My husband and I have been losing sleep lately, trying to convince our boy he’s not a vampire. It’s not just the biting, and the refusing to eat people food, though, certainly those are problems worth addressing. But how do you make a 3-yr-old understand abstract concepts like, we are diurnal creatures, child — humans are designed to sleep at night. They don’t play and laugh and squeal and fuss and carry on the whole time it’s dark out, and then wait until dawn breaks after Mama and Papa have just barely drifted off for less than a half hour to begin screaming, thereby starting the cycle all over again... TWICE. This is not how things are supposed to work, baby — and now Mama’s nerves are shot.
I’d love to claim not being able to pass out before near 10ish in the morning for a few fitful hours of dozing on and off until I can find the strength to force myself up sometime after noon is an isolated incident. I really, really would — you’ve no idea how much I’d like that. Seriously... this is not how I wanted to start this day — nor any other, for that matter.
We had a routine. It was beautifully, gloriously functional, if a bit outside any standard of passing for “normalcy” these days — whatever that is. Then the world turned upside down, and we drifted into the oncoming traffic of changes we had no say in. It didn’t happen all at once... like a frog in boiling water, we slowly steeped our issues in the compounded factors of forces outside our control. I mean, sure, we made some shortsighted bad choices we’re stuck with the ramifications of now, but there’s not much to be done about that at this point, so... no use losing any more sleep over it. And three months later, here we are.
Contributing to the population of the next generation changes how you perceive your place in the universe, and, to be fair, I knew it would. But it colors so many of my priorities these days, it’s hard to separate the “what” of anything I do anymore from the “why.” For example, it’s the reason I’m here, struggling to meet a pressing deadline after only the barest minimum of a brief recharge last night.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so arrogant as to believe the world needs a memoir from me... I haven’t done anything special enough to warrant one. Well, not yet, anyway — but I’m still young...-ish. And no, I don’t have any grand designs on making or changing history, but really, whoever does?
I mean, I look around, and I don’t like what I see. I want a different world — a better world, for myself, my family, and every beast who breathes. I don’t have a plan for making that dream come true right now... but I do have an uncanny knack for getting what I want in life, probably because I’m efficient in chaos — I’ve spent enough of my life in turmoil that I tend to thrive in disarray by enveloping myself in a bubble of centered serenity to push through... it’s my variation on “active meditation,” I suppose, which is the only type I can hope for, since I pretty much suck at any other kind.
There’s an organized kind of madness to my unruly disorder, though... it’s almost the only way I know how to get things done. And I don’t know about you, but this handbasket is starting to feel pretty pandemonious to me. I’m seething with barely contained outrage, but methodically controlled, and meticulously calculating; I know there must come a time for an end to all things, but I don’t give up easily; I’m tenacious, and I am most certainly not a well-behaved woman. So, yeah, it could happen... stranger things have. But I’m not a superhero, and that’s not why I do this.
Like all of us, I’m just trying to make sense of my world right now. I write, because that’s what I can do... indeed, in this moment, perhaps it’s all I can do. But I’m merely speaking from my own perspective, since that’s the only world I know, and it’s not nearly as vast as I’d like it to be. So I try to expand my horizons, in what limited capacity I’m able. I won’t delude myself — I realize I have a fairly small audience, for what it’s worth — but the target demographic is even smaller... less than 40#, to be exact. He’s not much of a taskmaster, but he is a powerful driving force.
I just kinda have a lot of extra baggage on my mind of late, go figure — but then again, who doesn’t??? I came up with 48 distinct topics this week to offer anyone who requested a jumping off point, just in case someone needed a springboard for inspiration, and a handful to choose from, because, well — I’m just too much like that, I guess. But I didn’t have a problem coming up with an idea of my own. I keep a running spreadsheet of all my ideas, not just for such a purpose, but as a handy writing tool for chronicling the experiences I might want to share some day. (Come on, now... don’t give me that look. Everyone here already knows what a nerd I am, so stop shaking your head, for dork’s sake.) I had a problem coming up with one I felt like sharing — one that YOU might want to read, that is.
I want to share his origins...
— the fairytale romance that sparked his life, and the journey of his arrival in this world —
...because I want him to know who he is.
• How Minion once accidentally kidnapped a cat; how he also once gave an entirely new meaning to the notion of “putting the cat out.”
• How we lost 4 beloved fids in our first 14 months of marriage, then fostered and rehomed a handful of others before we found the right balance for our family, so our house felt for a little where there like it had a revolving critter door.
• How Firebird was delivered with the help of his Papa on the bathroom floor, and the scene was so chaotic, his birth certificate records the time of his birth incorrectly by at least 10 minutes.
