Sometimes you have to settle for standard human

by renegademama

I have backed myself into a corner with this “truth-telling” thing. Here, on this blog.

You know, there really is no such thing in writing. As soon as the words come out they are untrue, because they seem to contain the whole, but they are never the whole. They appear but are never complete, full, entire, because they are only a manifestation, a creation, a curating, a picking and choosing.

They are the nebulous mess pinched and squeezed and formed into a linear string of words. They have no power to tell “the truth.” It’s not their fault.

We needn’t blame them. Or their creator, really.

It’s all just a question of which string I form, which piece I tell, which story becomes “the one.”

I get really fucking tired of the internet with its inspirational quotes all day. I think if people fail they should admit that they failed. That shit is inspirational as fuck.

My favorite is when people tell me about a failure then post inspirational quotes about the value of failure but never admit publicly their own failure.

I guess it doesn’t apply to them. Or something.

We are so fucking crazy.

Sometimes we just have to settle with “standard human,” you know?

Dear internet, Sometimes you just have to be a standard human.

But nobody wants that. That won’t get many likes. Even Instagram can’t filter that shit into glory.

 

Alright. You want the fucking truth?

I am lost. I am tired of the bullshit. I am tired of the internet. I’m tired of the thing in me that seems to let everybody in and then gets too tired to keep them here. The life-suckers. I’m tired of them. My  friend circle has shrunk to very few humans. I imagine that is something I should have done years ago, but it takes what it takes to realize you have the “let everybody in” disease.

I am tired of my social media near-addiction. I am tired of escaping into the small rectangular box of my iPhone. I am tired of my husband being gone and the realization that it won’t end for 5 more months. I’m tired of no time or space or privacy to write, of working at the fucking preschool when I want to be revising my book.

I’m tired of my 4-year-old saying NO to simple requests and the feeling I have toward her by the end of the day sometimes. I’m tired of nursing all night. I’m tired of my back aching, and the 50 pounds I want to lose. I’m tired of the way I turn to food to give me what it cannot.

I’m tired of my life right now in pretty much every direction and it feels relentless and boring and go ahead. Tell me how fast it goes.

I don’t know that. I don’t feel that every day when I realize my firstborn will be driving in 3.5 years and the baby I had 5 minutes ago is almost one year old.

THERE ARE NO CONFLICTING EMOTIONS IN BASEBALL.

 

A few nights ago Arlo was up for 6 or 7 hours straight, on my arm, dozing, crying, not feeling well. When he finally went to sleep I rolled over with the most profound relief and thought “oh thank God” and breathed and my body felt good and beautiful to be on its own, but just as I was drifting off he kicked me in the back, my ribs, his toes pinching my skin. It felt huge, violent, like a final kick on a broken body, a sucker punch. A last straw.

I wanted to cry, pass him off. Somebody take this baby!

But there was nobody else.

So I rolled over and nursed him again instead, since that kick was the beginning of awakening.

For him, at least. (Mine I hope is on its way.)

You think I don’t see this stream of self-pity? I do. You think I don’t know it’s ridiculous? I do.

I get it, as I fall apart.

This is not new. It happens occasionally. The only thing I know is that I will be rebuilt. I always am. The universe gives me what I need. But I am in the thick of it and I am only a standard human.

Sometimes we have to settle for standard human.

IMG_1964Usually I wait and write to you when I’m through it, when I’m looking back from the other side and have something hopeful to say, or pretty, or interesting, even. But now I’m just in it. Right there in the middle. Not one single answer. I could have chosen a different story but this is the hardest one to tell. This one feels “truest,” though even in telling it I realize it’s not enough, because I drove home today and that was waiting for me on my porch (that, over there, on the left).

 

I’ve developed a little faith in the brokenness, now, in the tearing down, in the decimation. I’ve almost got a little affection for the old bastard, the way he sneaks in and deconstructs, piece by piece, leaves me here looking ridiculous, lost, unstable, unsure and clinging. Everything I try feels wrong. I feel small and false and wrong.

I smile when I think about what maybe will come out of the wrongness.

A friend who knows I’m fucked right now wrote me this text: “I can’t wait to read what comes out of you during this time.”

I thought it was the kindest thing I’ve ever heard. Her compassion. Her faith. In me, in the brokenness.

(thank you, Sarah.)

