Goodbye, nice to know you

Letting go of something is necessitated by your fragility. You can not control an outcome. You are not in charge of your destiny. You are not in charge of your reactions. But you are in charge of your choices. Letting go is necessitated by too much past guiding the optimistic outline for a future. Letting go is living in the present and saying “I can’t do this right now.” “I can’t have this right now.” “I can’t be this right now.” And accepting that. Letting go feels impossible only when you are holding on too dearly to a future that is not yours to determine. Otherwise, it’s pretty easy. Happiness always seems to find you again one way or another.

You’ll never be open to it with the front door bolted shut, you inside, trying to find a way to make the puzzle fit together even though it came in the box without all the pieces.

Letting go is at the opposite end of grief.

You’re almost there.

Let go.

Fall into the next adventure.

Your heart will leap after you soon enough.

Taking off the Shell

Comedian Dustin Meadows’ show Struck a Nerve is so good. It’s once a month. You’re missing out by not being there. Cowabunga-up dude. Don’t be a party pooper!

struck a nerve

 

Imagine April O’Neil was real. And she died today.

This is such a weird coincidence that it’s the same day as this event, but April O’Neil passed away this afternoon. I wrote a whole essay about how the Turtles were the quintessential ’80s boy band, but, in her honor, I’m going to read her official obituary from her former employer, Channel 6 News, instead.

“Famous news journalist April O’Neil has gone to the big pizza party in the sky. She was perpetually 27 years old.

In her 1996 autobiography, titled “Taking off the Shell,” O’Neil said she was raised in Duluth, Minnesota. Her idyllic childhood was spent reading, playing in oat fields and raising pet turtles. She loved visiting her Aunt Agatha, who was a detective. Both of her parents were scientists, a career field that was pushed on her, she said, and one she followed out of loyalty as her professional life began.

From 1983 to 1984 she worked as a computer programmer for the infamous Baxter Stockman, whose brain mysteriously disappeared after his death. Unsatisfied by the tech talk, O’Neil soon found her true passion—Journalism.

“April O’Neil was a pain in the ass,” said Channel 6 owner Burne Thompson, “but she somehow always knew where to find the story. I don’t know how she did it.”

O’Neil’s longtime co-worker and director Vernon Fenwick could not be reached for comment.

O’Neil’s tenacity in the field earned her many accolades, including several Pulitzers for breaking news reporting. Her ability to sniff out news was damn near fictional.

But the feisty journalist was not without her own scandal. In fact, it seemed to pursue her mercilessly.

Friends, including former Channel 6 receptionist Irma, say she moved apartments often and unexpectedly. Her credibility was seriously damaged in 2005 when she reported that there were anthropomorphic teenaged mutant turtles that were ninjas living in the sewers and fighting crime. O’Neil soon after checked into a rehabilitation center for exhaustion and pill addiction.

In 2003, she brought a lawsuit against Channel 6 for discrimination. She alleged that the station demoted her because she would not change her clothes. The station argued that yellow jumpsuits just did not look good in high-definition. They settled out of court.

In 2006 tabloids went on a witch hunt to find out if she was a natural-born redhead, and a highly successful pornography series, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Boners,” starred a busty, scantily clad O’Neil look-a-like and mocked her demise.

O’Neil is survived by her estranged vigilante husband, Casey Jones, who is due to get out of the New York State Penitentiary early because of good behavior as captain of the prison’s white supremacist hockey team, and their adoptive daughter, Shadow, who is, according to her website, a modpodge keychain artist and acupuncture sushi food truck owner.

O’Neil’s death happened under mysterious circumstances. A New York utilities worker found her in a coma three days ago in a sewer, surrounded by half eaten pieces of pizza. The pizza was deemed poisonous by the NYPD.

Adding another element of strange to her death, O’Neil woke up briefly and her last words before dying were, “The turtles have been framed. Shredder did it.”

The NYPD has listed Actress Megan Fox as a person of interest in O’Neil’s murder.

Rest in peace, April O’Neil. Talented and tumultuous life, the world needs more characters like you.”

A horse is a horse is a whore

This year I’ve kind of fallen into performing my writing. Sharing my work that way is not really a goal of mine — in fact, it’s quite terrifying — but everything I have been involved with has been so much fun. I love this town because opportunities to perform my writing live are even accessible! Anyway, I wanted to post about my favorite event so far because it will be reoccurring AND its motivations meant a lot to me.

At the first installment of Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse, four  women — a musician, an entrepreneur, a comedian and a writer — shared a 15 minute act inspired by whatever Horsewoman they had been assigned. For example, I wrote about war. We could take our theme whichever way we wanted, spin it however we saw fit. Proceeds from the event went to the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio.

horsewomen promo

My essay played on the war of words we have with each other and between genders. It was about how words can feel dismissive of an entire self and how they are used as weapons of war against the Other. Part of my essay involved these bad boys.

cunt cookie

Cunt cookies. They were cookies iced with the words that we are called because we are women: cunt, bitch, slut, fat ass, crazy, weak, dramatic, princess, etc. The idea is that we made them sweet and we ate them in a new way. And the, later, we would turn them into what they really were — steamy, stinky piles of bull shit.

