2 Steps Away from the Shelter: The Rage’s Red Glare

On July 4th I was with my guy and we went and bought fireworks, walked on a local beach and basically had a good time. But he has an injured leg that has not healed completely yet, and he was wearing his heavy work boots, so he accidentally injured himself by stomping his feet to get beach sand off. When we got home, he got angry. I got out of the truck, took the fireworks inside, and had a piece of gluten free toast. He went into the back yard and started going nuclear. I heard this FFFFUCK ring out loud, and when I looked back there he had the mad dog hate look on his face. I did not wait for an exploration into whatever he was triggered by. Lately it’s been just about anything and everything. I got one of my drums and a chair and left in my car.

I drove a ways, checked out the Legion for music, which was going on, then meandered around a shop area. I saw my guy in a truck driving on a main road where I was waiting to turn onto. He passed by me sitting in my car. I turned in behind him at the light, only to see him floor it and turn left when the light turned green, screeching his tires. I got the message: I hate you, fuck off. Leave me alone you BITCH.

I headed straight and called a friend to ask if I could stay over. They said yes.

I dozed at the beach in my car, then practiced playing afro cuban bits on my drum. I looked up an Al Anon meeting and went. It was only 3 other woman, but perfect. Then I journeyed to a friend’s house and had a peaceful and safe evening until I went to bed on the floor. My cell phone stayed completely silent. I didn’t worry. They next morning, I got up and hit an early morning 12 step meeting I usually go to. My guy showed up, sat next to me, and declared himself an alcoholic. Something I never thought to see ever. I attached nothing to that, knowing it would be a mistake for me to assume he was not drinking or going to do anything in particular with 12 Step. The weekend went by, not a terrible weekend, but not necessarily that good either. The guy has a lot of stirred up stuff going on. He’s damned unhappy.

Today, I left in the morning earlier than I needed to because of the vitriol and seething bitterness flooding the airwaves at me from Mad at the World Guy. As I was getting home, I noticed his truck was gone, and I got a phone call from a woman in a medical office. She said my guy had come in and gotten very agitated and angry, stormed out. She was trying to explain the charges for a pre-operation bill he has. I knew he’d decided the charges were false and they were trying to bilk him. Not a minute off the phone, he drove in the driveway in a raging rush. I stayed outside in the driveway. He banged around inside the house, swearing, then came out to tell me he will sue the medical office. I offered to try and look up when he’d gone. This fell on deaf, raging ears.

I got into my car and left, thinking maybe it was time to call the shelter and leave for good. Not a half hour later, he called me and apologized for yelling at me. I could hear something had collapsed inside of him. He was already talking about just paying the bill. I went on and handled some other chores. He called me again and asked me to pay the bill and apologize to them, promising to pay me later. For the moment, he was aware that he is unable to control himself and is mad at everyone. I’m completely blown away. The story is not over, and the shelter awaits.

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Stealth Dishes and Not Volunteering

Today I had to wash, dry and put away dishes in stealth mode. My partner, suffering from long months of incessant coffee drinking, excessive nonstop smoking of 2 kinds of tobacco, and pain pills to excess, is deep in chronic malnutrition and OCD. He doesn’t eat much actual food, and he eats and drinks crap like sodas. Therefore he had a series of Fuck You fights this morning with a) his shoelaces b)his shoes c)me not conserving water while washing dishes, d)his shirt, e) the cat not eating exactly how and when he decrees it, and yes,the awful noise intrusion of me washing dishes.

Today he is 55 and had broth with me in the morning , though I don’t know why. Besides the rotten,can’t stand being in my skin anger, there is anxiety, confusion, depressive thoughts, and many ideas on what he wants to do for work and with his life, which he then discards. I use to flounder in this poisonous pool of misery and toxic energy hating him, hating myself and feeling awful and terrified. Now I simply arrive at the other side and go to Spin class or whatever like a kid in high rubber boots wading through a deep mud puddle. He now periodically tries to shut himself up, expresses concern for me, and fails. Yet he’s now paying bills,(be still my heart-28 years of not) went to 2 AA Meetings with me after he first took a drink. He has now paid $800 of his own bills after attacking me about them, accusing me of lying to him about them, and throwing a metal chair at the wall in blackout.

