"When do you think an artist's project is complete? How do know when that moment is?" I asked Jamie in early April.
"When it gives you goosebumps or makes you cry. Then you have to cut yourself off or you'll change it again... I always want to edit forever."
I put this goat bell near my workspace. It's a reminder of the imperfect resonance my art creates when it's ready to slip into the world. I always wished I could relate to other artists and that harmonious moment. Maybe the secret angst of artists-in-process takes away from the romance we like to project. Or maybe I am alone in this feeling.
I ring the goat bell because there is no more work to be done, what needs to be said is said, the muse has become quiet. The cover is pasted on and the zines are posted online with a brief description.
There's this sense of control I get to have when in-process. The moment can last forever, with no end. A continuum without expectation of completion. It's not a joy-filled process most of the time, but a dance of holding and letting go. I'm not kind to myself during the work, attempting to tune-in to a certain frequency and emotionally lashing myself when it doesn't sound right. But the work is something in itself and as an artist I recognize myself as more of conduit.
When the work is done, it doesn't belong to me anymore. It runs like a wobbly-legged kid across the meadow seeking a poppy head to gnaw off. I'm its keeper for a time, an overprotective parent with knowledge of a harsh world, biting my knuckles as it stumbles on its own.
The project I started working on was a series of little one-off zines made by the folded archives of my old gallery prints of The Thread #16. I had folded them almost as a means of containment, keeping them organized with the promise of doing more in the future.
At the beginning of Lent, in late-February, I unearthed the little books and dedicated them to the forty-days, dedicating each day a little zine. Each zine intended to be an exploration on a certain subject I could dig into until it was exhausted.
Because there was no intent of making copies I was excited at the prospect of not limiting myself. I could work in a deep, dimensional way, crafting little pockets of water-colored illustrations and collage bits. I could include scraps of writing in carefully constructed nooks that didn't fit into a conventional essay, or boldly and lavishly print color images and photographs without the need to make more then one copy. I could let this project be a bespoke mess outside the constructs of a black-and-white xerox containment.
These zines came together as I nested myself cross-legged in my studio, surrounded by a flurry of papers, magazines, books, old journals, modge-podge, pens, stamps, and cups that testified to the time range I spent there: coffee mugs, jars of water, and wine glasses.
There's a lot going on right now, I was grateful for the time and space to create through it.
I came off medication in January, separated from my partner, transitioned back into serving from housekeeping, and found myself living with mom and depleting my savings while a global pandemic shut everything down. During that time, a pinnacle of the art-community and a dear friend passed onto the ancestral plane.
Girl Kaycee, as she's known to her friends, was a prolific creator and lived through her work with this inspiring strength and thoughtfulness. Her ability to dedicate herself to a project and see it to fruition was a kind of alchemy to me. She truly created as she lived, there was no separation.
While working on this project I had to remind myself of her boundless encouragement to all of us in the art community. She was known to send an emoji of blowing wind juxtaposed by a blue heart. It was her thing. I had to remind myself often during this project, when shit got really frustrating, that we were creating together. I feel this way towards all my artist friends as we create in our certain spaces. There is no separation.
So for me, the goat bell rings and the work is done. Rather than slipping into the world like a slick black-&-white assembly of pages, it clunks cacophonously like an ambling goat. It has a hand-made paper cover and the pages are thick with layers of things I can't even remember now, and honestly would prevent me from putting them out there.
These are zines are done because they're letting me know they're done. Because they're ready to be in someone else's hands.
Hailey told me purple and yellow in nature can usually be found together.
Jasmine and Oregon Grape within a stone's throw of one another.
Close enough to my house to sneak a few from my neighbor's garden.
Hyacinth and Daffodil.
Violet and Balsamroot.
Dandelion and Crocus.
Amethyst and Gold.
I've been wishing to make bitters lately. It sounds very simple. Add a bittering herb to a high-proof alcohol alcohol and let it sit.
Dandelion root, burdock, orange peel, lavender, and coffee I've heard suggested.
Sprinkle in an effervescent beverage for a nice drink or directly on the tongue to stimulate and aid digestion.
In my personal experience, I've discovered the perfect recipe for bitterness.
I've realized it's easier for me to be bitter than it it to communicate through pain. Holding grudges has become my super-power as some might have learned in knowing me.