But I couldn’t share any of that with you this week, because you’re probably sick of me cooing all over my brood, and besides... I’m not really a Mommy blogger.
I want to share our family history...
— the good, the bad, the ugly, and the strange —
...because I want him to know where he comes from.
• Coming of age in a 5BR/3BA farmhouse my parents built from scratch on 7 acres of mostly woods 17 miles out of Tallahassee with a rural route box address, a clothesline vineyard, a chicken coop, and a 1-acre garden.
• The priceless legacy of gentle worldly wisdom bestowed upon us by our great family patriarch.
• How my Mom (his Granny) set the stage for our ongoing power struggle by picking a fight with me the first day we met. How she never understood me, yet still insisted she knew what was in my head better than me, and effectively trained me to lie to her, by refusing to accept any other responses about what I was thinking besides the parroting back of carefully crafted statements she created for me.
• How Mother died alone, and none of her children attended her funeral.
• Early childhood memories of abject poverty — Growing up on foodstamps in a 2BR/1BA sharecropper’s shack occupied by 5 of us, in the middle of a Florida orange grove.
• How I was bounced around “in the system” across 17 different foster homes in less than 3 years before being adopted by a white family.
• How I grew up with 3 brothers, but I have 4. Well, actually, I have 1 brother and 1 sister... no, wait, I mean 2 brothers, I guess — I never met one of them, so I often forget to count him. Though, if you add them all together, I have 6 brothers and a sister, total — but to be technically accurate, I’m really an only child. I know, it’s confusing... Firebird might need me to help him sort it out.
• How my peacefully inclined Dad, apparently miscalculating his gun settings and forgetting to aim for a warning strike (because decorated Marine officer instincts are hard to unlearn, even in muscle memory), once got up from the dinner table where the local preacher and his wife were seated for Sunday afternoon dinner, shot an animal rummaging through their trash, then sat back down to continue eating.
• How my Mom & Dad once invited their best friends over for chicken dinner... while failing to mention they would first be helping with the killing & de-feathering of the chickens beforehand.
But I couldn’t share any of that with you this week, because I couldn’t get all the pieces put together in time.
I want to tell stories of my life...
— the epic tales, and the not-so-impressive anecdotes of my personal history —
...because I want him to know who I am.
• How I called my senior high principal by his first name, and how, on behalf of a Muslim friend, I organized an institution-wide rebellion against an oppressive school policy that permanently impacted school practices — because you can get away with a lot when you’re smart & charming.
• The Minnesota Rite of Passage that is corn detassling with Jacques Seed Co.
• Getting taken in at an impressionable stage of young adulthood by perfume pimps.
• Challenging masculinity for 2 bucks a blow at the MN Renaissance Festival. (Hey, I’m talking about heavy swung strikes with a hammer, you perv... get your mind out of the gutter — this is a family show! ;-)
• How I accidentally moved in with my ex.
But I couldn’t share any of that with you this week, because some of those stories are attached to pieces that still sting, and every time I tried dipping into that well, I kept coming up dry. (It’s hard not to feel pretty “basic” when faced with the prospect that by one’s mid-forties, every life story worth telling has already been told... though perhaps I might feel differently after I’ve gotten to sleep on it some more.)
I want to present my random aimless thoughts...
— from the clever, to the nutty, to the downright ridiculous —
...because I want him to take life seriously, and think for himself,
but I also want him to take himself lightly, and find joy in simple, silly things.
• Why do we drive on a parkway, and park on a driveway?
• Why aren’t iPhone chargers called “Apple Juice?”
• If vegetarians have an issue between them, is it still considered a beef?
But I couldn’t share any of that with you this week, because I haven’t had it in me to be that witty lately.
I want to regale him with reports of my successes...
— from the laughable happy accidents, to the fantastical legends —
...because I want him to believe in triumph, and strive for greatness.
• How I came to be credited as a writer and filmmaker on IMDB.
• How I soloed at the Headquarters of the United Nations for a Global Youth Conference on saving the environment, 25 years before saving the environment was a human imperative.
But I couldn’t share any of that with you this week, because I don’t want to come across as bragging, and because the stories themselves are really nowhere near as exciting as the teasers.
I want to confess my struggles, vent my frustrations, and chronicle my failures...
— the pitiful, the painful, and the shameful —
...because I want him to know I’m only human.
• How I struggle with executive dysfunction, and I’m concerned about getting diagnosed with spectrum disorders, because I can check off damn near every box in some capacity, and I’m terrified of passing my shortcomings on to him.
• How despite being a passable writer, I’m actually a terrible communicator, and do a lousy job of following up with people I care about.
