The Only Thing We Are Good For

I just read a Chris Hedges article that was posted through Nation of Change about how Prostitution and Trafficking are being globally enlarged through countries that make it legal and people accepting it as an institution of commerce when in fact it is about economic slavery and degradation of women and people. Not a minute after I read it there was a comment by a man saying that banning prostitution and making it illegal will not stop it, and that organized crime does it if someone else isn’t doing the pimping, trafficking, and profit making. As if it’s ok to make anyone fuck for money EVER.

Hedges goes on to include information about a woman activist in Canada who runs a house for helping women out of trafficking/prostitution that has had it’s government funding cut because she won’t let the government have her records about the women who come through her her venue to be controlled and persecuted after they have gotten out/away from the sex slavery they’ve been coerced or trafficked into. She attests to the fact there are attacks on her and her activism to legally help and protect women from trafficking into sex slavery to keep the classism, misogyny, male indulgence to be able to buy sex and commercial status quo in place.

Once upon a time quite a while ago, I went to an art exhibit by a woman who had a series of masks made from molds of her face about being an incest survivor. I don’t remember where and when this exhibit was, her name, and I don’t remember any of the masks EXCEPT one: It was a small, dull red, eyeless form of her face entitled “The Only Thing I’m Good For”. The mouth area was pursed into an O shape, with the suggestion of something tubelike going there. Within seconds of looking at it, I got the message this was about a penis being forced into her mouth. And I will never, ever FORGET THAT.

This woman’s art inspired me to make clay masks that were from molds of my face and to use art to try and express my personal struggles with being female in a sick patriarchal culture and I still have them today, along with Process Paintings about what I have found unspeakable and horrifying about my life. What I have found is that we women oppress ourselves from within due to the momentum of generations of denial and silence around the explicit and categorical degradation of women and other injustices of our world. Like most of the all the women I know, I have colluded with it, not yet able to get a bearing on how I can change in relation to my growing awareness of my part in it.

Recently I went to a live drumming/dancing/singing performance dedicated to the ocean great mother orisha, Yemonja. As a bata drummer I have played bata rhythms for the cuban version of the mother orisha Yemaya. Yemonja is the Brazilian version and the performance featured a variety of offerings that were magnificent. I heard about the performance through my current drumming teacher because his children were in the performance. Going to it was uplifting and inspiring.

What I did not bargain for was running into my ex percussion teacher. I saw him during the intermission putting drums on the stage. I knew this meant he would be performing in the second half, which he did, with 3 other cuban guys. The performance was sold out, packed, and when I walked from the main room to the lobby, there he was in front of me. We had a moment of unavoidable eye contact and he turned to stone. He cut me cold, as though I hadn’t been the neighbor, friend and dedicated, consistent drumming student of his for 4 and a half years. When he arrived from Cuba, I was the one who introduced him to people that would become his students locally. I had nothing directly to do with the end of the relationship that had brought him to my home town and his exit from it.

This was not the first time he’d refused to acknowledge me. He did it before when I went to a drum class taught by a drumming crony of his in the city. He was there playing bell at the request of his friend during the class. He had ignored my smile and a wave then and it seemed like it might be accidental. But this time it was very clear it wasn’t. Though I can guess why he is no longer OK with me, I can’t be sure what he’s thinking and why he is shunning me.

It hurt and I felt quite angry though I did not react. Not one minute after I saw him and experienced the psychic slam to my gut, I ran into another Cuban fella who was also briefly my teacher. He hadn’t left on the best terms either. He called out my name, seemingly delighted to see me and gave me an enthusiastic hug. All a mystery, as I had been a hot mess when I’d been his student and didn’t believe he thought much of me.

And yet now I see this situation as the sign of real growth that it is. My ex teacher contributed a great deal to me becoming a better drummer. Yet I had arrived at a place where I knew I needed to move on and he’d taught me all that he could before it ended, and now I don’t have to pretend I approve of him personally. I saw signs of his general and particular lack of respect for women long before he was gone. He had some very good points as a teacher, could be benevolent at times, but he was often harsh and bordering on abuse of me and others who were his students. What he taught the most was FOCUS, and I cried some bitter tears learning it while fighting to not walk away from him for good.

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Drumming Class Heaven: The Divine Mr. Santos

Before the year ended, I got a call from a drumming class friend on the coast. She had noticed in the College of San Mateo catalog that a noted local professional musician has a latin percussion class he teaches. Because our Congolese master is no longer coming to our town, opportunities to drum are presently non existent. She invited me to join her in checking out the class before the semester was over. I told her I had seen the class in the catalog for years and wanted to take it, but hadn’t felt confident enough to even go to check it out.