Here's the recipe:
Take your pain and bottle it up. Put it deep inside the shelf of your basement and think about it often. Stroke your minds eye over the details of it as you lay in bed at night trying to sleep.
Don't let sweetness in. You can be around it but don't let it permeate you.
If this doesn't come naturally to you, you'll have to practice.
Never ever be vulnerable. Never cry in front of anyone. If you must cry, do it alone. Go in the kitchen when no one is paying attention and cut the onions. All the onions.
Your bitterness might change slightly in flavor in time, but it will never expire or go stale. You can hold onto it forever, perfectly preserved. Mistrust, silence, and self-preservation are survival skills that make excellent bittering agents.
Some sweetness has snuck in recently. Some softness. A strange feeling. The script has shifted a little bit. My strength has always been in my ability to hold a grudge and forgo love.
(Hunger hurts, but starving works)
This is honey.
It's pleasant, this feeling, I've known it from before.
It's hard to maintain.
Left alone, I identify as an acerbic brine.
Recommended ingredients: red onions with a a fresh floret of dill and small palm of juniper berries.
Ah, purple and yellow. There they are again.
There have been many constants recently. The doldrums of domestic life play themselves into a song which doesn't differentiate day to day.
Days are broken into beverages.
Waking is coffee; french press of medium roast poured into a speckled earthenware cup. After that it's waiting until 7 for wine, or whatever else pops or is poured at that hour.
Between the hours is art and water, maybe a splash of vinegar.
9.6.19 Tyler's applying for jobs in LA. He tells me I need to write more. Toni Morrison died today. Been watching homages to her on my instagram feed. Shonda Rhimes posted a quote, "If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it." Watching the video of the white woman interviewer asking Morrison if she's ever going to write compelling white characters to which she responded "you can't understand how powerfully racist that question is, can you? You could never ask a white author, 'when are you going to write about Black people?' Whether he did not not, or she did or not. Even the inquiry comes from a position of being in the center." In my writing, I wish to spend time with social dynamics, write the utopian, write characters of color, will characters beyond my own social identity. Writing someone's story, even if it's a fictitious one seems to be stealing in some way. Taking ownership. I will never understand the dimension of social complexity of much else that hasn't been relentlessly pandered to me from the media, or in my own experiences.
Can we talk for a second about what it takes to create?
I have three minutes before I have to go to work. I'm in my Mom's garage cutting out foam-board letters with a cheap x-acto knife. Once I made 26 aprons with a sewing machine won from a bookstore fundraising auction. I was making the aprons for a nonprofit cafe.
One apron for every letter of the alphabet.
The sewing machine needed serious repair but I didn't have the money.
It would scream violently, shocking every cell in my body.
It took me several weeks, working several hours every day with a design I received from a woman in my community, with fabric donated from a women in my community.
When I was done the man who asked me to make them wanted to know if he could buy one to give away as a gift to a personal friend.
I told him they weren't for sale, they weren't for profit, they were for the nonprofit cafe.
He gave it to a friend.
There was $100 in cafe credit for me for working on this project.
When I brought my mother in for lunch one day they didn't have my name on record.
They didn't have any money in the system with my name attached to it like they did for other artists they were working in trade with and the person working the cafe didn't believe me.
So they called up the man who took the apron to give to a personal friend, that made the number of aprons to an odd 25, and they put me on the phone to prove he knew me, and then they let me and my mom order food salted with the tears I cried over for once again being used, not recognized, acknowledged, and then used.
Can we talk for a second about what it takes to create?
10:20 Departure from Manteca, CA. Less than a quarter tank of gas. Mom driving, Rachel co-pilot. Erica in the back with Finn.
10:24 Minor, humor-infused kerfuffle about directions. Sorted out, on track.
10:26 476 miles - google maps estimation 7 hour 29 minutes.
Estimated arrival time, 6p/18:00. Estimated arrival time based on guesses from folks in the car:
Erica - 8p/20:00 “that’s my optimistic guess”
Mom - 8:30p/20:30
Rachel - 10p/22:00
10:34 Mom: We only need to plan stops around Finnegan.
10:35 Discussion about the onomatopoeias of child cries, or how to spell the sounds Finn is making.
10:48 Getting gas, Rachel pays, also uses the bathroom.
