenty dollars in a time of need. But then again, he is also on the side of every cruel and malicious female who ever walked the planet. I imagined one of them calling him to say he shouldn’t give me twenty dollars. And so he didn’t.

*

Still, I don’t want you to think of me as someone incapable of feminist sentiment. I don’t like it, for example, when women in movies are portrayed as empty shells with nothing living inside.  I even stage my own mini-feminist riots by writing these movies one-star reviews on Amazon.

At the same time, being portrayed in a devaluing light isn’t always a bad thing. When people cast us in a positive light, it is all too easy to wallow in that blissful glow and develop the deadly habit of sourcing our self-esteem and self-image from the outside world. When people demean us, at least it makes it a bit easier to cut loose and go our own way.

In the end, I guess I don’t really believe in changing the world. The world is a burrito-  try to change it, and you’re just going to end up with an enchilada, a chimichanga… maybe some soft tacos. What’s the point? But if you become yourself- then you are bringing a new ingredient to the table. And eventually, new ingredients will lead to radically new dishes.

 

 

 

Although I tend to think of myself as a liberal person, in recent years the ideas and behaviors that pass as liberal have become more and more disturbing to me. Ideally, I think, to be liberal would mean to be open to a wide range of ideas and possibilities, and to allow people to think and behave differently without punishment or marginalization. But recently, liberalness seems to have become about forcing everyone to have the same, seemingly enlightened, opinions. Opinions which are supposedly tolerant and non-judgmental. Racism, sexism, homophobia, islamaphobia, antisemitism, transphobia… labels like birther and climate-change denier… all these concepts are used like battering rams to force every mind into compliance with the right, the good way of thinking. And I don’t like it. Although I can relate.

The first time Obama ran for president, I didn’t vote because none of the candidates supported gay marriage. I remember Hillary saying she coudn’t condone it due to her deep spirituality (although, miraculously, just like Barack Obama, she has recently had a change of heart). Gay marriage was my number one issue. It felt symbolic to me. Rainbow flags, the very word “gay” with its connotation of happy levity… I naively believed that once gay people were accepted, everyone would be accepted. I would be accepted. People everywhere would drop their masks and let their true selves come forward. Unicorns would walk the streets. So passionate was I about gay rights, I told James I couldn’t marry him unless he would dance in a gay parade. Something which, as a Jehovah’s Witness, he wasn’t keen to do.

James and I would have our worst fights about politically charged issues, like abortion. It enraged him that women would kill innocent babies just so they could continue their debased, sex in the city lifestyle, and I would freak out about all the innocent preteen girls dying as they gave birth to rape-induced babies. He would get choked up as he thought of the poor dad whose first child was killed in the womb without him having any say in the matter; I thought James was being disingenuous to call a single celled organism a child, and if he really was that sensitive then he should be a vegetarian.

Plus, we would argue about black people. Race was a sensitive subject for me. In my mind, black people had become symbolic of my own vulnerable self, of every time I had been abused or treated unfairly. It was easy for black people to assume a symbolic role in my mind, since, to a large extent, I didn’t really know any. Growing up, the black people I knew were mostly housekeepers or waiters at the country club, casting a benevolent and helpful aura around them in my imagination, as though they were a little closer to the angels. Whereas James grew up in a mixed-race world where blacks and whites married, fought, and interacted on equal footing. Which gave him a different view of things like affirmative action. I thought of it in an abstract sense- trying to help a race heal from historical oppression. James thought of it in a more concrete sense- his next door neighbor getting an unfair advantage because of his skin-tone. He didn’t see why he should have to be weirdly sensitive to the black guy sitting next to him in the kingdom hall, stabbing him with a ballpoint pen.