I remember when the hate/self loathing was virulent and delusional 24/7 nonstop,and I could barely do anything in my home at all, including shower, dress, cook, eat, clean up or work. I’m still living out of my car a lot, and the damned thing is a mess. I need to clear it out and clean it.

My drumming group is going through an interesting change also. We can no longer drum at the place where we’ve been for a while, and there is upheaval going on within the group to manage the change.
I just know I’m not the one to manage. Been there, done that, and it’a shitty job. People take if for granted, ignore the messages, and the more headstrong ones doe whatever the fuck they think they want. I am not wisely not volunteering to take her place, or even “HelP”. The few members who matter are a headstrong lot, and they generally do what they want to get what they want when they want it, devil and anyone weak enough to get in their way take the hindmost.

Now it’s a week later, and the question as to where our drumming master will teach on the coast has not been answered. I have steered clear of creating more strife by re-ingratiating myself with the ex-coordinator, and staying detached from outcome regarding what, where and when the master will be drumming in the future. My car is a heck of a lot cleaner and clearer. The decision for the time being by the group is to attend one the master’s other classes in a different location and celebrate his birthday next Saturday. The ex-coordinator is still clutching at what she thinks is reality and not letting go. It’s all perfect exactly the way it is.

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How Sweet It Is Being Able to Drum

Today I went to my usual congolese drum and dance class, a class I have been attending for 5 years plus. Our Congolese Master had not come for 2 whole weeks, because of a marathon and an event in Half Moon Bay which takes place annually called “Dream Machines”. It is a fundraiser for the local senior center and it’s huge and clogs all the roads when it happens every April. The class is not very big, but has somehow lasted, despite many forces to the contrary.

Picture, if you will, a pair of little kitten paw hands. My hands are fine boned and have small, short fingers. My drumming masters have hands with fingers twice as long as mine. I’m 57 lbs overweight, and I’ve got fat hanging off my frame in the stomach area, underarms and the inner part of my knees. And yet, I can play with those little bitsy hands like people twice my size.

Playing today was a joy. I stand to play, use a rack for my conga, and when I am playing, I am clear and strong. My hands fly and float like birds, even when the pace is brisk. I am relaxed, my joints loose. My upper arm flab moves, but it is only part of my wingspan when I drum. I have skill I have earned 100 % of. I have speed, accuracy, clear strokes of base, slap, muff and tone.

The road to this state was a long and wretched one. I wasted years struggling with and chasing what had to come with persistence and determination. I used to be mad at everyone. I used to be affected by what everyone else in the class was doing, their lack of committment, their personal bullshit, you name it. I WAS ATTACHED to all kinds of unnecessary ideas about how things should be which I have now completely shed. I have trained my hearing and accuracy to the point where how others play no longer is a problem. I hear only what I need to hear to play and enjoy my playing.

My acquired skill does not make me a big deal. I am simply someone who drums and CAN drum for dancers. Congolese drumming is not for the faint of heart. It takes stamina, which I have. I have no doubt I would not impress the big dudes at Congo Camp straddling their N’Goma rocket drums a whit, but I could technically keep up with them for an hour and a half if it was called for. I can remember the long years of yearning to get there, the despair and confusion over many years, and the pain of wondering if I should quit many, many times. But I never did, and here I am.

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Joining the Clubbell Club in Tinseltown

I just posted a very unflattering picture of myself on Facebook wearing a bright red Clubbell Jersey with a clubbell on my shoulder. You can see my large fat front stomach tires stacked on top of each other as clear as day. I am standing in front of a brick wall stacked with dumbells two feet deep in the Valley Crossfit Gym in Van Nuys, California, with a clubbell “parked” on my shoulder. I posted it to prove I went, because training for it was not easy, and I found it hard to believe I was actually going, so I made all the travel arrangements at the very last minute.

As fat and dumpy looking as I am, I am happy I made it to the Clubbell Certification Workshop and got the training I got. I lucked out and met coaches who gave me good information and I began to feel the difference deep in my hips, pelvis, and spine. I was doing most of the work during the two days with 10 pound clubbells, which are not easy for me to handle. Though I gained strength and confidence using them, I knew well before the end attempting the 15 minute “Trial by Fire” with 10′s was inviting injury. I was encouraged to do it with 5′s a coach had brought along, and it showed me how much more I need to develop in focus and concentration.

