Three-fifths moon

(unedited)

At 6:00am on November 19, 2016, I stood in the yard, predawn, clutching my coffee mug to my chest for warmth, fighting the nightmares and the headache they brought me, and I looked up.

There, clear and bright, the three-fifths moon glowed, surrounded by thin clouds edged with the complete spectrum of colors.

I didn’t see our moon. I saw, clear and bright, the millions of people around me who were once considered (by people who look like me) to be only three-fifths of a man. Those who were defined that way by a hateful law enacted in 1787, and who were not free… no freer than is the moon from the earth’s gravity. And with the three-fifths men, I saw the full spectrum of humanity – women who were considered nothing, the women AND men who were considered nothing because they did not and do not conform to the blinding white light of the sun.

To earthbound eyes, the moon waxes and wanes, and waxes again. From full to nothing to full again. An endless cycle. Yet even when we don’t see it, it’s there, full and round and three-dimensional and complete. That full array of color is always there, different wavelengths of light. But there the metaphor falls apart.

The moon does not generate its own heat nor light. The full spectrum of color appears when light is reflected and refracted.

You, the unseen man and woman, generate both heat and light and a gamut of colors that make a full circle.

You are not three-fifths, on November 19, 2016, at 6:00am. You are not reflection or refraction. You are whole, equal, complete, entire, glowing, brilliant, beautiful.

Without you, we are not we, and we are none of those things. I am none of those things.

For what it’s worth, I see and love you.

The too-many

It’s like
the world got a taste of
globalization
for one 20-year generation
thanks to our own
curiosity –
our talent for
forging double-edged swords –
and what we discovered
is
we are
– seven billion of us –
the same
but different
so we choose
to focus on
and fear
the differences.

Only the differences.

Always the differences.

They terrify us
so now too many want to
unglobalize
slam the gates
hoist the drawbridge
build a wall
build our arsenals
kill what we fear.
Shut
them
out.

The too-many
want to be free to
go out
go everywhere
take everything they want
but
not let anyone in
ever.
So the too-many revert
to tribalism
and killing
and hate
and prejudice
and competition
and survival of the fittest.

(How ironic that the too-many
don’t believe in
evolution or natural selection, so they
practice devolution
and unnatural selection via purging.
This ‘time’ concept we invented
doesn’t run backward
and in purging….
Well, dead is dead forever.)

News flash:
Pandora’s box is wide open.
You – we, not “they” – opened it.
The too-many can try to shut it
but
all the chaos is out
Out there
In here
Everywhere.
The too-many can’t live with it
so
like fools
will die trying
to reverse that
sorcerer’s-apprentice spell
of our own making.

And will wait
for a full-fledged sorcerer
who does not exist.

Somewhere along the way
“I want to live, but if I can’t live
in a world that fits my expectations
I’ll die
and take as many motherfuckers
with me
as I can”
became a thing.

[15 july 2016]

Quality, not quantity

“Save them ALL! Save them ALL!”

Rescues and advocates, please be prudent.

For the sake of the individual animals, please place quality over quantity.

Compassionate rescue ensures each and every dog or cat pulled from death row has all of his/her needs met while in care of the rescue, and ensures he or she will go to the most appropriate home.

Warehousing in large numbers with mediocre or sub-standard daily care, minimal vetting, little human contact, socialization, or exercise, months or years in a crate or boarding kennel, or life in a muddy, cluttered yard crammed in with 20, 50, 100 other dogs isn’t good rescue. It’s hoarding.

A companion animal doesn’t see your good intentions or hopes for a future that may – or may not – materialize. He or she only knows the moment.

I see animals getting sent to rescues where their living situations will be worse than they were in the shelter. Armchair warriors love to holler “SAFE!” and move on to the next death-row dog or cat without knowing whether the pet they plugged all over social media for five days went to a responsible caregiver, or a hoarder, or a flipper, or an attention whore who exploits an animal from a dramatic abuse case to raise money or enhance reputation at the price of that animal’s quality of life.

Quality over quantity.

There are worse fates than death in a shelter.

Adjust that bow and watch them go

On Thursday, December 17, 2015, Clemson University will award doctoral degrees – PhDs – to ­approximately 80 graduate students (final roster will be out next week). 80 young people will shake the university president’s hand and stand awkwardly as their advisors and the provost drape the colorful doctoral “hood” around their shoulders.

These are scholars from the US and 15 other countries, including Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Haiti, India, Iran, Libya, Nepal, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.

My tiny contribution to these scholars’ graduation is in reviewing the formatting of their dissertation manuscripts before they’re released for publication. I help them make sure their terminal projects look their best before they enter the larger academic world. It’s like adjusting the bow on the new baby’s head before that first family photo.