But I really hated fighting with James. Eventually, I decided I would have to stretch my brain out, until I could see things from his point of view. And when I did, I could see that his ideas were valid- he was just reaching different conclusions because he was viewing things from a different place. When I looked at life through his lens, suddenly his ideas and feelings- once reprehensible to me- made sense. Slowly, it dawned on me that my strong feelings weren’t really about gays, black people, or feminism (another point of contention)- these issues had just become symbols for my own wants and needs, my own hurts and pains. And my anger about these issues was really displaced anger, from things that happened to me that I didn’t like. To the extent that I could detach my brain from its baggage and emotional associations, to the extent that I could let it fly free, I saw that, well, maybe a person could want to keep marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution without hating gay people, because, in reality, the only thing that means you hate gay people is actually hating gay people.

And I could also see that it didn’t really matter if any random person did hate gay people, so long as he didn’t set out to hurt them. If he does hate them, odds are that they are a symbol in his mind of something or someone that has caused him pain. We all have these personal symbols, I think, which cause us to irrationally like or dislike certain things and people. Many people who become irate in the face of homophobia make no secret of their aversion to Republican rednecks and religious fanatics. So, considering that it is difficult to even conceive of a person without prejudice, it seems we have no choice but to try and tolerate prejudice in others. If someone did want to wipe out prejudice, their only real option would be to try to wipe out their own prejudices, whatever those might be. However, we tend to view our own prejudices as harmless quirks, not the major threat to society that someone else’s prejudice poses.

There are so many forms of prejudice, so many reasons why people feel superior to others, that it would be impossible to even list them. Wealth, fashion, weight, education, age, career, popularity, sophistication, worldliness, accent, grammar, hair, vehicles, philosophies, diet, opinions, religion, house size, personal size, nationality, lineage, IQ… the list could go on forever. There is no reason to believe that the next Hitler would be an anti-semite. Maybe he would kill people with low IQs  or else people with high ones. Likewise, there is no reason to believe that black people will be the slaves of the future- maybe it will poor people, or else rich ones. The devil never does what you expect him to; he is always sneaking up in your blind spot.

The fashionable isms of our day are just tiny drops in an ocean of potential evil. If we could somehow make it impossible for anyone to think a sexist thought, the world would be no better off, because the feelings and bad intentions that fuel one sort of evil can just as easily fuel another, like demons who leap with ease from one body to the next. Sexism is just a form that evil can inhabit- it is not the evil itself.

Which is why I think it is dangerous to go over the world with a microscope, looking only for examples of the evil du jour, while ignoring the bigger picture, which is that we all have crosses to bear and we all need protection from the devil. Or, to bring myself back to the point (sometimes I get carried away when thinking about demons), we are all both the carriers and recipients of prejudice, probably more than we realize. It is when many minds start to merge and congeal around shared ideas, everyone throwing their own emotional baggage into the mix, that I start to get uncomfortable. A large number of people who hate homophobes is more dangerous than the lone skinhead, in my opinion. And when a groupmind starts trying to wipe out the minds that disagree with it, then things can get downright scary. Once everybody shares a prejudice, it doesn’t even seem to be a prejudice anymore- it’s just reality. That must be when the devil really has a field day.

So, I would think, maybe the next time someone says the “n” word, or implies that Jews are good with money, women are bad at math, or gay kisses are gross, maybe, rather than unleash a torrent of righteous anger, we could just try to understand where they are coming from. I don’t think there is any danger in that. Sometimes, when you move your mind to encompass another person’s position, it enables their mind to move in the process.

 

 

 

This song was created through the confluence of two streams in my mind. On the one hand, I was thinking about Christmas, and how happy I am for winter to be coming. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but I’ve already had my fill of accommodating autumn and am now craving the stern precision of winter. I can’t wait to fill my home with bundles of puritanical pine branches and portraits of scowling santas.