After the New Year came and went, she called me again, and we agreed to call each other the next week and see if we could go check it out on the day of the first class. The day came, I called her, and she could not go, but she told me the time of the class, the building it was in on the campus, and the fact I’d need to pay $2 for parking in the Visitor lot to a Parking Kiosk. I decided to go alone. I actually lost my car keys that day, had to get someone to drive me home to get a spare set, and I knew it was because a part of me was in reaction to me finally going to check out this class.

I arrived, found the Visitor parking lot, and went up to the Art/Theatre/ and Music building early. I had no idea what classroom it was, had tried to look it up on the website but hadn’t been able to. I prowled and circled around the 2 floors of the building, seeing no one, and fretting. Many of the classrooms in the music area had digital dials on them, and small windows which were covered or too high for me to peek into. Finally I saw a guy pulling a conga bag on wheels and followed him into the right classroom. There was John Santos with his fedora, chairs, an empty dry erase board, and a conga. I let him know I was not enrolled but wanting to check out his class. There were some LP loaner congas, and I luckily was allowed to borrow one.

At the end of the class he came up to me and asked me where I had previously played, and was I Carolyn Brandy’s student. This was a moment I had never imagined could happen. It melted me to the core. I’ve floundered and struggled, been lost for too many years. I managed to get online, enroll, and try to register for the class within the next week. I had computer problems and had to call the Registrar’s office, and then had to email the instructor for a code number which was confirmation I had permission to take the class. I sent Mr. Santos an email and he gave me the code. When I had the money, I finished the registration.

I love the class. There are women and men, young and old. Some are experienced, some are not. Mr. Santos loves his subject, and is an excellent teacher. He presents all three modalities of learning: visual, auditory and kinetic. He breaks things down, builds slowly, answers questions. One time he brought a guest drummer, a friend who has drummed for Santana for 40 years. He has an assistant who sends us the drum charts after each class. He has tips from 42 years of drumming and performing. He sings the rhythms,steps and plays them, writes what we are doing on the board. We get three whole hours a week with him and a break.
With Mr. Santos, the latin percussion world is just one big family of people and stories are told of everything from how drums are manufactured to every kind of detail about rhythm there is.

I’m almost grateful it took me so long to get there. I’m experienced enough to know what a treasure I’ve found which I can respect, love and savor. The second time I went to class I took my own drum in a drum bag, and it happened to be cold and windy. Mr. Santos and his assistant were at class when I arrived early. I was bundled up in my North Face coat and a wool hat, and he invited me into the class so I would not be cold. I’m not used to being noticed or treated well, simply for existing. I think I’m going to like getting used to it without taking it for granted.

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Asstanga Yoga

Before the year ended, I took a 7 am Ashtanga yoga class from a woman teacher I’d never met before at the yoga studio I’ve gone to for 15 years. The fact that the class is only an hour as opposed to the usual hour and a half and is at 7 am in the morning really gives it a different feel. For the first time in 15 years, I was willing to change my habitual 15 year old downward dog stance to one which stretches my sacral/sitz bones area by pulling my hips further back and not allowing my heels to touch the floor.

This change has done some interesting things to my lower pelvis fore and aft. I have had both the back sacrum and front of my hips become something I’m way more aware of, get tighter and more open at the same time. I’ve also begun finally doing the chatteranga part of the vinyasa the way it’s supposed to instead of doing a flapjack sort of reverse vinyasa, though I skip planking and drop my knees down.
My Warrior 1 poses are crap, but I’m not worrying about them being good as I am re-introducing my body to classic Ashtanga, and I’m patient because I am not maintaining a strict daily practice.

I’m grateful to be able to be as active, flexible and out of pain as I am. And yet I sure would like to change my stuffed sausage torso and release all the excess flesh I’m carrying which is at least 50 lbs.
I can’t imagine my sanity or my health without yoga, and yet I forget almost all the time that it is there, and how much I have used it. I’m wondering now if a candida cleanse I have heard about for many a year and wanted to do will actually help me shed the excess pounds I’ve had for too many years. I wish I knew for sure. In the meantime, I’m feeling my ass end like never before.

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Can You Say Puborectal Muscle?

Today I watched a very detailed visual representation on why squatting is the way to defecate, as opposed to sitting on a toilet. I’ve known for about this information for at least 5 years, having spent years trying to deal with a sagging and swollen fat body, chronic constipation, overeating, food allergies and spending quite a bit of time and money getting colonics. Yes, that is one of those situations where you get a tube stuck up your anus and have water flushed in and out to remove stagnated poo and toxins.

