Vocal Medicine 1

O friend
when my heart is in pieces
and I hear your voice
those waves
enter in where
I am splintered
and all my feelings
flood out in tears.
Just the trusted voice
vibrating in the air
becomes a temple
where I am safe to fall apart.
You have held me there
maybe without knowing
that this weeping
this freedom
is because
of your love.

At Althea


This Precious Present Moment

Yes, I too cast my vote for four more years of stability, of moving certain good policies forward step by incremental step while tabling other concerns as too complicated, too intractable, too much a part of the fabric of who we are to really engage with right now. I voted for the status quo. I voted for Clinton. But that’s not who we got (or so, at least, it seems, though I know some out there are working to overturn this outcome at the electoral college and other levels).

We got Trump. I didn’t want Trump – I REALLY didn’t want Trump – but we got ‘im.

And it feels to me like we’re now in a new era. The Trump era. The era in which Trump has been elected president. Maybe it will be over before the inauguration in 2017. Maybe it will go for eight years. We don’t know. All we know is that we are in it now.

In this now, in this present moment, which is the only moment there ever is, a large enough number of Americans have come together to successfully elect Trump as president to be. 

And I’m like,

Ok. 

This is where we are. 

What now?

And I’m drawing on my faith, and my education (I have a PhD in American Studies, though I’ve chosen to live outside of academia), and the power of creative vision to try and discern – 

What to do NOW? 

Now that here is where we are?

And my answer is the same as James Baldwin’s answer was in The Fire Next Time: Practice radical, transformative, revolutionary love. 

And I’m going to be offering, here in this space, and in every other platform that’s mine, and in every instance in which my opinion is asked for (or even just allowed), my ideas about what that radical, transformative, revolutionary love might or could look like in action.  

And I think that what I will have to offer may be challenging for some. It probably won’t be conventional. It may or may not be what you want to hear or what you’re ready for. And that is totally ok. I know we are all in different places on this. You be where you are. Be there fully, authentically, so you can speak the words you need to speak and ask for the care and support you need. I ask you to honor your rage, pain, hurt, grief, anger, fear, despondency, disappointment, alarm, and anything else you’re justifiably feeling, and let it move through you. Let the free flow of emotion clean you out from the inside. 

And if and when you wish to begin (or get back to) the work of healing this nation, may we find ourselves standing together. 

Because healing is what needs to happen here. Not reconquering. Not showing those so-and-so’s what’s what. Not smashing the “bad” people with our “good” “right” “truth.” 
(Challenging yet?) 

Not winning. Healing. 

I know I’ve said a lot already, but it has all been a lead-up to this, the “first thing” I want to say. 

I live mostly in a liberal bubble between Denver and Boulder, Colorado. But right now I just happen to be back in the area where I grew up, an extremely impoverished region of rural southwest Pennsylvania, visiting my mom, who is seriously ill. It goes almost without saying that this is deep Trump territory. When the results came in, I was wishing desperately that I could be back in my home community, comforting and being comforted by my friends, expressing my solidarity by standing together, singing together, praying together. 

But I that’s not where I was. So I stood, sang, prayed here – alone but connected. Together in spirit with not just my friends, but ALL the people. 

And then I went out. Into the world. Among the people. The people who are here. The ones that some of my liberal friends might consciously or unconsciously think of as hicks, rednecks, uneducated poor white trash. Racist, bigoted, homophobic, misogynist or simply duped and misled Trump supporters. My family. My relatives. The people I grew up with. The people I came from. Who shaped the course of my early life. 

And I saw

Their hearts. 

I saw their hearts. 

I FELT their hearts. 

And I recognized 

what I felt

because I have felt it 

in me. 

The opening in the chest when the fear, pain, hurt, anger that have been pent up inside, get to finally be spoken. 

The sudden shaky lightness of having been delivered of a weight of feeling that was crushing the soul with its heaviness, strangling the spirit with frustration, suffocating the life force with the despair of never being allowed to be spoken. 

And I see, above these hearts that have this sudden shaky lightness about them, jaws that are still clenched, facial muscles tense and twitching, necks stiff and unbending: People determined and ready to fight to keep from being forced back into silence. 

And what came to me was Marshall Rosenberg’s work on nonviolent communication, in which we recognize that people who are lashing out are doing so be they have needs that aren’t being met, and they’ve lost faith in peaceful means of getting their needs met, and they’re resorting to aggression out of desperation and hopelessness. 

And so you witness. 

You let them speak. You let them know you hear. You ask, Is there more?

You welcome them to speak until enough pressure has been released to make space to talk about other solutions. Effective solutions. Sustainable solutions. Solutions in which another person does not have to be harmed for the needs of the first to be met. 

