Tag Archives: authenticity

Mindfulness can be Confusing and Political Correctness Fatigue

Standard

The thing is … Life is not perfect nor predictable and that’s the only predictable part of it.

That clichés are often true doesn’t help.

Alert: Stream of consciousness commences … now. 

I’m starting a Mindfulness course tomorrow.

Gosh, just that sentence makes me laugh. There is no easy way to “be” in the moment. “Being in the moment” means there is no moment to be in as it’s always fleeting. If we say to someone, “be in the moment” — to her, or him, or whatever pronoun is least offensive (more on that later), that moment could be really shitty. So saying “it’s [that shitty moment] over” isn’t really true because we are not the person who experienced it, even though we know the quickest way to recover from that shitty moment is to realize it’s over, but for the person who experienced it: it keeps coming back, looping.

That looping, however, is totally addictive and most people like it because the brain doesn’t really know the difference between pleasure and pain — it just knows how to dump chemicals which are responses to stimuli. So more and more adrenals pump and we are on heightened states of alert and that alertness makes us feel important.

To someone…

“Be in the moment” is bullshit. But it’s also the Zen riddle, isn’t it?

Next … I am calling in sick due to political correctness fatigue (PCF — it’s a thing).

I wanted to say to someone today, because we’ve had an abbreviated week with Monday off for most of Americans, “The good part about thinking Tuesday is actually Monday is that Friday comes much sooner.” Thoughts like that happen often and I like to think are very Winnie-the-Pooh of me.

But I decided against saying that, or anything at all about it because I’d quickly be chastened to remember “Some people still had to work on Monday… and we should be grateful to them, so there is no such thing as thinking ‘Tuesday is actually Monday‘… there is no sooner Friday for those people…” the implicit next thought I’d infer from that astute person is that I should go fuck myself because I’m an insensitive jerk for assuming all Americans got Monday off.

I’ve recently received an email from a person I respect. Sort of. Well, I mean, I do respect this person because this person is a human being and deserves respect, but now I’m feeling all silly about it because this person has at the end of its email a signature (I shit you not):

3rd Person Pronouns: they/their/them

Item of note, this person’s name is the Spanish feminine for “the.” Knowing what I do of languages and of culture (limited but with aspirations of growth), I TRULY and SINCERELY wonder if a more appropriate PC name, and one in keeping with the English use of pronouns (so it’s already exclusive of all cultures seeing as how it’s English and all English are bad, just ask the Amish): “they/their/them” would one be lacking in any culture and would simply be Prince’s adopted glyph for his name:

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 9.42.02 AM

But because that’s clearly already taken, we could make a new one like this (it’s just a prototype):

New Book 15 - 1

But even here, I’m constrained by the eventual truth that I will have left someone out. That I’m being exclusive. That I’m not truly open-minded. That it shouldn’t be mostly pink. Well, what you call pink, I call magenta (which has a lot of blue in it). See?

I hope I’ve covered everything though. That heart-like looking thing is supposed to be a heart, for love, but also for the actual heart in all artichokes, but then I didn’t want it to be unclear that I wasn’t including gamblers, so I drew a “club” in it, which of course could be exclusive because clubs are exclusive by nature, right? I mean the clubs one joins, not the ones dealt in a game of poker (or any card game! I mean to include all!) or the ones used by cavemen or golfers.

I was inclusive to all agronomists, grassists, turfists, sportos, Biarritzists, and potheads over to the right with that patch of grass (it looks like grass, but you can call it whatever you want, ’cause free world right?).

The far right is the tail of the Ichthus, which is that fish glyph one might observe on the tailgate of a car driven by a person who follows Christ — not in traffic, follows (however, you never can be sure), but you know, a person of faith.

Moving on.

The sun-like looking icon is a splattered egg. You are wrong for thinking it was to include helophiles. You are a fool. I shun you. Eggs aren’t just for breakfast.

That thing that looks like an “I” is for egoists and narcissists. And for people who like architecture because it resembles a column. It’s also a letter, so writers (POETS, TOO!) are included.

On the upper part, we have something that looks like waves in the water. That’s for hydrists. I made up the word.

Those who are stoned, or whatever, can find representation in the far lower left area — the scattering of dots, which can be interpreted as atoms, the insides of a capsule of Oxy, or dust motes in the winter coming through the southernmost window in a dilapidated abandoned crackhouse — OR — just places where I left my stylus too long.