Upon leaving, Rachel: Oh! Look at those pretty flowers over there!
Erica: You already used up your 15 minutes.
Mom: (drives away)
10:50 Rachel: How much was that?
Mom: $47.71, but we can round it to $48.
10:51 Mom: Trip of a lifetime, us girls..
11:05 Status update - driving with cornfields on the right and some kind of pink flower wall on the left in the meridian. Erica is sleeping. Finn is quiet. Mom is still driving.
11:13 Rachel reflects on relationship dynamics in the family.
11:41 During heavy slow-moving traffic because of an accident ahead, Rachel: Think maybe I can run alongside the car and pick flowers?
Mom: Those are the kind of flowers that kill dogs. Or cats. Your Dad told me that.
11:48 Mom: It makes me stick my finger down my throat whenever I hear people talk about their annoying OCD quirks.
11:58 Mom: 155 miles until Redding. I thought it was closer.
12:04 Mom is silently singing “Yesterday,” by the Beatles. They have not once played music during the drive allowing prolonged moments of silence to settle between them as they think their private thoughts.
12:34 Mom: This is probably the longest stretch so far. What time did we leave?
Rachel (referring to minutes) We left at 10:20. 2 hours. I think my body absorbed my waste water. I don’t have to pee anymore.
12:40 They pass by a vintage car being shipped by a newer car.
Mom: Were those Washington plates?
12:42 Finn stirs, but settles back down.
12:48 Erica reads Judy’s post from Facebook. They all reflect on the weekend.
12:55 Erica: Are you guys gonna be hungry by Redding?
Rachel: Well, there’s a Grocery Outlet.
Erica: Think we could make it to Redding?
Mom: I’ve been a long time driving and my wrist .. (rolls her wrist to demonstrate stiffness and discomfort)
Erica: I’ll pick up driving from there.
Rachel (musing on the choice of provisions at every exit): Every place in America looks exactly the same. Taco Bell, McDonalds. It’s not even real food.
12:59 While passing through Sacramento, Mom: Your Dad and I would always argue in the car right here.
Rachel: What would you argue about?
Mom: Driving. Me smacking (while she ate, demonstrates the sound of lips smacking while eating). Just directions, basically.
Rachel: Was it more peaceful when you were driving?
Mom: Yeah, because he would go to sleep.
Rachel: Did you like driving?
Mom: Yeah, if he was sleeping. But he liked doing it, so it was fine with me.
13:34 First stop, Olive Pit. Sample peppers and olives. Use the bathroom. Diaper change. Breast-feed. Duration of stop, unknown. Maybe 25 minutes. Rachel finds unripe olives in the parking lot and an unripe pomegranate down the street. Mom warns everyone about sitting on the lawn in the parking lot because that’s where the dogs pee and poop.
13:37 Erica driving, Rachel co-pilot, Mom in the backseat with Finn.
Rachel: Anyone have any comments about the rest-stop?
Erica: I wanted to say it was really nice that Mom thought about Bob. (we stopped at the Olive Pit because Bob, Erica’s partner, likes olives.)
Mom: They’ve changed it a lot. They didn’t have a sample bar, or the place with burgers and shakes.
14:19 Stop at Sundial Bridge in Redding, CA. Walk across bridge, investigate the way it works. Everyone muses about how it cool it would be to see a tightrope walker on the taut cables. Erica wears Finn strapped to her chest. She comments about the oppressiveness of the weather. Rachel stops into the gift shop, doesn’t see anything too interesting. Realizes she looks for lumpy ceramics wherever she goes.
14:50 Back in the car.
14:51 Rachel requests to look at a structure acknowledging a quarry mined for concrete to be used on the Shasta dam. It indicates there was enough concrete used in the dam to make a three-foot sidewalk that could circumnavigate the earth at the equator. Dazzled at the vision of the dystopian concrete structure and the bones of architecture Rachel is simultaneously disgusted at the ridiculous excess.
14:55 Mom (referring to the concrete structure) Was it called the Monolith?
Rachel: I don’t know what it was called.
15:23 Stop at a large liquor store by request of Erica called “BevMo!” rumored for its insane selection and cheap prices relative or Oregon. Mom gives Rachel $17 for “whatever” and stays in the running car to watch over Finn.
