1. Ever get tired of going along with people’s games? Everyone has at least one. Almost every game is transparent. Even the games therapists play. Sometimes it’s so tiring. There are times I want to smash the facades and say, “Have more respect for me than that.” Be honest or don’t fucking bother. I don’t mean that we should all be tactless. But, if I don’t feel you, it isn’t real. It doesn’t get through. It’s just another social game we all play. It bounces off the surface along with my social game response. Why bother? You get real for real, period. My own games piss me off the most.
2. The other day I was out of town at my uncle’s funeral viewing, which for my mother’s side of the family means we were having a family reunion and a kind of wake at the funeral home. It was getting toward the end of the viewing period when one of the attendants informed us a storm was moving in. I looked up the weather on my cell phone and that in combination with my intuition told me if I waited an hour or so I could likely ride my motorcycle home in relative dryness despite my lack of rain gear. My male cousins, however, kept saying that if I “left right away (I) (would) beat the storm” and “if it was (them) (they) would hightail it out of there right away.” As an avid feminist I hate to admit that I am sometimes, if not often, still socially conditioned to grant more weight to the opinions of the males in my life than to my own intuition and knowledge. I do this subconsciously when I do it, but I do it. So yes, I followed their advice and drove right into a severe rain storm. It was so bad I had to pull off the road, blind, three separate times and wait until the stinging rain slowed enough I could see a few feet in front of me so I could continue driving. Twenty-five miles (and an hour) down the road I came to the first available cover or shelter–a gas station. A kind gal working there offered me an armful of clean tea towels and I wrung out my clothes in the latrine, drying the inside of my boots as best I could, dried off and redressed. After mopping up my trail of puddles from the front door to the latrine, I waited out the rest of the storm trading stories of tattoos with her.
3. I keep having this nightmare: I’m in a room. I hear a kind of godawful wailing or howling. It’s loud. The hairs on the back of my neck, scalp, and arms raise. It sounds like an animal. Maybe a dog? I think “Who is hurting that dog?” I look around but I don’t see an animal anywhere in the room. It’s so loud I cover my ears with my hands. Finally it subsides to a whimper, then I wake up. I’m shaking and sweating and it’s hard to breath. I get up and salve my dry throat with a drink of water and pace the floor until the sound is a distant memory.
4. Regarding number two above, riding through the storm with no rain gear–On reflecting on it later it seems an apt metaphor for surviving the many storms of life: We get soaked through to the bone. We get pelted with stinging rain, or biting sleet, or pounding hail, or driving snow, or scouring sand. Sometimes we can’t see our way through the storm so we have to pull over to the side of the road until the worst of the storm lessens a bit so we can see well enough to ride on. We might find a bridge to wait it out under, or if we’re really lucky a kind store lady who loans us tea towels and trades stories of our tattoos. Sometimes we might have missed the storm altogether had we listened to our intuition rather than the opinions of others. If we make it through very bad storms, we often end up teaching others how to make it through them, or how to avoid them altogether. Always we wonder how the hell we managed to come out alive. And sometimes we wish our bodies had died where our souls did.
5. Did you ever wish someone would just look into your eyes and see you? I mean see YOU. Not what you look like. Not your story. Not their assumptions about you. Not their judgements about you. Not their agendas for you. Just. You. I can’t even imagine what that might feel like. How even more incredible it might feel if they also looked with love at the you they saw. If you could see that in their eyes and feel that from them. I think it might feel like oxygen and space. Like freedom. Like room to grow and stretch and explore. Like breathing fresh mountain air. Like learning to live–I mean really, really live. Maybe that’s why we have dogs. To give us a hint of what we could gift each other, if we would. What an incredible world this would be if we all did that for each other.
6. My neighborhood used to be friendly. All the yards were open to each other. All my neighbors would wave across the space and invite each over for coffee, or beer, or cookouts, or bonfires. Eventually the neighbors behind me moved out and some isolationist Jehovah’s Witnesses moved in. When they started building a crappy tall privacy fence that cut my catercorner neighbor and I off from each other she got upset and raised the rallying cry. For weeks we followed that fence building venture every weekend from one section to the other with cookout parties at various houses around them. I felt kind of sorry for them because they received a lot of razzing over that fence which, truth be told wasn’t very well built. But you could tell they were doing their best, under the circumstances. And really, if they wanted to be isolationists that was their right. They did own that property after all. The whole thing culminated when the last section of fence pole was going in by the front of their house and the best view could be had by standing on a tall ladder on my deck, which my catercorner neighbor did and reported to the rest of us as we enjoyed laughing between bites of the hot dogs, hamburgers, and other fine cookout edibles we had all managed to throw together. Suddenly an odor of gas began to permeate the air coming from the direction of the hated fence. It grew stronger until we realized what had happened. Several things happened instantaneously: I yelled,”Turn off the grill!” My next door neighbor rushed her two little boys into her house. My catercorner neighbor yelled, “He’s lighting a cigarette!” And she dived to the ground. Several voices screamed, “Oh fuck!” and “Holy Shit!” and other such obscenities, as people scattered in every direction. But nothing happened. So we all slowly came slinking back to find my catercorner neighbor climbing up the ladder. She said the firemen had arrived and wrestled him to the ground and grabbed his cigarette and put it out and were “reading him the riot act.” We later learned he had to pay a bunch of money for the gas company to turn off the gas and fix his mess because he didn’t call first to find out where the lines were before he dug, and for the fire department having to come out because hitting a gas line is a fire hazard. The neighbors all had a good laugh and felt somewhat vindicated. But now we have two more new neighbors and they’re putting up tall privacy fences too. My catercorner neighbor has moved to a new place where she has built a new privacy fence. Things just aren’t the same here anymore. The neighbors’ kids don’t walk across the yard for cookies and milk and to play with the dogs, or so I will babysit while their mom runs a short errand or because she is late getting home from work. We don’t even know their names anymore. Some of them we haven’t even seen. Everyone stays to themselves. It’s just a place to live in a house. There are too many places like that now, and not enough communities. I feel a bit sad about that. I miss the way it used to be. Sometimes my catercorner neighbor irritated me, but she was the driving force of connection.