One encouraged me to do low reps and set the clubbells down, stand up to “recover”. Another told me he’d taken 2 years to master the lighter clubs and get the forms and breathing down. He’d been overweight and in pain when he started. Angela and Emily Fisher, the two sisters leading the workshops, exhibited an amazing balance in their frames, as did the one woman coach from Salinas. I found them almost petite in person, neither fat, nor skinny, nor “cut”, just functionally strong, lean and fluid in their movements. The men were also that way, though a few of them had some weight, but not much.

My adventures in going to Tinseltown or LA and Hollywood were more mundane but no less challenging. I had Vietnamese “PHO” rice noodle soup for breakfast and lunch the first day, not knowing where to find a Whole Foods. I had to park massage oil, Dr. Bronner’s soap, and lavender water at SFO for a fee because you can’t take any liquids over 3 oz on the plane. I didn’t know how to pack clubbells, and my guy ended up wrapping them in a rug and putting package tape around them. Catching the right rental car shuttle at LAX to pick up my rental car and driving to Van Nuys in Gridlock was a litte nerve wracking.

LA really is ” a great big freeway” as the the song says, and it took me awhile to navigate. I tried to find Beautiful Downtown Burbank, a favorite LA reference of Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, and ended up in “NoHo”, which I finally figured out meant North Hollywood. I was invited to dinner with part of the group at a restaurant named “The Heart of India”. I arrived there on time, only to find out no one else was there. It was late, and I was beginning to go back to my hotel, when someone showed up. There were all kinds of anxiety provoking stuff like that, but there were also little miracles along with the goofups, so I stayed aware and repeatedly calmed myself.

But what I remember most was what a trainer from LA, who is high on the trainer food chain told me: He said: ” There is nothing that trains you like clubbells if you do them properly. If you do them carelessly, they will destroy you. ”

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Ten Pounds of Terror

Today, for the very first time, I did full front swipes with two 10 lb black clubbells. They weigh 10 lbs apiece, and I’m here to tell ya those black monsters are terrifying to swing up and dip behind my head, one in each hand.

One clonk on the back of my head or neck and I know the party will be over forever. When I decided to do clubbells, it never occurred to me I’d be inviting brain or nerve damage. I had no clue about the reality of 10 lbs of plastic coated weighted steel flying around the back of my head or past my knees with momentum. I assumed 10 lbs weren’t all that heavy, having handled dumbells, barbells and weights before that were far heavier.

I never would have done it if my coach, a black belt in jiu jitsu and experienced trainer, had not worked with me to learn how to grip them in the middle of the handle, balance them in a front post position and use momentum to angle them over my back. The weird thing about clubbells, is that heavy or not, you need to relax and use momentum to use them properly. And this is the complete opposite of what you want to do when you don’t have either the strength or coordination to begin with.

Right now, training for clubbell certification seems about as intelligent and sustainable as going to circus school to learn how to be shot out of a cannon. There is no safety. I’m praying to get through this without damage.

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Let’s Do the Math and Stop Multiplying

I’m beginning to get curious as to why there is this idea every human has the right to reproduce. I read “The Population Bomb” in high school, and I thought it made perfect sense. From Malthus to Helen Caldicott, I am not the first to think of the fact the world might be a better place if we stopped making new children for awhile, say 10 years minimum. We could take of the ones we already have, old people, poor people, EVERYONE in existence, and basically stop destroying our planet.

lately I’ve been hearing this supposed quote of Einstein about how we need to change our thinking since the atomic bomb was invented, and what I believe he means is that we need to unify as a world species and stop acting stupid. All the wars, all the atrocities happen because there is competition for resources and power and we have allowed crazy people to do massively insane things like build nuclear power plants and weapons manufacturers and dealers run the world.

We suffer as a species and a world from a strange myopia around changing anything. Most of what runs our society is stuff someone once thought was a good idea, and then it became a very bad idea that was not working anymore and we cling to it with a death grip.
I’m no different from anyone else on that account, I actually hate change of any kind, and that is why I can’t get my goddess blessed internet passwords down and saved in an accessible place and I keep locking my keys in my car though I have 2 spare sets to prevent such a thing.