 

I have tiny moments I can give you, the way Arlo holds his arm up every time we get in or out of the car, walk out of the house. He’s ready to wave “hello.” He waves “hello” at every passerby. He waves “hello” to his siblings as they play outside. He waves hello with his whole fist, opens and closes it rhythmically, sometimes with a smile, sometimes just staring intently, waiting for a response from the recipient.

If it’s a passing car, I feel a little sad that they won’t respond. I tell him “They can’t see you, Arlo,” and kiss his cheek.

There are times in life that are meant to be survived, trudged through, just one foot in front of the other into and through the gray. There are times when the world doesn’t wave back, and you don’t know why. You’re trying. You’re looking. Your arm is held up there stupidly, ready, for a glance back or a grin or laugh.

If you’re lucky, you get a kiss on the cheek as a consolation prize, and another day to get through, to carry you through, to the other side, again.

Until then we keep waving, with our whole motherfucking fist, telling the truth and lies, looking up, over, until time robs us into a new day, a new story of the same old human.

In that dawn we look back and can hardly remember.

It’s just too damn bright I guess.

 

FullSizeRender

hey Arlo just keep on waving

 

59 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | April 19, 2015

My expert advice on when to take baby to the doctor

by renegademama

Sometimes I hear parents get confused about when they’re supposed to take their baby to the doctor. You know, how to tell the difference between an infection and a virus, or the severity of either. And I think this is weird. I mean it’s so simple.

But that’s probably because I have 4 kids. My experience is vast, my knowledge virtually endless. My oldest kid is 13 years old, so just imagine how many flus, colds, ear infections, tooth problems, respiratory infections and other ailments I have skillfully faced.

Since this has been a particularly sickly year for everybody, I thought I would share how to know when you’re supposed to take a baby to a doctor.

You can thank me later.

First, if the baby is a newborn, you take them at the first sign of anything at all whatsoever: Sniffles, cough, low fever, because it’s probably Ebola, polio, or whooping cough. If it’s your 2nd 3rd or 4th newborn, you do not take them immediately but rather wait 12 hours and then take them in. Because you’re more laid back now.virusl

Do not argue with me. Just do it. There is no other way.

 

Once they’re past the newborn stage, it gets a little trickier. Luckily I’m here to help:

If they have a fever for more than 4 days you should take them in, but only if it’s not a low-grade fever, because a low-grade fever can be caused by teething.

Or walking pneumonia.

So it’s either teething or walking pneumonia.

There’s probably no way to know which is which, except for the cough. Do they cough when they lie down? Then it’s probably pneumonia, except that also happens when they have shit in their chests.

Get a stethoscope and listen to their chests. Do you hear scratching sounds? Yeah I’ve never actually heard anything either. Let’s move on to snot. Snot assessment is super reliable.

Is it snot green? Then it’s an infection. Actually that’s just an old wives’ tale.How long have they had snot? Six months? Oh right. They’re babies. That’s probably nothing. Don’t worry too much about snot.

Basically

Basically we’re here again.

But cough? You should worry about cough. Persistent cough is BAD. Except sometimes the cough from the cold 3 weeks ago is still happening, which is pretty fucking persistent, but in that case not a big deal.

Are we clear so far? Good. Let’s move on to raspy sounds.

If they have raspy sounds when they breathe you definitely need to take them in because that’s a respiratory infection, except also snot in the throat sounds pretty much exactly the same, so maybe it’s that.

It’s either something in the chest that needs antibiotics or it’s a virus.

You don’t get to know this though, ever.

Figure it out though because you don’t want to be one of those douche moms who takes their kid in for nothing plus you’ll be bringing them to a goddamn cesspool of kid germs UNNECESSARILY and sometimes even little infections will heal on their own through the power of breast-milk and good vibes so DO NOT OVERUSE ANTIBIOTICS ASSHOLE.

Super bugs and shit.

Are you taking notes? You probably should be. This wisdom was years in the making, pal.

 

Lethargy, however, that’s clear. If they’re lethargic, DO NOT DELAY. Except fever can kind of make them lethargic. You know, like your baby who never stops crawling starts lying his head on your chest and you’re like “THIS IS DEFINITELY LETHARGIC” so you go straight into the emergency room because the fever’s been there for 5 days TOO LONG FOR SURE but then you’ll get there and the nurse will give him Ibuprofen and 12 minutes later he’ll be flirting with the homeless man to his left and the strange thought will pass through your mind: “OMG would you please act sick like you have been FOR THE PAST FUCKING 3 DAYS?”

