Humility and Humiliation


Friday, 31 October 2008

You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud.
Psalm 18:27

Urbanmonk was talking yesternight about how mopping the floor in the nurses station at his new hospital job was flexing his humility muscle, with the nurse unit manager and head/hot nurses - the professionals doing the important stuff - looking on while he was performing his rather less sexy role :)

I guess sometimes it feels humiliating when our humility puts us as it does behind decidedly unsexy mops and gross human behaviour. But humility is so terribly sexy that it compels us to stand there nevertheless, shaky though we be :)

I began thinking off on a tangent (as I am apt constantly to do), about humility versus humiliation. They are so closely linked in our minds that sometimes they are mistaken for each other. But the more you think about them the more they occupy such completely different headspaces as to almost seem the opposite to each other. And yet, despite that, when you begin rolling around in the sweet scents of humility, even humiliation can become something of a complementary bedmate, heady spiritual territory though that be. Even humiliation can be redeemed. Is there no limit? :)

Some people think that someone with humility gets about feeling humiliated all the time. Of course, sometimes they will because everyone feels humiliated sometimes. But it seems to me that the first is an understanding and experience of the true spaciousness and radical okayness of things (of God), so that you have room to breathe, and you don't need to be putting yourself out there all the time, proving yourself, proving that you deserve to occupy the small space of earth that you do. Humiliation, however, seems to me to come so often from places of woundedness, and unhealing, or at the very least pain. I walk in both of these spaces. I am learning to sit in the midst of the second space, though I hate it, only because of the first, and only because I hate the second and the first will eventually overcome the second.

I remember years ago when I read the words of Jesus, I would be bewildered at times at the lengths he would not go to to defend himself. Wasn't he taking it just a little bit far? He so often allowed himself to be misunderstood, misappropriated, used, slandered and despised, and sometimes I would get worked up about it. I was thinking out of my own woundedness, which so often in those days (and still now, in certain cases, unfortunately) manifested itself as defensiveness, as a tough girl exterior that would brook no harassment. I pitied those women who allowed themselves to be browbeaten and pushed around by men. It took many years for me to separate the differences between some women I saw. Some allowed themselves to be humiliated because the voices of previous perpetration had made ruts in their souls, and they allowed people to just roll on down the same numb tracks with very little resistance. Now, that's humiliation. Other women, in certain situations, would allow certain humiliating things to be done to them but somehow it was different, like water off oil. People would do bad things to them, but the distinction and the dignity somehow remained. I envied them because I didn't understand it. I couldn't stand in a position like that and allow myself to be treated that way because I was wounded and humiliated and unhealed. (In some ways I still am). The first type of woman operated out of broken cisterns, the second operated out of something much fuller, and the taunts and bad behaviour of others did not detract from their dignity because the bad behaviour was about the other person.

I think it is true you become like the God you worship. It's why some expressions of Christianity in the past who have had the giant heavy handed schoolteacher view of God, they will see nothing wrong with caning children and locking them up in darkened rooms and humiliating and shaming them into performance. But that is not the way that God uses humiliation to teach humility. In fact, I don't think he uses humiliation as such, as in from first instances, at all. There is enough humiliation in the world that he doesn't need to. She will take what is there, and causing pain, and wield it all properly. It will still cause pain. That is the purpose at times. It is necessary, to stop us from going on into becoming something so horrid that we wouldn't recognise ourselves. He must delight in such things - the ultimate recycler - but I think he will allow humiliation to come upon us when our pride and deceit and hardness has become out of control. And it is not until you know a taste of Love that what first seems so abhorrent to you, this hard lesson, becomes a most amazing thing. Love will not let those things go on living in you forever and ever. She loves you far too much for that.

Yesterday I was listening to a woman speak who was a carer of a profoundly disabled adult child in her house. She was talking about how foster carers are accorded a great range of helps from the government, whereas family carers are given nothing. As I listened to her, I began thinking about how many families must be out there with children who require some sort of respite. I began thinking, wondering, whether it would be possible to find a family who could do with a few hours of help each week, maybe? Today on the train trip to work I glanced out of the window into the street of Footscray to see the building of Carers Victoria slap bang in my line of sight. Was this one of those funny little synchronous things that happens and makes your heart beat faster? I am humble enough to believe that God will speak to me. He does all the time. Those thins make my heart beat faster. I think they are worth listening to because I think they have inherent meaning. And so I am thinking further about maybe calling this place and seeing if maybe I could volunteer a few hours a week somewhere helping a family.

How humiliated I feel to acknowledge that my number one concern is worrying about how I would perform in such a situation, rather than focussing outward on helping other people. And I wonder if doing such a small thing would have any point to it at all. I think love can also do wonders with this sort of self-absorbed narcissism too. It's done wonders with other crusty parts of me. There are no limits :)

Interesting that the semantic root of both humility and humiliation is humus - earth. Humility grounds us in the truest sense, like trees planted beside water. In that place things get very simple. Sometimes I am there :) Humiliation makes you feel literally like dirt. But Love will use even humiliation to draw us to Herself, and He will tie up and heal and bless those wounded places, but we must first enter in.

The person who is able to be misunderstood and rejected and slandered and looked down upon and does not fight to maintain their status is considered a coward in this world but they are in fact of the strongest stuff, and standing in a position of the strongest rock. Humility is always learned, and always comes through pain. It is not a place that you can stand until you have learned to wear the yoke, I don't think, which is why some people should not be standing in certain places of humility until they are ready. Timing is everything. Somehow I think the places that we learn to stand in, though still uncomfortable and scary but not humiliating, are places that Love has reached through and loved (or healed), in some small way, to some extent. I don't think you can be truly humble until you are truly loved, in some kind of crazy cosmic God way because contrary to popular opinion, humility doesn't come out of weakness, it is just strong enough to display it. Humility comes from the most potent force that ever lived ~ Love.

Rentish Idealism


Thursday, 30 October 2008

I don't know why I feel disappointed. I got a letter from my landlord advising me of the next rental increase in line with his "review of the rental market." So as of December, my rent goes up another $65 a month. I suppose that's okay. I can cope with an extra $15 a week if I must. Why do I feel annoyed then?

I don't think that people "getting ahead", whatever that means for them, is necessarily a bad thing. It does frustrate me a bit, though, despite intellectually knowing that, that my landlord advised me in a letter about the rent increase instead of giving me a call. But I don't know why I'm feeling frustrated about that either. It's the way things are done. Informing me in writing probably satisfies legal requirements, and then I have the information there at my disposal. Maybe I'm just a bit old-fashioned in believing that someone I shared grounds with for a year and a half or however long it was wouldn't give me a call first.

But this is the way things are done when you are a landlord. You get to increase your tenants' rent in line with your "review of the rental market". Apparently it's been a year since my rent increase. I'm not so sure about that and I'm going to go back over my records and check, just to satisfy myself. But I can't help feeling irritated that Nigel is going to go for every dollar legitimately due to him. Yes, I know. It's his right, right? I guess what is frustrating me is that Nigel is living in a flat with his fiancee, who I think pretty much owns it outright. He has also rented out his house to the three guys who are currently living there. And he works full-time, and so does his fiancee. I would imagine they would be pretty comfortable.

But then, who am I to whinge? I should just be grateful I have anywhere to live at all, in this current rental market that is squeezed so tight. Lots of people have nowhere to live at all.

I don't know why I'm complaining. I really have no right to. Am I jealous? I don't know. Maybe a little. I guess I would like to be in their position, sure. Maybe if I was in their position I would be increasing my tenants' rent every year too. It's only fair. It's only in line with "the current rental market". I remember in my earlier incarnation as the wife of an accountant, when we were looking pretty cosy, when I was in line to buy a house, when I knew that I would pretty much have no financial worries, that it didn't feel as good as I would have hoped. It felt stranely deadening really, and I can't say I felt any more secure about the future than I do now that I have no money at all. But of course, this is a ridiculous thing to say because when I retire and I have no money, in the future, if teh world is existing in its current form by then ... well, having cash behind you is a good thing, right?

Yes, it's true. My irritations aren't so much about people who have savings. Having savings is a good thing. If more people had savings and less people had credit, then we wouldn't be in the financial mess we are in. My irritations are with people who place their faith in financial security - it's a bottomless pit. You never feel secure enough. As many people are finding out these days.

So it would be the right thing to write a letter to my tenants informing them of their rent increase. It is procedure. But it would also be convenient that I wouldn't have to look them in the eye while telling them of said rent increase because I couldn't help myself - I would feel guilty, somehow, knowing that I was doing so much better than the people I was charging extra money to.

But all's fair in a gettng-ahead society, right? After all, it not their fault if I am struggling financially. I am single and living alone in a house that has two bedrooms. It is my choice to live alone because I like the space. As it was my choice to leave my husband. And I'm pretty sure that I could put in extra hours if I tried a bit harder, at least in the weeks and months when my health feels more stable. So it's nobody's fault that I don't have extra money flying around. I don't even feel like it's mine, either. It's not a blaming issue, it's just the way it is. And anyway, as childish as it may sound to some, I feel like God is there for me when it comes to finances.

