The Length and Depth of Grief

One of the (many) things that annoys me about how we teach children about life is how rarely we talk to them about the different ways in which grief, as in you’ve lost someone grief, represents in different people. We don’t talk about how to deal with it and how to help others with it.

This has become a tough time of the year for me because Oct 26th is not only the day I finally realized I had to let Amelia go. It’s also the birthday of a beloved relative who is sorely missed. It’s additionally the birthday of someone I knew in college who passed almost 10 yrs ago, and while I don’t grieve him, many of my dearest college friends do.

So yeah, my brain plays tricks on me as we come up on this day, and I don’t really have good ways to deal with those tricks. Like making me forget about the date and then dumping something on me like the dream I had two days ago, in which I “discovered” I had forgotten Amelia for months underneath a bed in my parents’ house, but she was still alive. Just typing that sentence out brings back the horror and despair I felt in the dream. (I’ll spare folk any further description.) Or like when I’m having a particular beer and I think “Oh I should text Nicole and J— oh no.”

It feels WEIRD to say “I’m crying because in my dream however long ago I was a terrible companion to an animal who’s been dead for four years.” Or to explain to whomever I’m with at the bar “No, it’s nothing you said, I just thought….”  There’s no good scientific framework for it, either – I look up shit like this study and so far, nothing offers more clarity.

On the other side of it, I don’t have good things to say to my wonderful friends. “I’m sorry for your loss?” Well, I KNEW him, so that comes across as insincere. Offering support and presence? I am most emphatically NOT the person they want to go to if they want to talk about him. And if someone were to say either of those things to me concerning Amelia, I would honestly feel like a fool. There’s only one person – besides Jon – who could offer that to me and have that feel like a support.

But I’m me. And other people are different. The length and depth of their individual grief does not show up like mine. The differences are as varied as each of our specific relationships.

Because there is no way to know, all we have are stock responses to offer each other, and self-dismissive ways to deal with that moment when we’re plunged, unexpectedly, into the crevasse the loved one’s absence has created.

If you are grieving alone because of poor responses from others or, hell, if you’re simply trying to be a brave face? Please know some folks understand how long it can take, and that you never truly get over it.

Regarding the 2nd Amendment

It’s been a fucker of a week. Lots to say over here. But I’m going to start with the respawn of the gun control/gun sense debate in the wake of the horrific shooting in Parkdale, Florida.

I’ve been really annoyed by people who regurgitate old, already-debunked talking points like “What about Chicago” (not the gun murder capital of the US, people) and “It’s not about guns it’s about mental illness” (no, it’s really not) and then say the 2nd Amendment must be protected.

Thing is?

The 2nd Amendment is already not being followed because we don’t have any well-regulated militias. That’s what the damn amendment STARTS with. It’s supposed to be part of the whole dynamic.

Because of that, when talking to 2A proponents I’m gonna REALLY put the 2nd amendment in their faces. So – you want a gun? I propose you join a militia. I propose militias be legal entities registered with the Department of Defense, which would be put into play during disasters in their local areas, helping clean and protect people who have lost walls and locks and whatnot. Anyone can start a militia… and this means even a new Black Panther party. (The number of concealed carry license applications are up for Black women in Chicago, so I can totally see women starting their own militia.) Gun purchase would require proof of current well-regulated militia membership in good standing. Any gun carry requires valid and current militia membership card, and any citizen who sees a civilian carry is entitled to demand they show their card. Militias would be responsible financially for ANY collateral damage one of their members inflicts or suffers…. including paying for toddlers’ funerals. If someone goes off the rails, the militia is fined for not regulating their membership and no one can buy, use, or carry a gun for the next however long. Militias are not allowed to lobby, and no one is allowed to bring a gun to a political protest where emotions will run high.

Let’s tell the 2A proponents we’re making this as obvious as asking someone for their keys when they’re too drunk to drive – asking someone for the keys to their gun safe when they’re angry or frightened, and assure them they’ll have protection from the rest of the militia.

And since that’s all in alignment with the 2nd amendment? the NRA should be on board, right?


RIP Ursula K. Le Guin

I’m shaken. Tearing up. I thought she had more time.