I felt so inspired afterward, by sharing my story and by hearing the other artists’ stories. I would share my piece here, but it really just feels too personal, too intimate, one of those essays that you have to share with someone in the moment. I left feeling completely in tune with the people who were there and totally inspired to keep fighting the good fight, making love not war even in times of war. Maybe I do want to do more writing like this…

Horses… horses… horses… whoreses…

Summer Reading List 2014

I’ve always thought of readers — talented readers, people who can sit down for five hours and read one book — as unappreciatively skilled. That kind of attention requires impressive meditation on words, even if the story is entertaining enough to consume you.

I am not one of those readers. I’m a bouncer. I usually have six books going at a time. I’ve been trying to read every night this summer before I go to bed — stability of a schedule, y’all. Here are the four I’ve been bouncing  between. Particularly entertaining to me has been Alice Walker, most famous for her book “The Color Purple.” She’s a poetry and prose badass and if you have any interest in human rights or social justice, I highly recommend reading her creative nonfiction essays.

From “The Dummy in the Window” in Alice Walker’s book of essays, Living By The Word: “I believe that the worst part of being in an oppressed culture is that the oppressive culture — primarily because it controls the production and dispersal of images in the media — can so easily make us feel ashamed of ourselves, of our sayings, our doings and our ways. And it doesn’t matter whether these sayings, doings or ways are good or bad. What is bad about them and, therefore, worthy of shame, is that they belong to us.”

 

"The Stranger," by Albert Camus; "The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker," by Rudolph P. Byrd; "Living by the Word," by Alice Walker; "A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen."

“The Stranger,” by Albert Camus; “The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker,” by Rudolph P. Byrd; “Living by the Word,” by Alice Walker; “A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.”

 

 

Wet like love

broken egg

 

The threat of a storm sends tremorous chills down the small of my back. More so than the cold water it delivers, fast, past the raised hairs of my neck.

How thrilling that I am safe, while the burning violence of lightning and the stampede of the thunderclap are so close. My heart beats as fast as the rain falls.

It feels like when you have found yourself freshly in love. Excitement and danger and broken pieces of something important loom. Nothing of nature will be the same after the storm. Maybe it will have fed the flower—-thirsty for something, everything, beckoning, pushing back, fragile, throat, thrust, hungry for the water, hungry for the hurt—-and not left the stem snapped at the neck by the force of the downfall.

But what better way to perish than in pleasure, head upward, drenched from the voracious embrace of your nature, all that you need.

 

Dear old dad

 

dad

 

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad! He names all the cows on his dairy farm. Many times, he names the cows’ new female calves something that starts with the same letter as their mother. I always liked that.

A grownup goes to the zoo

If age is just a number, when do we actually become adults?

I’d argue that, technically, being a grownup and being an adult are two different things. Being a grownup means you have physically grown up. You are physically not a child anymore. Being an adult is a state of mind. It means you take a shower everyday, have an accountant, etc. Being an adult also usually means you have children.

After someone graduates from college or reaches age 23, I think of us all as the same age… unless you have children. I have grownup friends and I have adult friends. And it’s not that one person is more or less worthy of something than the other, but it’s interesting that I subconsciously make that distinction. Perhaps I do it because I’m taking a mental note about whom it’s best to call at 4 a.m. My lifestyle is more like a 41-year-old woman I know who has no children than that of a 27-year-old with two.

Perhaps the unintentional mental distinction between my friends who have kids and those who don’t is self consciousness too. Stupid media’s “mommy wars” pit us against each other even though the only ones brazenly continuing “mommy wars” are the people who write about it as a “cultural topic.” Or that lady on TV with, like, 20 kids.

I want to tell all my friends my age with children, “That’s so cool! I love babies! I’m totally not judging you at all! I think your body is amazing! CAN I HUG YOUR BABY AGAIN?” I mean all of these things, genuinely,  but I wonder if I overcompensate sometimes if I feel like the other woman brings herself down for having a child before me even if we’re the same age?

I know I’m not a teen or pre-adult. Evidence: Shaving habits. I’ll go to the pool and not leave immediately if I realize my bikini line isn’t flawless. Also, I will wait a while to shave the soft hair that grows in every few months on my upper lip. It acts as a sweat absorbent while I’m jogging.

I’m jogging! That’s evidence that I’m a grownup.

I know they’re all just arbitrary terms, but it’s been on my mind because I think about how much I want a child in the next several years but how that is absolutely, totally out of my control because finding a partner to have children with is absolutely, totally out of my control. And it drives me crazy when things are out of my control! This dude does not abide. (This, shall we say, affectation is probably responsible for my inability to maintain a mate with any sort of longevity. Womp, womp.)

Being a parent seems like being in the army. But unfortunately, parenthood is more about luck of the pull-out than recruiting. That’s too bad, because to Parenthood I would look like poor-teen-boy-with-a-chip-on-his-shoulder-about-being-mildly-OK-at-everything does to the army. Prime target!