So yeah, I'm not complaining about the reality of things. It's not even that much of a big deal, I suppose, that my rent is increasing by an extra $65 a month. That's not much at all. I guess it's not so much the rent increase, it's the clnical efficiency of the way we do things in this society. That's what really gets to me.

But then, I am ridiculously idealistic.

Mixed marriage


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Oh, I want to pat the kittehs!! Roll around in the kittehs. Do you think they'd mind? Embrace me with those massive paws and let me cuddle in? Ohhhh, I wanna!!!!!!!

(This very line of thought is why my hands even today have scratches on them from trying to pick up the wild domestic version of these buggers. I don't seem to have learnt my "don't pat the wild kittehs" lesson :)

more animals
In the early part of the 20th century, pink was a masculine hue, a pastel version of red. Blue, with its intimations of the Virgin Mary, constancy and faithfulness, was thought to be dainty.

In the 1940s, the societal norm inverted so that pink became appropriate for girls and blue appropriate for boys. Many attribute this to Germans imprisoned on accusations of homosexuality being forced to wear a pink triangle symbol by the Nazi Party.

Walking out the Creases


Monday, 27 October 2008

Today Elly and I walked for almost an hour and a half, rhythmically pounding the streets of Braybrook. I needed a long stretch to try to walk out some of the irritations I've been feeling lately, and trying to get in touch with a whole lot of things that feel like they're pricking at me. Irritants. Like burrs in your feet when you run on the grass.

This weekend, my solitude very quickly became a prison. It took me a bit to realise this, hanging out as I was for it while my brother was here. Last night I read Walking in this World and this is what Julia Cameron had to say:
If we do not limit our inflow, we become swamped by the life demands of others. If we practice too much solitude, we risk being flooded by stagnation and a moody narcissism as our life and our art become emptied of all but the big question "How am I doing?" What we are after is a balance, enough containment and autonomy to make our art, enough involvement and immersion in community to have someone and something to make art for.
Well, that's pretty duh, right? But it took reading it to smack me in the face. I have slipped into the pit of self-absorption again. No wonder I am feeling so miserable. I was so hanging out for my own space back while my brother was here, that I presumed that lolling around by myself all weekend would be blissful. But instead, it was just lonely.

I strongly believe that you can live a self-absorbed life in the midst of hundreds of people, just as you can live an others-also life whilst living in the desert. It sounds paradoxcial, but it is true. When I am spending time by myself but I'm not dwelling relentlessly on "how am I doing?" it doesn't feel to me like I am alone. In my small quiet life, and in my closet where nobody sees, I am connected to other people through God. I can feel the connections. But goodness, this weekend has been the flipside of that, for sure.

As we pounded the pavement today, in desperation I resorted to counting my blessings. Thanking God for the roses going nuts in so many of the gardens (I did stop to smell more than one), that cloud over there, the colour of the sky, the warm weather. I thanked him for current good health. From there I went on to thanking him for the irritants in my life, and for the wisdom inherent in those situations that is mine to glean if I only have the courage (and being grateful for what I will glean, little as it may be).

And then I whispered to myself,

"I feel so self-absorbed, I am scared that I am going to be stuck here."

Now, I have whispered this to myself before. It is true that illness requires self-absorption. It is true that since then, with all of these things that have gone on in my life (I shall look back on these last years as some sort of hell, I imagine, in the future) I have found myself in such self-absorption as I would not have thought possible in earlier incarnations. I love people. I hate incessant navel-gazing to go over and over the same sorts of things and indeed that was one of the things i cried out to God about on my walk today, at the beginning. How long, O Lord? Am I just going around and around in circles about the same old stuff? Have you forgotten me?

I realised of course towards the end of my walk that it's not so much the problems themselves as it is feeling like nothing is going to change. That is the issue. It was why I cried out to myself, "I feel so self-absorbed". And yet after I said that to myself, then I comforted myself, and that always brings such sweet healing. I reminded myself that I have not always been this self-absorbed, and that one day I shall again be less self-absorbed. And I reminded myself that these giant wounds in myself that I keep falling over because I just don't feel like they are fixable, that even these are fixable. And I reminded myself that this is what God does, that no situation is left stinking in its own shit, no matter that it looks like that at the time. Every tear shall be wiped away. Sometimes I fancy a travel back in time, to wipe away every tear that fell in this life also. It is a nice thought. My heart believes it, even if my little girl soul doesn't quite :)

One of my favourite movies is What's Eating Gilbert Grape? One of my favourite scenes in that movie is when Gilbert's new girlfriend, Becky, meets his mother, Bonnie, for the first time. Bonnie has been holed up inside her house, living the life of a hermit, too ashamed to go outside and into the town, too obese to get upstairs and sleep in her own bed. She sits inside in her shame while her son's birthday party goes on inside. Gilbert shyly leads Becky into the house to meet Bonnie, against Bonnie's wishes and shyness. And as they slowly begin conversing with each other, in the darkness of the room, Bonnie says to Becky,

"I haven't always been like this."

And Becky, with such sweet, non-jugdgmental charm, says to Bonnie,

"Well, I haven't always been like this."

Sweet, young, pretty Becky, and yet she too hasn't always been like this, and neither will she stay like this, and neither will any of us stay like this. Which is a blessing and a curse depending on whether you are relying on things that are going to fall away, or a blessing when you remind yourself of it in the midst of struggles in which you are unable to see if you have made any sort of progress at all. And I just think that, inside my self-conscious self-absorptiioin (a double dipping of the tree), I remind myself that this is valid, that this is not self-absorption, this healing kindness to myself, as psychobabbly as it feels and as childish and silly sometimes. This is not self-absorption, this is self-love, and it leads as effortlessly to other-love as self-hatred leads to self-absorption.

And now I'm going off on an artist date to the movies all by myself, which feels self-indulgent, and which certainly is :)

Kids at play


The family next door to me is Ethiopian, I think. I don't know any of their names. There are two children. The youngest is about 3, and often his ball comes over my fence. A while ago he climbed up on the fence while I went and got it and threw it back over. We had a conversation involving no language. He is so cute I want to squeeze him until he squeaks.

I noticed since then that for a while the ball seemed to be coming over the fence even more than usual.

I haven't seen him for a while. I can hear him though, right now through the lounge room wall, him and his older brother playing together. Well, as is so often the case, him crying and his older brother yelling. Yelling in a way that is learnt, in a voice full of fury and anger. What have these boys seen? What have their parents seen? It is hard to know. Even if we were to have a conversation, I hardly ever see them, and when I do the mother ducks her head. There are so many hurdles to be overcome to have any sort of conversation at all. I feel self-conscious. I feel I lack the strength to jump hurdles. I can throw balls over fences, though. I guess that's something.
Wise and interesting words from Mike over at The Mercy Blog today on the difference between the two.

Question for your ponderance


Sunday, 26 October 2008

I just came across the term "humble pie" in my bloggish wanderings. And it got me thinking.

What do you think would be the actual ingredients of such a dish? Would it be sweet or savoury? Or sour in your mouth and sweet in your stomach, or vice versa? Would you require lots of water to wash it down, or would it go down easy, babe, blessed relief from your mountainous ego? (Well, not telling any of you about the state of your egoes or nothin', but you know, going on my own experience, I think you may find it's a decent size, at least at times :)



Saturday, 25 October 2008

We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.
~ Carl Jung

Today just hasn't happened, you know? I don't know what I'm feeling. I feel like I am grieving for lost things and I don't even really know what they are, or I don't want to look at them. I am so fucking sick of looking at those things.

It's hot and I don't want it to be. I want to stay inside and shore up myself and try and regain some peace and equilibrium. Staying inside here when it is hot, in my flat-roofed house, requires air conditioning. I don't like using the aircon. This is the one thing I dislike very much about my house.

I dislike a lot of things today. I don't know if I am sick in my body or just in my soul. Or is it my spirit? I get my parts mixed up. Today I have basically sat around all day feeling discombobulated, only to go and sleep at 3 o'clock for three hours. Which isn't exactly the best thing to do to combobulate yourself, but today was shot to hell to begin with. I don't know why my spirit is troubled, but it is and it has been for days.

I know the things I need to do to work towards getting myself out of funks. It doesn't take much for me to return to the land of the living again. This post is the beginning of it. I am spinning The Smiths' Hatful of Hollow on their first rotation belonging to me. This is a start. This removing yourself out of a funk is doing things with the left hand while not telling the right hand. Before I know it, I'm spinning out about particle theory and the infinite possibilities of life lived in an extra few dimensions, and chatting to a friend and catching up, and then it's okay, you know? So many everyday things seem wonderful to me these days. Just the small, simple things have such beauty.

But not tonight. Tonight it's all flat. I feel lonely. Sometimes my mistakes weigh heavy. I will never have children. I want an extended holiday. I want to meet a few people who actually want to connect with me. The future unnerves me. My flaws and wounds sit heavy this evening and once again I am in the space of radical not-okayness. Andrea texted me earlier, inviting me over for dinner, and though I really wanted to go, I just couldn't rouse myself, but instead went to bed. Now I wish I was there.