I have a “Welles Step” I bought from the colonic hydrologist, which puts the feet up higher when using the toilet to put the body in the right squatting position. I haven’t been using it for years, partially because I live with someone who is so obsessive about germs and fecal matters to the point of hysteria, and partially because this unfamiliar position was awkward and foreign, despite the science behind it.I’ve known I should be squatting for some time, having suffered from constipation, varicose veins in my inner knees, two hemorrhoids,and having a distended, puffed up upper and lower abdomen. My torso looks like a balloon animal. I’m 50 lbs overweight and my upper arms, thighs, armpits and other areas are puffed up as well as my front guts and buttocks.

Now there are plenty of yoga and mobility teachers exhorting us all to do squats and stay in them for numerous reasons, yet I’ve found them hard to do. An overweight body literally impedes movement like that and it can be painful and cause injuries, something I have actively avoided a lot in the last 10 years. Now it’s 2 days I’ve begun using the Welles Step or another way of being in the proper position and I’ve experienced minor soreness in my hips and glutes that can only be from how much I’ve been squatting. By making a point of squatting some off the times I go to the bathroom, I am accomplishing what has seemed impossible. So now I’m breathing and squatting, and I feel good, though I look fatter than ever. I’ve also been eating a diet much higher in good fats and my elimination has gotten better than it’s been for years.

Yesterday in yoga I had the surprising experience of feeling two matching internal areas in my lower sacrum open up. It was strange and awesome. I’ve been doing my downward dogs differently, pushing back into the sitz bones more, after never for 15 years. Today I did 10 sun salutes in an Ashtanga yoga class without feeling icky, though the B ones were no where near what they are sposed to be. I’m still in “remembering to breathe 1A.” My hips are far from open and my ankles never seem to like me sitting on my knees, no matter how much “toe breaking” kneels I do. My knees are not in pain the way they used to be, but I’m careful of them, well aware of the varicose veins and broken capillaries I can see at the crease of my knees.

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See the Little Pufferbelly

My parents taught me a song when I was a kid while we were camping that went as follows:

Down by the Station, early in the Morning.
See the little Pufferbellies all in a Row.
See the station master turn the little handle
Puff Puff, Toot toot, off they go!

As the new year begins, I am all too aware that I have a Pufferbelly. I am definitely NOT a steam locomotive, what I have is a balloned out gut, despite endless attempts to de-tox, juice fast, get colonics, change my diet,exercise and whatever. I started doing the Bulletproof coffee, which jumped my weight up and down for about 2 weeks, but then I couldn’t do it for awhile and began eating flour out of the insanity of the triple whammy of 3 holidays in a row: Thanksgiving, Xmas and New Year. I knew somehow New Year’s was going to be risky, could feel it.

And it was. I went to 4 12 step meetings, one part of an alkathon, and a 2 hour yoga class, and the man I live with got blackout drunk and got himself arrested. The arrest was not a shock, but the aftermath has been the same old same old limbo I live where focusing on what I need to do is difficult to near impossible. I had a real attack of anxiety after the dust settled from the arrest. It dawned on me that the big A is what has been going on since forever in my life, undetected in my earlier years and blithely ignored in the energetic and vibrant life energy of my teenage and young adult years, but THERE none the less. When I fell through the cracks of a supposed to be achieving life of my thirties, despair and confusion began ruling things, and my forties saw me sliding down into an abyss I’ve never quite left, though amino acid therapy changed my mental health significantly for good. I’ve never been able to fully grasp WTF was wrong with me besides the usual ignorance and flaming immaturity.

A few years back, and I can’t remember exactly how many, I dragged the guy who was drinking at the time and suffering from YEP, ANXIETY, to an Art of Living course after reading a book on how yoga and breathing can alleviate depression and anxiety in people. The centerpiece of the workshop was the Sudarshon Kriya, a set of slow breathing while you count, bellows breathing, where you flood your lungs, and some pranayama fire breathing to three different meters: slow, medium and fast. It works if you do it everyday, just as all the other forms of breathing I have repeatedly studied do. Chi Kung, Astanga Ujiac breath, Rebirthing, Reichian breathing, the list goes on. And FINALLY I know I can get myself to do it. EVERYDAY. I have been doing it, and throwing in some sun salutes, mixing it up. I seem to have arrived at BEING ABLE TO PRACTICE. Drums and Breathing. At 60, all I can say to myself is better late than never.