Then you’ll realize that’s a terrible and slightly insane thing to think and you’ll be grateful again, always, of course, that your baby isn’t really, actually sick.

But since you’re there you’ll see the doctor anyway and she will look at you like “No really, stop being such a fucking moron.” And you’re like “no really he’s sick” but your words are unconvincing since the “sick” baby in question is now grinning and waving frantically while playing peek-a-boo with a tongue depressor.

So basically, what I’ve learned after 13 years of parenting, endless colds and flus and viruses and strep and ear infections is this: I will always take my kids in too soon and 98% of those times my baby will suddenly, miraculously, for no apparent reason, become healed as we cross the threshold of the doctor’s office, successfully making me look like an ass ONE MORE FUCKING TIME and I will say to myself “Next time I’m not doing that.”

 

And the next time, I will move through the various aforementioned stages of virus vs. infection assessment and hold out and hold strong until exactly one day before they were going to get better. And then I will take them in because I AM ABSOLUTELY SURE THEY NEED ANTIBIOTICS OR SOMETHING but they don’t.

And I’ll feel dumb and like I’m wasting the doctor’s time. But I’ll walk out thinking “Well at least we know.” And I’ll swear I won’t do it again because I learned this time but I will, always.

I tell myself it’s better to look like an ass than be wrong.

I should know, I’ve been practicing both for approximately 13 years and 5 months.

Obviously, I’m an expert.

You’re welcome.

(in other words):

knownoting

 

**************

Only 3 spots left in my May writing workshop.

Join us. Now. JUST FUCKING DO IT ALREADY.

bastards1

41 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | April 7, 2015

The fight is real, but mommy wars are not

by renegademama

You know what else I’m done with? “Mommy wars.” But not in the way you think. Oh, yes, we should all “support” each other. We should all “stop judging.” Support!

Fuck support.

Well, wait. Not really. Support’s cool. We should do that for our friends and family and people we meet in need.

But really, I don’t need you to be nice to me. You’re a stranger on the internet. I don’t need your positive Facebook comments, your loving Tweets, your glowing accolades. I don’t even need your supportive glances at the park. I don’t need your approval of my choices any more than you need mine.

You know what I need? An economic, healthcare and social system that doesn’t categorically value male over female.

I need healthcare providers to stop cutting women open unnecessarily to deliver their babies.

I need women of color to receive the same breastfeeding support as white ones (and equal birthing outcomes).

I need society to start asking why bare tits on magazines are A-ok but my breast flesh while nursing my baby in public is obscene.

I need women to get paid the same as men for doing the same damn job. I need more females in science, technology and engineering.

I need my daughter to not be complimented on her “thigh gap” (why is that a thing?) while girls are told they can’t wear leggings, and the media laments the ruined football careers of RAPISTS.

Maybe they should stop raping people.

I need brown and black boys to live in the same safety and freedom as my boys. I need children of color to receive the same education and healthcare as white ones.

I NEED SOME MOTHERFUCKING PAID PARENTAL LEAVE.

I need recognition that postpartum depression is not bad parenting.

I need poor kids to get the same education as rich kids.

I need “religions” to stop pushing trans gay lesbian and queer kids to their deaths.

I need clothing lines to stop creating heteronormative, rape-culture supporting bullshit onesies.

(Lock your daughters up? Thanks but my boy isn’t a rapist and my girl doesn’t need your “protection.” Future princess? I’m gonna put my son in that just to see what happens.)

But this isn’t what we see. This isn’t what’s in my newsfeed. All I see is you should stay home, you should work, my formula fed baby is as good as your breastfed one, you’re gonna kill your kid with that homebirth, epidurals are BAD, “are you mom enough?”, why you gotta show your breasts in public, homeschooled kids are weird, girls should dress modestly, THAT DEPRESSED WOMAN SHOULDN’T HAVE KIDS, Brad and Angelina are ruining that she-male kid, and on.

And on.

And on.

These are the “mommy wars.”

This is society’s depiction of us. 

BUT THIS IS NOT US.

The internet curates, strategically hand-picks, and publishes “above the fold” the most divisive, incendiary, poorly argued self-righteous drivel imaginable, all of which can be summarized in one sentence: I am right and you are wrong.

MEANWHILE, WE’RE ALL GETTING FUCKED.

(Hey! Let’s post some stupid article calling motherhood a “hobby” and arguing the semantics of the phrase “motherhood is the hardest job in the world” and maybe the dummies won’t notice that the US of fucking A is THE ONLY DEVELOPED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WITHOUT PAID PARENTAL LEAVE.)

