Truly

I say “truly” because I’m finding out that just not having actual face-to-face, virtual, or cellular interaction doesn’t mean I’m truly over it like I want to be. I need to be over it. I have to get over it.

I feel, and it’s only my opinion, that being truly “over it” is akin to the experience of going to Alcoholics Anonymous. You can go to AA because you’re told you’re not supposed to drink alcohol or are mandated by the court to do so. You white-knuckle it day-by-day, chanting the mantra, only to repeatedly fail and stuck in a torturous loop. Or you can go to AA because you truly, deeply in your heart, believe you have a problem with the way you think about alcohol, want to change that, and find only then do you make the change into who you’re meant to be. Lesson by hard-won lesson, one day at a time.

The important lessons are always hard-won.

I tried pure cocaine once. Decades ago. It’s not a euphemism. It was 100% pure cocaine. It was pure; pearly and flaky and amazing. It was euphoric. It was power and happiness and heaven. And the next morning, I wanted to die from the headache and shame. The cure for the shame and wanting what was bad for me was in already knowing it wasn’t good for me. Already knowing that dipping my toe didn’t mean I could swim. It didn’t lie; it’s just true.

Had I not known, though. Had it lied about its intentions, lied about its aftermath, I would’ve been hooked. I would’ve been conned into needing what it gave me so teasingly. If thought I could have that dreamy euphoria once again, even as it vanished without a word, only to return with more tasty promises—always just when I had curbed my addiction—to suddenly, cruelly, and without explanation deny me access again…would I do anything to entice it back? Would I have hung around despite it screaming at me what a piece of shit I was so humiliatingly only hoping for it to throw a little of that paradise back my way like it used to? When we were new? Were lovers? Friends? Before it convinced me I wasn’t worthy of even mere crumbs? Would I subject myself to torture to bring back that euphoria like it promised? Of course I would.

I’m glad I didn’t have the option. It was fun once and that’s where it belongs. Once.

But drugs and alcohol are easy to vilify because they’re recognized as something not to do. For good reason. They destroy people, lives, potential, energy. They’re vampires. And, there isn’t anyone telling us we’re wrong about them being dangerous. Drugs and alcohol don’t lie. People do.

Because of that reality, I’m struggling with why I should bother. That tiny bit of euphoria offered to me, despite the horrific psychological, physical, emotional abuse that comprised the interim, has been more desperately comfortable to cling to than having to admit to all of it being over. To not have that comfort to withdraw to, as fleeting and as false as it was, is frightening. Even worse is having to admit to being fooled entirely; a euphoria manufactured from Day One. It’s humiliating, crushing, defeating. Releasing that tiny last memory is the last comfort left until total emptiness. I fear the worst but have nothing left to cling to.

And it is worse. The emptiness breaks my heart in what little of my damaged life I have left.

Now it’s just dark.

So dark that it seems like I’m reeling towards a brick wall at midnight at 100 miles per hour with no time left to wonder what’s stopping me from running headlong into it. I can’t seem to see past the brick wall, what little shadow I can see of it. All I see is end and blackness and stop. Not death, just apathy. Just nothing.

Yet, I somehow know it’ll get better.

Because it has to.

Because there is no going anywhere but up from….

–No! Don’t say it! Stop this now.–

That statement is dangerously untrue! It’s only a semantically tricky way to invoke danger. I know better than to ever say the words, “things can’t get worse”. Because they will. I’ve lived it before. When those words are uttered, the gods go out of their way to prove us wrong. Like some medieval-themed game played with a 12-sided die, saying it makes it true, no matter what kind of cloaking word devices I use. I know better than to tempt them that way.

So I take it back! I take it all back.

Clinging to comfort isn’t living. Clinging to life isn’t living. I won’t do it anymore. The new die is cast.

So instead of tempting the gods into perpetuating a violent felon’s idea of what I deserve, I’ll say instead…I’m aiming towards the black, brick wall. And running head-first.

Propelled and limping as I near it, pinwheeling weak baby giraffe-like legs harder and faster, gaining speed and strength as the force of my own acceleration peels back my cheeks into some kind of a smile. A one-two leap and I’ll launch over it, shoot skyward, bounce off intermediate hills and haughty mountains. Somersaulting then regaining my direction in tighter trajectories.

