10.31.2015

writing challenge: 5 (spooky) problems with social media

Hi, Internet. Just so you know: I kinda hate you at the moment. You're on my Shit List. But I'm back to blogging and tweeting and all that, so obviously we're still speaking. No, I don't know why. We just are. Because I'm too addicted to you right now, and my Writer's Block is in full-on choke mode. Maybe.

....remember when people met at ice cream socials and/or bars? Back before smart phones, I met all my lunatics at bars, and all my best friends at ice cream socials. The more I grow up, the more I say we should have a total society overhaul and go back that route. And hell, while we're at it, let's clean up global warming and go back to riding horses everywhere and crossing oceans on pirate ships. (Have you ever seen M. Night Shyamalan's THE VILLAGE? That's kind of where I'm at right now. Let's all just go full-on Amish, and later we can let one of our blind children and a mentally disabled one go into the woods alone even though we've scared the freaking shit out of all of them that there's a horned beast in it that wants to eat them.)

So one of the 30 Day Writing Challenges was to write about 5 problems with Social Media. And I was all: JUST FIVE??? But it's fine. I've whittled it down:

1. Living out loud. I've written here extensively about how important doing this is, because connecting matters. I think the more honest and open you are about who you are, what's happened to you, and how you feel about that will only be cathartic for you and bring relief to who knows who out there. We all have stories, and by sharing these stories we can make connections to other people. We can give hope, heal, laugh, cry, be furious, incredulous, scared, amazed, love, and hate...all together. Connections (and Love) are real, and to social animals such as ourselves, they're important. 

So whenever I make statements like: I'm off this fucking grid! Heading back to Amish Country! (No, seriously...my mom's family is half Pennsylvania Dutch - they'd totally let me in), I know that's pretty impossible now. Social Media is how we connect these days. And so you connect...sometimes to good people, sometimes to bad people, sometimes to very confused people, and sometimes to people who will scare the holy living shit out of you just because they're psychos and bored. It's all experience, growth. But some of it is terrifyingly hard.

I mean, you can still meet people and experience a lot of terrifying growth from people you hook up with at ice cream socials or bars on Friday nights. But why do THAT when you can do it while lying in bed with your phone or laptop, while eating chocolate mint ice cream in your most tattered pajamas and your geekiest glasses and most hideous look? 

2. Seductiveness. Don't be fooled: the Internet and its Social Media are seductive. Don't believe for one second the NSA isn't watching you, Google hasn't tracked and sold your website preferences, and your mom (hi, mom!) isn't going to argue with you out loud in front of all your friends on Facebook and call you on it every time you go to her house for dinner. Social Media is full of 93% normal people and 7% socio-pyschopaths who'd sell their own grandmas down a river if they thought it would get them ultimate power. (Alternately, these same people usually run for Congress. If they're unsuccessful, they always get themselves a radio talk show or start a website WITH Social Media presence.)

3. Not being able to move on. Sometimes shit just happens. Friendships run their course. Divorces are finalized. Whatever. Back in 1999, when Steve Jones broke my heart into a tiny million pieces, there was no Facebook. There were no smartphones. There weren't even any flip phones. The computer was just a place you went to and hung out on IRC or sent emails or whatever. And there was that dial up tone, that crazy weird dial up tone, to connect to the wired world. So if something broke or fizzled or went up in flames, you just licked your wounds and went for a drink at Johnny's Hideaway to pick up the next ride. Which is what I did. Except I didn't go to Johnny's Hideaway. I'm not going to tell you where I went, but now I have a daughter and a looming divorce. So see? There's an angle that can be worked, and once upon a time Humanity did it offline.

Later, after I'd moved on and created a Steve Jones-free life for myself, Facebook became huge. I went to Facebook and looked up Steve Jones. Yup, there he was. Had his Facebook page set to Public. Still using the same email address from 1999. Still telling the same old jokes. Still wearing that one dumb shirt. But now I could see he was a racist, a Sarah Palin/Rush Limbaugh fan, a Bible-thumping Jesus freak, and (therefore) a complete and utter hypocrite. Had I known all of THAT in 1999, I'd have shed this many tears over losing him: 0.

Thus is the problem with #3: if you want to torture yourself over someone who's moved on without you, head to Social Media. (On the flip side, you may find out they support anti-abortionists and the 2nd amendment, and you'll breathe a sigh of relief over the gigantic bullet you dodged on that hard lesson.)

4. Ridiculousness, but the bad kind. Social Media is full of it. People hawking their wares online and not even trying to be smooth about it. I'll be honest: I suck at self-promotion. I have no idea how to do it, it's not natural for me. I'm too self-deprecating, all of this (THIS being Life in general) is just ridiculous to me. WE are ridiculous. So I just write these blog entries, link them on my public Facebook writer page which then automatically cross posts to my Twitter, and if a Hollywood producer wants to stumble on my foibles and come find me and ask me if I'd like to write a TV show for them or let them turn my life into a screenplay, then have at it. I believe in Fate. (I also believe in hard work, and staying grounded in reality, and do realize this will never ever happen.)

5. The Nefarious. You, Internet, are full of The Nefarious. When you came into being, you were the first place all the creepy bottom feeders living in their moms' basements, subsisting on Cheese Whiz and Mountain Dew, went to hang out. And you know those guys who used to come out of their houses once in awhile just to yell at kids to get off their lawn, and then they'd go back inside their dark holes and stand growling and muttering and touching themselves from behind a drawn curtain in their front room watching the kids play across the street? Yeah, those guys are all on Social Media now. When the Internet opened, they all ran out and got computers and an internet connection. When Social Media took off they couldn't believe their fucking luck. 

What I'm saying is: Social Media is a Child Molester's wet dream. It's the Playground of the Psycho. The lair of the Keyboard Cowboy/Cowgirl. It's where - if you're going to meet someone creepy and fucked up - this is where it'll happen. You are the dark, dank basement of all of Society's nightmares, Internet, and I'm absolutely paralyzed about letting my daughter start interacting with other humans on you.

And yet your cat and laughing baby videos. And WebMD.  

You, Internet, are just like religion: good in theory, always poorly executed. A useful tool, if only humans weren't in charge. And THAT, in a nutshell, summarizes the 5 problems with Social Media: too many goddamned humans. 

Happy Halloween.

10.30.2015

7.

Dear little Miss M,

First of all, you are no longer that little. But you are still Miss M, and you will always be Miss M. When you were first born, I started calling you Miss M, or sometimes just "ma'm." You seemed like such an old soul in a tiny little body, and needed something far more formal than the name we'd given you.

Still does this, but in bigger PJs.

You were indignant and angry from the start. I remember every night you'd cry from 6 pm-8 pm. Every single night. Two hours straight. Angry, balled up fists in the air. Mad at only god knows what, for god knows what reason. And you hated sleep; you didn't want to miss a thing (you are still like this). The moment you took your first step, I felt a rush of relief - you were free, FREE! But also a deep sadness...the first step is the beginning of the end of babyhood...toddlerdom...childhood. It's been 7 years, and in another mere 9 you'll be driving. It goes so, so fast.  