Erica loads up on a lifetime supply of liquor. Rachel doesn’t see how the selection or prices differ from anywhere in Oregon.
Erica: I remember it differently.
Rachel purchases a large container of tequila with half Mom’s money, BBQ chips, and a sugary green drink for Erica in compensation for one she drank at her house before the trip.
Erica also buys Mom special Guinness chocolate treats.
15:38 Stop at Chipotle to eat.
16:00 Back on the road. Erica driving, Rachel co-pilot, Mom in the back with Finn.
16:23 Passing Lake Shasta.
16:47 In or around the halfway point.
17:35 Stop at Ray’s Grocery store in Weed, CA for fiery poops from crap Chipotle food and restock on caramel M&M’s. Finn is fed.
Mom: We almost didn’t leave. There was a man who had a mustache and a sleeveless shirt.
Rachel: Were you thinking of staying in town and starting a new life?
New car setup - Erica driving, Mom co-pilot, Rachel in the back with Finn.
18:27 Arrive in Oregon
19:53 Gas in Chemult, OR. Erica paid. Didn’t get a receipt for the scrapbook. Start to work out logistics for paying each other back for different things. Doesn’t go very far.
19:59 Erica talks to Bob on the phone. Expresses disappointment when he indicates he is at a friend’s (Peckham) shop helping Tyler (Rachel’s partner) with a project and might not be home when she gets home.
Erica (not on the phone any longer): If he is not home he will be shunned.
Rachel to Finn: Hear that Finn. Shunned. When you see your father you must pretend you don’t recognize him.
Erica, in a time before, not recorded in the minutes, reflected on her own OCD nature, predicted the sense of relief she would feel returning home will be overshadowed by some small irritation. Rachel asks her now if this is already the case with being frustrated with the possibility of returning to an empty home.
20:06 Prediction of time based on google maps from Chemult to Sunriver, one hour.
Erica: Of course I’m gonna get there faster than an hour.
21:04 Arrive in Sunriver, OR at Erica’s house. Unpacking Erica’s things from Mom’s car. Bob and the twins are there. There are train tracks set up in the hallway.
21:12 Back on the road for the final leg.
22ish? Arrive at home in Redmond, OR
22:58 In bed with Tyler. Trip complete.
Setting: Somewhere between here and there, plummeting South in a dark grey Toyota Camry.
Sunriver, Oregon to Lathrop, California
Cast of Characters
Mom (the mom, 61)
Rachel (the sister / daughter, 33)
Erica (the sister / daughter, 31)
Finnegan (Erica’s baby, 5 months)
6:54 (Rachel, picks scabs)
Mom: You’re going to have to stop.
6:55 Mom calls Benadryl, “Benadeen.”
6:56 Mom says a prayer for the road
6:57 (Rachel notices a hair on her chin)
Rachel: Dammit, does anyone have any tweezers? (no response)
Rachel: (answers own question) I do.. (realizes they are in the trunk. Picks at hair with fingers)
6:58 (Mom screams, startling everyone)
Erica: (realizing she isn’t slamming on the brakes) What?
Mom: I saw a roadkill.*
7:02 Erica: I’m gonna call the hotel and crack some skulls.
(baby Finn cries while she dials)
Erica: Oh, come on!
back story: there was some confusion on the amount of reservations made yesterday.
7:06 (Erica concludes phone call)
Mom: You should’ve gotten her name.
7:08 Erica: The temperature is great in the car.
Rachel: Something to write home about.
7:09 Mom: If anyone needs a tissue to pick their nose.. (while picking her nose with a tissue)
Erica: I don’t need no tissue. (tells an anecdote about the twins with a booger in the back of the car)
7:11 Erica: I’m gonna close my eyes ‘cause the baby’s asleep
Mom theorizes about the fog going through La Pine.
7:13 We all see a man at a stoplight intersection in official roadside gear sitting in a lawn chair and theorize why he’s there.
7:14 Rachel, indicating to small vase of flowers sitting on the center console to Mom: Aren’t you glad there are flowers here?
Mom: Yes, as long as I don’t knock them over.
7:15 They see what looks like a white rainbow-like arc and theorize if it’s a product of smoke, dust, or fog.
7:17 Mom: My headlights are on girls. That’s good. Headlights. (obviously seizing the time for a teaching moment)
7:18 They see another white rainbow-like arc.