Some people live in the space of radical not-okayness all their lives, only shaking it off when the eccies kick in, or in those short, sharp bursts of joy and pleasure that come upon us suddenly out of the blue and contain just as much pain as joy. I listened to a podcast this afternoon, called Zencast, which spoke about this radical not-okayness that characterises so much of our lives. It was nice to be reminded again of the okayness, even if I don't feel like I am swimming in it this evening. Spiritual seers such as Richard Rohr talk about the okayness underpining such things also. It feeds out into what is called by some the joy of the Lord. Yes, it is most certainly my strength. It has pulled me out of many funks and maybe, writing these words here this evening, it will pull me out of this one.

Not that I want to be pulled into bright, shiny spaces. If I had a choice, I would rather stay in the funk of moroseness than the pretence of bright shininess. The former is healthier for the soul than the latter, after all, and I feel God especially close to me in my moroseness, as he is to all. If God favours anyone, it is the poor, in whatever incarnation that takes.

No, the radical okayness of things is not bright shininess, although there is certainly great beautiful light there, and certainly glittering things that dazzle my eyes. The potentiality of all things. The whispers that I feel deeper than my marrow that are in so many respects the opposite of what cultural Churchianity sees. That is almost something akin to a spiritual negative of what the reality of things is, with their overemphasis on sin and the separation of everything, of the body from a life in God, of the body from their own souls, of God from the multitude of his creation, and really, sometimes I wonder if this generation of Christians are not the most spiritually depleted of all time? Surely they are some of the ugliest people, and I can say that from personal experience also. Fall into a life of God and then fall into a ditch of legalism and hatred of others, doing and saying all the right things without the spirit. How much evil human beings can commit out of doing what they believe is right.

Perhaps that is all purposeful. Perhaps that ugly rock of Christianity is needed to show us what is inside us, the strands to be teased out so micro-thin, our inablity to discern wheat from tares and life from death so strong that it takes years of walking in the death spaces in the name of God before we wake up. He is so very patient about it all.

Walking in the spaces of everything is okay doesn't mean that everything is right, however. This is what I was reminded of this afternoon as I listened to that podcast full of such wisdom. What it means is that there is room for us to sit tight and not be carried away. But of course, what we need to do that - and this is where cultural Churchianity has failed most - is to be reminded over and over again that everything is only radically okay because we, in our messes and our horriblenesses, are also radically okay. It seems counterintuitive, does it not? But it is as Jung said - there is no moving forward into growth and change without knowing that where you are you are still loved.

This is partly where my irritation is coming in. Today I am not okay with myself. The ugliness of my own soul is apparent to my own soul. I feel like something stinking to myself and it's not only because I haven't had a shower. These spaces are becoming less familiar to me, I must say. It is a reminder to me that this is how many people in the world feel everyday, dragging themselves behind themselves, feeling the slight unease that somehow they are wrong, they just don't measure up. But surely that is the radical good news of the gospel, that we are bigger than we once thought, that we are free to love and cherish ourselves as something of infinite worth, as people who have greater stores of strength than we realise much of the time. Because if you don't even love yourself well, you will not love your neighbour very well either.

I believe that. Tonight, though, I just don't feel it.

Mix tape morning


I am listening to the first of Jon's mix tapes. I must say, it is an interesting experience not knowing what is coming. More interesting is the discomfort I feel when I am listening to a song and I don't know who it is who is singing it, and I can't look down at the song listings to find out. What a control freak, huh? :D

I have just finished listening to Something to Believe In by Poison, which I must admit I quite like (even though I feel dirty admitting that, but thanks for including it, Jon. It legitimises my experience - "Oh, well, it's on Jon's tape. I have to listen to it now" :) Following hot on the heels of that song is Down to the River to Pray, sung by someone or other. Cool. Good Lord, show me the way. Nice stuff, Jon :)

Especially considering this tape has already included Lenny Kravitz singing Mama Said, and Eminem calling everyone a motherfucker (but retracting it all at the end because he really does love America). Now Pink Floyd is singing On the Turning Away. What a deliciously broad spectrum of musical taste.

I have overcome my disappointment that these CDs will not play on my stereo. Indeed, that stereo I got for nothing off Frecycle so I can't complain too much. And luckily these CDs I can play through the DVD player speakers. The stereo is not the greatest, a shelf unit that performs reasonably well for its size but refuses to play certain CDs. Indeed, the last CD that was burned for me, a double-header from a monk, it temperamentally refused to play also, to my irritation (which turned out to be sort of prophetic, in hindsight ;)

Still, I miss my stereo speakers. They live with Mocca, along with all the other furniture, and they are the only thing that I would love to have back. Four foot high, able to handle the onslaught of bass gone wild.

I must be getting old and decrepit because I wonder about the young teenagers of today, and how many of them really know what it is to play your music loud out of speakers that can handle something heavy duty. What happens to your conception of music when it's played out of laptop speakers and mobile phones? Thank God for iPods and of course, the car stereos that are to come. Perhaps there is some redemption even for them, even in an era of Sonyfication. See how old I am :)

So Jonno, I am playing it as loud as I can. But just not as loud as I would like. Still, in whatever medium I am playing it, this is so much fun :)

Edit: Whee! Bush - Comedown :)

The land of beating yourself up - for Andrea :)


Friday, 24 October 2008

"Well? What land is it?" asked Susan breathlessly from her position on the floor of Silky's dear little house. The news did not look too good, if Andrea's countenance was anything to go by. She stood cloudyfaced in the doorway after being unable to resist a quick peep up the ladder of the Faraway Tree to see which land was at the top.

"Oh, do tell me it is a good land despite the look on your face!" Susan pleaded. "We have been away for so long!"

"Oh, I am so disappointed!" said Andrea sulkily. And to emphasise her disappointment and irritation she stamped her foot. "It is the Land of Beating Yourself up. Do you remember, Susan?"

"Oh, no!" cried Susan, crestfallen, as Andrea flopped herself down beside her. "What horrid luck! Of all the times to come visiting the Faraway Tree!"

This was rather unfortunate cosmic coincidence indeed. The Land of Beating Yourself Up had been the very last land the girls had visited when they last came up the tree 25 years ago. Such a long time. Indeed, by no stretch of even Blind Freddy's imagination could they be called girls anymore. It had been so long between visits that this was a very sad state of affairs.

"I would even prefer the Land of Slaps than that silly land," said Susan. "Oh, what bad luck! I wonder how long we are stuck with this stupid land?"

The girls were hanging out for some adventures, after being away for so long. Nothing too strenuous, mind you. The 25 years were telling. Indeed, they had resisted climbing the tree this time but had taken the much more sedentary route of being hauled up in two of Dame Washalot's baskets.

Andrea had managed to escape the one lot of dirty water that came sploshing down the tree but Susan hadn't been so lucky. It had put her in a rather sulky sort of a mood, one that required 17 pop biscuits to restore her equilibrium. Unfortunately, just as her mood had lightened, after some sweet conversation with darling Silky, now it was Andrea's turn to be grumpy. The visit didn't seem to be going so good, so far.

The last time they had been up the tree, Andrea had been crowned Queen of the Land of Beating Yourself Up, and Susan her right-hand dominatrix. Indeed, they had almost been forced to stay there forever, and it was only a quick thinking squirrel and a bit of sly deviance by Moon-Face that they were able to be sitting here now at all, albeit grumpily.

"I know what I shall do!" cried Andrea, jumping up. "I am a grown woman, and I refused to be curtailed by a land that I don't even like. Who died and made me queen anyway? I know what I shall do," she cried, her face beaming. "I shall write a letter of resignation as Queen of the Land of Beating Yourself Up!"

She jumped up and sat at the little round wooden table and Silky brought her some of her special paper, which was made out some sort of shimmery material that smelled like marshmallows. Silky handed Andrea a pen, which wrote in multi-hued ink that changed colour according to your mood. Today it was red ink that flowed out as Andrea wrote thusly:

Dear subjects of The Land of Beating Yourself Up,

This is your Queen here, Andrea. I am sorry I have been gone for so long, but I found that occupying your land was very emotionally draining. All of my subjects were so depressed, such a bunch of monumental professional victims, that I couldn't bear to stay there a moment longer. I am sorry I left. I always meant to return my crown but unfortunately it fell off my head as I climbed back down the latter as I left, and the Angry Pixie wouldn't give it back to me. It was a very thorny crown anyway, terribly uncomforable.

This is a decree from me as your queen. I noticed the many slack trees growing in the land when I was there last. I can only imagine how high they have grown since I have been gone. This is the queen's decree: that you all cut some for yourselves and for others and bathe in them each day for a month.

This is also my letter of resignation. I am sorry. I am not fit to be Queen. I counsel you to elect another one from among you as your Queen. This is written in my own hand.

Solemnly, Andrea, ex-Queen of The Land of Beating Yourself Up.

Andrea felt much better after writing her letter. She didn't realise how difficult it had been, being a queen in exile of such a horrid land. It was time to go and eat dinner at Moon-Face's house, so the three of them climbed up the tree, dodging Dame Washalot's last load of the day.

Oh, how nice it was to see that round shiny face again! They hugged and laughed about how much older they all were, although unfortunately it was only Andrea and Susan who had aged. Time was of a different essence in the Faraway Tree, that was for certain.

Just as they were about to sit down to eat the delicious dinner, they heard a sound that was at once familiar and foreign. The sound of blowing wind. Where had they heard that sound before? Andrea and Susan both looked at each other blankly for a few seconds, their aged and decrepit brain matter trying to fix the noise to their experience.