• How long-term unemployment is hard on one’s self esteem, especially on top of the natural coping mechanisms regularly employed to address the effects of a permanently dysthymic disposition.
• How imposter syndrome sometimes hits me so hard I feel paralyzed and powerless, and how often I feel like a complete and utter useless waste of the potential my life once promised.
• How our dreams of home ownership have gone up in a cloud of contagion, and are now on indefinite hold until Mama finds work, or the world somehow rights itself.
• How I’d like to find whomever engineered this shabby excuse for a dilapidated domicile and take them out. No seriously, I want them taken OUT. (Or at that very least, to be delivered a swift kick to the nethers.)
• How Mama’s needs are always the lowest in priority to be addressed in our home, because that’s just the only way our household can function right now.
But I couldn’t share any of that with you this week, because I don’t like to be that vulnerable in public, and I hate to come across as whiny.
I want to recount cold narratives of the abuses I’ve suffered in failed relationships...
— from the over-abundance I’ve endured, so he may learn from my experiences —
...because I want him to know he should always speak his mind, even if his voice shakes.
• How once you’re in an abusive relationship, you’re likely to continue repeating the same cyclical pattern with others, until you figure out how to break it.
• How no one I’ve been involved with has ever hit me, but physical trauma is far from the worst kind of violence one can inflict upon another.
But I couldn’t share any of that with you this week, because even after many years have passed, I’m still not quite ready yet to give power to that evil by speaking its name. I don’t know if I will ever be.
DRAWING A LINE
I want to speak to the pressing issues that cannot be swept under the rug anymore...
— from those that impose their twisted version of reality upon those they deem unequal or unworthy,
to those that represent the gravest threat to all of us —
...because I want him to never have any doubts about where I stand.
• How I find it hard to celebrate the “independence” of a nation whose promised guaranteed freedoms of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness continue to be denied for much of her citizenry.
• How the term “White Privilege” is a damaging misnomer that fuels and further promotes racism.
• How Black Lives STILL Matter, even once the news has stopped paying attention because there’s only so many dramatic, sensational headlines to be pulled out of any situation for distracting the sleeping masses until the public becomes desensitized, everyone’s feeds have returned to normal, and folks feel free to go back to ignoring microaggressions, blatant acts of racism, and undaunted domestic terrorism, by pretending it’s all just “politics,” and they really don’t want to have to deal with the “drama” of it all.
• How white people are not entitled to “but.” How white people haven’t earned our trust. How white people don’t get to decide for you what you should be forced to accept.
• How white allies need to understand, some POC may never trust them, but if they’re going to make a difference, they will have to just accept this, and still fight for what is right anyway, because only white people can eradicate racism.
• How we refer to most US citizens by the origin of their ancestry, but we don’t get to call white folk Anglo-Saxon or European-Americans... it’s almost as if they believe they’re the default for this nation — the sole representation of the population deserving of and/or privy to all the entitlements that go along with that.
• How maybe no one will ever see you as anything but BLACK, Firebird, but just remember, whenever some ignorant knuckle-dragger tells you to go back to where you came from, YOU are of NATIVE ancestry... Only YOUR people represent the FIRST Nation. You were here FIRST. This is YOUR home.
• How anyone who doesn’t view the situation we’re in as conclusive proof that our system of profit before people is broken, either hasn’t been paying attention, or just doesn’t care.
• How the US Government has repeatedly proven on an almost daily basis that a massive pile of dead bodies is no reason to implement any changes from the status quo, and the fact that you can’t even be sure which issue I’m referring to is the most damning indication of everything wrong with this country today.
• Internment cages. Martial Law. Rampant Police Brutality. Routine Mass Murder. School shooter drills. Economically Exclusive Healthcare. Enemies of Democracy converted into allies. Enemies made of our allies. Vilification of the free press. Systemic Racism. Predatory Capitalism. Political Corruption. 40M+ out of work. 135K+ dead. ARE WE GREAT YET???
• How everything US citizens have been socially conditioned — through great care and expense — to accept as “normal” is considered appalling in every other first world nation. How Americans are the effective equivalent of gaslit victims of Stepford Wives syndrome, and we are long overdue for a global intervention.
But I couldn’t share any of that with you this week, because I don’t know what value there is in being just one more angry voice screaming into the wind, and I have a hard time wondering why my mine should matter, or how it can make any difference — though I’ve honestly been meaning to, and even trying at times for the last month or so — I just really don’t have the emotional bandwidth to get it done right now.
THE PROMISE OF TOMORROW
I want to serenade him with my dreams of a brave new world...
— from the far-fetched fantasies to the plausibly tangible conduits to change —
...because I want him to have hope for the future, and to believe in possibilities.
