Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Sold My Car

Today marks the first day of my vacation. I'm taking a vacation. Some old buddies from my days in the Atlanta improv scene threw together a reunion show. We've all since moved to different states, kept in contact, but not all been together since Matthew and Carol's Wedding, and not everyone made it to that. Of course, not everyone is making it to this either, but it's as good as any reason to head to the Atl.

Chicago is moving ever closer to winter, and as it does, so too does my soul. My dark, deep, troubled soul. I'm better, but I'm trepidatious. I'm keeping my head up, though. I've been biking the past few days...days merely, after about a month long break, and I've been feeling this intense level of uplift in everything. Despite a brief moment of loss of control right around the worst days of my lady cycle, the days leading up to the last have been easier than ever. And A LOT has happened. 

I've been weeping and gnashing my teeth over my recent gumption to move into sales at my current job. I'm good at working with people and getting people to trust me (like a fox), and since I actually genuinely try to be an actual trustworthy person, it's kind of easy for me. The hardest part is getting the hell off my own back and ass. 

I've been trying to figure out what this damn demon creature at my heels has been, this anvil tied to my ankle and dragging me down into darker waters. I've been fighting it, like a warrior princess. 

And just like every warrior princess, I've had to solve a problem....not like Maria.....like Caroline. If you've never seen Spirited Away, change the status of that. Put it on your list. It's a great example of the maze of trials I've been tripping along these past months since December, when I couldn't shake the feeling that I wanted to die. 

The story is universal, like a fairy tale...but the kind that hasn't been altered by religion, by dogma. The kind that empowers because it forces the hero to solve a problem, to meet with the hag, and to obey her commands without complaint. To do the work. 

When the problem is solved, the hero has succeeded and receives that for which she has been fighting. In the case of Spirited Away, the hero's parents have been turned into swine, and she must complete the tasks to solve the problem and to return her parents to their human forms. 

People want to help, and people do what they can, but she has to turn the levers, choose which doors to open. 

I think somewhere along the line, whether it be white male supremacy or capitalism.....or is white male supremacy just a small bi-product of the inherent nature of capitalism (I'm more inclined towards this)....we stopped appreciating having agency over our own lives. We stopped being taught what that meant, and I'm talking about all of us.  


I always imagined I'd send my old 1999 Honda Civic off into the sunset with a final road trip, but the girl wasn't having it. The clutch needed to be replaced. 

I called Triple A, and to send me back to Chicago, they sent the guy that took me to the mechanic I had to visit in Indiana, where my girl gave up the fight. He was a big man with a long white beard. He had a step-daughter with him that told me about her boyfriend's recent arrest within the first minute of meeting me, and we all piled into his old tow truck. 

I finally hit that wall of "how much money do I want to keep putting into this car," namely because my dad hit that wall a while ago. I spent the better part of my day in a tow truck, with this unique family who loved Linus, of course, and discussed the basic realities of living life with me, which is a lot to ask for from a day, and I didn't ask for any of it. 

At one point my chariot driver turned up an old country song on the radio and started singing to Linus as we chugged our way into the belly of the beast of Chicago rush hour. Every time someone honked at us for running red lights, the man and his daughter would yell at them as loudly as they could...from Indiana, but speaking that Chicago road rage language that you really can't appreciate until you realize how many assholes own cars in this damn town. 

She regaled me with stories of her "old man" and how his ex has been making their live's a living hell since he started dating her. Which reminds me. I want to challenge all women...and all men with this: no one can steal your boyfriend or girlfriend. Everyone has free will and the ability to make choices. Don't ruin both of your lives by trying to get someone that didn't choose you back into your life. Choose your life over that nonsense. 

I said this, or some version of this out loud in the truck, and my driver, in between drags from his cigarette, leaned forward and pointed at me to affirm my musings. We also smoked a joint in the truck, once we were in Illinois, and it wasn't a crime; he didn't because he was working and driving, but his daughter and I partook and he told us about driving a tractor trailer coast to coast for years. "It gets in your blood." 

He drives a tow truck. He also drives a limo, wears a suit or a tux, depending on the event, but if he can drive his beat up tow truck, he'd rather do that, meet people, buy old cars and work with his neighbor to fix em up and resell them or sell them for parts. It made me think: don't do what you do because you need a job. Do what you do because you HAVE to do it....even if it's driving a truck....do it because it's in your blood. I mean...do what you have to do to get to that point, but don't ever stop trying to get there. Success has many faces, and contentment is not always what you expect.  

I had respect for this man, and I think he shared the same for me as he helped me swing myself from the cab onto the flatbed to grab something out of my trunk. So I sold him a monument to my past, parts of which I continue to leave further and further behind each day that I wake up believing I have inside of my little frame everything I need to take care of myself, and if I don't know how to do it yet, I'm open and excited to learn because if I never stop learning, I never stop living. (and you're welcome for that sentence)

I do a lot of things that make me nervous, that make my heart race. Sometimes getting out of bed is that thing, and sometimes counter offering a price $50 higher than my potential buyer's initial offer makes me feel like I'm going to throw up. I did it anyway, and he said yes. So I got my stuff, and I said goodbye to my girl. May she live in our hearts forever. 

 And I keep looking forward. I have a whole vacation to enjoy. 

Ol' Emmie, Dec. 1998 - September 2016. Photo Credit: Apryl Cox-Jackson



Monday, September 12, 2016

Connection

We are, at our core, animals. Society, in fact, is a way that we separate ourselves from the animals. Society grew from our ability to create and write down a language, and more than a few theorists believe that this, language, is what has separated us from our true and happiest selves. Once we learn language, some say, a veil is drawn over our eyes, and we no longer feel like we are a part of everything else that exists because we have created a way to differentiate ourselves, for lack of a better way to say it, in writing. I now see the difference between myself and the not myself which is represented by these symbols that are not the same as the symbols that represent me. Am I just making it worse at this point? I know I’m ALWAYS harping on this.

We are a part of everything around us, but we separate ourselves from whatever isn’t human, and we don’t stop there. It seems we are constantly on the lookout for more ways to differentiate ourselves, to feel unique, when the reality is, we ARE unique, without making any attempts.

I, in my desperate need to put my hands in the dirt, planted some tomato plants I bought from Home Depot in my backyard in mid July. As I watched everyone tout their own home grown tomatoes, I dug up my young tomato plants and moved them to an area of the yard, I felt, had more sun exposure. Maybe minutes.

So I bought a full length mirror at Lowes, and every morning I would prop it up on a bucket full of water and angle it so that the sunlight was reflecting off of it and onto my tomatoes. I have no idea if that was even useful.

I also packed the kiddos in with mushroom compost, fed them fish emulsion, and spent at least five minutes with each plant a day, chatting and pruning back the endless shoots that they send out, desperate to grow, to vine. Talking to plants totally works.

I even resigned myself, in this Zen Buddhism sort of way, to only getting a couple of pieces of fruit. The act of planting and tending was emotionally worth the time it took because it reminded me that nothing is as straightforward as life. It just keeps moving. It just keeps swimming, regardless of me, regardless of anything.

I have discovered a number of tomatoes now, each different, green, transparent, each a beautifully sculpted expression of life, and I am a part of it. Finally, again. There is no subtext, nothing to decipher. When I think about it, I know what they need, just as I know what I need, and the work that I do to maintain them is an extension of the work I do for my own maintenance.

Everything else is just signs and signified, a way to distinguish ourselves from the rest; the distinctions are obvious, but the connections are what matter the most.