If we get them fighting long and hard enough about “covering up” while nursing perhaps they’ll fail to notice that the patriarchy continues to objectify our bodies and determine how, when and for what they may be used.

If we keep them bickering about “epidural vs. natural” maybe they won’t notice that WE CUT THEM OPEN UNNECESSARILY, OFTEN.

Divide and conquer, ladies. It’s an old, old tactic and it works beautifully. If they continue pitting us against one another, they can continue to depict us as a bunch of shit-slinging, illogical “mean girls” WHO DON’T DESERVE ANY ATTENTION BEYOND the “mommy war” click-baiting vortex.

The entire concept of “mommy wars” reduces the real and actual economic, social, and healthcare problems materially affecting the lives of women to a cat fight among irrational, silly females, thereby keeping us distracted from the ways we’re getting screwed while simultaneously reinforcing the patriarchy’s dismissal of our claims.

In other words, MOMMY WARS DON’T ACTUALLY EXIST.

Yes, of course people write self-righteous bullshit claiming their own superiority. But why is that drivel front page pretty much all the damn time?

Click-bait.

Money.

Power.
Power.
Power.
Power.

And the resulting silencing, elision and distraction from the real problems, which we ALL FACE.

 

But many of us have grown confused, for sure, and we’ve bought the lie, believing perhaps that the “other mom” is the problem.

To those people, I ask: What would happen if we stopped looking at individual choices of mothers and began focusing on the social and cultural conditions underlying those “choices?”

What if every time a woman sat down to boost her position and “choice” to stay home with her kids she examined which factors (and potential privilege) went into that choice?

What if every time we attacked a woman for working we wrote about no paid maternity leave?

What if every time we sat down to write about how my formula fed baby is just as good as your breastfed one we asked ourselves what sort of colonized consciousness bullshit we’ve internalized that makes us so profoundly insecure about our choices that we feel the need to justify them on the internet?

What if every time we attacked a mom for nursing in public we asked ourselves why we think we should be telling women what to do with their bodies?

And before we attack the epidural, what if we examined the culture of birth surrounding us?

And what it means to have power? And freedom?

And be a fucking woman in this country.

Wait. Hold up.

WHAT IF WE JUST STOPPED CLICKING?

What if we just didn’t read it? What if we just wrote the comment: “Not the real problem.”

And moved on. Disengaged. Backed out.

Conscientious objector.

I am a conscientious objector from non-existent mommy wars. (Well now that’s something of a mind fuck isn’t it?)

#NotMyWar

 

We’re on a battleground, all right, but we aren’t enemies, and we never have been. Not you, not me.

We’re fighters for damn sure, together on the firing lines, but I don’t believe for a moment we are actually aiming at one another. We’ve been set up and positioned so carefully that it appears so goddamn real, so compelling, one mother against the other, a thoughtfully manufactured reality constructed to keep us quiet, down, subdued,

OBLIVOUS TO OUR OWN POWER.

What happens when we find it?

Turn in unison shoulder-to-shoulder to face the only enemy we’ve actually ever had?

What happens when we stop believing the bullshit, disengage from the delusion of “mommy wars,”  lift a giant middle-finger to the whole fucking fantasy? Opt out. Unsubscribe.

Pick up our weapons (or maybe lay them down), fight for what actually matters, and find ourselves, each other, freedom, change, and maybe some damn peace in the process.

So yeah, maybe it is about support. I’ve got your back. Maybe you’ll have mine. Since our feet are on the same ground, we’re fighting the same battle, and can only win it together.

 

war2

*******

Hey. There are 5 spots left in my May writing workshop.

Join us in learning to write the hard shit that matters.

bastards1

 

60 Comments | Posted in I'm going to get unfriended for this | March 30, 2015

The first time I saw my mother, and maybe you

by renegademama

He sat at our kitchen table, wrapping presents. The kids had finally gone to bed. We did the hot chocolate tradition and ate spaghetti like always and they opened their one Christmas Eve gift: pajamas. I bought them matching ones last year, because I guess I’ve become that mother.

the pajamas in question

the pajamas in question

Sometimes I surprise myself with my cheesy parenting. I do things now I never would have done at 22, when my first child was born. Too cool, I guess. Above that nonsense.

As I get older I find myself moving beneath it all.