Take, for example, my recent trip to the Columbus Zoo with my sister and her children. My thoughts before a zoo visit are very indicative of a grownup who would make a good parent.

“I will get sunburnt here. I will be hungry as soon as I arrive at the place where a hot dog is $4.50. I will be cold. And then I will be hot. And then I will be cold again.”

I then prepare accordingly by packing a sweater, sunscreen and shredded wheat because I am 80. I was chewing Nicorette and drinking a vitamin shake as I pulled up to the zoo’s parking lot, where SUVs and minivans filed into spots like herded cattle.

“Shit, Jackie, stop making forced analogies and take a photo of exactly where you parked. Maybe a panoramic view is best and you should write down where it is just in case your phone freaks out and dies and you can’t look at the photo. Look how responsible/ terrified of you I am, Universe. Now send me a suitable mate with whom to baby make in two to three years, please.”

At one point, though, during our safari through fake Africa (you know it’s fake because of the Dippin’ Dots stands), I lost my six-year-old nephew. Losing a child that you are not only responsible for but deeply in love with for more than 20 seconds will make you violently regret all that “Law & Order: SVU” binge-watching you used to do. I officially hate USA Network.

I carelessly tossed strange children to the wayside, trying to find my blonde bundle of joy, much like that scene in Home Alone where Harry are Marv are trying to find Kevin on the sidewalk… that’s such a good movie… Gah! I scolded myself for thinking about a movie comparison while my nephew could be on a flight to a lifetime of sweatshop labor and porridge desserts. I scolded myself for not paying more attention to him at the time he ran off–I was trying to zoom in to a baby giraffe with my camera phone to take a sweet pic for my Instagram.

giraffe

Nailed it.

“Oh, god, what if my nephew got kidnapped because I was taking a photo for Instagram! That is almost as bad as the people who take photos of everything they eat! I don’t want babies! This feeling is horrible and I… is that him!?”

Sure enough, I found him, and when I did, he was, no kidding, five inches away from a giraffe’s face. I stood there stunned. He found the best seat in the whole fake Africa. My first reaction was to take another picture for Instagram. My second reaction was to make sure it was definitely him about to get a wet sloppy kiss from this amicable beast. My third reaction was to shout to everyone who was listening, “I have found the lost child and can be responsible for holding babies again! Also, sorry I threw your child to the side just now!”

Animalistic tendencies were on full display that day, and not just behind the cages.

The best parents I know have a great sense of balance between the things they can control and the things they can’t. Whether I remain a grownup or transition into an adult or a mom or whatever, that’s probably the key lesson from my recent zoo visit. Always keep an eye on the kid but also just let things happen a little more. Abide. Be. Like this camel here (pic below). It pooped itself while laying down and continued to just sit there. Its companion camel looked on, likely considering the same course of flatulation action. Flatul-action? Ha! Nice. How can I not find a life partner with lines like that?

camel pooped itself

“Compulation” of success

There’s not a lot of tangible reward to being a journalist. Most of my journalist friends are rebel types with above average work ethic. Even inside writers of the fluffiest fuzzies, not  too far down, a First Amendment soldier lurks.

It’s rewarding to tell people’s stories, to actively participate in free speech, to have a job writing (Writer’s Digest sends me a depressing email at least once a week with a subject line “You CAN make a living writing!”).

But that’s about it. We don’t make a lot of money. Our field is changing by the minute so we’re constantly being challenged to find new ways for print to survive. The line between advertising and editorial is growing so muddy you could ford the river between the two in a nice new pair of goulashes.

That’s why awards season is so fun for journalists. It’s validation for a job well done when there’s little other tangible validation to be found. (Also, most of us have fragile egos and fluctuating self confidence. We did, after all, choose a profession where everything we do has a byline.)

The point of this loquacious lead: I won some writing awards at the Press Club of Cleveland’s statewide Excellence in Journalism contest.

I was so excited to attend the ceremony. I wore my new library card shirt from my new gig at The Library Store. #alwaysbeworking

Library shirt

I placed first in non-daily newspaper writing for the category Personality Profile writing for this story about Alix, and second for Arts and Entertainment reporting for this article about the two toddler-refugees-turned-CCAD-designers.

The big one, though, was this guy:

award

Best Freelance Journalist in Ohio. Bam!

Wait… is that… that word… is spelled wrong… oh… oh god!

award closeup

Pretty immediately, though, I decided the “compulation” on my award was perfect. Two reasons.

1)  It’s a reminder that copy editors are important. What a concept.

2) It’s a reminder to keep working and working as hard as possible. I may be good, but I could be better. For every success I have I can count five other fuck ups. Mistakes don’t mean I’m not talented, and success doesn’t mean I’m not human. Keep that ego and that self-criticism in balance, sister, and then you really win.

flowers

‘Til next time

There is a difference between learning your lesson

and having been taught one.

Mistakes are narcissistic.

They like to look at themselves

over and over again.

And over again.

It’s over again.