I’ll dodge swoopy bald eagles until the goofy one I can’t avoid connects, startled as myself. We’ll explode into a hilarious mass of feathers and laughter.

Landing hard on our backs, we’ll high-five while panting in catching our breaths.

Wondering at our luck in our escape, pride in each other’s soaring, we see that wherever it is we land, it’s surprisingly sunny there.

Truly.

Defend Your Sacred

It’s a weird place to be when you finally see with sparkling clarity that you ignored the bazillion red flags in a situation but went ahead with it anyway. Feeling a lot of regret that you wasted so much time and effort, having to clean up the damage, and a lot of beating yourself up that you weren’t thinking with your head. Feeling a lot of remorse for having suffered a lot more than you should’ve had you just listened to-every-single-person-you-ever-knew warning you off it.

But you knew better, right, buddy? Yeah, me, too. I’m now accepting applications for my personal decision-maker. I’m just kidding because I probably wouldn’t listen to you either.

We all do stupid shit that, in hindsight, kind of make you want to throw up in your mouth. We all do. What’s important is finding the lesson in it.

This isn’t a philosophical argument I’m making in this post. It’s a real pin-pointy kind of deal. This is more of a ProLifeTip. It’s a, “if you’re not going to listen to me or anyone else, listen to this” kind of lesson. So listen up, stubborn readers, I’m actually going to make sense here.

*Everyone has some weird thing.

—Oh stop! That’s not what I’m talking about, pervs.–

I’m not talking about things as in possessions. I’m not talking about things as in people. I’m not talking about the overall big things we take to heart as citizens like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or even beliefs we hold morally, religiously, spiritually, rationally and relationally. Because those grand things can be hard to apply to your personal situation and are easily manipulated by others. They’re also vague and what the self-help shit the Interwebs are rife with and always seem to point to.

This is far more precise.

What I mean is there is some thing; quirky, funky, odd, scary, eerie, abnormal, nonconformist, antisocial, exceedingly cute, unpleasant, beautiful, unconventional, or downright weird about all of us that we hold special. Chances are we’ve never shared it with another person our entire lives. Whatever it is, it’s ours and sacred to us and us alone.

These weird things, that if you look deep you can find, have always been a part of you.

It can be some kind of music, a dance, the awkward way you run, your pride in being double-jointed, that you’re psychic but have yet to prove it, that you cry when you see sea turtles laying eggs, your love of dancing naked to TV theme songs, or an indefatigable belief that dragons are real and making me type this right now.

I’m not saying those are my sacred things. Seriously. I’m NOT! Shut up! They’re all different. They’re all unique.

Because whatever it is, it makes you, you.

I’ve realized recently that finding this, or many of those, things that which we hold absolutely sacred is the key to having the ultimate protection from others damaging you in any real way. By defending those things that make up you, keeps you who you are.

Protecting those things will protect you.

And no, I’m not supporting some idiot who takes this to mean, “my thing is—insert depraved criminal act here—.” No, you’re a freak and an asshole. This isn’t for you.

And I don’t mean physical protection. If you’re in danger, call the police for Christ’s sake.

What I’m referring to is that thing you’ve loved and cherished since you were a kid and held tight to your chest ever since. That favorite piece of you, then and always, regardless of how you hold yourself now.

Because that thing is us.

Finding those things about yourself, pinpointing what they are and staunchly holding them dear, can repel anyone who tries to change those things and therefore you.

This method, of discerning what it is you precisely find sacred in yourself, not only gives you a tool to figure out who you are at the core but provides a fail-safe way of waving that red flag so full in your face that you simply can’t, and shouldn’t, ignore it.  Because should anyone attack your thing, they need to go.

Any attack on your very special thing is a deal-breaker. The ultimate deal-breaker.

Make this rule and always stick to it. Make it an unbreakable rule, true to yourself, regarding anyone you encounter:

If you, or anyone, who mocks, teases, abuses, ridicules, demands, threatens, cajoles, wheedles, cons, irritates, jostles, molests, bothers, pokes at, dismisses, insults, my thing?

Leave now. And consider keeping one eye open for the rest of your life.

End of story, that’s all she wrote.

It’s really that simple. It’s that personal and it’s that simple. The one moat that can’t be crossed. An impenetrable protection for ourselves, forever and always. It’s what we all deserve.