At one point while I made us some tea he looked over at me and I felt connected to him in a way that stopped and silenced me, together on this Christmas Eve, a whole pile of gifts yet to be wrapped, kids in matching pajamas sleeping on the floor in the bedroom, the baby in our bed. The surprise. Their faces. The gifts we saved and planned for.

Our 4th child born that June. Six months old. The first Christmas of our last child.

I thought of the years we’ve wrapped presents together, of the 14 times or so, with one two three now four little sleeping beings in the house. Maybe one year we were apart. Maybe a couple we fought. Maybe a few I was drunk.

Now we’re just here.

Sometimes it irritates me how stupid moments give me the most insight. The banal, meaningless ticks of my life move on and on, and then they just stop ticking, and I’m there, here, new. It was a stupid leaf blower that made me realize I was a slave to alcohol.

It was looking at my husband on a Christmas Eve that made me see my mother for the first time.

 

I saw my mom in her bedroom alone, wrapping gifts while my brother and I slept soundly, oblivious to her hands. I saw her writing “Santa” on the tags, sorting the pile she created herself. When? When could she buy the gifts? When were we not there?

I saw her carry each gift under the tree, sure we were asleep, sure it was enough. The lights, the paper, the bows. They fell into the middle of the room and glistened. I wonder if she stopped and looked and smiled, the way he and I do, when it’s all done and we see it all and anticipate and hug each other, right before bed.

Though I saw her crawl into bed alone, and rise when my brother and I did, oblivious again to the hours, hands, thought, writing and preparing.

I wonder if she missed a friend. I wonder if she missed my dad. Or her mom. I wonder if she wished there was somebody to share it with. Somebody who would care as much as her. Our eyes. Our jumping up and down. Our glee and delight and joy. The tiny expressions. The things only she and my dad would notice.

We lacked nothing. We wanted nothing. We knew no empty because our mother was there.

We took and took and took, as kids do. We just felt what she created, breathed it in without a thought: home, life, Christmas. We never wondered how it got there. We never questioned how it appeared.

 

You. You are how it appeared.

And I don’t think I ever saw you before, fully, mom, before that day, when I looked at my husband and felt the warmth and love and energy between us and thought how Christmas had become as much our tradition TOGETHER as it did something we did for our kids, and how many glances do we throw to one another each year? How many? A hundred? A thousand? How many times do we send a knowing smile to each other when she is about to open that one gift? Or we see them dance. Act silly. Hug each other.

Or just watch them being them, really, when the beauty of the moment and tradition and family comes barreling into the room in all its sacredness and MY GOD somebody must see this with me. I can’t be the only one.

And I am not.

But she was. And maybe you are.

And I understand a little now what that means.

 

And now, I see you again, mom, a few months after Christmas Eve. Now that my husband is gone 5 or 6 days a week and I’m alone most days nights and mornings. It’s all on me when he’s gone.

And I see it’s not just the Christmases.

It’s the little freaking things. It’s the little, everyday, every moment things. It’s every breakfast and lunch and dinner. Every trip to the store. Every event every school paper every early release every tantrum every sick kid every swim practice every this and every that. Every conversation diaper change bath. Every appointment. Every bill due yesterday.

Every fire. Put it out. Get up. Do it again.

1044730_645722092164677_3712643024740581027_n

at my college graduation

And when the baby waves for the first time it’s just the kids and me. Nobody in the world cares as much as I do. In that second there’s nobody else to see, laugh, freak out. I wish he were here. I take a picture and share it.

But it’s not the same.

But I get a break when he comes back, so I don’t know what it was like for you or the hundred thousand women and men alone right now with the baby who just crawled, or walked, or graduated. I don’t know what it’s like for my friend who lost her husband one night, stolen from the home and bed they shared with their baby girls. My best friend who raised her son and two brothers alone for 18 years.

I don’t know what it’s like for you single mothers and fathers, but for a few minutes lately I’ve been feeling what you do, and I was damn near crushed under the weight of your strength, determination, love and almost insane fucking bulldog tenacity, because there is no choice and no other way, and the kids need to live, know, know you’re there, know it’s okay, know it’s home. It comes rolling out beneath and around them and they don’t even wonder from where. From whom. From when.

They just get to be. You give them that. How the hell do you do it?

 

Someday I hope they see you, too.

And write a note or send a line that says “thanks.” Or better yet, show up. Open their eyes. Give it back.

I never quite saw you, mom, the hundred thousand times I didn’t need to, because you were air to me, everywhere, unquestioned, unmoved and unmovable.