Of course! The wind that blew when the lands were changing! The Land of Beating Yourself Up was on the move!

"Quick!" Andrea said, wanting to resign her crown right now and no delay. They all jumped up and rushed to the ladder. Andrea stuck her head up and yes, there it was, the ugly and tiresome land that she was depressed to be a monarch of. Not for much longer.

Even with just her head poked up in the land she could feel the compulsion to begin listing to herself her failures and misdeeds and crimes. Indeed, all you needed in this land was your head and its monkey-mind chattering to become a fully fledged member.

"Hi!" shouted a voice. She looked over to her right, and there she saw a man rushing towards her, flagellating himself as he came.

"Your Highness! Your Highness!" he screamed, blood pissing down his back. "I am not worthy! I am not worthy!"

Andrea felt the blood drain from her face at the sight of him. Such a pathetic creature, he had no idea about the wonder that surrounded him, so intent was he on ripping open his deformities and wounds.

"Here! Take it!" she flung her letter onto the grass. "I quit!" she cried, and before he could reach her she ducked back down the ladder, almost knocking the Saucepan Man over in the process.

"You shit?" he cried, scrabbling away from her. "Please don't do it here!"

They were all amused at the funny old Saucepan Man and bemused at the turn this story was taking. Perhaps it was time to end it. Indeed, it had taken far longer to write than first thought, so long that Sue's cup of tea had gone cold in the process and she had had to pour herself another.

Andrea was so relieved at resigning her monarchy she laughed out loud, and Susan did too. Moon-Face put his arm around each of them and led them back down to his house. They were all right hungry now, and hoed into some elderberry wine seasoned with nutmeg, and a lamb roast flavoured with gossamer and ether, followed by another round of 17 pop biscuits each. Moon-Face beamed with pleasure at seeing his friends again.

"What land is coming next?" asked Susan, her face full with another biscuit. The girls knew that swirling above them now were only in-between clouds, and now they had eaten their fill, thoughts of the anticipation to come was almost becoming too much to bear.

Moon-Face smiled. "I shan't tell you. You shall just have to wait until we get there. But oh, how I can't wait to see the looks on your faces."

And he would not answer them, no matter how much they pummelled him and threatened to chuck him down the slide. The girls were just going to have to wait until they saw it for themselves.


To be continued ... if I can be arsed :) And if you're not familiar with Enid Blyton, I have no idea what you'll make of this post :)



My brother has departed for the moment. Has gone to stay over in our old South Oakleigh stomping ground, to catch up with friends, our parents and his ex/new girlfriend, to do a few days' work, get his car fixed, etc. He was so fine when I said to him this morning to not take it personally but that I need my space or I will go insane :) How hard it was to work up to saying that. Ouch! But he was gearing up to leave anyway. He has things to do, and he knew that he was cramping my style. Could probably sense it in my stroppiness of the past few days, my downcast eyes. I can't help it. After a while, I just can't breathe.

Such powerful validation when you tell people what you need and they accept it and feed back to you that it's okay. It's like I am growing, but also doubting, and when I get the encouragement that maybe something really is okay, I grow into it a little bit more, there on the spot. Staking my claim, stating my claim, that this is what I require - this size and shape - breathes it into being and solidifies it before my eyes. I often don't quite realise how much I need something until I have spoken the words. And then sometimes I surprise even myself as a the words are coming out of my mouth. Why, yes, that's exactly what I was sensing, but I didn't know how well I could articulate it until I did. This life is a spinout.

My solitude requirements are so different to so many people I know that I really do need encouragement from others that it is okay. I feel guilty. It feels self-indulgent. But then that is often the way when you start unfolding yourself into the sizes that you actually require. It feels too free, so there must be something wrong. But maybe there's nothing wrong. Maybe it is just the space you were always meant to take up until the people around you and your own stupidity and lack of courage folded you down smaller than you were meant to be. We can become so used to self-created discomfort that we miss it when it's gone.

I think this struggle for what I require shall go on for a while, this knowing what I require and this resisting it, this feeling guilty for it. But there is nothing for it because if I don't walk into the spaces I have ploughed, my anger and resentment come spilling out the sides, as they have been doing over the past few days.

I once thought this sort of anger and resentment was just plain childish petulance. Now I believe it is something different, a warning device more than petulance. And yet still the guilt remains. I compare myself to others - always a pointless enterprise. But I look at my friend Jane, who put me up in her house for three months until I found my own place after Mark and I broke up. Sure, I was flitting off for a fortnight at a time, but still, for a great portion of the time I was there. And Jane seemed to cope pretty well without having a nervous breakdown. But then, I can spend countless hours and days with Jane and it doesn't rankle me because we are much more well-matched than my brother and I.

And I think of my cousin, Andi, who also harboured me for weeks at a time at her house, slotted me in amongst her husband and two children. But of course, it is even more easier for me and Andrea to be around each other than just about anyone else I know, really. We have got so good at it, from all those childhood school holidays spent together, six weeks on the trot, day and night, without hardly breaking stride. Ahhh, memories :)

So I am thankful for these two women who helped me when I really needed help. I am grateful to them. But if I compare myself to them, I feel guilty because I have only had my brother here for a few weeks and already it is driving me nuts. But still, there are differences in dynamics, obviously. Andrea and Jane have not affected my boundaries in the way that my brother has, and so there is always a psychic kind of thing that goes on when I am around him. I understand the difference. It drains me so. But still, I feel guilty. This is a long process, it seems.

Tonight, I have the house to myself. My brother is away until next Tuesday, and then probably back for a day or two here and there, but generally, I have my house back. Of course, as often happens, the first hours I have had the house to myself it has felt strangely empty. It's as if the people that have inhabited the spaces before you are still hanging around, and the space has not yet stretched itself back to how it was before they were there. Does anyone else get so whackily influenced by spaces in this way, or is it just me and my flakiness? :)

I feel like I have been sleeping sitting up on concrete all night leaning against a cold fence. Part of it is actually physical - I am way overdue for a chiropractor visit. Most of it is psychological and emotional. I must have my space. I just must. It is non-negotiable. But as you are seeing, dear fellow blogger, I am struggling with this requirement. It seems so big to me. Why do I have require such ridiculous crazy amounts of solitude? And yet, I can ask the question all I want but the answer only comes in acceptance. It is how I am. It is how it is. God must be okay with it, even if I am patently not there yet. I believe that. Sometimes.

So this evening, to celebrate getting my couch back, I lay on it for way too many hours in a row and watched the last 4 episodes of the last season of Six Feet Under. And cried of course. And laughed of course. It's so funny to me that this show, with such a Buddhist emphasis, still manages to call to me about God. I'm sure it was not the aim of the show's producers but nevertheless, it does. I think I see God in strange, downbeat, outcast places and oh, it is some kind of freedom :)

I am very mindful of needing my space and my silence because the times are a-calling for it. I need to get quiet. I need to listen and sniff the wind. I feel so unsettled in my spirit at the moment. Does anybody else feel that way? Politically, economically, it feels like so many changes are underfoot. And I need the silence the silence the silence to get some sort of handle on what it is that is unsettling me so much.

The silence. Oh, the beautiful silence where everything rights itself. Where I hear my heart speak. Where I quell the fear and God speaks and I cry and he watches and I watch him and we gaze at each other with our non-eyes. I go through the days filled with people and colour and light and noise and I love all of that. But it is strangely emptying. The emptiness drives me paradoxically to the empty desert silences to be filled. These silences are so full they overflow their banks and the outflow drives me to stick my hands in clay and paint and move words around on the page and write poems. I feel like I have stacks of words floating around in my head waiting for a poem skin to put them into and I can't wait to get back there because I feel unsafe for too long outside of that space.

You Left a Thousand Women Crazy


Thursday, 23 October 2008

You Left a Thousand Women Crazy

Last Time,
When you walked through the city
So beautiful and so naked,

You left a thousand women crazy
And impossible to live with.

You left a thousand married men
Confused about their gender.

Children ran from their classrooms,
And teachers were glad you came.

And the sun tried to break out
Of its royal cage in the sy
And at last, and at last,
Lay its Ancient Love at Your feet.

~ Hafiz

Yes, he is talking about God's abundant presence walking through the streets of time and city, but his images come from human fascinations and feelings. Yes, he is talking about seething human desire, but he is also convinced that it is a sweet path to God. Why has this integration, this coincidence of seeming opposites, occurred with relative rarity in religion traditions? It is more common in native spiritualities, and a bit more common in Hinduism (witness the HIndu temples and rituals) and among the Islamic mystics. But one would think that if there were any religion that would have most welcomed this integration, it would have been Christianity. After all, we are the only world religion that believes that God became a living human body. We Christians are the only believers in a full, concrete, and physical enfleshment of God. We call it the "incarnation" and we call him "Jesus".

~ Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

Brown paper packages tied up with string


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Well, it wasn't tied up with string so much as sealed up with sticky tape. And it was a box rather than a package. It was pretty big and came in the mail yesterday. Like, over 30 bucks' postage big. My mail packages usually come from secondhand book suppliers or EBay CD sellers. This one came for free, from a real live generous soul from Minneapolis and contained a book AND music :) Spoilt girl.