It has also occurred to me getting outside, walking barefoot, and getting an Earthing pad for my bed will add to the effect of my grounding, which has been deficient all my life. Without it, I have been a ship adrift, and I’m excited to finally have a clue what has been wrong. I don’t imagine the breathing will take away my pufferbelly or solve all my problems, but it is a start. And it’s start that I can do, right here, right now, everyday, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. And I think I’m going to look up a local Art of Living teacher and do a refresher. I might as well, having wasted so much time running in circles and relearning the same thing in zillions of forms but never keeping it up.

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Merry Choppa Christmas 2014

The sun is shining, and a cold little breeze is blowing off the Maverick’s Bluffs. My conga drums are sitting in my little backyard with a chair. I’ve had a good morning. I was woken up this morning by my guy, who is still stuck in the idea he can drink a couple of beers and be OK. He managed to not be completely nutso and said a few good things before I got up and made it to a meeting where I was invited to read something and share. I’m grateful for all that as last night was nearly a night having to be somewhere else besides home for me.

After the meeting, which was well attended and congenial, I headed for a coffee shop I’d heard was open and picked up a couple of croissants. I called the guy and he wanted a chocolate filled one, and I got a plain one. We snarfed them down and then I made a real breakfast for me of sausage, hash browns, and 2 soft boiled eggs. The guy has four days off his stressful job, which has become a problem for him after 12 days of hard work with no breaks and a boss who’s ways of communicating suck. Though he is trying not to, he is unable to stop obsessing and negging about it all, and dump/yacking it at me with all it’s poison periodically.

I’m learning something new now, which is not to hang around and take it without going to war or trying to stop it. Last night, after he came home raging and ranting about how the bank had ripped him off( i.e, he was overdrawn), I left, because he was in the mode where nothing, especially me hanging around to listen and then have to say stuff he doesn’t want to hear, like “Calm the fuck down” works. The more I leave and the more peaceful I get, the more some part of him comes forward and has to handle things on it’s own.

Even though he managed to call me, apologize and hold himself together enough to do dinner because he didn’t want to be alone, he drank while I was getting the food( and I knew he might} The anxiety bullyragging continued somewhat after dinner. I told him I was going out for a walk, left, went for a walk I enjoyed, saw Christmas lights, and came home refreshed.It’s really slow, like a drop of water on a stone, but some inner part of him is getting the message I am not going to take it anymore.

I’ve sat down now and played my 20-20 cuban rhythm bits outside.I do 20 times with each hand leading for 20 minutes and today I really enjoyed it. I haven’t been doing it lately and I can feel the names fading, so it’s time to remember to practice more often. It’s only 20 minutes, after all, and the satisfaction I feel being able to do it is enormous.

I opened my Christmas gifts and got a charming little plaid fleece throw from my niece, a little white zip bag with an S on it from her also, and the requisite jammies from my oldest sister. I have to wonder if she’s actually read my blog, because she sent me a large, non flannel set, red, with crazy animal skin pattern colored coffee cups on it. They are quite jazzy, and now I will have to get some pictures taken wearing them with my Bulletproof coffee in hand to post on FB.

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333333333333333333

I have had a very painful, but fruitful morning. For 3 days now I have been trying to accomplish some necessary tasks and experiencing a failure to launch. I’ve been like a plane that’s stalling before it takes off. I finally sat down and deliberately entered my inner turmoil, confusion, shame, and fear. I started calling people and leaving messages after 33333333333ing tons. The 3 is the “erase and re-record” prompt. It’s a way for me to hear myself and what is trying to emerge emotionally. Underneath the shame and fear was my hurt, and I’m hurting still, but I’m glad to be feeling it.

Not three days ago I got accused of deliberately smearing fecal material on a fan switch in the bathroom of MY house, as if that could EVER be true. Whatever was actually on the switch was microscopic and IT WAS NOT MY SHIT. I told him: “Call County Health. Get a Restraining Order. Call the Police. I never,ever, want to see you again.” I left for hours,called people, went to a meeting. I missed my “safe house” connection and by the time they called me, I was at my house and didn’t want to be anywhere else because it was dark and quiet.

I want to be able to leave and not come back without losing my home. I do not want to get a restraining order to forcibly evict a man I’ve tried to nurture for 30 years, despite his insanity. I know why and where it comes from. I had a man tell me he was glad his wife divorced him or he would never have gotten sober and found out who he really was. Now I have the pain of realizing everything I have done has contributed to him not having to change for his own sake. I’m worse off because I haven’t allowed myself to feel the pain of 30 years of hell. Now I’m feeling it, and it really hurts. I know there is a matrix of grief in there which has never been let out.