I took a breath and you were there.

On Christmas Eve, and the day after, when only the mess remained.

I take a breath and you are here.

I see you now, though. Everywhere.

today

hey, mom, thanks.

32 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | March 24, 2015

I’m supposed to be at an ashram. 

by renegademama

I’m supposed to be at an ashram in the Sierra Nevada foothills, meditating and doing yoga with a bunch of blissed-out white people, but I’m not. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

The place was fucking beautiful. Green grass, ponds, flowers, stone walkways. Giant weeping willows, hammocks, sprawling oaks. The cabins were just rustic enough to seem earthy as opposed to “run-down.” I pulled up and felt a sense of relief just to be out of my house. Here we go. Nature, meditation, yoga. I SHALL BE FIXED.

Fixed from a dark mental place. I was not doing very well. A couple weeks before I stood at the GET SPIRITUAL NOW gate (It doesn’t actually say that. I just made that up.), I realized I was moving from “dealing with tough circumstances” to “not dealing with anything” due to an internal sense of hopelessness and the related apathy. I saw myself crushed under the weight of my own self-pity, of my childlike tantrums that my life didn’t look as it should, that I wasn’t getting “what I deserved,” that it wasn’t “fair.” I had become identified with asshole circumstances of my life and I couldn’t wrestle myself free. I knew I had ceased functioning but couldn’t figure out how to get past the paralysis of my feelings.

 

So, like any white middle-class northern California woman in despair, I bought a Groupon for a “Beginner’s Yoga and Meditation Retreat” at an ashram in Grass Valley. They kept referring to us as “The Groupon People,” which hopefully sets the stage for what I’m about to tell you.

Allow me to say it bluntly: If I see one more blissed-out Caucasian bouncing around barefoot in white flowing pants and a small smile of “Damn it feels good to be more enlightened than you” plastered on their vegan-fed faces, I may die.

I’m not talking about the people attending the retreat. I’m talking about the people running it. The ones who were apparently on “a spiritual path.” The volunteers (dressed in yellow and white) who were studying under the head “Swami,” who wore all orange.

One woman had actual flowers IN HER MOTHERFUCKING HAIR, and literally pranced. As in, gently hopped instead of walked. She was the skinny prancing flower lady.

I thought “maybe she’ll get strangled in her Tibetan prayer flags.”

This is why I’ll never be a swami.

A bunch of the volunteers were running around barefoot. My friend and I found this baffling because we were supposed to take our shoes off inside the buildings, presumably out of respect and cleanliness, so if they’re barefoot outside and walk inside, aren’t they still bringing the dirt into the room?

But one looks much more spiritually connected while barefoot, and that’s what’s important here, folks.

 

All the signs said “Blessed self” at the beginning. So it would say “Blessed self, please don’t put your tampons in the toilet.” Or something like that. I found that hilarious. “Blessed self.”

But if they actually believed we were all “blessed selves,” if their respect for us ran so deeply, as fellow manifestations of the Divine Creator, what’s with the air of smug superiority?

Check it out, blissed ones: I don’t care how many chants or “asanas” you do each day, you’re still an asshole and therefore missing the whole damn point.

Statues of Hindu gods and goddesses lined the back of every room, but since none of us knew what any of it meant, it felt like a stomach-turning display of cultural appropriation. The statues had “meaning” and “depth” only because they were from “over there,” from far away. It was the eastern mystery and “otherness” that made them compelling and “deep.” To illustrate this point, I can only imagine people’s responses if there was a bunch of Judeo-Christian images and statues surrounding us. All the yuppies be like “What? Jesus? Fuck that shit. I grew up on that. Give me some nice deep sublime Hindu stuff!”

Meanwhile, there’s a dude with a pile of flutes telling me to chant something in Sanskrit to “wake up.” Weird thing is we didn’t ask him for help, or even indicate we were in the market for energy advice. His pretentiousness dripped from him like agave syrup in June.

I tried to kill him with my eyeballs.

He spoke to us like we were absolute morons, pathetic little creatures come to lap at the bowl of his insight. And I suppose it was kind of true, actually.

Pretentious dicks are bad enough, but pretentious dicks WITH FLUTES? I just can’t. I mean I literally cannot. Make me a white-girl “I can’t even” meme because ladies and gentleman, I can’t even.