• How I’ve sleeplessly expended mental energy spinning the theory that John Connor prepared his whole life to meet his father, probably imagining he would have to become like a best friend to him in order to create the special bond that would allow Kyle Reese to be convinced to go back in time, but the story doesn’t mention they were that close... in fact, it probably really didn’t take much more than a faded polaroid and a few shared memories, because, when people are miserable and desperate for change, they are willing to do whatever it takes, and can be talked into almost anything. It almost makes me wonder how bad things have to get before we become our own science fiction dystopian fantasy, and whether there’s someone, somewhere out there in the world, desperately working to perfect a time machine to fix all this.
• How I’ve burned more thought than is probably healthy imagining what I would do with 3 wishes from a magic genie, which really isn’t terribly useful at all... but at least it gets the problem solving gears turning, which is exactly the kind of alchemy we could use more of right now.
• The value and importance of every election, at every level, and every vote, and holding elected leaders accountable to upholding their promises, and to meeting the needs of the people we pay them to serve.
So I’m trying to share some of that with you this week, because it’s the most I could manage to pull off while running on empty at full throttle... Snippets. Fragments. Bits and pieces. Scraps. Half-finished sentences, half-hearted thoughts, and half-baked truths. This is all I have to offer “in these troubled times.”
In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter what I think you want to might want to read from me. Not that I don’t cherish your friendship and treasure your feedback, but you’re not my primary motivation for doing this. No, that distinction belongs to someone a fraction of your size. And besides, I have never pretended I came here to win. I have always had my own reasons for playing this game — now maybe you have a better understanding of them, and perhaps, even, a little bit more about me, as well.
Right now, it’s hard to feel like any light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the headlamp of an oncoming train... even if you’re on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you just sit there, so we’ve got to keep moving. None of us can stop the troubled winds that stir a tidal wave of change — progress is coming, whether we’re ready for it or not. Just this moment, though, progress can wait — it will keep, no matter what any of us does — because, despite everything else going on as the world crumbles around us, first and foremost, I’m someone’s Mama, and that’s got to be the main course on my plate for the time being.
Of course, there’s so much more uncommon knowledge to be passed along to our progeny that goes into the home education portion of his upbringing... these are just a few of the pieces distinctly unique to our life experience, and by proxy to his. Naturally, I realize I still have to temper the lofty ideals of raising this inquisitive spirit to become a free-thinking agent of integrity with the mundanity of simply transforming a young child into a functioning adult. I mean, sure, I want to be able to get him all the nutrition his growing body requires without surrendering to letting him slather his food all over his toys for using them as a delivery device, but, hey... whatever works — it still gets the nourishment he needs into his system, and I have to carefully choose my battles — so I’ll take what I can get.
Progress is coming with or without the contributions of me and mine, but I’d sure like for us all to be on that train. I hope, for your sake, my little Firebird, your generation won’t have to be the ones to bring about the kinds of changes that will balance the lives of so many. I hope it comes soon enough for you to know it — to grow up in it, and for the time before it to have no more influence on your outlook for tomorrow than a footnote in the annals of your yesterday.
The world is progressing daily, by degrees... some more minor than others. Years ago, John Lennon believed that enough to tell his son it’s getting better every day, in every way. Although I suspect what happened to him while he was busy making other plans didn’t work out so well as he’d probably imagined.
When the world changes drastically though, in mass movements — the likes of which I have to believe we stand on the precipice of, preparing to bear witness to — it may seem like someone, somewhere, illuminated a light bulb above our collective heads, snapped all our cooperative fingers, and simply flipped a switch. But in reality, there’s so much more ongoing in an unseen capacity, from currents created by the wings of those brave, unsung freedom fighting heroes whose diligent efforts have cleared the passage to prepare the way. The path to getting there may be longer than we’d like, but there are so many already on the way... so many who’ve been traveling that road for such a long time, and I’m so very grateful they’ve never lost hope.
The road to revolution has many lanes, and they don’t all move at the same pace, stem from the same source, or land in the same place. Some protest. Some riot. Some speak. Some broadcast. Some call out injustice. Some talk quietly with love and patience, gently changing hearts and minds. Some organize. Some host. Some support. Some donate. Some learn, and grow, and do better. Some teach. Some create. Some post. Some write.
So we must be kind to anyone moving in the same direction, even if we can’t understand how they got there. Just make sure to keep your eye on the destination, and your foot on the gas. Because until we build our own utopia, my love, I will be here for you... holding your hand, and lighting the path, every step of the way.
(That is, assuming you let me get some sleep sometimes.)
LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 26 - Topic: MISFIT META
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