You are a strong-willed, determined little girl. You like girly things like cheerleading, make up, nail polish, dancing, One Direction, Nick (and Joe) Jonas, sparkles, the color pink, Disney princesses, Disney's anti-princesses, and you'd really really like to go on a date with a boy except I can tell: you don't even know what that really means or entails. But you also like boy things like skateboards and scooters, Star Wars, soccer, Sunday night football (which you understand so much better than I do - thank your father, he's just made you cool with all the jocks), worms and roly poly bugs, all things gross, and fart jokes. 
Loves to party. With sparkles.

You are a becoming a mini-me, but with a lot of good balance from your dad's genetics. You are highly imaginative and in your own head a lot (me); yet you're a total social butterfly who can't say no to a good party (your dad). You love stories and music and creativity (me); yet you're analytical enough to be one of the best mathematicians in your class (your dad). You're disorganized (me), but you can clean like nobody's business when necessary (your dad). You're all emotions (me) but really logical (your dad) (emotions + logic = bless you, my darling...you got a looooong, crazy road ahead of you trying to marry those two character traits). You are stubborn (me) but not unreasonable (your dad). You have an illogical issue with shoes and clothes (that's all me...and you got nothing from your dad to counteract that, sorry).

Yesterday, I completely lost it with you. In public. I am sorry, sweet girl. When things like that happen, where afterwards I am filled with guilt and What-The-Heck-Is-WRONG-With-You-Amy?! thoughts, I always hope it becomes a memory that gets buried deep deep down in the recesses of your brain. And I'm sorry I've taught you cuss words. I'd honestly intended to wait until you were at least 10. (I'm sure by now you get it: mommy's got a temper, and now you know why you do, too.) 
....and/or she'll be running her own small country.
Sometimes, because you are such an old soul and also very tall for your age, I forget: you are only 6 (now 7), just a baby. And I am having a hard life, and so are you. You cry a lot and ask why daddy can't come over for a sandwich, and why we can't be together as a family anymore. You asked, for your birthday this year, if you and I could spend the night at daddy's house, and all three of us sleep in the same bed like we did a long time ago. You are sad when you're with daddy because you miss me and worry I'm lonely without you. You are sad when you're with me because you miss daddy and worry he's lonely without you. 

Your tender heart breaks mine a lot; I have tremendous amounts of guilt about what I did this summer. But I also did it because I deeply felt that, in the long run, it would be the very best thing for all three of us and I never ever do anything without weighing all the possible best/worst case scenarios and being prepared to accept any and all consequences that follow every choice I make. I feel like it's really important you know that...on the first birthday you've had not waking up in a house that has both me and daddy.
Cheerleader. For dolphins.


At night, you like me to make up stories for you in which you are rescued or whisked away by Harry Styles of One Direction until you giggle yourself silly. Then I draw pictures on your back and sing You Are My Sunshine or The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow or Somewhere Over the Rainbow until you fall asleep. And after you are asleep, I stare at your profile, and I can still see the little face from the ultrasound images 7 years ago. Isn't that amazing? From a side angle in the dark, you are still a mysterious part of me. I remember I couldn't believe you were actually inside of me. And even now, years later, I can still feel the surreal, freakish sensation of having your tiny feet swipe at my insides when you were finally big enough to make your presence known. I watch you sleep and think about how small you once were, how your entire body fit perfectly on my chest, and I remember how we'd defy all the What Not To Do parenting articles and risk it just to lie together, napping...me on the sofa, you on my chest. Really, it was the only way you could sleep. You have been sleeping on top of me ever since, often with a foot in my face.

But mostly I just look at your sweet sleeping self a lot of nights and think the same thing I thought when you were lying in the bassinet next to me in the hospital: I can't believe my body made you, and that you picked me to be your mommy. You are the happiest and saddest and most exciting and silliest and angriest and scariest and hardest and best thing I have ever done, and ever will do. 


My most favorite thing ever.
Happy 7th year on Earth, little Miss M. I'm so lucky I get to be YOUR mommy. You are my favorite, my most favorite little girl, on the WHOLE planet. There is no other little girl I love more than you, no other little girl I ever want to hug and kiss and fight and laugh and sing and cry and watch movies and dance and take nature hikes with. 

I hope you are growing up with more happy moments than sad (but I think some sadness is good for you, too - so you can appreciate the happy), and more than anything else that you know how tremendously loved you are. Every single night before you fall asleep, after I sing You Are My Sunshine to you, I say: "You are my very best blessing." I made a conscious choice when you were 2 hours old to do that, to make sure those are almost always the last words you hear before you fall asleep, no matter what kind of day you or I or we have had. It's the most important thing to me that you know you are a blessing, that you are worthy of love, that you are perfect just as you are...because one day you will encounter people who will make you question that, and doubt yourself. Which is why my biggest wish for you, every day, is that as you grow up you'll encounter far more of the OTHER kind of people, the ones who will see who you really are and love even the darkest parts of you.

I send prayers to the Universe, on a consistent basis, that you are one day in a home of your very own, one that you'll fill up with things that bring you peace and happiness and inspire moments of creative abandon full of wild recklessness. I write daily requests to Whatever is listening, that you'll find something to do with your life that brings you joy and makes you feel good, and that you'll be surrounded with people who help you and support you through the gloomiest bits while bringing your life a little weirdness, a lot of extraordinary, and great gigantic gobs of blessings and love. 

You are the all the very best parts of me and your daddy wrapped up in one beautiful place, in one growing and magnificently magical child, and more than that, you are my very best blessing of all. I love you, sweet girl. Happy birthday. 

Love,
Mommy
October 30, 2015


Miss M likes zombie eyes.

My very best blessing. Thank you, Universe.

10.25.2015

30 day writing challenge: clothes schmothes.


I am eating cheese and cashews right now. Drinking La Croix coconut water. This is what my dinner consists of tonight: nuts, cheese, and fizzy coconut water. That's pretty healthy, right? Totally natural, except for the fizz in the water. Tomorrow morning, I'll have coffee and a protein bar. For lunch, I'll probably eat a peanut butter&jelly sandwich and a side of baked potato chips and an apple. For dinner, I'll have a baby spring lettuce salad with blue cheese crumbles/walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette, with some tuna salad on crackers. 

I have no time to eat these days, but when I do I eat like a 6 year old and/or someone at a cocktail party.

Have I ever told you I used to run 5 and 10K races? I mean, put " " around the word run, but I did. And I've run Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race 3 times - have all the shirts (somewhere) to prove it. But then I got pregnant, had a C-section, and my body was destroyed. Right after my career, my bank account, education reformers, insomnia, stress, the Tea Party, xenophobia, bad drivers, the weather, and people who leave angry, ridiculous and racist/chauvinistic comments under news articles on the Internet, for the last 7 years, my body has been my biggest complaint and the one thing - other than a pervasive inability to stay focused and get a single thing done - that's the most frustrating thing about me, to me.