The swirl-like item near the narcissist’s mark is a swirl. It’s for ice cream lovers. But only soft serve. The hand-packed ice-creamists will simply have to fend for themselves. Or it’s for recovering addicts because life feels swirly for them… but not just them, it feels swirly for all of us. So it’s for ice-cream, toilets, and addicts everyone.

That thing to the left of the hydrist’s glyph is a surfboard. Everyone has to catch some tasty waves.

And to the left of that is not a tree. It’s an atom bomb exploding. Look, where is the love for our nuclear engineers?!

Is that sort of a yin/yang thing going on center left? You tell me. I’d like to think so, but I’m open to whatever you think feel.

Those two dark “round-shaped” images near the yin/yang (“ish”) thing are supposed to represent Newton’s cradle. Just in case some of you refuse to accept the tree thing is NOT an atomic bomb. Or instead of being Newton’s cradle, it could be a smirk. RIGHT?!

There’s a paw-like looking thing. That’s where my cat stepped. But I do eat meat, so there’s that too.

That star-like part in the near-center (or maybe too far left for some of you) is from the early beginnings of this drawing. I can’t remember. But let’s make something up right now: it’s the “less than” sign. For all of us in our moments of inadequacy and self-doubt.

I think the reason why most of the world has a headache is because we are lost; lost from trying to do all things and follow all people and be nice to everyone and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and let everyone have a 50th chance and wait and see and #hashtag.

We all have our sense of right and wrong and count on it: they will clash with others’. I say we own our shortcomings, notice the shortcomings of others without really getting overworked about it and move on and do what works best for us.

Here’s me: if we’re worrying about being nice to everyone, we’ve lost our boundaries and when we lose our boundaries we become codependent and when we become codependent, we lose resilience and then it’s a free-for-all and everyone gets to be included and excluded.

That’s… sort of life. Tell me when you are constantly feeling included.

It’s a sad state of affairs when we worry more about offending others than we do our own sense of self and what works for ourselves.

What I’m saying is NOT about excluding others; it’s the opposite: it’s the taking into consideration that you’re definitely always going to be pissing off someone else at any turn, and to learn to be OK with it.

ANNNNNND for the people who are constantly working to look for ways to be excluded and to be offended: to get over yourselves. Person up. I won’t say “man up” because that’s mean. That’s gender specific, and being gender specific is limiting and so now I risk being seen as acerbic and mean and exclusive and horrible and WRONG even though we all know what the hell I mean.

I mean this: grow up.  Stop taking emotional selfies. Stop sharing. Stop. Draw a boundary and discern.

You’re going to let so many people in traffic ahead of you you’re going to be late. You won’t ever get there.

Polarity is a real thing. Accept it. Get used to it. Without it, our compasses (not metaphorical — yet) wouldn’t work.

I need a nap.

Thank you.

 

The Mad Pooper

Standard

This post contains the use of “shit” a lot.

Something is going on in my neighborhood and it is really strange.

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to say, “Don’t go on the grass. That’s where the animals go.”

I was a kid. Words mean things. Especially in their base sense. I didn’t understand what she meant.

Go.

Well, if you’re me, and a kid, you want to go where the animals go. You like animals. They’re animals.

Grandma and Grandpa lived near the zoo, so I thought, maybe a lion has been here. I would like to see that lion. Or a giraffe. Maybe a giraffe is in the back yard, or somewhere on the grass, like in a place that I couldn’t see, maybe behind that tall blue spruce pine she had on the corner yard.

Naturally, I’d venture.

ON THE GRASS.

HORROR.

My mother would hissper (I just made it up: it’s a confluence of hiss and whisper) and gesticulate, her arms flailing wildly, “GET OFF THE GRASS THAT’S WHERE THE ANIMALS GO!!!” as though I was some sort of baboon idiot, that’s where the animals go!!!. 

My brothers or cousins, if they were with me, would giggle. I would likely continue and make a jump to the narrow concrete walkway leading to the backyard, my cape unfurling with my leaps.

“Is this OK?” I imagine myself asking, while in all likelihood I just dashed toward the backyard or to the actual sidewalk toward our car, Grandma likely either passed out, or in a state of apoplexy because I’d gone where the animals go.