Always protect your thing, dear readers.

Me? I’m now wearing a cup.

Asshole-Attitude Pervasiveness

devil-mo
The author

20+ years ago I was stabbed in the throat by some asshole stranger who just didn’t like women. My friend and I happened to walk by his path and received his wrath.

She and I are fine now, he’s dead. It’s another story.

Stemming from this instance…being stabbed in the throat combined with a host of existing issues due to the immensely important thing I’m going to explain…I went to a rehab center that promised to help with my PTSD and ensuing Depression. It didn’t. While I’m so grateful for the opportunity I was gifted, that place sucked balls.

Again, that place is another story. And not my direct point.

I’ll explain.

Something regarding the #MeToo movement I read tonight had me thinking. It got me thinking how pervasive misogynistic attitudes are about women in general. So much so that, even though we’re 51% of the population, our functional health issues are disregarded. So much so, even other women are convinced that they are bullshit.  When I think about it, I’m suddenly horrified by how acclimated I became with the status quo of shitty attitudes towards all things “female”.

To come around to my point, as I  was attending this awful place settled on top of a Sierra in Tucson, AZ, we were required to attend morning meeting with the rest of the ~75 patients and confess aloud what we suffered from. One day, I said, in a disrespectfully joking manner, “I’m a victim of a violent crime, have ADD, PTSD, and…PMS.”

Everyone laughed because I was trying to be funny. It was disrespectful of me to be making light where I should’ve respected others’ weight. I didn’t think much of it then, though. I should have.

Here’s the shit:

I wonder, now, why did everyone laugh? Why did I think that was funny? Why would a painful, disruptive, disabling condition like PMS be funny? Ever?

20 years after my little haha fucking comment, I finally find out that my biggest issue in life has been PMS, more correctly, PMDD.

It has crippled my life. And it’s certainly not funny.

So why do we think it’s funny? Because it has to do with menstruation and that’s icky? Probably. Is it because it’s a female problem and therefore “dainty” and ridiculous? Probably.

Because of how pervasive this ridiculous, asshole-ish, misogynistic attitude is, it’s been barely even researched. It’s always been acknowledged but only as a weak symptom of being unfortunate enough to be born a woman.

Last year, writer Frank Bures questioned if PMS was real in his book, The Geography of Madness. In the above linked excerpt from Slate, he cites research that suggests that PMS—and its more brutal relative, PMDD—are culturally constructed rather than founded in biology. However, he recognizes that even if (and that’s a big “if”) something is a social construct, that doesn’t mean it’s not a real experience. He throws in examples of research that found women who endorsed stereotypical gender roles experience more “menstrual distress” and sheds light on the cultural differences between how eastern and western women experience their time of the month before coming to the conclusion that PMS and PMDD could be “cultural syndromes.”

–I would love to show Frank Bures-asshat, whoever this ridiculous idiot is, the hole I put in the wall at work just because the door was closed when it shouldn’t have been. I’m not saying which door…–

PMS is real. PMDD even more so.

PMDD can be so misunderstood that the condition is frequently misdiagnosed as a mental illness like bipolar disorder. It leaves thousands of women in a dark place or suicidal for at least one quarter to half of every month.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/28/women-premenstrual-syndrome-pms-dysphoric-disorder

It occured to me tonight that my comment 20 years ago was perpetuating the same cultural belief that this isn’t a problem to be concerned with because it’s a “woman” problem. I thought it’d be funny because no one takes it seriously. I thought it’d be funny because I was told that my rage, suicidal thoughts, and depression I’ve suffered once a month for 35 years that leaves me holding my knees and rocking, sobbing, and praying I can control myself, is just a weak, “woman” problem.

It’s like a revisiting evil demon who sits on your shoulder whispering reminders of your every regret. It makes you question your reason for existing, your reason for being on this earth. It removes your logic and ability to function. It reduces you to caricature.

So I ask again, why do we think that’s funny?

Chicks, amirite?

-NTZ

https://www.apa.org/monitor/oct02/pmdd

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/11/29/13765740/is-pms-real-slate-research-cure

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder-when-its-more-than-just-pms-201510128415

And Throw In Something Witchy

Charles-mansonbookingphoto

One of my favorite quotes of all time is one by Charles Manson.