I'd like to run again. I mean, put " " around run, but I would. Getting re-started has been a challenge, though. Timing is a factor, but not as big a factor as physical and mental motivation. I know I just need to (as Nike would tell me) Just Do It. But I'm a procrastinating excuse-maker. No joke - if there were a career for that, I'd be at the top of my field right now. I'd be traveling the world doing motivational speaking about the newest techniques in procrastinating excuse-making, and I'd have won a Nobel Peace Prize in it for all of my innovative research and techniques. (Oh, the humanity that this is not a real career.)  

Which leads me to today's writing challenge, which wasn't much of a challenge at all and this is good because I need to finish up the rest of this week's lesson plans since I've procrastinated doing them all weekend with a lot of excuses.

30 Day Writing Challenge #27: What I Wore Today.

Basically, if I could just go everywhere in pajamas or yoga pants, I would. Jeans are my next choice, but nothing beats comfy PJs and yoga pants. And long shirts. Anything to hide the havoc a child and my own procrastinate-y, excuse-making laziness has done to me. And if it weren't for the havoc bearing a child and my own sheer laze has inflicted upon me, I'd probably sleep naked and hang out naked when alone, because research says it's healthier. (I am NOT making that up to titillate or excite anybody - see HERE. Plus, if you could see what I see in the mirror every day, rest assured: nothing exciting to see there, move along.)

At any rate. To address today's writing "challenge." Today I wore jeans, a long grey/striped shirt that has holes in it because I've had it for going on 5 years now, and slip-on black shoes that are now getting holes in them because they're cheap. I buy all my clothes from either Target or Old Navy. If I find something I like, I literally wear it until it disintegrates. Sometimes I wear underpants, sometimes I don't, and I rarely wear socks. Today I wore neither of those things. And if I could get away with going barefoot all the time, I would. Socks, underpants, shoes - all clothes that are overrated. But not bras. Bras are good - ironically, I feel overexposed and under supported without one, so much so I sleep in them. I am odd and strange when it comes to clothes. I like them - I'm not someone you'll ever see signing up to go vacation at a nudist camp, because I feel uncomfortably exposed without clothes on. It's just...I just think certain kinds of clothes are less necessary than others. But clothes are good things. Unless they're skin colored tank tops and polyester biker shorts and you're seriously 500 lbs and you come to school to eat lunch with your child and then get all offended when the children start screaming because from behind you look completely naked. Then I think humongous cloaks like ancient Druids wore to conceal their identities are good things, and maybe also cloaks of invisibility, like in Harry Potter. (Get on that, Science!)

....Good god. I'm so sorry. Who put this on this list as something to write about? This is the most boring thing on the entire list. Apologies. Hope you weren't incredibly busy or anything. (Did you read the entire thing? God bless you.) 

I'm going to abruptly end this so I can go do some laundry. I've made a dozen excuses for why I could procrastinate doing it this weekend. 

Happy Sunday.

10.24.2015

writing challenge: 5 fears.

I love Yoda. Yoda is Love.
Also, I am sorry Star Wars nerds, for tormenting you
about watching all the episodes in numerical order.
I'll use the Force for good, and honor George's wishes, and watch them
in the order He commanded us to.
...unless you're my brother. And then I'm going to watch them in
numerical order and force you to watch me do it.

I didn't go to sleep until 3 AM. I slept - hard - for about 3 hours. Now I'm awake again. I have brought home work to do this weekend. I need to clean. My little girl is with me. We have 2 big commitments this weekend to attend. One is on Sunday and my fingers are crossed really hard I don't have to stay at it with her, and can go get some stuff done.

Number 19 on the 30 Day Writing Challenge is to write about five fears. Fear is a thing with me. I'm trying really hard to grow a thick skin, to recognize things I really DO need to be afraid of (sharks eating me, asteroids crashing down on my head) and things I DON'T need to be afraid of (sharks eating me, asteroids crashing down on my head). The thing about Fear is this: none of this is real. My spiritual teachings and learnings tell me that none of this is real. We are beings of Light, and Love is the only real thing. There are beings who have lost connection with their Light, and have forgotten how Love works. Or they've twisted it. And those people scare me. But I also know they aren't real, because they've lost touch with what is real.

That's very coded and philosophical, so...let's do this. Let me just share my 5 basest fears. My truest, realest fears are that I will never be enough, I will never get my act together, and I will flounder forever and eventually end up 95 years old drooling on myself in a nursing home, having accomplished absolutely nothing beyond navel-gazing and no one will come visit me. Those are my core, deepest and darkest fears. Or that I'll end up living with a hundred cats and eating canned cat food, sitting in pools of my own filth. And that it'll all be recorded on a reality TV show. And Donald Trump will host.

But here are 5 fears that are easier to address:

1. Sharks. You know what I'd like to do to conquer this fear? Swim with dolphins AND sharks at the same time. Because one time I saw Jaws 4, and that's what happened. The dolphins protected the humans from the psycho Jaws shark. I'm pretty sure that's the only way you can survive a swim with sharks - make sure dolphins are around you, because sharks don't mess with dolphins. According to the film industry.

2. Being destitute and homeless. This is kinda sorta like the nursing home and/or hoarder cat lady scenarios, but in this fear I'm also living in my mom's basement and she's telling me what to do all day. The good thing about my mom is she's got a great sense of humor, so I can joke with her like this and she won't throw me out on the streets to fend for myself. Also, she makes really great spaghetti. 

3. Ghosts. Ghosts are REAL, reader(s). I want to talk to a paranormal expert (preferably Jason Hawes) so I can understand them. Because at some point, I may be one and so...I just like to have all the facts. Is all I'm saying.

4. Death by fiery plane crash. I'm a bad flier. I like airports. I like the process of flying. But being on the plane, 50,000 feet in the air hurtling through time and space? So so BAD at that. If you're on the plane with me, outwardly I look nonchalant and calm: I am reading, I am resting, I am doing whatever. But inwardly, I'm listening for every single weird sound and nervously watching the flight attendants for signs of fright. 

I want to travel overseas to visit all of Europe and the Australian continent one day. But I'll be honest: I'm going to need a lot of sleep drugs to get me over the Atlantic, and enough to kill a baby elephant to get across the Pacific. The worst things in the world for me are articles (WITH PICTURES) of what happens to people when they're tossed and smashed onto the ground from a plane 50,000 feet in the air death spiraling downward. 

5. Terrorists. Terrorism, I'm learning as I grow up, comes in many different forms. Terrorists can be the scary guys who abuse and misuse a religion to further their political agendas and blow up other people or ram planes into skyscrapers. Or they can be that neighbor across the street who stands in the middle of the road at 5 AM shooting at squirrels while laughing maniacally and muttering about his ex-wife. They can be a stranger driving in a car in the lane next to you, or someone you once loved a lot behaving in really scary, confusing ways. 

And, I'm learning as I grow up, the only way to drive out fear is through love. In my experience, true Love is gentle and kind. It doesn't try to control anyone. It doesn't make demands or use shaming or manipulation to get people to do what it wants; those are terrorism tactics. Love just is. 