Go.

Lots of places were off limits when we were at Grandma’s.

The upstairs for one. I’ll never forget my intrepid oldest cousin, the leader of the pack, who basically decided one day that enough was enough. College was in the wings and she ventured up to the second floor, slowly in the dark because it was always unlit, creaking up the steps, one by one and into a room, we could hear the door open, and she RETURNED, ALIVE and utterly unchanged. The same person. Her hair was not suddenly gray. Her emotional state was totally whatever, teenager, unfazed… so bored.

“There’s just a bunch of boxes up there,” she said.

Just.

Like.

That.

The mystery vaporized. The way Grandma protected that space… Anything, ANYTHING, could’ve been up there: Jesus, a dead teamster, fresh candy, a carousel, a live chained grizzly, or a band of harpies…

But no. Boxes?! It never occurred to me that it would be boxes and a bedroom and no dead bodies or clowns or war criminals.

My grandmother was not a “fresh chocolate chip cookies from the oven stacked on a colorful stoneware dish served with a clear glass of cold refreshing whole milk at a table” grandmother. My grandmother was a “freshly opened bag of Oreos / Chips A’Hoy / Fudge Stripes placed on a floppy paper plate as you waited for a styrofoam cup of fresh skim milk at a table” grandmother. And that’s OK. What Grandma lacked in ease, she more than made up for in humor and kindness. And recitations of the rosary at 11pm when you were waiting for the return of your parents in her living room on the davenport.

So I think I finally got it this morning: “where the animals go.

Go.

She meant “shit.” Grandma meant, That’s where the animals shit.

I’ve been walking my kids to the same elementary school for the better part of nearly 13 years. We use the path we always have, not going where the animals go, and never in my time over the last two years, and this year especially, have I encountered literal dog excrement actually on the path, in a tidy pile or heap or lump. Sometimes it’s a lonesome part of a turd in one place and just when you think you’re safe, you encounter its scattered brethren about 12 feet down the line, smeared or simply waiting.

Dogs do not “go” on the path naturally; they like the dirt, grass, forest or mulch. Hell, they don’t even want to be seen on a sidewalk or path; dogs are fauna. Expecting your dog to defecate on concrete or asphalt is contrary to their Dogness, their very DNA. I suspect having a human following them around picking up their contributions to the ecosystem is an insult to their sense of being. I can’t say I blame them. I’d like to give up the habit altogether, but I know it’s not healthy for the community.

I digress.

So what the what with the people whom I’m convinced are out of their God-loving minds?! Who are very likely totally jacked-up on some substance and take their dogs’ leavings and purposefully deposit them on the paths?

If it were just the path to school I’d think that it was one dog and that it shits wherever it does because this is its way. That this particular canid was raised by ignorant humans and that it shits on the floor in the living room or kitchen despite its instinct to shit somewhere private, out of the way, because essentially the human place it lives has become its place.

So the owner takes the dog out and the dog shits on the path, on the street (no shit!) and even on the wooden bridges over the little streams in the ‘hood?!

To quote a dear friend, “Who does that?!?!”

Yesterday I took my dogs for one of our standard long walks. We were about two miles from the house. As we crossed a wooden footbridge where people like to fish near a pond, Charlie was ahead and he stopped in his tracks to lift his paw, sniff and move around a bagel-sized mound of “frexcrement.” (Another made-up word by yours truly, a blend of “fresh” and “excrement.”)

Charlie actually looked back at me as if to say, “Watch out, Ma, Cugo was here about 10 minutes ago and he’s really pissed…Step over this one… >sigh<…”  Murphy was disgusted.

So experiencing that turd pile so far from home blew my proximity theory: that the person responsible for either letting its dog shit on the path or for actually placing its dog’s shit on the path lived nearby.

I had a short list of suspects.

One is an jerk I’ve known and mutually disliked for years. He’s an ass and his dogs are massive, but I doubt it’s him because he walks that path too and as much as I dislike the guy, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t boobytrap himself…

The other suspect is a tenant in a house we pass en route to school each day. It’s an out-of-state family whose reason for being here escapes me as I don’t see anyone in a military uniform or seasonally appropriate clothes ever. The woman is likely younger than I am but doesn’t seem to live on our plane(t) so she looks like she’s from the Medieval era due to her ignorance of hair arrangement appliances, rain coats, boots or sanity.