“Do what you do, do it well…and throw in something witchy.”

Now, before you get outraged, there’s a reason it’s my favorite and not what you’re probably assuming.

I don’t like it because it’s creepy/scary and makes me all shivery—it doesn’t. I don’t like it because it’s counterculture and I’m some misinformed hippie—I’m certainly not.

I like it because it’s rare to sum up someone’s true ethic—a glimpse inside their true self—from one little quote.

What this quote means, and he himself has admitted to it, is that he didn’t really care why his followers were going to do what they did as long as they did what he said, and did it well. He told them what they wanted to hear to motivate them (aided by a lot of speed and LSD.) He didn’t care about the state of race relations in the U.S. or starting a race war. He just wanted to hurt people as he’d felt he’d been hurt. He wanted to hurt and he wanted to make headlines.

Manson knew that if Tex Watson was to “throw in something witchy” along with the brutal murders,  the press would go crazy for it. And they did.

Manson was right but he’s not a genius. He’s an opportunist. He rode a societal wave that handed him vulnerable people who fulfilled what he was lacking and were fulfilled by him what they lacked. It’s mundane.

Charles Manson wasn’t and isn’t some Svengali. He wasn’t and isn’t some evil, demonic minion of Satan. He’s a man who hated his lot in life; who had a lot of anger towards everyone who got to enjoy a life he never got to enjoy. He is someone who happened to be at a place in geography and time where shoveling out answers to people already grasping for them happened to dovetail sweetly with his one charismatic skill.

Charles Manson was an happenstance-opportunist who got “lucky”. Lucky for him, not lucky for anyone who happened across his path. Lucky because he got what he wanted his whole life: acknowledgement, out of a life of irrelevance.

And that’s what he is, a “lucky”, angry, vengeful, opportunistic little man. And that’s all.

He’s human.

All of this stems from a preview I just saw of an upcoming ABC show “reminiscing” about the “evil” that is Charles Manson. There is no evil here. It’s human nature, whether you deem him devil or angel.

Despite the fact that they are gifting this man with what he’d always wanted, and what drove him to do what he did by revitalizing it…they are also perpetuating a myth about human nature that I find more disturbing.

Again, Charles Manson isn’t a devil. He’s human.

The myth is the push, the need, to deem people who commit terrible acts as evil or crazy or inhuman…the need to see people who commit horrific acts as anyone other than ourselves. I get it. I understand.

But to do that is ignorant, lazy, and cowardly.

Ignorant for not seeing that everyone in every way has influence. One can be a hermit, living in a cave, yet that runoff from their sewage is poisoning the plants, killing the bees that should pollinate the vegetables miles away. Ignorant for hoping that we’re separate entities who hold no responsibility for anyone else’s existence. It is simply not true. Not knowing or acknowledging your influence doesn’t lessen its effect.

Lazy because shame on you to anyone who thinks, “Hey, not in my yard.” And shame on you again.

Cowardly because we need to acknowledge that it IS our responsibility. Not addressing what’s causing and perpetuating whatever is your concern, makes you a coward. To think that you or a group of you can’t make a difference, is cowardly. To stand behind the excuse that, “nothing changes” is cowardly.

(Did you know that writing to your state’s congresspersons about your particular issue sways how they vote about…well, everything? Everyone? Who YOU are to be in this community and your power in it?)

Write your congressperson

It’s all of our responsibility to know what we’re doing for all of our fellow humans. Good, bad, and irritating. Because if we don’t, we get Manson.  He didn’t start off bad. He got his shit handed to him hand-over-fist. It made him bitter, angry, violently vengeful.  He was a kid that grew up in a shit-hole existence; uneducated, unguided, and uncared for.

It’s no excuse but it was all preventable.

I do blame him. But I also blame us.

Giving Manson a special on TV reassuring us that he is different, “evil”, “the devil”, and “powerful” is taking away our responsibility for helping to create the monster out of a boy.

Just because you don’t know anyone on the wrong-side-of-the-tracks doesn’t make you less responsible for the three-strikes law. Ignorance doesn’t validate you for voting in programs that promote incarceration and recidivism instead of rehabilitation. Turning a blind-eye doesn’t excuse your hand in this because you don’t want the icky-ness in your yard.