Several of the CDs were mix tapes. Mix tapes I say!!! Well, they're mix CDs actually, but just as CDs are still called albums, so the mix tape shall always and forever be known to me as the mix tape, whatever incarnation they come in. (Anyone read High Fidelity by Nick Hornby? Much better than the movie, though that was good and Jack Black did a pretty good Barry it has to be said. Opinionated music lovers and compulsive list doers will love this book, which sings the praises of mix tapes with the reverence that is their due :)

The lovely mail package came from Jon, party head extraordinaire of Something Else fame. The book was one his grandfather wrote about what he discovered when reading the bible, dismissing the claims of mothership christianity, and using his own mind to think for himself. A heady combination, and I look forward to reading what he has to say. What is more attractive than a mind having original thoughts? I don't even need to agree with the thinker for it to be a wonderful intellectual experience.

The mix tapes I haven't listened to yet. I am saving them for the weekend, when I shall have my house to myself again, at least for the few days of the weekend, and hopefully for good (please God. Please. P-l-e-a-s-e). Listening to mix tapes has to be done in the correct time and place, especially ones that have come accompanied with their own liner notes and require playing very loud and reverently, as a very personalised peek into another soul that they are :)

And the charm of receiving an illegally copied disk of the latest Metallica album from a fellow Christian was not lost on me :) For many years I didn't think there existed any sort of Christian like that :) Now I find there's thousands of you!

Thanks Jon, it really made my day getting this package :) If I had a teleporter machine sitting in my backyard, you and your wife and kids would be on the list. Especially on a day when you're having one of your parties ;)

Community takes many forms, does it not?

Monday, 20 October 2008

I think I have named my blog well, you know. A discombobulated head, but also a discombobula of thoughts. Thoughts that ramble too far that they seem to not fit into the same life. Nice thoughts, evil thoughts, right thoughts, wrong thoughts. Embarrassing, gauche, socially inept thoughts. Cool, calm thoughts. Thoughts that veer from poo, and whether I am horny or not, to ethereal mysticism and blatherings about how I love God. The two cannot fit, can they? Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I feel embarrassed about what I write. I have often thought maybe I should split this blog into two. And yet, all of these things are me. And so all of them fit. Not necessarily cohesive or comfortable, but this is what encompasses me. So I shall keep it all messed up together, like it or lump it :)

Today I took Lester and Elly to George Schofield, dog chiropractor extraordinaire. Lester danced around with his muzzle on trying to box it off his nose, and growled at George when we was manipulating his front legs. But didn't try to bite him this time, which is good, because George is 89 years old, and you don't bite 89 year old men. This man, however, is still able to lift a large dog's back legs with ease, and lean over their back to realign their spines, and generally get about doing physical work like someone 20 years younger. He just inspires the socks off of me. There is this feeling walking into George's place, a feeling I get from certain people sometimes. It's like he's just where you know he should be. And because he's there, where he should be, he occupies the space better than anyone else would. He fills up all the molecules to the full. If someone else was here instead of him, if he had taken a different turn and went somewhere else, then that person would fill up 97 % of each molecule and it would be fine. But it wouldn't be as fine.

Perhaps I am a bit too overly idealistic in my thinking. Perhaps it's because I'm reading The Alchemist at the moment. But some people just really seem as if they are just where they should be, you know? As if the desires of their hearts and the universe have colluded, and so the very molecules of the air surrounding them waltz in the extra oxygen. As if inhabiting their spaces to the full, they create extra pockets to walk through.

But then, maybe this sort of unity is something far more everyday for us than this ethereal blathering I am so given to spouting :) Not so Christianish that it is all sweetness and light and suppress the dark. Maybe this unity is all around us, like a river we can swim in, in a fashion that is real and attainable. In a fashion that includes tears, despair and boredom, the darkness and the tares. It must be. If the dark cannot stand, has not been redeemed, then the light and the wheat cannot stand either, in a fashion that we can walk in and still be real and broken. At least at this point of time.

In other times all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. But until then, I'm sure George Schofield wakes up and is bored shitless being George Schofield, wonders what would have happened if he'd become a farmer instead of a greyhound breeder and dog chiropractor? I'm sure he has crazy personality defects that cause certain family members to dislike him (this seems impossible in such a man as he, but who knows?)

I don't think there is just one path for us all. Surely there must be as many paths as there are ways to turn. Not just one heartfelt desire but many. Not just one chance at following those desires but every chance whenever the sun comes up, whenever we breathe in. Not so much a place that we need to be in, as a place that we are in, if only we can recognise it.

What a great mystery it is ~ even while we draw breath and live, it is not enough ~ we must choose life. We must continue to choose to be born, even as we age, even while we wake and eat, cry and shit, laugh and make love and wail and screech and glow and yearn and hope and pray. Even when we are behaving badly and missing the mark, losing the plot and fucking ourselves over, we still get to keep walking into the grace fields. This is the space God has stretched out for us.

Image: A Dream by arkano3

Okay. That's enough choofing for me. A few days in a row and I'm bored out of my skull with it :) I do, however, in my heretical Christianness reserve the right to smoke a couple of scoobs with some friends every now and then. Once in a blue moon, and it's just plain fun, you know? But me, I can't even smoke my way through a quarter of a gram before losing interest, heh :) Unfortunately, I also can't have it sitting there and not smoke it either. How strange, that propensity is. Much better for me to never have any in the house, and to just enjoy it when I come upon it.

I am happier living in my own reality than without druggish chains to bind me, thank you very much. But oh, I do love how music opens itself up like a flower, after a couple of puffs :) But I dislike how everything is heightened. It is an annoying situation to be randy as hell with no one to share it with, and no desire to go down commonly socially prescribed fuck buddy routes/roots ;) Too much information, you say? Well, yes, it's comments like that which make me feel too vulnerable when I'm on the flipside of openness, hehe ;) But I enjoy being real, however ugly or beautiful that is, to pretend too much. This is what goes on with me. I figure if any of these thoughts and beliefs are not good for me, the first way to discover that is to lay it all out, in the sun. It feels good to be open, almost all of the time. Yes it feels vulnerable too, almost all of the time. It's just the space of vulnerability; I don't know how to do it any different.

I actually don't see any difference between dope and alcohol. Both are pathetic and destructive when leant on. I do find it bizarre, however, that some people who rant and rave on about dope then go off and down a couple of glasses of whatever their favourite brew is and don't even consider the hypocrisy.

Personally, I can't see the difference. Personally, if I had a choice, I would have preferred my dad had smoked dope every day than drank every day. Not that that wouldn't have been shite either, but much more the paranoia of smoking than the belligerence of alcoholically-fuelled tempers.

And while I'm on the topic, since when did making something illegal or legal change the behaviour of humans? All it does is run it underground.

And that's all I have to say about that :)
I had someone email me a while ago. They had found me via my blog, and their simple comment was "Can I talk to you?" It was one of those emails that you dither over, hovering with your mouse over the delete button. Okay, so I'm not going to be taken in by emails from Nigerian benefactors informing me that I have money I never knew of, or from beautiful Russian girls that want to get to know me better. But this was one somewhere in the middle. Was this real? Should I respond? Ahh, why not? No harm in that. But from the very beginning I was wondering how real it all was.

But anyway, I clicked reply, and then we began to talk. I won't go into all of the juicy details, but this person - or at least, what they were conveying - was in a really difficult situation, one that would have been very alienating for them and very lonely. A situation that wasn't by any means an everyday occurrence. The internet is great to connect with others slipping through the cracks of the footpath. Who of us here hasn't tasted the sweetness of connecting with others, of sharing things that are so much harder to do out on the surface of life with face-to-face real messy people? Of course I was gonna hit reply. There is risk in every reply.

Of course, the flipside of the net's openness is its anonymity. It went through my head more than a few times that maybe the person on the other end of the screen was actually, say, a 56 year old woman, or a 23 year old man, writing a book, using other people as kind of human reactions, you know, instead of the 15 year old they claimed they were? The flipside of the internet's beauty is that people can be bigger tools on here than out there because it's easier to commodify people when they're flat pixels who can't look you in the eye.

After we had spoke with each other for about three weeks or so, I got an email saying "I'm sorry if I upset you." I got two of those. And no explanation of what they mean. And I haven't heard from him since.

So if you're reading here, and you're apologising for taking me for a spin, then fine. I accept your apology. If it turned out I was praying for and feeling for someone who never even exists except in your imagination - well, that's fine too, you know? If it's a book you're writing, then I hope I helped your character spring to life. Because it's not really any skin off my nose, in the end, is it? But I'm not going to condemn you outright if you have fabricated yourself because ... well, for one, we all fabricate ourselves to a certain extent but two, you obviously feel bad about it. And I might feel like a tool for believing you, but I reckon you probably feel like a bigger tool for using someone else.

And if you do happen to be real ~ well, then, anytime you wanna talk, drop me a line, Mr PM Austin :)

Love and solidarity


Friday, 17 October 2008

I think I'm resuming normal broadcasting without feeling so much yukky spiritual weirdness. Unfortunately, the inherent sort people have been accusing me of for years remains :)

My brother has gone out this evening. In a nice shirt. Wearing aftershave. Having showered. It is a nice change to sweat. Gee, some boys surely do stinketh.