Often I witness her and her child on my walk back from school (admittedly moments late because Thing 3 simply can’t be bothered to rush and I dig that about him) desperately reaching into a crumpled bag of Chee-tos and sharing a Dr. Pepper. Others they share a canister of Sour Cream Pringles and take turns swigging from a bottle of Diet Pepsi. Sometimes the child is engrossed in a video game along the steep grade to the school, angered by mother’s insistence of eating the Frito-Lay of the Day breakfast.

Don’t assume I’m entertained by this duo. I’m not. It’s frightening for me because while I don’t want to go there, I will: it’s a little close to home for me as my childhood mornings were just as frantic, save for the maternal accompaniment on the journey to school on frosty mornings or rainy mornings or sunny mornings… mornings in general. So while this mother might be wearing a sun dress, with no evidence of an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder on a frigid morning as she cravenly grabs into the Pringles canister, at least she is there. She’s walking her kid to school.

I suspect her and her tribe because there’s a dog in that house and the deposits have been on the the increase since they moved here. The last time I saw that dog was when it was in her arms… so… umm…. maybe not?

Anyway, lots of the poops are on the pipestem they live on and they go the distance to the school (I honestly can’t believe I’m writing about this…), but their freshness implies she’s been upright to let the dog out, but maybe it’s her child… However, as I said, the shits’ distance from the house now leads me to suspect there is a drugged-out or totally psychotic human being who is filled with enough rage against society to purposely deposit dog shit on the path.

Evidence of people stepping in it is everywhere: sneaker tread imprints, smears, feckless efforts to wipe it off on the asphalt or fallen leaves…

Are you bored yet? I almost am. It’s nearly over…

My incidence threat will be dramatically reduced soon because my kids are growing up.

I was saying to Thing 3 this morning that I will miss our mornings together as we walk to school, but that I won’t miss the poopy path.

He’s going on to middle school next year. My oldest is graduating and off to college and while the college he’ll be attending is literally less than 5 miles from our house, he will live on campus and have the full experience, so he won’t be here. And that will be different. I don’t want to say “and that will suck” because well, it won’t. It won’t suck. Yes it will.

Naturally it’s reminding me of when my older brother left for college, and that sucked. That whole scene was challenging because we moved from our home the same week he graduated from high school. The night of his graduation and related parties, he returned home to a massive Mayflower Moving truck in front of our home.

The next day that truck was packed, and pushed off from Buffalo to Northern Virginia and the day after that was my mother’s 47th birthday and we met it in front of our rental home. That was a radical time.

I’ve never understood the rush to get here that week. We usually would spend July in Canada but we came here instead. On her birthday. To the unbelievable humidity and heat and to my mother’s precipitous emotional collapse in a house she never saw and in a town she never accepted.

So I suspect I’ve taken to writing about the dog shit on the path because I don’t want to write about my kid taking off. I was texting one of my SILs the other day and I said, “Weren’t we just 26 and newly married last week?! wtf.”

Tempus Fugit.

Thank you.

 

Stardust #David #Bowie

Standard

I woke up this morning and did the usual thing: scanned my phone for headlines.

Despite the Redskins losing in a semi-final, the Washington Post chose to lead the morning’s news with an image of David Bowie. No argument here.

I thought it curious and incredible (in the truest sense of the word). The headline words were in an off-kilter, seemingly not-dedicated past tense, “Charismatic singer-songwriter possessed mesmerizing talents” sub head: “David Bowie influenced glam rock, new wave, punk and high fashion with edgy and androgynous alter egos who invited listeners to explore their personal mysteries.”

Read headline.  Hmm. David Bowie.

Look at image. Nice pic. Groovy, hot. Defiant. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 8.57.25 AM

Re-read subheadline. … Past tense. He has reinvented himself yet again, new album… it makes sense… but hmmm.

Look at image. He’s young here, looks great. Something’s off… 

Re-re-read subheadline…  Noooooo…. 

Tap on link. Scan scan scan… WHAT?!

I read the article and was summarily seven minutes late attending to my youngest son who was prepping for school.

I was NOT a little bummed out about this.

I don’t expect my dad to understand my sadness. I suppose that this loss is like his generation’s learning the Mozart had died.