I have a lot of love in my life - I have a mom who knows how to make great spaghetti, friends I can meet for dinner and coffee/wine dates who totally get me, a sister-in-law who's more sister than in-law, a brother who makes me laugh and laugh, a niece and nephew who make my heart ridiculously happy, a little girl who's growing up into a really lovely if-a-little-indignant person, and just...I know so many people who are full of support and love. I cannot tell you how quickly someone's support and love can relax your scariest scares. If you are not surrounded by people who are gentle, supportive, and understand how real Love works, please find you some. I would offer to be that person for you, but I'm on the need-to-receive end right now...I'll let you know when I'm back in the ready-to-give end. 

If it's really real, true love is gentle and kind and undemanding. And I'm pretty sure terrorists don't know how it works, which is why they're terrorists. I'm reading PETER PAN to my class right now, and Captain Hook is filling up my brain - there was a character who craved love but had no idea what it really was. But dolphins have an idea. And most moms understand it. And Jason Hawes gets it. Journalists publishing horrific plane crash pictures don't get it, but that's because Love doesn't sell magazines and newspapers.  Over the next several weeks and months, I'm going to really focus on ignoring scary pictures/news articles, terrorists, sharks, and staying away from reality TV shows unless they're about ghosts (and Jason Hawes is the host). 

10.22.2015

30 Day Writing Challenge #1: weird traits.

Miss M is at her dad's for the week...I have laminating to cut out and grading to do, but I have just spent $100 on sparkly shit at Justice for a certain big girl's birthday present next week. Now I don't feel like doing any of that. 

Instead, I'm starting the Thirty Day Writing Challenge, wherein I pick a topic from this picture I stumbled upon on the Internet and write about it. I could go in order numbers 1-30, but that feels like following rules. And I don't follow rules. I make up my OWN constitutional by laws. I'm a renegade, a runaway rogue, a loose cannon rolling down a hill. Take your rules and stick 'em where the sun don't shine, Mr. Man. Rules are for fools, tools. (Okay. I'm done now.)

Here's what I'm writing about today: #25 - Four Weird Traits I Have.

I know. I KNOW!! Listen: it was reeeeealllly hard to narrow it down to JUST four. But I did it:

1. I talk to myself. Sometimes? I answer too. But as myself. Don't judge. I can sense you're judging me. I do not care. Because look - me and myself have some really great conversations, true heart to hearts. I am my own best pep talker, my very best psychotherapist. And I can be refreshingly honest and frank with myself when I'm in tough situations. And I'm always super super supportive of me when someone's been mean to me - that asshole! You're GREAT, Amy-self! They're totally jealous because they know they suck. And me and myself are just awesome excuse makers/partners in crime AND! We're hysterically funny comediennes - we make us laugh all the time. At really inappropriate things.

But sometimes, when I'm really sad, I'm really NOT the right person for myself to hang out with. Me and myself can really envision the entire planet in its soon-to-be apocalyptic state, zombies eating our face and everything, and we just want to crawl under the covers and stay there for 9 million weeks. That's when I turn on Damien Rice's song AMIE, and pretend he wrote it for me but accidentally misspelled my name. (I will forgive Damien Rice a billion things, just because he sings my name out loud.)

But when me and myself are in the car? We are THE best drivers on the road. And we make sure all the other drivers and themselves know it. 

2. I'm pretty much a walking dichotomy. Like, I'm a feminist...who likes to be dominated. And I don't do romance, but if you show up with one of my favorite kinds of flowers just because, my heart pretty much melts. And I'm not really much of a risk taker...but I crave adventure. And I can fall asleep so easy - I've literally fallen asleep on people...but I can't stay there; I wake up and can't go back to sleep. I have infinite patience for people who are 12 and younger, ZERO patience for people who are 13+. And I absolutely believe in magic...but yay Science. 

I'm all about the yin to my yang. (I think that's actually who's talking to each other every day: my yin and my yang.)

3. Long lines freak me the hell out, and I would rather turn right and then do a U turn than try to wait for the perfect opening to turn against traffic during rush hour. I will also travel 50 miles out of my way if it means not having to sit in a traffic jam; I am always looking for an escape route. (I think that last phrase is really paramount to #3: I AM ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AN ESCAPE ROUTE.) 

4. I live for the eccentric. The more eccentric the better. I like to talk to eccentric people and listen to their weird takes on life. I like being around people with 10,000 tattoos on them, because I know every single tattoo has a story to it, and I want to hear every single one of them. People with facial piercings fascinate me. People who live off the grid on purpose fascinate me. People who think they're real witches and vampires fascinate me. I once took a writing class with a man who swore he could talk to animals (no, really - like if he got in the ocean with whales, he knew whale song...he chirped at birds and oinked at pigs and stuff)...he was my absolute favorite in the whole class (until he revealed himself to be a raging chauvinist, but that's a different blog post). 

Anybody who doesn't live under the culture-at-large's social norms fascinate me. I think it's because I kinda sorta want to join them, but I'm too boringly normal (other than, you know, I guess having philosophical conversations with myself). So thank god for vicarious living, and quirky character traits.  


10.21.2015

hi, internet. (are we still friends?)

Oh hai Internet. It's me, Amy. How have YOU been? I've been...okay. Hey, remember that last time I was here and I went off the handle (in genuinely real, sheer terror I will add in my defense) and said I was done blogging for awhile? And then I came back and deleted the blog post I wrote in response to it? And then I re-posted it because I decided it mattered enough? And then I deleted again because the problem kinda/sorta was resolved? And just now I re-posted it because whatever. It was where I was at at the time, and sometimes I like to review this blog to see where I was at at certain times. 

Yeah about that...I am no longer in sheer terror. What I am right now is hypervigilant, but no longer terrified. Things were straightened out (mostly), and I am moving forward. ONWARD. I have to write; if I'm not writing...SOMETHING...I am not okay. I am just not. I am not. And this blog helps me get a lot of my ick and strangeness out. 

I saw a great idea in my Facebook news feed I'm going to try here, just to give me something to talk about other than ick...at some point this week. Thirty Days of Writing. Don't even have to come up with the topic; they are already outlined for me. I'm going to try it. It may take me 60 or 90 days, depending on my free time issues, but I get to give my opinion 30 times (YAY!) and you get to read it, 30 times (or 300 times, if you want to come back and re-digest my incoherent rambles) (YAY AGAIN!). I bet you guys are very very excited and cannot WAIT for it.


I do love a good challenge. 

Yesterday, I got 2 Needs Developments on an 10 minute evaluation. My small group lesson was fine - I got 2 Proficients for that. But my darlings at centers were off task. And by off task, I don't just mean not really focusing. I mean: literally behaving like monkeys - throwing letter tiles at each other and playing, actually playing. As in not looking like they were hard at work. (Play? PLAY??? Who has time for THAT kinda learning nowadays, silly goose!) 

In their (and my) defense: we'd just finished the 2nd day (out of 5 days) of our 3rd standardized test in a row. So they were a little spunky coming down off the test stress high, and quite frankly I don't blame them. And I am too exhausted, after giving 3 standardized tests in a row, to really care to manage their pinging spunk right now. And plus also there might have been a full moon and NO Scientists I don't care if that's folklore or not. You come do what I do on a full moon day and try to tell me it's not real.