These young people have already exceeded the academic achievements of most of the world population. They’ve long surpassed anything I’ll achieve. I get to watch them assume their doctoral robes next Thursday and receive their diplomas as they leave to become leaders.

This makes my heart sing.

Please respect the originator

Someone downloaded this original image from my blog on September 23, 2015 — off of my portfolio page — cropped my signature off the bottom, and posted it to Facebook and Pinterest, where it’s now being re-shared, unsigned.

Folks, that’s a crappy, disrespectful thing to do to a fellow advocate.
If someone signs their original digital art and/or writing, please leave the signature on it when you repost. If someone credits creators in a caption, don’t just toss that information. My work matters just as much as yours does. Removing my imprint means that someone who appreciates the sentiment won’t be able to find my work to see more posters and thoughts they may enjoy or relate to, and wish to share.

My advocacy memes (posters) are available to share and repost — thank you so very much, on behalf of companion animals, for doing that. I ask simply that you share them as they are, unaltered and without edits or additions.

Please don’t take one of my posters, put it on merchandise, and sell it on Café Press. Without even asking. Or make jewelry with it and sell it in your Etsy shop. Without even asking. Or take my meme, substitute your photo and change fonts, and sell it on t-shirts for your rescue group. Without asking. I’ve had to report all of these things. You’re making money off my work. Without asking.

And please don’t get nasty with me when I mention that you might want to share the original, with credit, rather than a low-resolution, cropped screen grab, or a stolen and altered pic with someone else’s logo pasted in.

cherishseniors

Patience to teach

We are all uneducated and unaware about some topics.

As advocates for companion animals, we should see a question asked by a newbie as a teachable moment, not a moment for ridicule. We should never be too impatient, or complacent in our own acquired knowledge, to reach out with kind and factual answers to someone’s questions.

It’s a chance to add an ally instead of making an enemy.

Often I fail at this, and react with impatience, forgetting that there was a time when I didn’t know much about much of anything, and that time wasn’t so very long ago.

my own private Ireland

Here is where I find myself after I fall asleep

Green isle, blue and golden and pink of mountain, of rocky shoreline, of winding cobbled street, of creek and purple sea and field and tree

I stand in the road, not knowing where it leads or where I need to go, so I begin walking

Dragging my bags and boxes and a little wagon wobbling on unmatched wheels, filled with stuff – just stuff – I brought along

People appear along the road, greet me by name

People young and old and ageless and of all colors and sizes, speaking languages I do not know but understand

And I greet them by each of their names in an accent and in a voice that is not mine but feels like a warm sweater

Along the road I enter an arboretum filled with giant trees that I have never seen before but I know them, their names and bark and leaves, branches, blooms, seeds, and all the creatures that live among them

From this open, airy forest come running to me every dog I’ve loved and lost, all young and whole and completely free of their need of me…. Yet they come bounding with joyous tails and gleaming coats and eyes glowing with love, bounding to me
And they speak my name

Followed by all the dogs who once owned me, I cross a bridge over dark water where stars glimmer in the depths, and enter a city

A city – and suddenly I am aware that I’ve dropped all my bags and boxes and the little wagon is empty, though its wheels still turn, now smooth and quiet and perfect

Why is it now so effortless to walk? Weightless, effortless, weightless, effortless and without pain or hindrance

As I look down I realize that my heavy shoes are gone and a circlet of little brass bells adorns one ankle

My clothes have transformed into a wide and flowing gypsy skirt, wildly colored, and a long scarf of silver gauze drapes my shoulders and flows down my back, yet no one stares at my bare breasts because I am beautiful and no one is looking at me

My skin is made of light and my eyes hold oceans and my hair springs out long and vibrant, changing colors with each shift of sun and cloud

The animals come to me unafraid, and I smile at the people unafraid, and I know each one of their names as they know mine

I worry because I have no pockets and no money and no proof of my identity and no shoes

But then I find that there is nothing I need, since I have no hunger or thirst or fatigue or fear

I need only to walk and to walk, to see and hear and smell and taste and feel

The landscape changes before me like a turning wheel – mountains, hills, valleys, plains, fields, stone fences, villages, cities, expanses of clear water

All new, yet all familiar as a mother

As I walk it occurs to me that I cannot stay here, yet, but my own private Ireland will unfold around me and enfold me when I need to be there

And one day,

Forever.

In this skin

[21 September 2015, spontaneous birthday essay]

In this skin lives a baby who was blessed to be wanted and loved and born on this day in 1963, with all the parts that humans consider average, two parents, and a roof over her head.

In this skin lives a little kid who was fascinated with every little detail and color in nature, who adored animals of all kinds, but who also learned to value books and reading and (eventually) writing as she sat in her mother’s lap listening and looking at the pictures—a little girl who could say “my daddy is a physicist” and “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” at age two.