In all fairness, I do remember my mother being a little blue when hearing that Elvis had died. She was sort of in a little funk after that. Alternately she would speak of his sexuality and her appreciation of his art as being “terrible music” and a worse actor. “Your father is more handsome than Elvis, and they were in the army at the same time…” She’d often said for decades after The King had died.

I remember being very very sad when the stuttered news of John Lennon had balanced across the airwaves. I was in the living room of our Buffalo house. My brother came rushing into the room after maybe hearing it somewhere else in the house. Or maybe we were together and he heard it there too; he was pretty busted up. All I knew is that the Beatles were never getting back together after that.

Kurt Cobain, another unbelievable loss. I remember exactly where I was when I found out he had died. I was 23 and working as an editorial assistant at a local publishing house. It was my job (and everyone else’s) to scan the bank of our A/P Newswire, Reuters, and UPI dot matrix printers which all seemed to have had a simultaneous seizure attack with the news of Nirvana’s crushingly self-conscious front man.

But for the majority of them, I was young when I’d heard about them. I was still a kid and so hearing that a rock star had died was sort of not terribly sad for me. It was half expected. Even Cobain, he was a contemporary and to me, hell-bent on achieving some horrific end.

But Bowie… Hearing about Bowie today is different.

Bowie was a pioneer, a legend, larger than life, and a fantastically in-your-face pot stirrer. I loved him. I didn’t ever own a lot of anyone’s music, but I really loved him. No matter what I was doing, when a Bowie tune came on the radio years ago or over our iTunes or Pandora in my later years, everything stopped and it was time to groove.

I went downstairs to my husband and mentioned it to him. “D’jou hear about Bowie? He died. Last night.”

“Yeah, Cornelius* mentioned it to me this morning. I sort of can’t believe it. I was just reading about him last week…” he said as he was awaiting the Keurig to urge the last drops of the Cinnamon Dolce into his cup.

“Cancer.” I said. “What a bummer. That was NOT COOL to wake up to.” And that he’d cranked out an album while that sick is just adding to his mystique and überhumanity.

It’s not that people aren’t allowed to die. But some deaths, after initially absorbed, seem fitting — Philip Seymour Hoffman / Heath Ledger and their respective accidental overdoses. Robin Williams’ suicide. All majorly upsetting ways to die. But somehow, when we take off the layers of our own sadness and misdirected mass-cultural appreciation for what these people represented, we understand them a little better and are still very sad about the loss, but it seems to gel.

But for me, right now, I have deduced that I am disappointed or put off in the manner in which Bowie died. I was fully expecting a motorcycle crash, or an airplane accident. Maybe even an accidental drug overdose but never CANCER. That he died in a most human way somehow for me belied his most seeming superhuman and celestial, preternatural existence.

Through all his iterations, incarnations, stage personae and antics, Bowie indeed taught and inspired us to live our art. To be fearless. To take chances and risks which make us feel more alive. I loved that when I felt weird and strange, he had songs about feeling weird and strange. And it didn’t feel inauthentic; it’s like when Thom Yorke of Radiohead sings raw and real in “Creep”: “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here.”

So in the late 70s I was about ten years old. Gangly, nerdy and dressed in Health Tex likely. I remember being with my much cooler and slightly older (but five years then was half my lifetime) cousins. In their teenage attic bedrooms a lá Greg Brady, and just dancing in the most geeky way to Suffragette City and its ramp-up to “WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA’AM!” and not knowing what the hell any of it was about, but loving it so much nonetheless.

Another cousin, slightly younger than me, has had a lifelong love of David Bowie. She has been very faithful, never wavering in her adulation of him as the pinnacle of her rock star loves. I’m sad for her today.

My older brother liked Bowie enough, but wasn’t like in LOVE with him. He definitely appreciated him for his rebellion and strangeness, but he was more into the Doors and the Talking Heads, the Rolling Stones, and old Beatles tunes. I have no doubt this particular brother is heavily bummed about this death.

In 1981, “Under Pressure” came out and I remember being ABSOLUTELY STUNNED by the power of that anthem. It was released a few months after my move to Northern Virginia from Buffalo, and given my age (14), and the mounting pile of shit occurring in my family and personal life at that time, it hit on the head the exact way I was feeling. I remember pressing “record” on my Panasonic clock radio with built-in tape recorder when it was played on DC-101. Those wonderful 4″ speakers played the soundtrack of my life and got me through some heavy-duty angst and ennui.