And all this data and negative feedback is making me feel like a really, really, really crappy teacher. Clearly, I have chosen the wrong profession. Ten years ago, I was in the right profession. Ten years later, I suck at it. No, no. I know you're protesting, and you're going to tell me I'm a great teacher...it's just the times. Well, the times are warranting data success, and children working busily at all times, and teachers keeping up with mounds of paperwork and data and deadlines and due dates and meetings and technology and materials and testing...and I suck at all of this. I like to read and write and tell stories. All that other crap? Pfffft.

So I'm going to give my opinion about this Needs Development thing, and I don't care whether I get fired or not for saying it out loud (Mom, clear some space in your basement, please): I don't mind getting Needs Development. When it's for something I need developing in. Because I'll just be honest and tell you that I simply don't understand how to do the Workshop Model of things. I get the overall concept; I don't understand how to manage it or what it looks like. I need someone to actually hold my hand and walk me through this. For one whole school year. Because this is what they want in Public Education nowadays: Workshopping. Everything. I understand how a Writer's Workshop works for adults; I do not understand how to make it work for little kids. I have asked for staff development on it; what I am told is to find an Instructional Coach and have them tell me, or someone from higher up comes in and, in a mere 45 minutes or so, attempts to throw at me an entire semester's worth of information. Meanwhile, I have 100,000 papers to grade or turn in to someone, and about 3,000 other things that are due. And 5 meetings to attend. And a bunch of data to enter somewhere. And my classroom's a mess.

In public education, we are taught to teach like this: I do, we do, you do. This is how most (normal) human beings learn - I do, we do, you do. In other words: I teach, then we practice it together, then I release and you have a go. Hands on practice. Sometimes your results are really bad, and so we go practice again. Other times, you fly. And the more you practice, the better you get. Teaching 101. 

I do not understand why or how people running schools these days don't get this concept and do it with the adults they are in charge of. I am in charge of children. They are in charge of me. And we are ALL learners. Life Classroom. How do they not understand how people, regardless of age, learn?? (Possibly because 90% have never actually taught. But that's just one theory I've got.)

I just want to be able to see what they want me to do in a real classroom setting. But with kids who come from backgrounds my kids come from. This is all I want. Hands on training. Can I get some hands on training? Teaching is a craft, and I need to learn from some masters who are actually in charge of real classrooms and real children, who are doing the craft of teaching every single day. This is all I want. I'm actually terrified to go to another school right now, because professionally I feel undeveloped and I don't know how the heck to develop myself without some support I feel safe asking for. 

But you know, whatever. It's cool. I'll take the Needs Development, and I'll revamp and find something that works for me - I always do. Plus, I'm going to have some help. Today I let my sweet loves know: Y'all got me a couple of Cs on my report card. They were bereft and sorry. And really impressed I prefer to get As and Bs (not all of them really care that much, and I don't blame them one bit...you don't HAVE to be an overachiever to be happy in life. In fact, most overachievers are utterly miserable). And so they promised me: the next time an adult walks in our room with a clipboard or a notebook, they are going to SNAP TO and look very very serious and busy. My little co-conspirators. I do love them so. 

Also, I told them if I get all As and Bs on my next evaluation, I'll bring them cupcakes.

This is what Life is all about, sweet Reader(s). Teamwork. Dodging The Man. Making amends. Being real. Having each other's back. (I've run out of cliches. If I think of more, I'll come back and add them.)

As a slightly related side note, today I got to have a pumpkin spice latte with two sweet, dear friends who get how crazy Life is, and I was reminded that what I REALLY need to do when I'm down and out is put on some Damien Rice music. My one friend observed that whenever I am sad, I seem to listen to Damien Rice. He's my sad jams. (I'm actually not listening to Damien Rice right now, though. I am listening to Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran must be my Fuck This Ridiculous Shit jams.)

See you in a couple of days (or so) with the first of 30 inane thoughts. (Possibly from my mom's basement.)

10.18.2015

NO (and you win.)

I deleted this earlier, because it is a form of contact and that is what the individual wants. But I am going to repost it, because I have had to make my Twitter and Instagram accounts private, and at this point, I am now literally terrified. Happy early Halloween to me. 

And so I'm going to post this, and then I'm going to stop blogging for awhile. I am not sure how long. You win, scary guys. You win. I'm going to go write some stories instead. Catch up on some reading. Really do some deep cleaning and stuff. Keep all my doors and windows locked. And I just had a really intense Stranger Danger talk with my daughter today. Thanks so much for putting us through all that. Happy now? You win.

I am not advertising this post. I am posting it (in addition to the 40 goals post I just posted and DID advertise) because I have reached a limit and need to say something. It is the only and last time I will speak about this publicly and then I am moving on and pretending like this never happened.

I have broken someone's heart. I never, ever want to be the source of pain for another human being. I feel tremendously bad and guilty about having to do this. But I am also going to be very firm and protective of myself, because the person is not well and I can't help them. At some point, you have to be kind and loving to yourself, and hope and pray the other person will find a way to be kind and loving to themselves as well. But for you, moving on is the best and only choice.

Can we talk about the word NO for a second?


Dear Men of Planet Earth:

When a woman says NO, she does not mean NO (not now) or NO (maybe later) or NO (unless you manipulate my heart strings). She means NO. NO because you scared me. NO because it was abusive. NO because it is over. NO because I don't want to. 

When you hear a woman tell you NO and you continue to try to change her mind, or ignore it when she says NO LEAVE ME ALONE, you are being abusive. And you are scaring her. Please stop doing this, men of planet Earth. Please stop. Please stop.

Sincerely,
Women of Planet Earth

Several months ago, I wrote here about going to see Mama Mia at the Fox Theatre. I got lost and parked too far away from the theatre. Then I got lost trying to walk to the theatre. A lone man saw me walking and tried to talk to me. When I ignored him (said NO) and kept walking, he continued to try to talk to me and started following me. 

I'm sure, when I wrote about it here, I was very jokey jokey about it. It's what I do when I'm feeling uncomfortable or awkward: crack jokes. Total defense mechanism. So I don't know that I did a good job communicating how very terrifying that experience was, actually. I remember I got my car keys out and held them between my fingers, because I've read you can do that - you can use your car keys as sort of daggers like that. If you have to. And I remember trying to remember about all the soft points I've heard about - like, how you're supposed to punch up and then in, on someone's nose - it'll break their nose and then the upward movement will send shattered bone into their skull, killing them. If you have to. I remember thinking about all of those Self Defense techniques that I've read or heard about, walking through sketchy Midtown Atlanta with a strange man following me, continuing to try to get me to stop and talk to him. All the way, until I ran into a female police officer and was able to get directions and there were other people around. 

The world can be a terrifying place, if you're a woman.


Listen. I really like men. I like men who are bigger than me, who can wrap me in their arms. And I like this (I think) because there's probably a little bit of a need for danger in my psyche (though I'm terrified of heights and sharks and death by fiery plane crash)...so when a man who's bigger than me wraps me in his arms, I think it's this psychological thing where I know he could hurt me but I also trust him that he won't, and so strangely I feel endangered but really safe. 

Isn't that weird psychology? I think that's weird psychology. I'm a feminist who likes to be dominated. Is what I'm telling you.