Mom to Rachel: Look behind you at the sun.
Rachel: It’s too early (implying exertion it takes to look 180* while in a vehicle)
7:19 Rachel considers doing research on third-wave coffee-shops in the place of their destination but doesn’t.
7:20 They discuss roadside forest thinning practices to prevent forest fires.
7:21 Erica: Maybe Tyler will take Bob to get a good haircut.
backstory - Bob is Erica’s partner, Tyler is Rachel’s. The men will likely be spending time together during the trip.
The women in the car discuss Bob’s potential makeover.
7:24 Erica: I remember shaving his back. (referring to Dad)
Discussion about grooming ensues.
7:27 Rachel, recalls impulsively buying a dress last night. “I promised myself if I didn’t get out of bed to get my debit card I could have it.”
Erica tells a story about buying a “Mama” sweatshirt with a friend.**
7:30 Rachel plays a game on her phone, neglecting her minute-taking responsibilities.
7:47 Arrival into Gilchrist.
Mom: Temperature is 55* outside.
7:58 Rachel drives, abdicating note-taking responsibilities.
8:31 Stop for Erica to breast-feed Finn who is crying. Rachel examines roadside goldenrod which is shorter in the High Desert than the valley. She decides not to pick any. Byron texts Mom’s phone inquiring of location. 30 minutes to Klamath Falls. Mom makes a toy out of a satin-bag with coins. Erica misses an Office reference Rachel lobbed at her when she says “to a child’s imagination that’s Mr. Bag.”
9:28 Klamath Falls. Fills up gas using Mom’s card. Military planes overhead. Purchase refreshments. Clear skies.
Mom: I am always surprised to come to Klamath Falls and hear seagulls. We’re not even close to the ocean.
9:31 Erica contemplates buying liquor in California to get a better price.
9:34 Still at gas-station. Mom cleans windshield.
Mom: Getting them cat prints off actually (tongue-in-cheek comment intended for Rachel)
10:00 Cross into California from Oregon.
10:04 Dorris Produce Check-point (Mom’s note)
11:21 Stopped at Taco Bell in Weed, CA. Smooth drive.
Erica - three soft tacos and Baja Blast beverage.
Mom - chicken-bit cheese quesadilla.
Rachel eats rice-noodles and vegetables in the car brought from home. She uses the receipt code of the purchased items to apply a review online for the chance of winning $500.
Erica: If you win we're splitting it.
Stopped at Vista at Mt. Shasta. Small history of indigenous peoples at post. Land of the Shasta people, Okwanuchu, Northern Wintu, Takelma, Modoc, Klamath, Konomihu, Karuk, Hoopa, Tsnungwe, New River Shasta.
"The Gold Rush", a plaque reads “aggravated relationships with local tribes.”
11:46 Erica: We’re two-hours behind my schedule.
11:58 Erica is driving. There is some doubt from Mom about Erica's driving capabilities.
Rachel: I considered you the most competent driver. (pause) Did you take your pills?
Mom: I already asked.
Erica resumes the drive. Vetoes Mom and Rachel’s desire to wander aimlessly around a Grocery Outlet in Weed.
Rachel (in protest): It’s a different Grocery Outlet!
Mom: It might be a fancy one!
11:54 Erica: I want to learn how mile-markers work. (when asked if she has any goals for this trip)
11:59 They play "Desert Island Films"
Rachel - Amelie, Royal Tenenbaums, and “something in Spanish”
Erica - A Star is Born, Crazy Stupid Love, and Goodwill Hunting
Mom - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, “that movie” (which she details the entire plot of without knowing the name - sounds like a Lifetime Original), and “a Meg Ryan movie”
12:05 Erica: Let’s play MFK
They choose Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling, and Robin Williams
Mom wants something more relevant to her generation, and suggests “Elvis, Clooney, and Swayze.” Erica muses what kind of social pariah should would become if she murdered Robin Williams. Game disbands without any real conclusions.
12:21 They discuss the virtues and vices of picking scabs.
12:22 Rachel has Tracy Chapman stuck in her head.
12:23 95*, road conditions fair
12:50 Rachel: Are we there yet?
google estimate - 201 mile - 3 hours 10 minutes
12:57 Erica: (still obviously thinking about the prospect of buying cheap liquor in California) What if you had a store and you called it Liquor Hole (chuckles to self at perverted joke)
13:17 Erica: Are we there yet?