The second stream of thought that produced this song is so taboo I should probably not even mention it. But here it goes.  I was thinking about… White People. The White Race. It is weird, I am afraid to even say White People. Although considering the racial genocides that have gone on since the beginning of history, perhaps it is not weird that our society would prefer to blot out concepts of race altogether. Still, how can I think about ice, snow, and Christmas without white people entering my mind? Some think humans turned white in the first place from spending so much time in frosty, northern climates, deprived of warmth and sunshine. In a way, white people are the children of ice and snow. Or more precisely the descendants of giant white man who is made of ice and snow himself, although he turns green in the spring. He is a severe man and you don’t want to end up on his bad side…

 

Through the Christmas Tree

Follow me through the Christmas treeChristmas Tree Fairies
inside a silver ring
and I’ll stay with you, my whole life through
I’ll never ask for anything

Seasons go, we’ll watch them flow
through windows of ice
see the people die; they always cry
so surprised to pay the price

Snowflakes fall, they form a wall
that cradles us inside
where we’ll drink our tea, you’ll stay with me,
couldn’t we be satisfied

Snowflakes fall, they form a wall
but that’s the price we pay
to be hard and strong and never wrong
to never falter never fade

When the white man comes you can know he will not leave you dry-eyed
(fly away when you have the chance)
Gold or silver, only you can decide
(better not to join his dance)

Shaky wrists, glassy eyes
your mind starts to slide
filled with fantasies, christmas trees,
dreaming of the world outside

Tall and proud, men say out loud
that pain is divine
but I’ve seen it slice, a blade of ice
they clench their teeth; they change their mind

When the white man comes you can know he will not leave you dry-eyed
(fly away when you have the chance)
Gold or silver, only you can decide
(better not to join his dance)

Distant dreams of earthly things
take on a golden glow
how the valleys shine; they fill with wine
they draw you to the world below

Where I once found you red, almost dead
stripped of all your rings
lying weak and poor upon my floor
you who wanted everything

Download MP3: Through the Christmas Tree

Candy Cane Lane

19 Nov
0

In my last post I wrote about how I need to begin expressing myself more for the sake of my own life. But, you may be wondering, from where will I get the discipline to follow through on this commitment, especially when it is something I am so afraid of? That is easy, I will buy the discipline from Yankee Candle.

I used to laugh at the people who shopped at Yankee Candle, taking $30 they probably needed for their electric bill to buy a giant “Home Sweet Home” candle, and another $25 dollars to buy a candle cozy shaped like an English Cottage. It seemed to me that they were probably buying overpriced candles to compensate for a lack of love in some part of their life. But I have changed my mind, and while I do still think that Yankee Candles generally serve as a love substitute, I no longer think this is pathetic. After all, who doesn’t need a little bit of extra love in their life? Nor do I think the use of love substitutes is dumb. After all, we all know that when a baby animal is taken away from its mother, it must  be given a stuffed animal to snuggle with, or it will probably die. Love substitutes are real, effective, and not beneath anyone’s dignity. We all need love, but we can’t always control whether or not we are receiving it. Which is where Yankee Candles come into play- to fill up the holes in our chest with colorful, scented fire power, so that we have enough warmth to make it through another day without needing to shut down chambers in our heart.

Candy CanesAs far as I can tell, Yankee Candles don’t smell better than less expensive candles; what I love about them is the glamour the store casts around their candles, elevating them from meaningless trifles to the most important aspect of your life! They do this partially through their elevated prices, but also through the candle accessories they sell, and the instructions they give you on the proper way to burn and care for a candle. They just make scented candles seem so darned important, which I think acts- especially to women- as a subconscious symbol that their emotional needs and desires for love are important. When you tend to your Yankee Candle, you are- through the powers of transubstantiation- tending to your own heart.

So yesterday I went to Yankee Candle to choose a candle that would symbolize the commitment to express myself. I selected Candy Cane Lane, a red candle, since red represents the courage to be true to yourself. I thought peppermint candy would be a good scent, since it combines the sugary sweetness of the heart with the minty freshness of the brain. I will burn it for four hours at a time, just as my candle consultant taught me. She warned me to never blow out my candle until the wax has melted all the way to the very edge. Otherwise the candle will start tunneling, and once the tunneling process has begun it can be difficult and costly to reverse. My candle consultant also sold me a gold Illuma-lid candle topper to maximize scent throw, and a wick trimmer to ensure that my wick stays 1/4 inch between lightings. So what if I can’t afford a warm coat or shoes for the season?