And this extends to mentally as well. I like men who are confident and bold - I don't mind a man telling me how many different ways he wants to fuck me as long as I know (A) he's not going to abscond on me if that ever does happen, (B) he's earned my trust and proven to me he's not a mentally unstable individual with emotional issues, (C) he's not a selfish prick, and (D) if I say NO, he'll stop immediately. And also: keep it classy. 

All of this only works with a man I absolutely, completely trust. If it's a strange man I don't know, well then. We're talking horror movie-like levels of terror. And if it's a man I think I know but who's proven several times he's not trustworthy, then that's a deal breaker. I have to know I can trust someone before I let them all the way in. If I've let them all the way in, and they suddenly begin showing me why that was a mistake on my part, then I say NO. And the door is quietly shut closed, locked, key thrown away. I think that's just normal, good, sound common sense. For any woman.

At any rate. My point is: men are (usually) bigger and stronger than women. You are more powerful, physically, and there is also a psychological aspect to your power that you need to be conscious of, at all times. When a woman says NO, it's the end. It is over. It doesn't matter what she said 2 hours, minutes, or seconds ago. As soon as that word NO leaves her mouth, the end. Stop. 

That's all I'm going to say about this. It is not a funny post. It is not a reflective post. It's a If You're a Man and a Woman Says NO and You Don't Stop, Then What You Are Doing Is NOT OKAY and Wrong post. 

40 goals: revisited.


I was reviewing, the other day, a list of 40 goals I set for myself in January that I was going to meet in 2015. We're about 2 months or so away from the end of 2015, and I thought maybe now would be a good time to start getting it all in. (This is how I do everything, by the way: wait until the last minute - I work on deadline. With EVERYTHING...laundry, returning phone calls, bills, grading papers, making dinner, getting ready for house guests, leaving to meet friends for dinner...EVERY. Thing.) 

Lands, Internet. Per my usual, I am behind. So I'm re-posting the entire list, with commentary about how that's worked out for me. (This is more for me than for you, by the way. I think it's about time I start getting my ass in gear and re-focusing. Meanwhile, you're welcome to be entertained by my tragic inability to consistently be all that I can be.) 


THE LIST

1. See (in a theater) 5 movies that do not involve cartoons, singing animals, or princesses of any kind. I have no idea how many movies I've seen in the theater. I know the last movie I saw was animated (Hotel Transylvania 2, wait for the DVD). I think I've seen 3 movies that are for grown ups. After work this week, I'm taking myself to see Crimson Peak, because Jessica Chastain and Victorian ghosts. So that'll be 4. I have two more months to get the last one in. I'm going to put this in the I (Almost!) Did It! category.

2. Write 1 book review, and try to take it seriously. Nope. But there's still time!

3. Write 1 movie review, and try to take it seriously.Nope. But there's still time!

4. Go back to the Margaret Mitchell House at least one time to hear a visiting author read/speak about whatever work s/he is hocking. (You do know that book tours are like press junkets for literary types?) (I used to go to the Margaret Mitchell House all the time, but then I had a kid. Margaret's house is no place for busy little kids.) Nope! And it's the Margaret Mitchell House's fault. I haven't seen an ad for one person I'd want to hear talk. So I'm putting this in the There's Still Time But It's Not My Fault category.

5. The original creator of this list idea said to read a book waaay outside your usual genre preference/s. I'll pretty much read anything, but you know what I never read? Erotica. So I'm going to read a book of Erotica. Just to say I've read one. Nope! But there's still time. I did try to read some erotica on the Internet. Internet erotica is crap, lowest common denominator crap. I would like to be a bit classier with my smut, I guess? I'm working on it. I think, right now, my plan is to write a short story or two and put them on amazon.com even though I think amazon.com is kind of diabolical. You have to start somewhere. With your classy smut.

6. I'm also going to watch one Horror movie. I'm not into Horror movies, but I'm going to see one just to say I did it. I hope I don't need Xanax after. Going to count Crimson Peak as my horror movie this week, and check this one off as DONE!

7. I'm going to write 1 short story and submit it somewhere legit. Nope! But there's still time. (Does self-submitting to amazon.com and wattpad.com count? If so, DONE!) 

8. I'm going to take a weekend away for myself, and do nothing but write. Nope. But there's still time! (If I can find the money.)

9. I'm going to start a writer website. Nope. This may go into the FAILED category. Websites cost money.

10. With a logo. See #9.

11. On May 2, 2015, I'm going to shop at one (or five) local, independent bookstores. Apparently, this is now a thing: National Bookstore Day. FAIL. I don't even remember May 2, 2015 getting here. Was there a May 2, 2015? I'm sure I was distracted and/or in tears, mourning my life.

12. I'm going to start trying to interacting with more bloggers--writers and non-writers. I think I did this. I think. Mostly? Somewhat. 

13. And I'm going to start trying to guest blog and host guest bloggers here. (Wanna write with me??) Nope. Maybe in 2016.

14. I'm going to interview at least one writer (famous or not) and put it up here for all the world (aka: my mom) to read. Nope. Maybe in 2016.

15. I will look into becoming a Huffington Post occasional blogger. Because why not? Nope. Maybe in 2016. (Really, I think my issue with this is that I could send them some of the entries from this blog, but this blog has devolved into little more than a whole bunch of whiny, theatrical navel-gazing. And so I feel like I need to either start a DIFFERENT blog, one in which really just focuses on one kind of topic and stays there...and ha, we all know how that'll go...or re-focus this blog, send HuffPo something then cross my fingers and pray like crazy anyone who clicks over here doesn't start snooping around to see what else I've been writing about.)

16. I will join some type of writers' association. HA! I don't have time to go mingle at writer's association meetings. I must have been on crack when I added this to the list.

17. I'm going to enter one (or more) piece/s of writing into a contest. Maybe in 2016.

18. I'm going to return public library books ON TIME (which means M and I will be scheduling regular library visits, which means I'll have to prioritize, which means...well, just don't hold your breath on #18, is what I'm saying.) DING DING DING!!! I did this! I have totally returned aaaallll of my public library books on time. But then again, I sort of didn't do this, because one reason I returned all the library books on time was because Miss M and I didn't really go to the public library this summer, so there were no library books to return.

19. I'm going to interact more with more published, established writers (famous and not so famous) on Twitter. Sorta kinda, yes. I made some new writer friends, so I'm counting it as a success.

20. This summer, I'm going to commit to a minimum of 500 words of writing per day. June-July. Every day. sigh. No, Internet. This was a FAIL. And it's the worst fail of all on this list. I had one job. ONE JOB. But I let extraneous bullshit derail me. Like ALL THE TIME. Crap.

21. I'm going to go on a writer's retreat. You know where I'd really like to go? THISplace--that place looks lusciously delicious. But it it doesn't work out, I'm cool just creating my own retreat in a mountain cabin somewhere. (Wanna come hang out with me at a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains? We can be solitary creatives during the day, writing and taking quiet walks and contemplating Story. And then congregate in the kitchen/living room each evening to have wild hot tub parties with grilled gourmet dinners and wine and beer. But you'll have to do all the grilling because I burn stuff.) No. I did not do this. This will be a 2016 goal. Because money.