13:18 Mom feeds Finn bananas, carrots, and sweet potato puree.
13:40 They stop for a rest In Jefferson State. Rachel orders burger with fries at a place called Big Burger. $9 for burger and fries + tax. Pretty good deal.
Mom: I thought you ate?
Rachel: I needed protein
14:01 Back in the car. Mom is driving. Everyone discusses feeling a heat/car-induced madness.
Rachel: It’s from all the vibrating and not being in a place that’s quiet.
14:31 All is well. Erica is sleeping. Finn is sleeping. They spoke earlier of work gossip, Erica giving character background to people she likes and dislikes. 2-hours estimated to go. Approaching Sacramento.
14:32 Mom: Thinking it would be nice to have a fruit stand (when asked by Rachel what she was thinking)
14:33 Mom recalls a story about Talitha’s love of lemons.
14:48 Mom: (to Rachel) Do you want a sucker?
Mom, veers into the bike lane using her good hand to get into the center console. Rachel retrieves a Ricola from the center console and hands it to her.
Mom: Not that one (finds another sucker and pops it in her mouth) I’ve been having dry-mouth and was advised to suck on sugar-free candy.
Rachel: Why do you think that is?
Mom: Maybe my saliva glands aren’t working.
14:52 Erica: Are we there yet?
14:53 Ambulance passes creating a wake of cars with some taking advantage of the ambulance to follow directly behind as everyone careens into the bike lane. Everyone in the car is disgusted at this.
15:05 Mom: Are we there yet?
15:17 Erica: Probably want a clean butt, don’t you? (talking to a crying Finn while entertaining him with a coin-satchel which is not working)
15:28 Review of the minutes. *Mom wishes to clarify that there was an animal crossing the road that she ran over when she screamed, not just the sight of roadkill. **Erica clarifies the story about getting the sweatshirt with “Mama” on it and that her friend purchased it for her when she declared she like it.
15:46 Mom tells a story of her and her sister Mandy as boy-chasing teenagers. She had gone on a date with a guy while Mandy had to stay at home and as a gift “he made me a watercolor of some mountains and maybe a bird going through it and he signed it ‘Toomy,’ so I remembered his name.”
Rachel: Mandy must’ve been so pissed (because Mandy was left at the house).
Mom: She was.
15:50 (thump outside of car)
Rachel: What was that!?
Erica is also mildly concerned.
Mom ignores it and continues her story but then later says, “sometimes it does that. I don’t know why.”
15:52 Erica, reading directions to the hotel: Take a left on 462.
16:00 Rachel: is this a piece of your tooth!? (indicating to broken piece of something in the center console)
Mom: It’s actually a piece of a crown.
16:08 Mom parks the car at a dairy compound that looks abandoned save for the smell of nearby cows, steps out, and immediately pees leaning against the car for support. Rachel picks a bouquet of flowers, takes a picture and sends it to Tyler. Erica breast-feeds Finn.
17:00 Arrival at the Hampton Inn & Suites.
En le rêve de pére je fait une illusion de ... I have forgotten the word in French for forgiveness. Actuallement, je pense, c’est une mot je jamais savoir.
God dammit. It’s impossible to write in French with spellcheck on. Qu’est-que la raisin?! Rien, bien-sûr.
The other day I yelled at Tyler. He was frying on mushrooms and had forgotten to check-in. I was livid. It’s a simple story. Tonight he sleeps beneath my leg (I could post a picture but my scabbed mosquito bitten legs are unfit for the webs). Forgiveness was swift and easy. He appeared the day after having tracked my GPS location via my ever-present celluar device and requested forgiveness. I obliged and we’ve only spatted about it here and there since.
The point in which I intend to convey, is the moment in which I channeled my father in the where-the-fuck-have-you-been?! lecture I presented over the phone at midnight when he indeed, did check-in.
Reflecting one the lecture, it checked some (but not all) points my father would use to address us.
- included the phrase, “these are terrible choices.”
- rhetorical questions such as "did you consider that you have to work in the morning?"
- centered around my feelings.