Charles Manson is an extreme example of what can happen when you’re born into a world that beats you from day one, where anger is your only connection, where violence is your only outlet.

He’s not the devil, he’s a possible outcome.

And it’s all our fault.

A No Toast Zone-type Day in the Park

Day at the Park

Sound travels awkwardly here; like being at the beach and not hearing your companion speak but clearly hearing another couple talk a hundred yards away.

In fact, there are only three other people in my current view on this whole bay right now. I can hear their conversation as if I’m in the boat with them…doing whatever the Hell it is they’re doing in Mission Bay at 8 a.m., Friday morning. It doesn’t look like fishing or skiing but, if they’re anything like me, they’re probably using the boating excuse to drink Bloody Marys.

They are not alone on the bay, though, because every once in a while I get a glimpse of a ski boat, blasting truly awful country music that warbles in and out of range, towing an overly exuberant skier.

The lone boat, accompanied by the creepy country music, frames so perfectly the opening scene of any horror movie that I wonder if I am not seeing the overgrowth of San Diego in the background but dark forested trees.

At least I can sit here. It was a struggle getting to this spot.

Earlier, quite early this morning, I finally motivated to get out and do something good for myself; get some solitude and peace so I can concentrate on my myriad unavoidables. But like all the luck in my life, I pick the one day to come to this park when it decides to rain. Today. In August. In San Diego.

I do find an unoccupied group of pavilions to sit under and make my nest only to have a talkative homeless person want to share my pavilion with me, and not any of the three others. My dirty looks convinced him I’m not in the mood for chit-chat with anyone, with what I’m praying is mud up the side of his body, so he finally moved. He sat at one of the other pavilions, slowly unwrapping something in cellophane while staring at me. But it’s better than listening to his conversation.

The quiet didn’t last long because of the truck that officiously drives three inches behind me, through the pavilions, stopping to discuss some “development” party with a Parks Department’s party guy. Party guy is much too into his upcoming fiesta, being here at 8 a.m. for a party at noon, and the maintenance asshole with the truck is having none of it.

Neither am I so I move.

Finding a picnic table with a view was nice until here comes Mr. Maintenance with his rude truck to inexplicably park ten yards from my table, and none of the five others. Then to just sit with his hands in his lap.

I would think this is sort of funny even though I’m in the world’s worst mood right now.

That’s until my only pen runs out of ink. Trying to find a comfy place to sit with these frustrations makes me dive further in my already burdensome depression. It’s one Goddamn thing after another, no matter how small. Someone just shoot me.

Actually, if I’m right about the horror movie this is all-too-closely resembling, a guy with an axe will come bounding up out of the surf. He’ll come screaming up at me, axe raised, take one look at my face and freeze. Witnessing me completely unphased, he’ll tilt his head, drop his axe, frown and maybe whimper a little. Then he’ll turn away, dragging his axe behind him like a dejected Little Leaguer with his baseball bat, and back into the surf.

In the movie, the camera pans back to the partiers on the lone boat, their bloody, axe-ravaged bodies strewn across the deck as the country music plays a mournful ballad, Doppler-effect lessening it in the distance. The camera pans upward and outward, shrinking the bay into the pupil of the eye of our protagonist, amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Not being a movie, that didn’t happen. What did happen was Mr. Maintenance emptied the surrounding trash cans with the speed and efficiency of a state worker (as his mocking truck played 70’s pop at increasingly screechy decibels) while staring at my tits.

And all within the time it takes for the weather to turn from drippy wet to scorchingly hot and me with no pavilion to sit under. I can see that the pavilion tables are dry, cool and empty, though they are being attended to like a hen by Party Guy who is, undoubtedly, getting paid more money to host this tortilla chip and ice cream get-together today than I’ve made in a month.

With all the pain and suffering going on in this world, and not to mention, though I’d like to not, the awful political happenings in our country, these little inconveniences are, well, little. I know that. But they are my inconveniences and to me they are as tragic and distracting as they are incessant. It’s annoying as fuck. I can’t seem to get my feet under me because of these things.

For me, right now in life, it feels like I’m scrambling up an incredibly steep cliff-side, slipping on loose shale (or ubiquitous, slimy maintenance workers), only to slide three feet down, further from where I started. An experience I’m literally very familiar with lately…but that’s another post entirely.