22. I'm going to find a website that's content driven and apply to write for them (I know, I KNOW! I just wrote about what a snore bore content driven stuff is...but it's part of my building my published works scheme and there seems to be no way around it). Fail. But because I've changed my mind about this. I don't want to write content driven crap for advertisers and businesses on the Internet. Saying NO to The Man on this one.

23. I'm going to find an online writing community to join. Do they have these? I'm going to change my mind on this. If I can barely find time to write 500 words per day, I don't have time to hang out online talking about writing and not actually writing with other people who are talking about writing and not actually writing. 

24. And an offline community. See #16 and #23.

25. You know what I didn't do last year that I said I would? Last Spring, Jason Isaacs (Hello to Jason Isaacs!) tweeted about an organization called the Afghan Women's Writing Project (awwproject.org) that promotes rights of women to tell their stories. I meant to host a Living Room Fundraiser, but Life blew up and didn't do it. Going to rectify it. (Wanna come and hang out in my living room and celebrate freedom and literacy through storytelling?) Nope. But there's still time! AND! The AWW Project follows me on Twitter now. I really love them and what they do. Thank you, Jason Isaacs, for introducing me to their existence.

26. I'm going to randomly leave some books I loved reading in various locations, like coffee shops. Just to share my book love. Nope, because I totally forgot I said I'd do this. There's still time! 

27. I'm going to promote the crap out of other storytellers, in as many ways as I can. I think I successfully did this, when I wrote and wrote and wrote and researched and researched and researched the TV show DIG. If that's not promotion, I don't know what is. And I still do it on Twitter, whenever I find a storyteller I think really rocks it.

28. I'm going to take Miss M on a literary pilgrimage. I'm not sure where, but hopefully there will also be a beach involved. Money. Money is always going to be an issue with this. I may just have to take her to The Margaret Mitchell House and call it a day.

29. Apparently, Twitter has pitch fests. They're online pitch conferences where writers try to get people to buy their ideas so they can write them. I'm going to participate in one. If I can figure out how to do it, and when they take place. Nope. Because I have no idea (A) how to do it, (B) where these take place, or (C) any ideas.

30. I'm also going to participate in artsy-oriented twitups, which are like meetups but on Twitter. Nope. Because I have no idea when/where these twitups take place. But there's still time!

31. I'm going to travel somewhere outside the U.S.A. I've just decided to do it. And it may not be until 2016 when I actually board a plane, but I'm going to do it. Just ripping off the band-aid. Going abroad. (And NO, Mom, I will NOT actively avoid the Middle East. I don't think I'm going there, but if I do, I won't tell you til the plane lands.) Again, with the money thing. (At this point, I'm starting to see a pattern - are you? this song is what's going through my brain. Hope it sticks in your brain now, too. You're welcome!)

32. I'm going to think of my writing as a business--it's been suggested I set up a bank account and pay myself for writing, and use it to save any money I earn from writing. I wish you could see how hard I'm laughing at me right now: clearly my 2015 theme was: Champagne Goals, Beer Budget.

33. I'm going to create a vision board/s for a story/many stories I want to write. I love vision boards. Why don't I do these all the time, for everything? Putting this in the There's Still Time! category.

34. I'm going to see at least 5 plays. In real theatres. With actors and stages and...and...everything. And if I can finagle it? I'm going to go all groupie and see if I can get backstage. Tell them I'm with the band. (Actors can have groupies, right?) (Really, I just want the actors to teach me how to project my voice so I can scare kids.) Nope. There's still time, but not for 5 of these. Can I revise it to just one? Maybe 1 play in a theatre, before December 31. A cheap play. Or on a date with a rich man who pays for everything. Since it's a rich man's world. 

Edit: my sister-in-law just reminded me I saw a high school production of The Wizard of Oz earlier this year. But of course! Okay, I'm counting that as 1 live theatre play. Now I'll try to see 1 more live theatre production.

35. A lovely writer who taught me in two writing classes has a writing business now called Under Over On. I'm not sure I can afford the actual classes, but she often hosts Saturday writing sessions for creatives--you meet in a location that's inspiring in some way and you...just...WRITE. Nope. And this is a time issue, in that I've had Miss M on all the weekends. (How did THAT happen? Weekends are prime time...we're going to adjust that schedule.)

36. I'm going to take Miss M on a MARTA ride. Because character fodder. And it'll get her out of the house. I can do this! I totally forgot I said I was going to do this, and this is a super easy and cheap goal I can totally do before December 31 gets here. There's still time!

37. Planning to take a wine tasting class. Or an acting class. Or both. (Do you think they have acting classes in which you drink wine while you study? I'd like that.) Well, I've done a lot of wine tasting myself. And had a lot of dramatics. Just nothing formal, in a classroom. Will stick this in the Revisit in 2016 category.

38. I'm planning to find an online class to take--I'm not sure of what, but they sound much easier than having to go out into the elements. I'd have needed to find a FREE online class. Most people want like $350 per class to distribute information I bet I could locate online myself. And that makes me smell suspicious charlatan.

39. Though I'll miss the camaraderie of sipping wine and talking shop with other storytellers--so now I'm thinking meetup.com...I'll just start my own talk shop/sip wine meetup. I have a meetup.com account. The problem with this is (A) time - coordinating when I will and won't have Miss M, and (B) finding a group that seems like it'll fit me. I may have to start my own, but meetup.com wants money. Money, money, money...it's a rich man's world.

40. I'm going to write a poem or short story and read it out loud somewhere. It may end up being just on YouTube. But it'll be out loud. For an audience. I did this! Does reading a Mary Oliver poem count? I will write a poem and read it out loud on YouTube. Or read the one decent poem I've written. Or the poem about my brother I wrote decades ago, which will embarrass him (win win!). I can totally do that, before Halloween even gets here.



10.15.2015

sing your song.


It's been a weird week of twisty, fucked up turns. I'll be honest: I've had the holy living shit scared out of me, and the experience turned me weird and skittish - quite frankly, I'm not sure who to trust right now. I am still trusting in people to do the right thing, but on a constant, contingency plan basis. Waiting for the other shoe to drop and somebody to take off a mask and reveal the Scream guy underneath. And we've still got about 2 weeks till Halloween. Maybe it's just this month. Maybe in November, the month of Gratitude, the feels will be on nicer things. And in December, the month of Light, they'll center around hope and spirit. (Kumbayah, my mofos.)

But this last week. Jesus god. Holy nefarious, Batman. At this point, I completely get why (for example) on Twitter well-known people not only get to get themselves a little blue check but often also refuse to interact with other Internet people on a regular basis. It's dicey out there, sweet Reader(s). Live your lives, but don't let anybody in too far until they really, truly prove to you who they are and exactly why they want to know you and what their intentions are.

For someone who got to deal with a crazy Internet stalker 10 years ago, I've been pretty open to people and fairly unafraid to be real on this blog...I try to use my best judgment on what to tell you, how much to share, and how to do it in a way that won't land me on the 5 o'clock news or in court. I have regularly opened myself up here to judgment, scrutiny, mocking, enemies disguised as friends/friends disguised as enemies, the mentally unstable and the absolutely disturbed, and all the ass crazy, fucked up Internet stalkers planet Earth has to offer. 