Just think about it- fire has been one of mankind’s best friends since the very beginning! Many believe it is precisely fire (learning how to cook with it) that caused humans to evolved differently from other animals. Cooking with fire enabled us to absorb more calories more efficiently, while reducing the work load on our stomachs. This enabled us to invest the extra energy into growing our brains. Without cooked meals, we would have weaker brains and stronger stomachs.

So couldn’t a bit of fire do the same thing for our hearts? Predigest for us some of the more difficult feelings, like loneliness and despair, while giving us a boost of warmth and light? Then we would need to spend less energy filling up the empty places inside. What part of us would receive that freed-up energy? My guess is the energy might be spent in fulfilling our purposes. I think once are heart are filled up on the inside they begin radiating light and warmth outwards into the world.

Maybe next time I go to the mall, I will pick up a candle cozy as well… perhaps the limited edition Christmas Teddy being crushed between two plush hearts.

Dear Diary

18 Nov
0

Dear Diary,

Hi! How are you? Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been fine, thanks. I decided to write this blog post to you, because I can’t think of anyone else to write to. Usually, I write with a person in mind, someone I feel the need to connect with. But recently, I haven’t been able to envision anyone. No one seems real to me. A world full of paper dolls.

Paper dolls only on the surface, though. Underneath, people who are busy, engaged, trying to better themselves or take care of their families. Not people who need to know my feelings about the color gold. I can’t envision anyone in the whole world who needs to know my feelings about the color gold.

So why blog at all, then? Especially when all I really want to do is to redecorate my desk in shades of orange and find out what happened to Europe after the fall of Rome.

GodBecause I have to. There is this red light that wants to flow through my body, but it will only flow if it can form a complete circuit. Right now, it is blocked in my thymus gland and will only complete itself if I open up my mouth and let words out. If I don’t do this, there will be no red for me. I will have to live out my life as a bloodless vegetable sucked dry of all it’s colors.

Still, I don’t really want to say anything. It feels like opening my mouth is just an invitation to be attacked and ridiculed. I would feel more comfortable just trying to be nice and quiet and only speaking to flatter those around me. When I was a teenager, I decided to make complement bombing one of my life strategies, which basically meant whenever I was around a mean or threatening person I would try to sing their praises in such rapid-fire speech that they would be unable to get a word in edgewise. I would spend hours before encounters imagining all of a person’s praiseworthy attributes. It could be exhausting, but was somewhat effective, like throwing a constant string of steaks at a lion. I would still get bitten, but not as frequently.

It could have been a better strategy, though, for someone like my husband James, who is adept at lying. Some people, it seems, can wear one face to themselves and another to the world without becoming confused. I admire those people. But for me, the worst part about flattering people, is that I truly hypnotize myself in the process until everyone I meet takes on a godlike magnificence in my mind. James reminds me of this sometimes, when I fawn over him with praise he feels is undeserved– “Look at the arches of your feet- they’re so beautiful, like swans. Mine are like rusted canoes.” (I usually throw in a little insult to myself for contrast. That always seemed to make my parents happy.)

But, there is definitely a price to pay for pleasing others at your own expense. It bleaches you of all your prouder colors, the reds, yellows, and golds. It makes your hands and feet cold, and turns your face into a lifeless mask. It sucks the blood from your heart and brain and eventually turns you into a catatonic moron who can neither think nor feel. That is the eventual price of being a sycophant.

On the other hand, those who do stand up for themselves also have to pay a price and sometimes it is severe. Being scorned and shunned, stabbed in the back of your hand with a fork, forced to kill your own puppy, sometimes being killed yourself… things can get sadistic when people are intent upon breaking down your will and you refuse to let them. Who can say if being a fighter or a flatterer is the better choice? Sometimes the fawners live to see another day when the fighters don’t.

The confusing thing about life is that it feels like love and goodness should be all-powerful, and yet, whose observations prove to them that this is true?