There must be a woman involved in this nasal turnaround, you say sagely, and surely dear reader you are correct. A phone call from his ex of several years, and three words, did it.

"It's still there," she said. And off he did runneth, into the wind with the caution blowing out behind him. I admire him his courage. You gotta love crazy love.

Me, I'm swimming and lathering myself in the rich bath of Friday evening solitude, blogging and toking and listening to music (just a bit of toking, she justified. Just to take the edge off. This is not a land I can live in anymore, but surely there's nothing wrong with dropping in and visiting once a year or so :)

Billy Bragg was singing before There Is Power in a Union. A different sort than my brother is thinking of, I think :) And surely, there is probably more power in a union than in our superannuation funds ;) Today on my 10 minute break, I leafed in agreeance through the September issue of the Socialist Alternative sitting on the lunchroom table. One of my fellow workers, Alison, came in for her last cup of tea in the gentle sun of the Friday afternoon home straight. I told her how much I was in agreeance with what I was reading. (Although it doesn't seem to have translated itself very well off the paper and out into the power corridors, but yes, I would say I am a theoretical socialist in some ways ~ as much as I am a theoretical anything. it feels pointless in some ways, this choosing of one ideology over another. But paper socialism holds the most justice and freedom, in my view, as an ideology).

She's a socialist from way back, Alison said. I wonder how quickly people would have been willing to offer up that kind of information six months ago? I presume they're probably starting to come out of the woodwork around about now :)

"I imagine even the Republicans are feeling like socialists at the moment," she joked, half seriously.

Winds of change, they be blowing :)

Happy weekend, comrades :)
Lily of the valley petal magnified 1300 times.
Third place winner of the National Geographic Best Microscopic Images of 2008.

From the site:
Albert Tousson of the University of Alabama was recently testing a new laser microscope in his lab and put a petal of a lily of the valley under the lens, which magnified the petal 1,300 times--resulting in his winning photo in the 2008 Small World photomicrography competition.

The enhanced color of the petal's red cell walls and green and yellow starch granules comes from the laser light, which causes molecules within these substances to fluoresce--the same phenomenon that gives objects under black lights an eerie glow.

—Photograph by Albert Tousson/High Resolution Imaging Facility/University of Alabama at Birmingham/photo courtesy of Nikon Small World

HT to Shelia

Mind Bogglingnesses


Thursday, 16 October 2008

Once you know that God has loved you even in your unlovability—which is always the character of a vital spiritual experience—you can't be dualistic anymore, all quid pro quo thinking falls apart.

Now you're inside of mystery that holds imperfection. So now what does perfection become? Perfection becomes not the exclusion of the contaminating element, the enemy, but in fact perfection is precisely the ability to include imperfection. That's perfection!

Richard Rohr ~ The Little Way

Breathing, suffocating, flying and dying


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

I have found a use for the 5 or 6 bottles of champagne in my wine rack. Indeed, that is all that is in my wine rack so I guess really it is a champagne rack. I don't even like the taste of champagne all that much. But eating it is another story. I chucked some in a risotto a few months ago in a recipe that called for wine, and it was primo. Just before I sat down here, I made and ate two bowls of French onion soup. And I sloshed some in that and yea, I am such a good cook :) Heh.

Cooking helps to calm me down, the way that playing with clay does. I need a lot of calming lately. Soothing myself the way a mother soothes a baby. It's gonna be alright. It's okay. It hurts to learn to do that. Isn't it funny? But it feels so lovely to do.

I don't feel energetic enough to go playing with clay tonight. You've got to pick your levels and tonight is a playing music and cooking kind of night. Which is fine. Eating my creativity is something I never get tired of.

I took Lester and my brother's dog, Elly, down to the river the day before yesterday. The crazy part up near Avondale Heights where there is a new housing estate being built. And which now, considering finances, maybe will take a bit longer than first thought to be built. Which is more than fine with me. The less construction that goes on there the better as far as I'm concerned. On the estate the ground has been levelled, trees brought down, a few roads been put in. It's all safe and nice. And damn boring.

When I get down to the river, it is so quiet and treed that, unless I lift my gaze up high and see the houses further along on the other side of the river, I could be in the middle of the bush. I come here when I am struggling to breathe and feeling constricted, as I am quite often the last couple of weeks. I cannot explain what is going on in me, but I recognise this space. The last time I was here I came out the other side with a few more pockets of breathing space. I imagine it will be the same situation here but first, I have to learn to breathe with less air than usual. Everything ends and everything belongs. It is just a matter of hanging onto perspective, and remembering the good things, or else I go too deep into the dark and I start to scare even myself.

On top of these spaces, I have my brother here too, which has difficulties all its own. Not that he is difficult to be around. He's actually quite fun and interesting, enjoying pondering and philosophising about things as much as I. It's me who is the one struggling without my own 300 miles of private space all to myself. But my struggles with boundary issues are not just for the hell of it. There are definite reasons why I struggle. Still, it is good to learn to stick to my boundaries with another person around. And a family member to boot, to make it a bit more challenging. Funny how our family dynamics often teach us to deny our own boundaries. "That is selfish," we say when we want to go and play with clay. But I did it anyway, because I know it is nothing near selfish. And anyway, apart from all that, I'm much nicer to be around when I have been allowed to do what I am screaming to do :)

My brother is in a better headspace himself these days than when he was here last. Last time we were both pretty messed up. I still am, but have come along a bit all in all. He is still on the lookout for a new life for himself - indeed, is on his way through Melbourne. Doesn't want to stay here. Can't handle the pace of a city that rushes insanely and whose bosses inanely expect him to work 14 hour days because it's what you do. Is hanging around Melbourne for a few weeks, lining up a bit of work here and there painting houses and pubs with a friend, on his way over to South Australia and my auntie's place. It's really nice to see him walking out of dark places, walking towards who knows what but still walking. Indeed, he is more positive and much less cynical than me at the moment. I'm the God lover and yet I am the whingeing whining one, finding it very difficult to see anything much beyond my own nose and losing sight of the God of the everyday in things, the gentle small graces that we all share in and that touch everybody. This is a humility teacher to me. Indeed, the other day, while I was criticising our old cat who I despised, a half Persian who was as snooty as they come, he said to me, "Didn't that book say that all creatures are God's creatures? You should be loving all animals." He was talking about The Shack, which both he and my mum have read, which spins me out beyond belief :) It is difficult to be the grouchy, cynical, busted up one, but it is what it is, and I am what I am, and pride is a pointless enterprise anyway :)

There is a method in all of this madness going on in me. I know that much. There was some kind of willing assent at the beginning of this latest weirdness, a nodding of the head to God to do whatever he is wanting to do. I wouldn't have a bloody clue, but he does. And oh, I love him. And I trust him to walk me into places that I would balk at like a horse otherwise.

It feels weird to me to consider how long ago last week feels to me. It feels like time has slowed right down in some ways. I yearn for release from this latest bubble, but there is just no rushing it, and there are opportunities to toughen up within here.

Having someone staying with me is interesting in another way, is breaking me out a bit of some more of my hermitical sealing. Oh, my deepest prayer these days is that, whatever economic ramifications go on, that I won't have to move from my house anytime soon. My solace and my comfort. I am not ready to leave here. Not ready, not ready, not ready. Nor am I ready to share my space with anybody else. I hope I don't have to anytime soon.

The day before yesterday we walked into the crazy undergrowth. It's so boring up there on the flat levelled treeless estate. Much better the spaces covered in trees and ditches. Elly didn't care. She was chasing rabbits. Bounded exuberantly through underbrush, over logs. Running flat stick despite the uneven ground. Careless for her own safety. Paying the price yesterday, lying around apathetically all day, a red mark on her groin where she had caught herself and bled. Her already sore back leg limping more than before. We are off to visit George Schofield the dog whisperer on the weekend. There are two dogs here who need his soothing fingers.

I have had the same dream two or three times. Well, not the same dream as such ~ different dream occurrences but with the same powers. Life in these dreams is pretty much as it is here. There are no weird monsters, or people walking around who in real life have been dead for years, nothing out of the ordinary except for the amazing ability of my feet. I was being chased in the last dream. But I was pretty cool and calm and collected about it all. I knew my feet would save me. They were as powerful and superhero as Jennifer's amazing singing feet are. I was being chased, got to a high, high chainlink fence. Just pushed up, as easy as anything, and effortlessly flew over the chain fence. As easily as you step off a step onto the ground, I pushed off the ground and into the air. And flew. Hovered above my pursuers. In other dreams I have flown over green fields, high, high above the trees.

I will never ever forget what it felt to fly, and I will never ever lose the desire to do it in real life :) I haven't had that dream for ages. But what it looks like right now is reaching out and touching the flame, and walking into the suffocating dark. It'll all end up at the same place in the end.

Go Play Outside!


Go play outside. But before you do, go read Jennifer (and boy, dontchajust love that photo? How cute and colour-coordinated are little girls ):

I do wonder how the children of this young generation who are growing up with the recycling religion and the earth day mentality of celebrating the earth by planting a seedling and then going home to their computers, will be able to appreciate and care for their first home.