Because I refuse (REFUSE) to be forced into silence. I will NOT live my life in fear, though I do regularly make sure all my doors and windows are locked and all my important accounts have secure passwords. 

I just think all the stress and freaked out moments are worth it in the end if something I say or share connects to or helps someone else out there. We are a storytelling species; I don't know any other way to be and quite frankly if I'm NOT writing or telling my stories, I'm very serious: I'm not okay. So I come here to tell stories, my stories, and whoever decides to stop by can read about what's going on in my life if they're interested, as well as how I'm dealing with all of it and the thought processes - however messy or all over the place dysfunctional - that are sorting it all out in my brain. I put it all out there knowing whoever stumbles upon me and my writing can judge me, hate me, love me, (mis)understand me, or find me ridiculous and pointless and go get some fresh air. I think Humanity is a big, stinkin' mess. And I like it like that.

That's the whole point of blogs, and writing. Vent your spleen. Be openly ridiculous. Haphazardly joyful. Live freely. Ask for help. Plead for mercy. Try your hand at comedy writing. Be dramatic. Write down some of your own little soap operas. Make mistakes. Make friends. Make enemies. Earn fans, score haters. Gain stalkers. ...All of that. Isn't Life one big, glorious chaotic mess? I do love it with all of me, even the moments that find me sobbing uncontrollably in a fetal position clutching an empty tub of Sea Salt caramel gelato and/or a half-empty bottle of wine. I don't like them as I'm working through them, but when they're over I appreciate them for the spiritual muscle-building moments they are.

And if you - like me - are an expressive creative and so inclined, you can live it all out loud on a blog and occasionally social media if you can be concise. It's why Al Gore made the Internet, sweet people...He did it for all of us. (Blessed be his name.) (Where IS Al, by the way? I hope he's well and busy at work creating the next big thing that will guide us all to more navel gazing and the leaving of sociopathic-level comments in comments sections of online news blog articles, comments that clearly indicate we didn't even read the whole article because who has time for reason when psycho judging is so much fun?) (Sorry...I was reading some comments sections of education articles on HuffPost earlier today and lands, fellow Internet users. Logic is your friend, use it.) 

...Though I've heard some people start blogs to earn money and/or gain notoriety and fame. Which is not why I started this blog. Because you have to get enough readers (which I do not).

So. Whoever wants to can come here and read, judge or not judge, like or dislike me, wish good things for me or cast curses upon me and all my descendants. Doesn't bother me, because ultimately I'm going to keep on keeping on. I've spent a long, loooong time working hard to figure out what matters most to me and who I am. I know myself. I know my quirks, I know my pathologies, I know where I usually flunk at Life and where I tend to soar. At the end of the day, I'm a nice person; I am who and what I say I am no matter what you decide to think. If someone wants to hurt me or hate me or wish me ill because they didn't like something I said or did or whatever their reason/s, that says more about them than it ever will about me. You shall not destroy my faith in Humanity's ultimate goodness or the power of connection via storytelling. 

(That all sounds very dramatic and cryptic, I'm sorry. But it's how I'm doing things right now. Dramatic and cryptic.) (We are now in Phase 3 of Amy's Big Life Changes, FYI.)

Can I tell you a story that I love a lot? 

There are a people in Namibia, on the continent of Africa, called the Himba. The Himba believe a person's birthday isn't the day they're born or even the moment they're conceived. When a Himba woman decides she wants to have a baby, she goes away from the village and sits under a tree (or wherever she will not be eaten by a lion). She doesn't move or leave that spot until she hears her baby's song. Once she knows the song, she goes back to the village and to the man who'll be the baby's father. She teaches him the song, and they make love, singing the baby's song until it's created. And even after that, they sing the song to the fetus as it grows.

When the baby is born, everyone who helps bring that baby into the world sings the song. As a Himba child grows up, people in the village constantly sing the child's song to him/her - if they fall down, they are picked up and their song is sung. When they get sick or scared, someone sings them their song. As they grow, they constantly hear their song - through every milestone, every rite of passage, every sickness, every celebration, every sad moment, every happy moment.

And, as a Himba tribe member lays dying, every person in the village who knows their song will come to their side to sing it to them as they leave the world. So, in Himba culture, your song is sung to you at every moment, from the time before you are even conceived, to the moment you take your first breath, to the moment you take your last. And even after you are gone, those who remember you will sing your song. 

Another time the Himba sing someone's song is when a tribe member does something that upsets the balance. If a member of the tribe steals something, hurts someone, or violates any other societal norm, they are brought to the center of the village and everyone who knows that person's song stands around them in a circle and sings it to them over and over, until they are brought to their knees in repentance. Because the Himba don't believe in good or bad, sin or salvation. They believe that, when we do bad things, it isn't because of a God or a Devil or because people are bad or good. It's because they believe that when people do bad things or make poor choices, it's because they've forgotten their song. Because their songs are who they are; their songs are their souls. 

You are your song, your song is you. What's your song? Mine is Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It defines me, it has been with me for a very, very long time, it is almost a part of who I am. I chose it for myself when I was seven, from the moment I first saw Judy Garland sing it on my family's 1970s television. I was spellbound and it was stamped on my soul for life. When I hear it, all of the happiness and goodness from my childhood wrap me up and make me feel safe and hopeful and loved and warm. Any version of it - the original movie version, Israel kamakawiwo'ole's version of it, The Ramones' punk version, Jimi Hendrix's rock star god take, Ray Charles's blues-y interpretation. When I hear that song, no matter what box it's wrapped up in, I feel love. 

You know what's really interesting to me? The Wicked Witch doesn't have a song. She's the only main character in the movie who doesn't get a song. I think that's kind of important, for some reason. If you don't have a song, you ought to think about maybe finding you one. I asked Miss M the other day what she thinks her song is and, after dealing with a lot silly flippancy and ridiculousness and one gigantic emotional power struggle meltdown, she decided she liked Three Little Birds. Good choice, though I do not anticipate this sticking as her song...I bet she's going to finally end up with Madonna's Bitch I'm Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj which she likes to watch on YouTube over and over until I have to beg her to switch it to Katy Perry or One Direction. 

At any rate. Stories matter. Not living your life in fear matters. Being real matters. Being kind matters. Being careful and protective of yourself also matters, too. Staying open matters. But so does quietly closing a door if you discover you've opened it to something unsafe. And songs matter. So go get you a song if you don't have one, and sing it or listen to it sung to you whenever you need to feel safe or loved or remember Who You Are. Don't forget that Wicked Witches never win, and that a single, well-placed kiss and a comfy pair of sparkly red shoes can have more power over all the fucked up evil in the world than the entire nuclear arsenals of all the countries in the world. Or that sometimes all it takes is choosing a good song that speaks to your soul to remind you who you are and why you're here. It's all good, because we are Music. 

Unless you're a Wicked Witch. (But this a water-y planet, sooo...we'll see how that works out for you.)