I’ll get my shit together. I will, and these little things will take on the humor and little-ness they fittingly deserve. I would like a break from being me for a minute to do that but I get the feeling that I’m not ever going to, so I will just have to get more resourceful to tilt at the windmills. But, I can do it. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.

But not right this minute. This minute, I’m getting nasty comments from the couple a hundred yards away, that they think I can’t hear, about how unhealthy my smoking is to them. Since they’re mostly coming from a hugely obese woman in stretchy bike pants, I couldn’t care less about her opinions on health, but I’m going to leave anyway. Without the hope of an axe-wielding savior to kill either one of us, I’m going to burn up in this heat.

I know of a bar that opens at 6 a.m. around here and, believe it or not, visiting there will probably go a lot smoother than this day at the park has been. The weather is always the same in there.

Cheers.

-Mo at the NTZ

Reflections on the Moon

Laugh, Goddamnit, or I’ll cut you.

moon-963926_1920
Don’t fall for its deceitful beauty

The moon was so amazing tonight. So much so that I even pulled my head out of my ass long enough to, not just notice but, remember and still be thinking about it when it’s already packed up its game and moved on to another house to play.

Cherishing a memory of what is actually a mundane, everyday occurrence, of its rising and moving on, its blind automation, doing what it’s been doing for billions of years, exemplifies the moon’s profound effect on us. So profound that it pulls our bodies, hearts, and minds to directions we don’t tend to normally swerve. It has a physical, emotional, mental, spiritual pull on us that, unless you’re trying to be oppositive just to be a dick, is undeniable.

Of course, it just could be my mood.

It could be the “reflective” part of my PMS swing. The part that is deep, contemplative, meaningful…right before the terror begins.

The thoughtful phase is a good one. It keeps me mindful of where we all come from, where we all began, and how we’re all to return. You know, earthy. Once in a while, everyone needs to feel the Earth, the Moon and the stars in their body and soul. Especially before a knife-wielding banshee comes flying through the door demanding ice cream.

You’re going to want to know your God then, my friend.

My thoughtful reflectiveness, or “soul petting” as I’ve only just made up now, entirely depends each time on how late in the evening it is and how much wine I’ve had, whether I’m getting along with my mate and if he needs to be drawn up and quartered, and/or the imbalance in my hormones that is tied to the pull of the moon and how God hates me. All determining the severity in which I’m going to take it out on you.

Granted, my getting along with my mate and his “moods”, (I mean, come on, moods? Men don’t know moods. Am I right, ladies?) or how much wine I’ve had, has nothing to do with these particular quirks in my day-to-day swings. Those things don’t really cause how badly you’re going to have to endure the destruction of the release of the Kraken. It has everything to do with that beautiful, hateful, deceiving moon and, its absentee landlord, gravity.

There is science to back up my assertions but I’m not going to bore you with all the technical shit. And I’m especially not going to read right now in order to explain it. But it’s true: the moon’s gravitational pull has an immense effect on, you know, cycles. Don’t make me say it. Let’s be adults here and act like adults. Let’s insinuate, infer, and randomly assume things until we’re all offended by something not intended for us but still hold grudges for life, i.e. adult.

But back to my point, this moon I was gazing so lovingly at is, at the heart as all things too good for us, evil. It is the cause of so much drama and pain in my perpetually annoyed existence. It rises, swoops in all pretty, like a smooth-talking, bouncing, fruit-bearing snake in a fast car, sweeping me off my feet only to make me pay for his abandoned bar tab. And I fall for it every time. You’d think after month-after-month for 30 years of this shit I would know better. You’d think that I’d be able to predict, summarize, talk myself out of, or rationalize my taking these mood swings out on random strangers that don’t know how to drive even though they all went to the same fucking driving course in high school that I did. You’d think there’d be a remedy. There isn’t. There’s no remedy for bad driving. Just stay off the fucking road, Goddamnit.

Anyway, it is a beautiful moon and I’m grateful for the experience. Evil, though it may be.

Okay, you either get the reference from an earlier post or I’m starting to sound crazy.

-Waitaminute-.

Yeah, I think “soul petting” has ended.

zombies-598387_1920 Now, hand over the fucking ice cream…

-NTZ