Squishy mouldable things: poo, clay, and me


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

So 13 of you voted on my Do You Look At Your Poo After You've Done It? poll. Which makes me laugh, really, that 13 of you would have bothered. Thanks for indulging me, heh :)

So anyway, out of those 13, a whopping 6 people, or 46% of respondents, look at their own poo to check out what's going on with their digestion. I wonder what percentage of the average population do? Maybe the census people could look into putting it on the next national form to satisfy my curiosity :)

I think that the results of my poll are skewed because those 6 people were probably more inclined to vote than those who don't look, because those who do think it's important and they don't often get the chance to speak out about such things :) The opportunity doesn't come up much for discussion in general living, does it? I have never seen a stall in a shopping centre devoted to the cause of poo watching. There's no foundation that I know of. Poo is far too unsexy for promotion :) You can't really start crapping on about looking at your crap in the middle of lunch, can you? Unless you're like me. I broached the subject yesterday with my mum and my brother while we were eating lunch for his birthday. What the hell. My Mum enjoyed talking about it. 'Cause she's a health nut that looks at her own poo.

It was timely too because we were eating Ethiopian food, and there were these funny lentil things that looked like rabbit poo.

I'm sure Freud would have a lot to say about me and my shitty propensity. I asked my Mum yesterday if I smeared my poo on the walls as a baby. She couldn't remember exactly but thought that maybe I had. She believes that she did. So there you go. Blame her. It's genetic.

Nine people all up voted yes about their toilet habits, while out of those who voted no, 3 are grossed out at the thought of looking at their excrement while one person refused to participate in such puerility. Good for you :)

So thanks for playing everyone. It quite tickled my childish fancy :)

Speaking of soft squirmy masses that you can mould and shape, tonight I finally cracked open the bag of clay that I bought over a week ago. I've been too scared to open it, worried that I would be unable to think of anything, and having clayblock would just murder me. But once I started moulding and shaping and just generally stuffing around with it, I got this really cool idea. I LOVE playing with clay. I really love the 3Dness of it, the sensuality of it. I'm very happy that I got such a good idea, even though I actually ended up squashing it all down to nothing because I'm going to start again with it tomorrow. But the idea is impaled in my mind. Now I get to muck around with it. But sheesh, it's messy stuff, clay. The playroom has carpet. I really hope this isn't a bond-losing experience :) Perhaps I should go work in the garage.

I am personally back in God's little furnace for a fit of refiring. He is quite the master kilnsman, doesn't fire me for a second longer than I need. Producees work that lasts forever. And doesn't seem to get all that upset when I glare at him and say defiant swear words because the-fire-is-too-bloody-hot-and-fuck-me-if-im-not-sick-of-this-whole-remodelling-thang. Still, walking forward into the darkness is always worth it. Following that still voice so quiet that sometimes I don't know if I'm just imagining things, or listening to myself, or whatever. Still, seems to work out a fair bit of the time in hindsight that it does indeed seem that I followed that lovely shepherd voice after all. Not that this is provable to anyone except for my own heart. But that's all I need.
... the term "new order" twice (cue creepy music), in relation to what's going on in England at the moment regarding trying to mop-up the economic mess. And they're not talking about the band, either.

Good times (if you like your evil despicable world systems reeling to and fro and realigning themselves :) Those buggers are as slippery as mercury

I wonder why ...


Sunday, 12 October 2008

... so many people on my blogroll are posting pictures of themselves lately? So many have put a pic of themselves on their profile, or have posted pics of themselves within their posts. It's really cool to actually be able to "see" each other, you know? But it's just interesting to me that so many people are doing it at once. I wonder why that is?

It's interesting to see all of this extra openness when lately I am going through bouts of struggling with this blog. I feel so vulnerable on here. My natural state is openness, but when I head into these nasty headspaces (here's one I prepared earlier), some days I am tempted to just delete the whole thing out of existence, in some kind of mad scientist, crazy woman that'll-show-them self-punishment thing.

But don't worry, dear reader. I won't delete it. Because what would you all do without me, right?

Seriously, any praying people please pray for me. I seem to have been sucked into a black hole lately. I know the reasons why, but I also don't know the reasons why, and I am struggling to cope with it all. Part B of all of that bitterness stuff of a few months ago, methinks, but I feel like a fucked-up ugly fat cow loser hag freak* so much at times that it is way too easy to lose sight of God. And I don't like doing that, 'cause he is quite the luvverly great spirit being thing god dude thing.

So much for not sharing any of my personal negative stuff. It lasted 24 hours.

* Please don't insert any ego-boosting "you're not so bad" "don't be so hard on yourself" comments in the comments section. If you do, I shall be inclined to not be honest next time I want to write about feeling like a fucked-up ugly fat cow loser hag freak, because I won't want to have to read through the ego-boosting "you're not so bad" "don't be so hard on yourself" comments in the comments section. Ta very much :)

Whatever. It's Saturday


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Today seems to be beginning as the converse of yesterday. Oh for the kind of personality where I can just coast along without thinking so hard. Without being so bloody aware of everything that is going on in myself. Oh for a self ignorant of itself. This is the fruit of that bloody tree.

I have a family member staying with me, so all of the family dynamics are pricking my soul, even if they don't play themselves out anymore. I hate the headspace.

I may have once blogged all about this, but I don't feel comfortable sharing so much of my inner negative stuff these days, nor compelled to do so, nor interested in doing so, nor comfortable doing so. Which I imagine is a pretty good thing, not spurting out all my stuff to the entire world :)

I do however feel uncomfortable with the one-sidedness I wonder if sometimes I am portraying on this blog. I just don't have much inclination to write about my own personal stuff at the moment unless I'm writing from good wellsprings. I lack the desire to write out of spaces where I am trying to sort my own shit. I am so inward and closed-off and "leave me alone while I work it out myself, thanks very much" when I am trying to work certain things out that I just can't do that. I love writing out of joy spaces. For whatever reason, I have little compulsion to write about the bad stuff, the negative stuff, going on in my life. At least lately.

Maybe it's a good thing, to not be blurting out all my stuff to the blogosphere :) I don't know. I go backwards and forwards between feeling comfortable about being such an open person, and annoyance at being such an open person. Because openness is vulnerability. Perhaps it is just simply a matter of time. What dislocates you at some stage, the thought of sharing with anybody else except those you trust most, or even not with anyone, becomes something that further down the road, suddenly, once some scabbiness has crusted over, you are able to share happily, even joyfully, with other people without disorientating your own soul. I don't know. What I am glad of is the ability to recognise the difference.

Happy Saturday to ye, bloggers.

Wheee! It's Friday!!!


Friday, 10 October 2008

It's warming up again after a cold snap. The legs of my dog disappearing around the corner as he went off to explore the latest smell gave me a jolt of joy this morning, when I saw it out my window. Almost sharp. The joy jolts come fast some days. They come despite any tears I may or may not be crying. It is a mystery. I am becoming myself.

I have been pondering how far I have come over the last year. When I look back to this time last year there were great big bags of hanging on by my teeth. These days, even though life is unbelievably painful at times, conversely it is unbelievably beautiful, I feel like I have consolidated so much in myself. Hard work. I don't feel capable of doing masses of hard physical work even though I want to. But I will never stop doing internal hard work until the day I day. The pay rate is very low but the dividends very high. This past year has been a lot about boundary setting for me - within and without. It is a lovely feeling, having boundaries. It is a lovely feeling having pieces of paper with rather badly executed paint dabblings on them. The two are linked.

My writer's group is putting together an anthology. After much to-ing and fro-ing by myself, my story is in there, with some adjustments. I could just swim in the feeling of being an interloper if I wanted to, but I am so tired of those spaces. I feel like an interloper because I haven't written any fiction for over a year, and indeed am starting to redefine myself to myself as more a poet than a fiction writer ~ at least at this stage of my life. Maybe this time next year the block will have broken but I am done with trying to fight through it. It ain't gonna budge that way. But defining myself as a poet (feel like an interloper there, too, but you know) is probably why one of my poems has managed to find its way into the anthology also. Funny. From thinking that I wasn't going to put anything in there at all, and the struggle that went on about that, now I have two things in there. While the left hand is doing one thing, the right hand is doing another.

We hold ourselves back so much, and blame everybody else for it. Yes, often other people are the beginnings of why we are holding ourselves back. They have taught us to do so. And entering into the murky spaces of learning to undo those knots is just about the most uncomfortable feeling I have ever experienced. But what happens when the you inside you is yelling for expression? Then you have an equal race of sorts. The dynamics of others holding you back, the dynamics of yourself urging you forward. I have great faith in listening to my own inner whatever-it-is. It has held me in good stead for a lot of years. It is very wise. Now I see the outward expression of that listening on pieces of paper badly executed, floating around my house.

We had to write our bios for the anthology, which I just pantently hated doing. I wanted to have, "Sue S hates writing these bio things" but that got howled down. Instead I have decided on "Sue S is enjoying messing with clay and paint, and the joy of playing badly." Which actually feels like a positive thing to me, considering my inner perfectionist has not let me play at all for a long time because it couldn't stand me not producing anything perfect. But maybe that doesn't come across in a one sentence bio. I don't know. Whatever I write will feel pretentious, I'm sure. Sometimes I wonder if it is going to take longer to perfect the bio than it did to perfect the story but I am just amazed that I have a story in an anthology at all. And feeling like an interloper is just one of those nobby stupid little things that I say to myself because I am scared shitless about having a story in an anthology and I am scared to be creative because I am scared of how goddamn powerful I am.