Really met. Fully met. Lovingly met. 

So in the face of this group of people collectively waving their fists and shouting, I’M ANGRY! I’M UPSET! I’M SUFFERING AND I BLAME, I BLAME, I BLAME!

I’m going to say, Wow. I see that you are angry. 

I hear your words. 

I hear you when you say you’re frustrated. 

And I feel the fear and pain you’re in, underneath that anger. 

It must feel really bad. 

I’m really sorry you’re feeling that way. 

I hear you. 

I see you. 

I feel you. 

I love you. 

And I am committed with every cell and holy atom of my being to building a nation, a world where you, and you, and you, and I, and ALL of us, EVERY ONE of us, can have our needs met. 

In solidarity. 

Fish Heart

A bit of silliness perhaps, but sincere silliness:

Fish Heart

Oh Beloved, cast your line!
My heart is ready for your hook
to pierce the living red flesh
and spill through that ragged hole
my hot pain, into the cooling water
unknowably vast.

When you have caught me,
draw the line taut –
my heart struggles against what it wants
but yearns to be pulled hard
until, breaking the surface stillness
and flying through the wild open air,
this little silver fish
falls, flapping and panting
into your hand.

Everything is recycled.

Also Not a Failure?

Also Not a Failure?

Today’s word of the day: addlepated.

Someone at work today was asking if that was a real word. I was like, Oh yes. You know, it’s when your pate (head) is addled (all mushy like tapioca).

Like mine was tonight when I was driving home from Havana Sauna and the combination of head cold and hot water was making me think about random stuff like how I’m going to a Denver Women’s Chorus concert tomorrow, and what would happen if a man wanted to join the chorus? Would they let him? Why would he want to, anyway? Because he felt like some part of him was a woman?

And this made me think of a conversation I had back in college in rural Indiana, PA with my friend Jim who was telling me that it was a dream of his to someday be in a gay men’s chorus. (The very idea seemed impossibly metropolitan at the time.) And I was like, “Could I be in it too?” And he said no, because then it wouldn’t be a gay men’s chorus. But I sort of thought I belonged there anyway.

When I was in college I often referred to myself as “a feral lesbian, raised in the wild by fags.” I was super into our campus LGBT support/activist group and I was a hard core feminist. But I didn’t really have lesbian friends. I had straight women friends, and gay male friends. And I was trying to figure out who I was among that crowd.

I’ve written before about how part of the long slow process of self acceptance and self forgiveness and self love involves learning how to see aspects of my life story from a different angle — realizing I’ve been holding myself “on the hook” for a lot of things that were just part of my learning process. And that maybe got me where I needed to go after all.

And really I wanted to write this post because I was feeling very appreciative of and grateful to all the gay men who let me hang around with them like a fat duck in a flock of lithe young swans. They put up with at least some (who knows how much — a good portion of this time I don’t remember) whininess from me about not being able to go on guys’ nights with them at the Pittsburgh clubs. And I was thinking, I wonder what I can do to capture those feelings and express my appreciation? Well, at the very least I can say “thank you” in my blog.

I guess I’ve always beaten myself up for not knowing how to act with women, I’ve always thought I was pretty stupid in that regard. I always wanted to be very gallant and charming, but I always felt like I came across either too chaste or too needy (or too drunk). I imagined my style as more Oscar Wilde than Ani DiFranco, and I guess it still is.

I’d pretty much chalked “relating to lesbians in college” up to my list of failures, but now I’m learning to notice and investigate any uses of that word in my self-analysis and see if I can’t rewrite the story. It is only a story, after all, and it’s part of what made me who I am, so I might as well own it. For one thing, I have more compassion now for where I was on the inner plane — not well. For another, at this distance I can see that the beauty I saw then was real, and the life I have now, which is full of beauty, grew from that soil.

So, here’s to you all, people who put up with me in college and held the space while I floundered around with my identity. I won’t squander that gift. You all rocked, and in retrospect I felt truly accepted. If I couldn’t really take it in then, if I believed happiness was just beyond my reach, I understand that I still needed to learn that I have value, so I was always looking for it outside of myself. And I know now that even if the love is there, if I don’t believe I’m worthy, it can’t penetrate my heart.

The quality I chose to work on in 2015 is self love. I don’t even feel like it was a choice. This is just what’s been up for me. I’m being pushed to finally get rid of the poisonous beliefs about myself that keep me from living my full potential. Sometimes I think I’ll never be able to do it. Other times I think I can. So thanks to everyone who has helped me, who is helping me, whether you know it or not; thanks for your patience; thanks for your kindness; thanks for listening.

www.hdnicewallpapers.com