In this skin lives a shy 12-year-old who didn’t make the adolescent metamorphosis gracefully, and who then sat at home in her shyness and undiagnosed depression (that some misconstrued as being stuck-up) at 16 and wondered if she’d ever fit in, or date, or choose a career path, or even reach adulthood. This kid didn’t realize, until she learned the value of metaphor, that when someone said “you’re so talented—I hate you!,” it was a figure of speech, so she learned to deprecate her own abilities.

In this skin lives a broken 18-year-old rape survivor, victimized for the only time in her life just as she was beginning the scary journey to independence—a survivor who had no social or emotional support and didn’t know she was a victim, rather than a shitty human who deserved whatever she got, until a professional therapist told her—at 38—that it was not her fault. A rocket meant for distant galaxies, destroyed on the launchpad.

In this skin lives a young woman in her twenties and thirties who searched for her identity everywhere except within herself. Her self-doubt and self-loathing led her to bad decisions, lousy self-care, and missed opportunities, a failed marriage, short-lived dead-end jobs… to constantly feel hurt, to hurt herself, and to unintentionally hurt others. This rudderless ship drifted from idea to idea, from person to person, finding neither safe harbor nor destination.

In this skin lives a woman in her unglamorous forties who learned, who woke the hell up, who sought professional help better-late-than-never after physical and mental illnesses brought her time and again to her knees and to the brink of ending her own life. This woman learned to embrace her other-ness, her weirdness, her intellect, her love for animals, her odd skills and her imagination. She began finding her voice and using it to advocate for all those she’d watched from the hidden vantage point of her invisibility. Ever so slowly, she began advocating for her right to be fully herself, to detach from others’ expectations and to let go of her own expectations. She realized that she didn’t need a partner to be whole and valid, and was better off without the burden of someone else’s baggage and without inflicting hers on someone else. She stopped caring so much about not fitting in, about being judged by people whose opinions don’t really matter, and even by those whose opinions do matter. She stood up; she spoke up; she doesn’t shut up.

And now, in this skin lives a woman entering her fifty-third year, with whatever grace she can muster. Having claimed a little internal healing and beaten some of her demons into submission (putting them into little boxes where she can examine them as needed without having them take over), she plans to work on salvaging her physical body and health before it’s too late. She no longer has to worry about being “hot” or attractive to others or to think about the fact that whatever looks she may have had are now gone, because really, who the hell cares? But she still has plans—real plans—and work to do, and things to see, places to experience, and walks to take, and dogs to love and help find good homes. And she still has a lot to write.

This aging solitary woman with a soul covered in self-inflicted scars has discovered that her best role in this world is not to be the blooming flower, but to be the fertile soil, the sunshine, the rain, the bees, the mulch that make flowers bloom.

All these people live in this one skin—we don’t always coexist comfortably, but we’re not done yet. There’s room and time for more.

Continuity

[Journal entry, Aug. 17, 2015]

Some days it’s apparent that there’s a ribbon of continuity and harmony that winds through my life, the way a subtle melody runs through each movement of a  symphony and ties them together. That ribbon may be invisible most days, but it unites each movement, each episode of life, rising to the surface when it’s needed to remind me that there is meaning to life’s music.

This morning I shared on Facebook a sweet news story out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin that featured a man who’d planted a four-mile long band of sunflowers along the rural roadside near his farm, in honor of the dear wife he’d lost to cancer last November.

Though I didn’t think of this consciously, after I got to work I posted a status update that included one of my favorite quotes of affirmation, from poet Walt Whitman: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and your shadows fall behind you.” My one and only tattoo – a 50th-birthday gift to myself that acknowledges my lifelong fight with clinical depression and my struggles to stay positive in a world that bewilders me – was inspired by this quotation: it’s a sunflower face, with the words “Face the Light.”

1017263_670460129647337_1281795460_n

After I left work this afternoon, I made the trip to my vet clinic to bring home the ashes of my sweet old dog Jesse. I took the perimeter road around the west edge of the university campus. In the student organic field gardens by the lake, right there along Perimeter Road, a big field of yellow sunflowers blooms, turning their faces toward the light. Until today I didn’t know they were there.

There it is – that thread, that ribbon, that melody that repeats itself. uniting fragments into a whole. This is the road of life, and J.R.R. Tolkien captured it thus:

“The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

A compliment

This may be one of the most meaningful, thoughtful things anyone’s ever said to me:

I’ve always loved your weirdness which, in reality, is your laser-like ability to see through bullshit.

Habitually I brush off compliments because I don’t feel worthy.