I’m discovering that when I allow the hurt in, it leads me to withdrawing from everything in the fear I will be obliterated and not survive.
I don’t trust that the people who have already been supporting me will continue. If my blood family didn’t care, they why will they? I’m sure that they despise me, and there is a silent wall of unpredictable need and a compulsive desire to not show vulnerability to them and risk rejection and abandonment for good.

Now I’ve broken through the enormous, heart wrenching lie of my deep unworthiness. I’m still hurting, but I’ve spoken to people who know me and know the truth about what is happening that are willing to continue encouraging and supporting me. I’m absolutely stunned at how much I have used distraction to avoid feeling it, and stayed disconnected from ever getting anywhere in my life.
I have left messages or talked with the people I have been shunning internally in order to avoid being shunned. Wow. Feeling is very tiring work.

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Back to a 38

A few months back, I got a white Bali “Flower” bra, size 36C and I wore and wore it and wore it, until one of the small figure 8 keepers that adjusts the length of the front straps cracked. The strap came apart and I couldn’t wear the bra. The strain of it being smaller than I am really is what cracked it.

I stalled on dealing with it, and was wearing a black and green striped cup bra I got for bellydancing that was thin elastic-wise around the ribcage. It certainly created cleavage but didn’t have much support, and I began to feel too “Boobalicious” for my own comfort.

I then tried to repair my original bra going to a fabric/DIY craft store and trying to find the the figure 8 keeper. They had some, but not the right size. I tried to re-thread the strap loop onto the cracked keeper. NOT happening. After roaming through another craft store, which didn’t have anything remotely usable, I gave up, went to Sears and bought myself another brand-new, white, “Flower” Bali bra on sale, size 38C. And I feel supported, gooshy,hanging fat and all.

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Death of a Seagull

Two days ago I killed a big, beautiful, seagull. I pulled into a large parking lot behind a fast food chicken joint in my town and ran over it. The bird had been just landing, wings flapping, on the pavement between a hedge and the other cars, when I came along with my monstrous and heavy car, not fast but too close for reaction time to hit the brake. It tried to fly up but I was too close. I hated watching it rolling into a crushed, dead heap in my side mirror behind me.

I sat there and screamed and cried for some time. I was already distraught from a fight with my partner. I called my sponsor. I left sobbing and yelling messages for someone else. Then I called my guy to tell him I was going to come home and get a shovel, gloves and garbage bag to bury the bird I murdered. He offered to come help me bury the bird despite previous things said to me. I said yes, and we did it.

The seagull I killed was incredibly beautiful and large. It’s thick, soft grey plumage, danging neck and head, strong wings, perfect feet, along with strings of orange intestines hanging out broke my heart. In the parking lot where we used a flat shovel to scoop up the bird’s body, there had been a bit of red organ tossed into the bushes which had been driven out of the seagull’s body when I drove over it. I made myself look at the whole bird, place it into the large hole we dug carefully, memorize everything I had destroyed. My tears flowed onto the bird’s body and into the soil. I don’t remember when I have cried as fully as I did then. I tried to layer the soil carefully over the bird, put some sea snail shells and a delicate little white and yellow mushroom that had popped up nearby on top.

Seagulls are scavengers, and I’m sure they eat a number of things alive. They have sharp beaks which tear apart whatever they eat, and, beautiful as they are, aren’t known for being nice. They are as ruthless as us humans when it comes to eating. I wonder now if I would be able to stop eating animals if I had to witness the torture and murder they endure being slaughtered for human consumption. I don’t know how I should feel, think or be with this, but I’m clear on one thing: I hated killing the seagull just because I wasn’t paying enough attention.

I’d like to believe this somehow represents how much I have not been aware of and not paying attention to some aspect of myself, but I avoiding becoming attached emotionally to that conclusion. I know I was actively mourning and grieving more than the bird’s death.

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Unsubscribing on Giving Tuesday

I have found myself online deluged by the usual tons of emails talking about “Giving Tuesday”. The tone is that I ought to donate to whatever it is because it’s “Giving Tuesday”. I guess this is the aftermath of “Black Tuesday” which I take to mean merchants put themselves “in the black” by the after Thanksgiving sales. I’ve been unsubscribing a lot today and yesterday. I don’t know why I haven’t done it a lot sooner. The interesting thing is that I’ve been tolerating tons of email crap daily for god knows how long. Years. I’m finally clear I don’t need them anymore.

My home situation has become unbearable. Ican’t live with alcohol and drug abuse.
All my suffering, the humiliation and fear, the Al Anon meetings, the floundering and trying to get past this have failed. All my women friends have passed through this getting rid of a bad or dangerous partner thing and survived. They went through a lot of pain and anguish but they are free today. I hate this, and I hate me. I want to UNSUBSCRIBE.

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