What it didn’t include to compete a Gale Carman lecture was:
- a colorful and extended allegory
- repetition of lecture talking points (my strength of argument is my abrupt and unnatural conclusiveness)
- tough-love/immutable consequence and revoked privileges (we’re adults, our punishment is just in disappointing one another).
What I couldn’t believe, after delivering this sermon, was the feeling of possessiveness coursing throughout my body. Certainly this self-righteous state was something my father too had felt. The rage stemming from a loved-ones lack of accountability. The stress of the unknown. The grief of unanswered phone-calls. It’s so silly, all of it, and so obnoxiously real. All centering around power and control.
My father, the Gemini. Split between two opposing forces. Firstly, his hyper-masculine, which desired discipline, respect. The side that objectified women and saw me as a perpetrator of some evil.
And, secondly - always second, the hyper-feminine, the nurturer - the one who considers with great stress, the way in which women must function in the world to survive.
It came to my understanding I was also exposing this dichotomy. In my speech I expressed all the angst of fear and worry while leaning on the anger of lack-of-control which escaped my grasp. I could not will Tyler to be more in-line with my wishes. He was safe. But the feelings of mistrust still persisted.
The lecture, though brief, played upon all the tropes of my father. And digging into myself, I found many ridiculous motivations, but one of them was love.
It disturbed me to find love there. Where I thought there would only be obsession and insecurity, I found my motivation was also love.
My friend Hailey talks a lot on the concept of nuance.
I fail at conceptualizing nuance most of the time. It evades me with its complicated, colorful nature.
What I am learning to accept is my father was potentially a man of nuance. Like me, his emotions were based in love, though they also conveyed fear, anger, and other shitty emotions. I have to check myself.
In checking myself, I can improve. I know I can do better. Express myself more clearly. Let the love seep in. Let the concern override the fear. Be present for his emotions while honest with my own.
But, in that moment, I did realize, while I love Tyler, my father loved me. It’s a rare development in what is otherwise an angry year of processing my father’s passing. I also realized, early on, he’s not exactly gone. I dream of him constantly and through his delicate strands of passed DNA and ancestral knowledge, he lives in me and my siblings. We are the stars of his life’s constellation ultimately.
I’m still processing. I need more time. But here’s a thought today. That might change tomorrow. That exists in barely acceptable nuance.
Been working through Layla Saad's "Me & White Supremacy" workbook since the New Year. Every day poses new question meant to be explored and journaled.
Each topic asking the participant to examine one's experiences and soul, drawing out the stories, conjuring the biases, denying the denial.
"Don't comment unless you are willing to be all the way honest. I don't care about perfectionism. I care about truth, because truth sets us free and makes us better," Saad writes.
This falls into my 2018 proclamation of "Dig Deeper." The work is digging. Mining. Nosce te Ipsum paired with "Know the world." If I can see the roots of my own racism, dig deep enough to the source, maybe I can see the roots of other folks.
Maybe we can follow this thread back awhile, find the first Aspen that sprung from the soft earth that connected all the rest.
In my examination about Tone-Policing today, I came across my own role in silencing and marginalizing women of color. Years ago, while unpacking my role in cultural appropriation, making dream-catchers, I sought the council of my friend of Stiletz ancestry. She sent me an email/essay she had penned, exposing her feelings living in a world so bent on destroying and erasing her culture.
I used the article, in an excerpted form, to tell my own story of apology and guilt about the issue.
The essay itself was cut up, transcribed, and roughly used to assuage my own shame. The article in its entirety I was afraid of publishing, afraid of making my largely white audience uncomfortable, alienating myself from my base of support.
This is more than Tone-Policing, it's further Cultural Erasure and Cultural Hegemony. It's further marginalization. It's "taking some" but not all.
It's not just fear-based, it's power based.
Unwilling to defer my power I maintain a white-washed version of reality.
Soft, shrugging, non-threatening and fake as hell.
All I can do is keep examining. Keep doing this work. Shift the focus from my shame to my education. Keep going. Keep doing the work.
Listen to the source, keep digging at the source.
This year, 2019 in the Gregorian calendar, is about "Making a Mess." I don't feel I'm ready, and the concept of a mess terrifies the Capricorn Moon of deep-seeded desire for control. But getting outside of the white-supremacist comfort-zone is critical.
What is "Making a Mess" is actually "Cleaning Up," and "Clearing Out."
So far to go.