Being overwhelmed

Sometimes it feels like the ship is just not going to fucking float much longer.

Everything needs maintenance, myself included. Work sucks. There are layoffs in the air, and everyone is talking about them except the people who might know something. The washing machine still might be leaking except I am too chicken to turn the water back on and do a load of laundry because  I don’t like the mildewy smell in the laundry room one bit. The house looks like wild pigs live here, and I can’t remember how to use my loom.

I don’t have the emotional or physical bandwidth to deal with it. I am tired, irritable, anxious and just plain stressed out. This is not something I am used to. I might overthink everything recreationally, but I am usually not anxious on a day to day basis.

It’s temporary, and things will work out. They always do. But I have no clean socks or underwear and someone needs to sack up, turn the fucking water on in the utility room and wash some clothes around here. And while they are at it, they should clean the gutters and take the glass recycling out. And that mammogram isn’t going to schedule itself and neither is the cat’s overdue vet appointment. And the inside handle on the passenger side door of my car buzzes when I play music with heavy drums and needs to visit the Lexus dealer because Elvis Costello should not be buzzy.

I can’t do it all, and I know (with my logical brain) that I don’t have to. I managed to get through the day without swearing at anyone. That is all I could manage. Basic competence. If anyone had heard the constant screaming inside my head, they’d have run.

On the plus side, and there is always one, I get to see my friends and family this weekend. It’s my birthday, and Ma will bake me a pie. I will get hugs and boozes, and we’ll watch football and be happy. There might even be an appearance by my favorite bald farmer.

I feel better already.

Blog maintenance

there's a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I pour whiskey on him and inhale

cigarette smoke

and the whores and the bartenders

and the grocery clerks

never know that

he's

in there.

--Charles Bukowski

A lot of times, I start posts which don’t ever get finished.

There are a lot of reasons for that–maybe I thought of a quote I wanted to use someday and started a post as a placeholder, or someone said or did something I thought I should write about. Could be anything. An idea. A song. A story. Something that made me happy or sad. A picture. A dream.

Occasionally I go through the unpublished posts to see if the ideas are still work thinking about, or if they should be deleted.

I scroll through what’s there. Some of it is no longer timely. Some of it I’ve used in other posts. Delete. Delete.  When I got to the very end I found one I’d written several years ago for someone’s 50th birthday.

It is one of the truest things I’ve ever written and it was never posted.

It wasn’t meant for that.

It was a birthday gift to someone who often seems lost to me. Someone who is totally different and exactly the same as he was decades ago. Someone who has hurt me and who I have hurt back. A lot of shots have been fired on both sides, but somehow we manage not to disappear on each other completely. Is that good? I’m not always sure.

It made me remember. Who I was. Who he was.

Neither of us are the same people we were then. We’re both harder. Damaged in the ways people get after they’ve been hurt by life and love. Less tender and more prickly.  But we always will be those open hearted people deep inside, trying to keep our internal bluebirds alive but not giving them as much room to sing as we did back when our hearts were pure and unhurt.

I wanted him to know that in spite of everything, I would always remember him as the amazing boy I knew all those years ago. I hoped he would remember that about himself too. I wanted him to know that any of the bad things that had happened could never cancel out  the good. That forgiveness far outweighs hurt.

There was a bluebird in his heart. It is still there and I hope he stops trying to kill it. Not for me, for himself. For his lover. For his family. So he and the bluebird can both be happy. So he can be who he really is. Maybe he already is. I don’t know. Does anyone really know someone else? We’re all so invested in projecting an image, I’m not sure it’s always easy to know someone.

And maybe I’d also like to remind myself of my own internal bluebird, as a birthday present to myself. My bluebird wants to sing too. And I should just let everyone hear him. Especially the whores, bartenders, grocery clerks and other assorted people I love.

there's a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I'm too clever, I only let him out

at night sometimes

when everybody's asleep.

I say, I know that you're there,

so don't be

sad.

then I put him back,

but he's singing a little

in there, I haven't quite let him

die

and we sleep together like

that

with our

secret pact

and it's nice enough to

make a man

weep, but I don't

weep, do

you?

-CB

Thinking about sexual abuse and assault

Every woman you know has encountered some sort of sexual verbal or physical abuse at least once in her life.

Every one.
Most women you know have had multiple instances of it. Some very serious. Some “just” inappropriate comments. Insinuations that a raise depends on sexual compliance. Groping. Sexual images in the workplace.
20-50 percent of them have been raped.

Think about it.

Think how many women are impacted. Women all over the world. Billions of them. Women who are part of your lives. Women you love. Your mothers, sisters, wives, aunts, cousins, coworkers, friends, lovers.

“But not all men are like that” you say. Of course not. But men need to be more active in fixing the problem. All of us do, but particularly men. Men have met this behavior with uncomfortable silence and turning their backs to it for too long.

But when I try to clarify my own thoughts about it, I have so many questions. More questions than answers.

What about false accusations?

Are they common or rare?

How young is too young to consent, and who decides?

Is there a certain amount of sexual behavior that we should tolerate even if it isn’t consensual?

What is worse-the predators or the men who know about their friends and co-workers who are predators and do nothing?

How do you balance a need to believe the victims with a need to a fair trial, whether the court of public opinion or a court of law?

What about innocent until proven guilty?

What about innocent until proven guilty when the judicial system is stacked with people, men, who are often abusers or inclined to favor abusers in court?

What about damage to careers?

Why are women blamed for the assaults and abuse directed at them so often?

What does it mean if someone waits decades to report an attack?

Or if she never reports it at all?

How can we expect anyone to report it when in most of the world women are brutalized for having been victimized?

How can we expect so much of women in the US when so often the victims are slut shamed or worse?

Is not reporting an attack a sign of guilt or innocence?

Is it meaningful in any way?

What is the line between a compliment and an inappropriate remark?

Should one mistake end someone’s career?

What about two?

How bad should the mistake be to end a career?

At what point should someone be fired?

Why do so many men think it’s OK to touch any part of a woman’s body?

Are we OK with sexual abuse being used as a partisan tool?

What about believing the ones who say it happened?

Are people more willing to believe accusations against gay men?

Are allegations of abuse being used for political ends?

What does it mean if an artist has committed some sort of abuse or assault?

Should they lose awards/accolades they earned for their art?

Does it nullify all accomplishment?

Do these men genuinely believe we want to see their dicks?

Is it really that difficult to keep it in your pants and keep your hands to yourself?

But here’s the thing: the US elected a president who admits that he has himself groped women and thinks it’s a celebrity perk. Even if you don’t believe the women who have accused him of rape, why do you not believe his own words?

What does it say about us as a nation that we are willing to elect pedophiles and rapists to our highest positions?

Are there so few men and women of character willing to run for office that this is the best we can do?

This is hard to write about. I have only questions, except for one thing: it needs to stop.