Thank you, wonderful soul, for Arha/Tenar:

“A dark hand had let go its lifelong hold upon her heart. But she did not feel joy, as she had in the mountains. She put her head down in her arms and cried, and her cheeks were salt and wet. She cried for the waste of her years in bondage to a useless evil. She wept in pain, because she was free.”

Thank you, wonderful soul, for Therru/Tehanu:

“I think,” Tehanu said in her soft, strange voice, “that I when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn’t do. All that I might have been and couldn’t be. All the choices I didn’t make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven’t been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I lived, the breath I breathed.”

I will miss the books you never wrote.

Sudden Descents

Image Desc: A black and white image of half of a face. The subjects eyes and forehead are obscured with black lace.

You know those days… you’re minding your own business and doing housework or working on a project when suddenly Anxiety, Depression or Misery grabs you by the shoulder, whispers (or yells) “Time For An Adventure” and whisks you off somewhere until you’re looking at the world through their veil, or up at a distant light from the pit they dug for you.

Or both.

With all the triggering stuff going on in the world right now I am not surprised this happened to me. The news and how it’s presented is kinda violent for survivors, and I’ve had some unpleasant reactions to a bunch of it.

But DAMN do I want some kind of mechanism where I can get back up to that light, or out from under the veil, just as fast as they can swoop me down.

“A Real Catastrophe”

Lin-Manuel Miranda was right. 44.5 IS going straight to hell.

He’s the real catastrophe.

Between that awful, evil statement about Puerto Rico today and this article on Vox, I might explode from rage. And I don’t even have any relatives there – just an ex-coworker from there. I can’t imagine what folks who have family/friends there are feeling right now. Particularly since they’ve been in budget crisis for years, so this is the worst of all possible scenarios.

I send anyone affected all my love.

So Much Going On In the World

It’s the time of year when sorrows overflow. Hurricane season is beating up the coasts, from the Caribbean and the US southeast to South Asia on up to freaking Nepal. Brutal forest fires line the whole West Coast of America. Rohingya refugees flee from Myanmar to flood-wracked Bangladesh. Earthquakes in Mexico. We’re fighting real Nazis here in America, as well as people who claim they’re just conservative but who are really Nazi-adjacent. They’re like Vichy America.*

Finally, there’s 44.5 and his bullshit over DACA.

Seriously. If a group of politicians really wanted a better replacement for something, they would not suggest repealing it first. They come up with a bill to modify or replace, and submit that fucker to Congress.  44.5 tried the whole “get rid of it then we start over” with health care and no one bit.

These kids are amazing, extraordinary kids. They’re *paying* to stay here; they’re not getting anything for free. This has been as much their home as anyone who grew up here. For most kids, we don’t think of home as where our passport is from – we think of home as where we went to school, or learned to ride a bike, or first realized that that kid on the swingset with us was our best friend.

This jackass up there in the seat of power doesn’t care how cruel he is. And I’m seeing a lot of similarities in the people who support him.

In the middle of all the other devastation happening in the world, I can’t even wrap my mind around why.



* More about this one later. It’s been wriggling around my mind since Charlottesville.

No Justice For Philando Castile

I’ve been trying to figure out what to say, here.

The man who shot another man – he shot an innocent man, a man who did *everything* right according to law and public opinion – was acquitted.

It’s not like I’ve seen justice for others. The list of names to say is very long.

The thing that hurts here is that Castile did everything perfectly. There’s nothing to argue with here (though I know tons will try). On the live tape, when his partner asked, in terror, why the officer shot Philando Castile… the officer answered “I don’t know.”


I saw that. I saw that on that video. The officer *didn’t know* why he pulled the trigger.

For that to be excused, to be glossed over? That’s nauseating. So any person at any time can be gunned down by a police officer and nothing will happen….

Oh wait. Except for white folks who shoot at people of color. They don’t get gunned down at all. They get taken alive.

Seriously, what the fuck?? There’s no justice here. The system worked the way it is supposed to work but there is no justice. I have believed that for years, but now I really know in a way I didn’t before.