From what I can figure, Heaven is that place where love, beauty, and justice rule absolutely. Hell is the place where power and force rule absolutely. Earth is the place where the dark forces of power are blended with the shimmering forces of goodness to produce strong and durable materials that couldn’t exist otherwise. Materials like gold, which is stockpiled in Heaven, but only produced here on Earth, from the pure intentions that are constantly subjected to trials and tribulations.

On Earth we are forced to never lose sight of love and dreams, for when we do we die inside. But we are also never allowed to let go of practicality, selfishness and cunning, for when we do, we die outside. Having to keep our grasp on these two fluctuating polarities, which are sometimes in harmony and sometimes in conflict, gives rise to whole generations of strong and beautiful alloys, which, I like to think could not be created otherwise.

But it is hard work to always keep one foot in heaven and the other in hell, so sometimes we deal with life by releasing one of these poles and becoming either too good or too bad in the process. Bad people can sometimes be quite effective in a practical sense, since they can streamline all their choices to maximize personal gain and self-aggrandizement. But the trade-off is being forced to live in an internal world that is harsh, barren, and brutal. And if they ever want to leave their inner hell, there is a long road of pain and remorse in front of them.

But releasing the dark forces and aiming to be too good is equally treacherous. It is like living on a diet of jello. You end up weak and insubstantial, lacking a mind or will of your own. Eventually you become an instrument in the hand of evil-doers.

Which all comes back to why I feel I must write. Because I’m the sort of person who, under stress, lets go of the dark forces and levitates upwards into a world of unicorn fantasies. Whereas every time I open my mouth and utter words, I merge more and more with everything that is complicated, imperfect, and heavy. After all, nothing I say will be exactly true, nothing I express will quite capture what I think or feel, I will certainly end up misrepresenting myself, alienating people, being criticized and ridiculed, and lying tangled on the ground in a heap of contradictions and funny feelings. But in the process, word by word, I will take on mass and become real. I will earn my red stripe, and eventually that stripe will turn to gold.

Sober

10 Nov
0


PompousThis song was inspired by my ongoing realization that the grumpier and more serious you appear, the better people treat you. The heavier and darker your clothes, the thicker your glasses, the more sour your expression, the more intelligent people think you are. And the more intelligent they think you are, the more likely they are to come to your aid in an emergency situation (even better if they think you’re rich.) We all know that when animals are in trouble, the amount of effort people put into saving them depends completely on their weight. The whole world joins forces to save a trapped whale, but when a fruit fly languishes in a glass of water, nobody sheds a tear. So in life, you gotta seem heavy. You got to try to be that whale.

 

Sober

Let me be the one who is sober,
Unconcerned, responsible and older.
Sneering at their childish plans,
Disgusted by their sticky hands,
Weighing down their dreams like a boulder.

For in this world never believe that
it’s safe to be terrified or go soft inside
for we’ll take it all
we will all watch you fall.

I used to think a smile would make them love me,
But it only lifted all of them above me.
The wiser man would wear a frown
That drags the other person down,
Cause when they’re down they see the glory of me.

For in this world never believe that
it’s safe to be terrified or go soft inside
for we’ll take it all
we will all watch you fall.

I used to float like a happy bubble in the air;
They smiled at me, they watched me pop without a care.
While the ones who frown are carved in stone,
The ones whose hearts are filled with bone,
They’re the ones we always repair.

For in this world never believe that
it’s safe to be terrified or go soft inside
for we’ll take it all
we will all watch you fall.

People say that happiness is a butterfly
Who abandons you, who flits away when it’s time to cry.
Drive the sluts out from your fold-
Bitterness contains the gold,
Bitterness contains the glue
That binds hearts to you.