But moving to NoVa at that time, despite its proximity to Georgetown, Washington D.C., and the much cooler Annapolis, Maryland, was the land of >gag me with a grody wooden spoon< Southern Rock. Bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alabama and Molly Hatchett and good lord who cares (no, that’s not the name of a SoRo band although it should be) reigned supreme here. No one I knew in my high school, other than the gay siblings of people I knew and their “alternative” drama and art friends (people I actually should have hung out more with) were into Bowie. Little did I know until much later how very cool those people were and are today. Tim, Michelle and others, you were and still are, the kewlest.

That same fall of ’81, my brother, who was off to college in upstate New York was kind enough to send me (or more likely leave behind) good music on mixed tapes (remember those? I just went out to dinner with a good friend and his new squeeze the other night and we had the best time talking about mixed tapes and college tunes — all to the sound track of some amazing Tom Petty playing in the background — which I had to request of our waiter Bobby to turn down NOT BECAUSE it was it too loud, but because it was too loud that we couldn’t talk about how amazing it was… there’s a difference) from bands like Depeche Mode, REM, Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, Gene Loves Jezebel and all the rest. Once I started getting into those tunes and I could drive to a record store, Waxie Maxie’s somewhat near home, I was off to the races. In no short order, my brother sort of saved me.

And within a few brief years later, that all hideous Southern Rock was shown the door (or at least the door to the unlit parking lot outside the club) thanks to a little quartet from Dublin known as U2.

My memories of David Bowie, like your memories of David Bowie, are what will keep him forever alive in our hearts, in our headphones and through our speakers. David Bowie got most of the people of my generation through some really hard adolescent days; David knew us, he knew what we were thinking and feeling better than we did.

As a parent, I hear myself playing in my head that gorgeous line from Changes:

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

(For some reason, I can’t attach a youtube video of him singing Changes — in 2008, and it’s so lovely. But here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbnJo88kuP8)

Hearing that line again and again reminds me to let my kids feel what they’re feeling and that I just need to back the hell off and be a soft place to fall when they get off track.

I don’t normally write about popular culture or celebrity deaths, maybe that’s why my blog is so unpopular, but like Bowie, I prefer to write about what touches me and take risks expressing myself and sharing my world in ways others might think precarious. We have only one life and none of us need to spend it swaddled in crushing self-doubt and insecurity.

Let’s Dance, Modern Love… I could go on and on, but I won’t go on and on. I’ll let you wax in your own memories.

RIP David. You are now truly Stardust.

Thank you.

*stage name

Frosted Memories

Standard

This morning, before my son and I ventured out for his walk to school, my husband called me down to get his camera phone so he could take a picture, “I think there’s a red-tailed hawk on Tommy’s front yard…” By the time I got to him, it was gone.

“I think it was… It was just sitting there, it was so strange. Like it was looking for something…”

“Like its keys…? I asked, adding, “Where is Gandalf? or Beezer?” referring to our cats. He said they were inside.

Back to work, nothing to see here.

I went to the kitchen and wrestled out a bag of trash to go in the cans by our driveway. The sky was very clear, still a little dawn-ish outside, so no real sunshine, just its rumor. It always amazes me in some really weird way how the sun just hangs out and does her thing. It’s automatic. She doesn’t move at all, there is no sunrise or sunset; it’s just the Earth turning.

Lined up across the street from my house were four tall bistro chairs, upholstered in some form of black bonded leather (essentially vinyl), sitting in wait for the maw of the garbage truck which would come soon enough. Because they were out overnight in the sub-freezing temps, frost had settled on their seats.

My husband was on his way back into the house from running some trash and he mentioned to me as we passed on our walk-up that we should write something in them.

Given the news lately, and my anxiety, bad dreams, poor sleep and general low-grade PTSD from being a 34-year resident of a neighborhood serving as a bedroom and home to top brass in the military (including General Powell back in the day) and other people who work for the government, my thoughts were not rational. My initial ideas about what to write on those seats were puerile, humorous, shocking and primitive.