Also, this travesty was just a few days after the shooting of GOP politicians. Those folks are crying and accusing “the left” of causing this.

Oh really? *looks pointedly at the list of acquittals*

Things have GOT to change.


The Person Who Made “Rebel Princess” A Thing

Black and white photo of Carrie Fisher, with wide smile and long unbound brunette hair, in snowy Norway, wearing a winter jacket and wooly knitted gloves

(B&W photo of Fisher in winter jacket and wool gloves, hands clasped in front of her and a wide smile on her face, hair unbound. CC License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Tom Simpson/randar on Flickr)


I’ll be honest:

I’ve known for a long time I loved Carrie Fisher, but I didn’t know I LOOOVED Carrie Fisher.

I remember being all about Luke when, at the tender age of 7, I first saw “Star Wars” (what is now referred to as A New Hope). It wasn’t so much about him being called the hero – I loved the goofy, awkward farm boy becoming important, becoming someone who was needed by the world. In contrast, Leia starts off the movie already royalty, already in a position of power, and already incredibly self-possessed (and able to withstand torture) at the age of 19.

I envied her. But I didn’t identify with her. I was clutzy, boyish, whiny, and I couldn’t rescue myself out of the nightmare I was living at the time. She was a princess, AND she was a rebel, AND she rescued herself (twice!) AND she led a group of righteous fighters against what was arguably the biggest threat in their universe.

I didn’t feel I even had the right to identify with her. I couldn’t even identify with Disney princesses who never rebelled – how could I identify with a military leader?

Then, in Blues Brothers, she was an ex-girlfriend who dared to hunt down the man who betrayed her and literally blow shit up to get him out of her head. That brought her much closer to the type of person I thought I was. Strange? Sure, but I was a pretty angry kid, and this was something I understood.

I remember Under the Rainbow being simultaneously strange and forgettable. I remember her small role in Hannah and her Sisters being dwarfed by the fact that the movie seemed almost tailor-made for me, during a time when I had a furious hate-on for Woody Allen.

Then, I adored her writing for a few years. Postcards from the Edge hit a soft spot I have, and while I have not had the book for a number of years, I remember at the time reading it more clandestinely than I ever did for Judy Blume’s Forever.

A few years later I remember loving her role in When Harry Met Sally with unreserved glee – going from “You’re right, you’re right,” the immediate chemistry between Marie and Jess, and the “Tell me I’ll never have to be out there again.” But I did notice she seemed to have aged a decade in those few years.

And then, to my media-glazed eyes, it seemed like she disappeared from the major movie scene. I didn’t recognize her in Soapdish, Scream 3 and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and I was shocked at how she looked during her brief turn in Wonderland. I also somehow missed her many more memoirs. I’m not sure how, but somehow I was oblivious to the fact that she was writing tons.

Therefore, when I saw the poster for the show of Wishful Drinking, I was happily surprised. Ooh! She’s still there! The sense of unrepentant honesty, the originality, the ability to open her life and heart for others was a delight, and while I only read snippets in passing, I was always impressed by her ability to do that while her family was still living.

Again, I envied her. And still didn’t feel like I had a right to identify with her.

Once the new movies were announced and her participation was guaranteed, it was with great delight I watched her take her royal ass and rebel against Hollywood the way she did. Of course, she has been doing it all along, but being back in the Star Wars spotlight really put her power into focus:

Being a rebel princess isn’t just about fighting fascism. It’s about fighting for what is right and being able to be your own, whole self.

I envied her, as always. But I also empathized with the amount of struggle and pain it all came with.

That struggle and pain, finally, was what I identified with.

Side note: What’s interesting is that between 1995 and 2005 I was also having a LOT of rebellion dreams. Being a participant in a rebellion, fighting helmeted jackboots, being a leader in a military organization, being depended upon for crucial intelligence. While some of the dreams were tough, most of them were amazing to experience.

Until today, I never realized it’s because of her I could even have those dreams. I may not have ever identified with her, but somewhere in me she planted the seed –

You can be a rebel and a princess. It might mean something different for me and for you than it did for her, but the two things can live together.

Love you, Ms. Fisher.