People, we have essentially arrived at that place where we need to unify as a world species and decide if we want to have a planet we can live on or not. I don’t begin to imagine we should outlaw sex or tell people they can’t reproduce, because the desire to is gi-normous and will not be heeded for a moment. I think we need to make it a global mandate and ASK all the human beings in the world to prevent new pregnancies( YES, IT CAN BE DONE) by realizing overpopulation is one of the reasons why we are losing our planet for everyone.

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Mrs. Potato Head Goes Clubbell

Today I had my second training session with my coach in clubbell use. She has never done clubbells but is such an excellent coach that she’s already figured out how to train me and is doing it well. She’s a little titan, a slinger of the “Bulgarian Bag”, a black belt in BJJ and karate.I’m a freaking genius for hiring her and immensely lucky to have her.

I’m scheduled to go to southern California in a month from now and attempt to become certified in Clubbell instruction by the one, the only, the prolific Mr. Scott Sonnon and his sister pair of women Clubbell Mongers, Emily and Angelea Fisher. There is a good chance I will not pass, but if I wasn’t going to the workshop, I wouldn’t have the incentive to actually learn how to do the clubbells, hire a coach and so on, so I’m doing it anyway.

The funny thing is, I have no idea if it’s actually possible for me to do clubbells or not. In the mirror, I look like a tall Oompa Loompa with a pin head, but with a good haircut that has highlights. I’m bumpy, lumpy and I jiggle in the lower 40, midriff, and upper arms. After building up a sort of visual denial filter of “not so bad”, my actual form is comical to me. But then there is the danger of swinging the clubbells…..I could in fact take out one of my kneecaps with those things if I don’t stay focused.

But I know that once I do the moves enough, my body will take them on and adjust, take them in. So far I have no pain in my right shoulder or anywhere else and I actually hefted the 10 pounders today. I’m remembering I was able to come in and do three months of BJJ classes without freaking out, so this may in fact lead me to something good. My real goal is joint health and flexibility and interesting ways that maintain or build it I can do with other people.

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My Life as a “Cuute” 60 Year Old Boy

I recently got a very short haircut. It’s shorter than it’s been since birth, probably. The only way it could be shorter is if I shaved my head. I have a tiny thatch of streaked hair on top of my head, and a sort of very short fuzz around the sides and back. I have a new haircutter, and this rather good looking young woman has an instinct for cutting my hair which has blown my mind.

I’ve only had my hair cut by her twice, and both times the “do” has proven to be attractive to other people. I get nothing but compliments, though to me I look like a wrinkled little boy in the mirror. With my hair so short, there is nothing hidden: jowls, wrinkles, blotches, discolorations and so on are right out there in the open. People tell me I am cute and I don’t get offended.

I personally love having short hair because there is no fuss. no muss, no hairspray, gel, combing or whatever. I am spared dealing with my very fine, limp, nearly translucent when clean, pale ash brown hair. I’m about to turn 60, and I seem to be going back in time to when I was a happy kid who didn’t have to worry about looking feminine. My mother didn’t think I looked feminine, and she used to tell me to unbutton my top button so “people won’t think you are a lesbian”.

I’ve never been a lesbian, but I have never liked all the over sexualized pressures that are put on women to dress and be obsessed with looks their entire lives. To me it is mostly bullshit, and I have been lucky to live in an age when there is less punishment for women who don’t conform to either the madonna or vixen role costuming.

The ironic thing happening is that I feel as thought the clock is going backwards, that I’m growing younger, instead of older. And yet I am glad I am not young, because actually being younger is not a state I felt safe in. I certainly don’t feel all-wise or particularly safe now, but I’m wise enough and more able to accept the good and the bad of being alive.

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Grrls, Feminists, and the W Word

Lately I’ve become aware of the fact that the word “woman” is not a popular word in our culture. More often than not, we females are referred to as “girls”. This word is tossed about as though it is some sort of peppy little compliment and the W word (woman) is somehow stodgy and not so good as in bad.

Granted, our culture also refers to men as “boys” in the same sort of careless, affectionate way which I don’t find objectionable any more than someone calling a guy named Robert “Bob”. The clearly intended context of affection and casual familiarity is not what bugs me.