My art therapist said to me the other week something about how maybe writing fiction was just too energetic for me, and that I am choosing to do creative things which better fit my stamina levels. Well, like, duh. At least, duh for me now that I have consciously turned my mind to it but did I create that linkage before she said it? No, not really. Which is funny because it's so bloody obvious. But I am never surprised anymore at how patently obvious things can appear not obvious at all to us until we are ready to see them. It's like having little presents to unwrap along the way, if you're willing to accept the humblefyingness of knowing how little you truly do see. Which of course is part of the game, because when you put that little coat on, you get to see whole swathes of shitloads of good stuff, mereckons.

This life is just a bit of a spin-out, methinks. And yes it is painful but even that is bearable. At least, now. I am just celebrating reaching new levels of healing, and of openness to myself, and of allowing myself to be myself, and of setting boundaries, and of meeting new people, and of doing scary things but doing them anyway, and of not doing other scary things because I realise that I don't really want to do them, and of sitting still when I feel both ways about certain things, and of throwing my desires out into the wind and leaving them there, and of growing deeper and further into my own self, and of knowing that I don't want to be anybody else except me. And of knowing that other people may not be feeling the same way, but revelling in the knowing that this does not negate my own happiness any more than my sadness and despair negates anybody else's happiness. And wow. That feels so good. I don't need to hide my happiness and joy under a bushel, because as far as it is in your own power to effect your own happiness and joy, I have done the work I need to do by going into the dark places. And this is a paragraph that is far too big. And it may appear to be blowing my own trumpet. But that is only by the warped standards of this world, and I don't really give a fuck what that has to say about anything much at all, really.

Anyway, that is the end of this post. I just wanted to blather about the sunshine.

Pic: micky mb

The house of rattling mirrors


Thursday, 9 October 2008

Some ginormous cosmic-sized semi trailer with a massive smoke machine on its back is driving past the earth. Blowing away the land of smokescreens and rattling the house of distorted mirrors. The economic reckoning we have sensed was going to come - had to come, was untenable in its not-comingness - the living under the illusion that we have all been used to because we don't know any different - it's all starting to topple, to wobble, to rock and to roll. Perhaps we can learn to dance in the middle of it all.

Do not fear. Breathe. Good reminders in heady times. I think I need to double my centering prayer practice. Even though I trust that amazing things are going to happen on both sides of the reality ledger, there are so many fearful things facing us. Environmental and economic. Do I fear? I would lie if I said I never do. I can feel it lurking at times, sure. And pretending it's not there on the edges just makes it lurk more. But yes, I think we are living in amazing times and in a lot of ways we need these things to happen to get us moving. Gearing down and getting centered are vital to keep the fear away. That and faith and hope and vision, too.

This evening my time, there has been a coordinated effort to lower interest rates from the US, the UK, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland by half a percentage point. China also cut theirs by 0.27 percent. Whether they are able to stave off the next Great Depression remains to be seen. Whether people's hearts fail them for fear and set the markets toppling again is another story.

I like here what Poser or Prophet says:

Not that I know anything about this stuff, but I reckon that, if the global markets were to crash and we were to be heading for some sort of Great Depression at some point in the future then… well… then it makes sense for the Spirit to begin stirring now-ish in order to create communities of Christians who are learning how to share the basic elements of life, who are economically dependent upon one another, who are making connections across national boundaries, and who are trying to bridge the gap between the West and the Rest of the world.
There are many different scents on the wind. Some of them are scary. The house of economic mirrors is built on flimsy pretexts, on greed at one end and fear at the other. This world is greedier than it has ever been. Robbing its kids and grandkids to feed our own appetites. Perhaps the roosters need to come home. But don't forget to sniff the wind. There are all sorts of amazing things going on. The media won't report the most beautiful ones. Breathe.

PS: I love what the boys at The God Journey had to say about all of this (it's the podcast called The Unshakeable Kingdom). Wayne talks a lot about living with expectancy and trust and not fearing in these weird times, and this has been a sweet listen, for me. In fact, I've listened to it twice. The way he talked about his dad, who was going in for possibly-life-threatening surgery, was just so cool. Recommended listening for some encouragement.

Members of Twisted Sister Now Willing to Take It


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

September 29, 2008 | Issue 44•40

NEW YORK—In a stunning reversal of their long-stated reluctance to take it, members of heavy-metal band Twisted Sister announced Monday that, after 24 years of fervent refusal, they are now willing to take it. "I acknowledge that we promised not to take it anymore, but things change. The world is a different place today, and with that in mind, we would like to go on record as saying that, starting right now, we are going to take it," read a statement released by the band's lead singer, Dee Snider. "To clarify, we would still prefer not to take it, but as of now, taking it is an option that we would be open to. That is all." Bassist Mark "the Animal" Mendoza also stated that, in regards to what he wants to do with his life, he no longer solely wants to rock, but would instead prefer doing other things, such as raising a family and working as a claims adjuster in Rye, NY.

The Onion



Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Do you ever find it weird how everyone gets around pretending they don't poo? Except for people who blog about it like me, and those rude sorts of people who go on about the shit they just had because it's funny and they want to embarrass you (I would never do such a disgusting thing). You would think that nobody ever does it the way no one talks about it. Pooing in the workplace is a prime example. How completely embarrassing is it to be caught out dropping one into the bowl and someone walks into the bathroom while you're in the middle of it, and you know they've heard you? It's like you've been caught looking at porn, or something. The embarrassment! You try to make a clean getaway, without them seeing that the pooer was you. As if afterward they're going to talk behind their hand to everyone else when you walk past, "Hey. That's the woman I just heard taking a crap before." What the hell is that public pooing embarrassment thing all about?

I feel pretty casual about bodily functions. Poo and fart jokes are still funny to me. I think it's kind of cool the way our bodies do these really gross things. But still, I must admit, I cannot poo in public. I will either put a whole lot of paper in the bowl so that you can't hear it, or I will wait until the person in the cubicle next to me leaves. And oh, what happens if both of you want to poo? Is it just a thigh-shuddering wait to see who will give in first and give in?

It would be liberating if we all could poo in public a bit easier, wouldn't it? But yuk. When you hear people pooing in public toilets, doesn't it gross you out? It's the same feeling I get when I have walked through somebody's fart. If it's someone I don't know at all, sometimes it makes me unseasonably irritated, as if their fart has permeated my entire body, making me dirty and having to go home and have a shower.

Which is a bit pathetic, really, isn't it?

I also find it a bit pathetic that women's menstruation is even more of a no-no taboo subject than poo. But then, I suppose I can understand it. If it was men who menstruated, I'm sure I would be grossed out entirely by it and it would seem terribly mysterious and weird. But I wonder - would the ads on telly all feature thin blue liquid, or would men have insisted, as the ones with far more outward power, on it all being put on the table? I'm not sure.

But anyway, I'm not talking about menstruating. I'm talking about the one we all get to share in. Poo. Please take part in my poll over there <== Very scientific it is. I thought of it before when I was otherwise engaged. I know that there are different sorts of people who do different things with their toilet paper. Some fold it so that it is a nice little Princess and the Pea type situation so that there is no chance of getting any poo on your hands. Others scrunch it, maybe for the same reason (personally, I think scrunching feels like you've got a greater depth. Folding is too flat to me, unless you happen to be using 96 ply toilet paper). If there is different toilet paper preferences going on among people, there must be different thoughts on poo viewing also. And I want to know. These are the kinds of things I really want to know. So please participate. It's not like anyone is going to know your personal answer (unless I can identify you on SiteMeter, sitting there tracking my visitors and monitoring who does what, so that I can use it against you later, making threats that you go onto your own blog and rave on incessantly about how wonderful I am, or else I am going to tell everyone that you look at your own poo all the time).

Pooing. I must say, I feel great satisfaction after a big poo. Do you? I hate the ones where you strain so hard you work up a sweat and it feels like you lost 14 kilos, and you shudder upon delivery. Those ones are difficult. And they generally happen kinda quickly so you're left wiping your brow and overwhelmed and have to go and lie down for a few minutes. I prefer the ones that are slower, and I can read a page or two of the book which often sits next to the toilet for such purposes.

When my friend John came back from Canada recently, he said that one of the things he was looking forward to was having a crap in a toilet where your bum wasn't so close to the ground. Which got me thinking. I suppose I just tend to assume that all toilets are the same height. But obviously in Canada they are shorter. Canadian readers must find that a goodly percentage of their "wow-look-at-that-im-kinda-proud" sized poos give then a nice little bidet wash afterwards. Bidets. They seem a bit ... well, anal to me :)

But of course some cultures don't have toilets at all but squat instead. Which is apparently really good for you, squatting. Apparently good for women's gynaecological health but also good to help you do poo easily. So there you go. Sitting on a toilet may not necessarily be the best way to do such a thing. Still, it's what I've grown up with, and it's much safer for us clumsy types who are prone to falling over.

Here is a blog that someone has written about their own poo. Those pictures made me feel a bit ill but I laughed. Is this normal behaviour for a 37 year old woman, or am I just giving my inner 10 year old boy too much free rein?