 

The main teacher dude, another white guy with serene expressions, Swami something (they all changed their names to something more spiritually appropriate, like “Padma” and “Kala.” I felt like saying “You know your name is Kelly or Nathan. KNOCK IT OFF.”), anyway he lost me on day one when he refused to answer the question of a socially awkward teenager dragged there by his mother.

Deep Swami Guy said he wore orange as a symbol of him “burning up the karma.” The kid asked “What does that mean?”

Pretty relevant, I’d say.

But Swami Dude didn’t answer his question. He laughed and said “Well that’s a big question. There are whole classes just on that concept.” And with an air of “sucks to be you, small human” he moved on.

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE. If you can’t explain something in a few simple sentences, YOU DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. If you can’t put into layman’s terms your vast spiritual truths, you don’t understand them. Period. Game over.

And sorry dude, you don’t get to dismiss Super Annoying Teenage Gamer Kid in the front row because his questions aren’t feeding your ego appropriately. Of course he’s super awkward and annoying, but you’re supposed to be seeing his buddha nature, aren’t ya?

 

And the lectures on “prana” and how we should eat and “transform compassion” in all this esoteric bullshit nonsense. So much theory. So much in-the-clouds bullshit. Big concepts and big words and “deep philosophical truths” and “profound spiritual insights” are used for one purpose: To mask the fact that we have no idea what the fuck is actually happening.

In other words, Swami dude, you’re just as captured in the ego structure as I am. You’re convincing yourself you’re “deep” and “spiritual” because you’ve learned a bunch of scriptures and chant and live in an ashram and shit, but real teachers aren’t pretentious, and they don’t spout deep thoughts all the time. They’re on the ground, right here with me and you and all the other Groupon humans, and when they talk you know they’re speaking truth because it is you in the deepest part of you, not just some fancy idea that sounds good but has no practical application.

We feel more human in the presence of these teachers. Not less.

Oh, but how these earnest, lovely imposters helped me.

God damn it they gave me everything I needed.

 

In the late afternoon of day 2, after sitting through 2 more hours of esoteric posturing, I packed up my shit and left. I drove to a hotel in Sacramento, ordered some Thai food and went to bed at 8:22pm, alone. I slept TWELVE SOLID HOURS. Twelve, people.

I walked out of that place because I realized two things: 1.) I need some privacy and sleep; and 2.) Nothing will “fix” me.

There is no escape from reality. There is no silver bullet and there is no “fix.” No ashram, no teacher, no guru, no wilderness and no words. No change in my life circumstances.

My problem is not my life. My problem is that I’m battling my life, refusing to accept it as it is. Some things have happened recently that have deeply hurt and tweaked my family. I cannot change the past. My husband is working out of town and I’m struggling with the weight of these kids, work, and my powerlessness to change any of it right now.

But I refused to accept these things.

Instead, I was kicking and screaming and thrashing against it. Fighting it. But I can’t win this fight. Life is. Reality is. I can work with it or die from insanity trying to beat it. I was on the path to the latter.

It isn’t about loving it. It isn’t about even liking it. Accepting reality is about freedom, a little serenity, and effectiveness.

One of my greatest teachers told me: “If you’re in the living room and you want to be in the kitchen, first you have to realize you’re in the fucking living room. Otherwise you’ll never know to get up and walk into the kitchen.”

You see, simple? I have to accept the truth of my life as it is RIGHT NOW before I’ll understand how to effectively move in new directions. I was stuck and dying and wasting time knee-deep in futility. It looked like resentment, anger, self-pity and fear.

So thank you, out-of-touch swami and swami wannabees with your flowing linen pants and serene smiles, for being just like me: Broken, kinda pathetic, judging too harshly, working like hell to get someplace new, oblivious to the fact that we’re already there, and everything we need is right here already.

(But please, stop being a dick. Nobody likes enlightened dicks.)

I’m headed back to the ashram of my insane family.

Tomorrow my husband leaves again.

I’ll miss him like crazy, and in a week be back to mind-numbing exhaustion, but I think I’ll start meditating again, and it appears I can sorta do yoga, and that’s some healthy shit. Healthy shit is good.

And goddamn that weeping willow taught me a few thousand things. And the king-sized bed with the clean white sheets, thank you. You just told me everything I needed to know.

Nice to be back where I can listen again. Nice to have a few minutes to write to you. Nice to be alive.

Om Shanti, motherfuckers.

 

Swami one, two, three and four.

Swami one, two, three and four.

60 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | March 15, 2015