What bugs me is the way the word “woman” and “women” is often not used or there are other words with mild to severe derision and disrespect implied to the female gender in them. There are tons of them: “broad-frail-tomato-ho-mistress-bitch,slave, drudge.. the list goes on.And if that is how we are regarded, who would ever want to be a “woman” anyway?

Even the word “Female” is used in a clinical, almost unfriendly way at times instead of the plain old W word. Besides “grrrl” we have the homey “gal” or Lady. My BJJ teacher actually refers to us all as “Ladies.” I feel like whipping out my lace trimmed parasol, bustle and bonnet every time I hear her say it, though I am grateful for her use of it as a term of respect.

I don’t dislike the word “girl”, but I find it very disturbing how we (I’m included) are patterned by language to associate feminine innocence, vitality, worth and beauty to that which is a term for the immature state of a female child, rather than either the w word or terms of respect which are yet to be coined.

“Feminist” or “Feminista” remains a suspicious and not liked word even more than “woman”. I don’t use the word “feminist” because I associate it with card carrying activists who do things like getting beaten and put in jail. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to get beaten and sent to jail, thank you very much, and I don’t want to be associated with those who do. Actually being a woman in a society so rooted in patriarchy, is, by the very implied non discussion of it, not desirable or associated with having power.

Further, though I admire many feminist writers, I hate the way feminist factions have warred with each other, and are widely associated with hating and denigrating men. There are a great many people out there who hate feminists for daring to care about women and fight for their rights. I need to remember that the women who have been willing to fight for women’s rights are the reason why my world is as free as it is, in many significant and important ways.

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Fear and Loathing with Fukushima

I had a pretty nice New Year’s Day. I made a spicy lemonade for my respiratory cough, watched a tear jerker movie at home: “PS I Love You”, and went for a walk out on the bluffs. When i was home in the evening, I caught an article about how there are now steam plumes from Fukushima that many are predicting will send radioactive isotopes over to us on the west coast of California within 3-5 days, which will mean tomorrow or the next day. The article advised everyone to buy tons of heavy plastic, duct tape, disposable white tyvek suits, a certain kind of gas mask, and to advise the boss at work now that covering the house inside and out to prevent inhalation of radioactive particles is going to need to happen.

This really ruined my evening for awhile. Reading the article only made it very clear that even if the writer was right, and doing all this taping of plastic and trying to prevent contamination in the house was going to work, it’s not going to guarantee jack about what is happening one way or another. There is simply no way of knowing for sure what, in fact, is going to happen and being able to conclusively do anything about it to protect myself or the world from it.

I am completely furious and pissed off at the world for having anything to do with nuclear weapons and power plants after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which I think, should never have been bombed with so horrible a weapon. I can’t for the life of me understand how and why we are still here. Mainly I’m sad for the stupidity of the species and this needless destruction, along with so much other human bullshit, of this beautiful planet. In the universal scheme of things, I think we rate about insect level, except they are smart enough not to wipe themselves out. I hate nuclear, have since I found out about it in high school through reading about it, and had recurring nightmares about it for months after I learned about it.

I managed to paint a mandala of a Hathor, who are interdimensional beings from Venus that are supposed to still be around, though not in corporeal 3 dimensional form. They do everything by sonic vibration, and there are sculptures of them from ancient Egypt, where they were associated with Hathor the mother cow goddess and Sehkmet the lion goddess. I painted a figure surrounded by bright colors in a circle and put the word Fukushima spelled out with skulls for the U’s and jiggy jaggy black lines representing radiation outside of the circle of light.

I’ve spent so much time being afraid and worrying about stuff, struggling not to be terrified and screwed up about all kinds of threats in my life, real and imagined, that I have just chucked all that fear just to live. It’s not that I’m that prepared for all the things happening at all. I just don’t care to imagine I’m able to prevent any of them. I’m at peace with the fact that the last few years have been a whole better for me than most of the previous one because I choose a line of lessor resistance.

I live with a guy I have nicknamed “Dr. Doom”. He loves to get up and look at stuff on the internet that is all about fear, the end of the world, and wallow in it daily. I am happy that today he put on the best of Bread on youtube and we listened to music. Another miracle.

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