I’m not sure what my husband was thinking of writing, maybe Peace Be With You or Have A Great Day or I Like Your Smile, because he’s a kind and decent human being. But because I come from different stock, I had all sorts of low-class possibilities in my head. I like one-word hits. My brain is pretty fast at calculating opportunities like that: how to get something impactful done in a broad stroke.

Two nights before, the night of the San Bernadino attack, I woke stunned from a nightmare of black-clad, balaclava’d, and jackbooted thugs opening fire on my family and me in our own backyard. Given this dream, and my apparent anxiety that has been feeding my subconscious, I knew that I have been in dire need of some laughter. Some air in my lungs, the numbing in the lips that comes from the deep breaths of laughing hard.

So when my husband went inside to fetch his gear to push off for work, I scampered up to the seats and scrawled on the seats with my fingernail to cut through the frost.

I saw space or opportunity for four letters: S-H-I-T, I thought, first… well, only after thinking F-U-C-K, but SHIT was right there as a swift shame-driven alternative, right on the tip of my fingernail, I swear. (Remind me to tell you about the first time I said “fuck” in 8th grade in the earshot of the Gray Nuns of the Order of the Sacred Heart…)

Prouder than a peacock with his tail feathers at full spread, I ran in to grab my camera phone to snap a pic. “I wrote on them,” I squeaked to my husband as he went back to his car. “Oh?” he said, bemused, concerned and curious.

He walked over and this is what he saw:

FARTchairs

And it made me laugh. Emission (snort) accomplished.

He giggled. “Funny,” he said, slightly relieved I’m sure, at its relatively G-rated content. It could’ve been so much worse, trust me, I wanted to say.

Last night he was the one with the home invasion dream. “Lock all the doors…” he said as he squeezed me in to give me a smooch before driving away. “Take care of Ma,” he said to Murphy and Charlie, our dogs who bark at things that are not there and he was off to save the world from bad mortgages.

I wondered about how a harpie might feel, a rush of anxiety that comes as the sky brightens. I knew the “art” would be like the methane it represented: vapor, as soon as the eight-minute-old sunlight hit the dark reflective surface.

Taking that childlike risk of writing a taboo word (even though it was ephemera) on someone else’s property (even though it was headed to the landfill), was exhilarating. It felt like I was free from fear and that at that moment, everything was just as it should be.

And it was. At that moment, everything was as it should’ve been.

I went inside to show my son, “Look at what I did,” I said, eyebrows up and biting my lip like Bill Clinton.

He was confused. “Fart? Did you do that? Why would you write that?”

I sort of deflated, defended, “Because why not? It’s not super offensive; the chairs are headed for the trash… it will evaporate in a nanosecond once the sun hits it…” I thought of all my kids, he would think it was funny.

“Oh. Ok. Funny. F-A-R-T… that’s pretty clever. You could’ve written far worse… ” he said, and I stopped him from giving me ideas. He’s the youngest of three brothers and he’s in 6th grade, so he’s got plenty of source material and I need to preserve the illusion that he’s still a young baby.

He finished his breakfast, gathered up his stuff and I zipped his jacket. As we stepped down to walk to school, the frost had burned off. “It’s gone, Mom,” he said, a little sad that he wasn’t able to see the actual letters anymore. “I’m glad you took that picture of it.”

I almost wasn’t going to write this post today. I thought that people might consider it lowbrow in light of all the sadness in the news. But I know that I can’t change other people nor can I cater to them, or else I’d never get any writing done. Each of us is on our own journey and we all process grief and fear in different ways. I can’t let myself be consumed by fear.

Given those processes, I know that if I let it, fear can take over me. Sirens blared past my house an hour ago and I went searching for my phone to run a police scanner app I uploaded after the Paris attacks. I opened my local emergency response channel and went to Urban Dictionary to look up police codes. I heard that a building needed to be evacuated because a media room was likely exposed to a gas leak.

Just before Hallowe’en there was an explosion in a science lab at a nearby high school, so I lost myself. I was about to text my son at his high school to see if everything was alright, but he still had an hour to go, and my inquiry could set off a complete meltdown for him. I had to think about him first. I got back in the Moment. I fought the fear: I put down the phone and decided to write this post instead.

My writing “F-A-R-T” in the frost on the chairs is not a nod toward denial and complacency but rather a step into vulnerability in order to own and then release my fear. … emission accomplished. 

Thank you.