 

 

Download MP3: Sober

 

 

Mommy

 

 

Download Mp3: Best Friends Forever

 

you bought me candy and you held my hand
and we walked, just the two of us, there on the sand
and we watched the horizon so far away
and i smiled- i knew it would all be mine someday

but then when you left the horizon turned flat
it was an empty line, who wants to waste their time chasing that?
and all the dreams were shadows that left the world colder
and the future was only a place to get older and die

death was everywhere behind every smile
it fueled the people’s dreams, they drove mile after mile
but i stood there, just waiting for my time to run out
tousled by the purple sheets blowing about

in a wind that came from somewhere, but from where no one was sure
life was just a riddle then, so pointless and obscure
that no one even tried to answer it, they just drove faster in their cars
wanting to go anyplace as long as it was far

from the place they were born, a birth they could not even remember
memory was a flashlight, a tiny handheld ember
that we used to move forward, but never to look back,
while behind us a presence grew so ominous and black

and in front of us we were certain we heard footsteps descending
we knew they were death’s feet, heralding our ending
for i’d seen my own mother slide like a child into his robes
so we focused with exclusion on the things we could control

studiously shining our little lights on tombstones
memorizing names that belonged to the bones
and at times i would lie down and dream i was dying
i’d close both my eyes and watch purple flags flying

thru a sky with two moons and my hands would grow colder
would my mother recognize me now thirty years older?
would we walk again, the two of us, on a beach in the sky?
would i feel hope again when i found a world where you don’t have to die?

or would death be there, as well, would he slide through the curtain
a jack in a black box who makes pain so certain
when he scoops out the fruit and then leaves me the rind
until i’m clawing like an animal for a way to feel full inside

when you were here, i was here, i occupied this place,
but now my heart is stretches like an ache throughout space
i look everywhere to find you, people tell me to let go
but i see their eyes shine with a demonic glow

i will follow you, i’ll follow you, i’ll fight through the veils
we will meet again, i don’t know where, but please let your trail
lead me outside of time where we can hold hands forever
and i can dream again, knowing we’ll be best friends forever.

Theodore

21 Oct
0

 

153

 

Theodore

bells ring, people sing
nobody cries about anything
they just let go, follow the flow
this is the wisdom that people know

but i dream in stone- i know this world of air
it can’t be the world that’s really there
through my fingers the tears keep falling down
they’ll fall and fall until they reach a solid ground

aye aye bye bye
theodore has left us and we’ll never know why
try not to cry when people die

ok, but where do they go?
they go to the light
that’s what you say, but it doesn’t seem right
to have to stay in a world so slight

change is life, life is change
these are the things you can’t rearrange
nothing in this world lasts forever
this brings value to the time we spend together

but I dream of bodies that God won’t take away
with limbs that never fall off and decay
through fingers my tears keep falling down
they’ll fall and fall until they reach the solid ground

aye aye bye bye
theodore has left us and we’ll never know why
try not to cry when people die

ok, but where do they go?
they go to the light
that’s what you say, but it doesn’t seem right
to have to stay in a world so slight

we won’t cry, this is a celebration
theodore made his life into a joyous creation

he was smart, fun, hardworking and modest
now he’s invisible and made of air just like God is

but i dream of gods with bodies of their own
who walk this world decked out in flesh and bone
just like angels, my tears keep falling down
they’ll fall and fall until we reach the solid ground
aye aye bye bye
theodore has left us and we’ll never know why
try not to cry when people die

ok, but where do they go?
they go to the light
that’s what you say, but it doesn’t seem right
to have to stay in a world so slight

don’t despair, he’s still sort of there
living in your heart like a puff of warm air

 

Download MP3: Theodore

I am Bone.

10 Oct
0

 

This song (not to be confused with “I am the Bone“) was inspired by things in the news, people going missing & all that.

 

I am Boneman with flashlight discovers bones

Push through trees at night you’ll never
find the one you’ll love forever.
Some die, some don’t
Some will some won’t
Follow me & I will show you.

Come find me, keep in mind we
won’t be coming home- I am bone.

Shine a flashlight on the dark ground
Time changes thing until they can no longer be found.
I once swore to go before you
Follow me & I will show you

Come find me, keep in mind we
won’t be coming home- I am bone.

When they scream you’ll know they’ve found me
Terror and shock they will surround me
Don’t shake don’t cry, I am nearby
Follow me and I will show you.

Come find me, keep in mind we
won’t be coming home- I am bone.

 

Download MP3: I Am Bone

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