This one acknowledged the thing for which I strive. It came via a friend who knew me from second grade through junior high, who remembered me with enough fondness to get back in touch after more than thirty-five years, and who is a brilliant artist and intellect.

It means a lot. Thank you, L. LeB.

selfie

Spam

My apologies to Little Green Inn BLOG readers.

I’ve had to disable commenting under posts indefinitely, as of 9/15/2015, after spammers bombarded a couple of my posts with several hundred useless click-bait comments full of advertising links over the past 48 hours. This is also why I don’t publicize an email address.

Thank you for understanding.

The thinker and the doer

As a thinker and not so much a doer (this is an introvert thing, a nerd thing), i admire the doers. That’s why i give them shoutouts.

In particular, i admire the doers who can act quickly, decisively, but not rashly, who can think on their feet, who proceed with confidence yet think clearly and rationally.

Most of you doers don’t know I exist, and that’s fine. My invisibility is a useful superpower, right up until i need to get people’s attention and be taken seriously.

i’ll be the one researching and documenting your doing, while you’re busy out there doing. i’ll be the one identifying and analyzing some of the things you’re gonna act on. i’ll be the quiet geek in ugly clothes back in the lab, examining the forensic details and piecing them together within the bigger picture, communicating the picture to the world, even when most of the world isn’t paying attention.

Because i am me, i work with my mind rather than with my back or my hands. Sadly because of what the world values most, i’ve learned to disparage my own role and to wish – oh, to wish – I were a doer, strong and confident and fierce and beautiful and fearless. Before it’s too late, i can work on doing a little more doing.

Thinker/doer balance does not come easily to me. Of the triad Mind, Body, Spirit, my body is the forgotten corner.

It needs attention because i’ve hated it for fifty years. That’s pretty sad and i, the thinker, need to get off my thinking ass and change that… again, before it’s too late. While i will never be the doer, the beautiful, the celebrated, the recognized, i know that somewhere inside me there’s a thinker who is strong and confident and fierce and fearless. i want to change my body to reflect what i am inside, so it’s a hardworking vehicle and not a prison, invisible to everyone but the prisoner.

i look to the doers as examples. i won’t namedrop you here; you already know who you are, and so does the world.


What motivated this essay:

Complacency – being perfectly OK with the status quo – isn’t something I’m guilty of. As a chronic overthinker, I’m my own worst critic. Nothing truthful that someone else says of me or to me will ever be as harsh as the things I say to myself. Note that I say “truthful.”

I’m fighting another battle with my internal critic right now, and that critic is right. While I love autumn above all other seasons, the waning of yet another year always stirs my dissatisfactions with what I’ve achieved or failed to achieve over the year and the lifetime. The weather changes also bring out airborne natural substances to which I’m physically allergic and that make me sick: mold, fungal spores, dust, weed pollens. Having my own immune system turn on me pisses me off no end. And finally, next week will mark another of those damned birthday things. While I value the wisdom and knowledge that each passing year gives me, I hate the ravages of time on a body that I haven’t taken care of, nor made full use of while I’ve been focusing on the shortcomings of the inner self. Fall lends the sense that time is running ever shorter, that I’ve done nothing and achieved nothing.

This is what I’ve been angry about for the past week or so. I’ve fixed a lot in the years since I discarded most of my life back in late 2001. There’s much more that needs fixing – my physical body needs fixing.

I’m not going to apologize for my anger. As a kid I was taught that anger isn’t “ladylike”; that I should keep it to myself and try to avoid feeling it at all.

That’s bullshit.

But I will say that if my anger’s annoying you, this is a good time to stand back.

Alienation

Disclaimer: This one’s not about animal advocacy.

Hello; my name is [anonymous/who cares?] and I have a problem with alienation and self-loathing.

All the positive quotes and affirmations and self-help shit I share isn’t aimed at you. It’s aimed at me.

I isolated my self (two words on purpose = not an integrated being) years ago to work on fixing the broken in me, the parts that I allowed others to use and discard because I thought that’s what I deserved. The quarantine became so ingrained I can no longer shake it off and connect. Nothing pisses me off more than being needy – it’s OK that everyone else has needs, but I’m not supposed to (same old script, played over and over).

What I need is what I pushed away… someone or several someones who get it and will walk (and eventually run) beside me – literally, physically beside me – not behind me with a whip, or in front of me because they’re already ahead, or coaching me from afar – as I try to reclaim the parts of me that rotted and rusted while I focused on fixing other parts of me. Not critics. Not judges. Not competitors.

Intellect, emotion, soul, body: these should be four corners of an integrated structure, not four pieces of four different puzzles that don’t even begin to fit together. When I hate any one of these I can’t love any of them enough.

This depression I was born with is killing me and I haven’t fucking lived yet.