Maybe It’s Better to Starve

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

This Monday is a good one, even if it is a bit stressful. I did a bit of jean shopping yesterday at Hollister (all jeans $25!), so I woke up excited to wear a new pair. It’s the little things, you know? I woke up early. I got to work, and it was quiet. I felt motivated and got right to work catching up and planning for the week. Then things fell apart a bit, and it looks like the week will be even busier than I thought, but that’s ok. I have new jeans that fit perfectly!

“I have one of two choices — stay in the post office and go crazy … or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.”

— Charles Bukowski

These past few months have been a little tense at my workplace. For new followers, when I am not writing I work for the transportation department of a large school district here in Colorado. We’ve been dealing with an employee shortage and working something like magic to get these kids to and from school, but we are rapidly approaching a breaking point. If things don’t turn around soon, we may find our jobs contracted out to another company.

I had hoped that I could begin making a living through writing and keep this job as a backup working only part-time. I wanted to find a way to transition from the safety of a steady paycheck to a life where nothing is certain, but I am happier. I worry the safety I feel here is what is holding me back. Change is scary, and I may be using this place to put off taking the leap. I love the kids and all the time off I get, but this just isn’t my passion. Writing has always been what I wanted to spend my life doing.

Two things have changed in the last few weeks. The atmosphere here has become toxic. The stress of the shortage is tearing this place apart, and I feel like I am sitting in a cloud of negativity all day. My coworkers have become an emotional drain and trying to be positive is only irritating everyone. When I’m not on my route, when I am in the lounge or office, I have to isolate myself. I spend much of my day with my headphones in now. I don’t want to live like this.

Then, last week I read a piece by Charles Chu titled Charles Bukowski: The Slavery of the 9 to 5 that made me face the fact that there is no safe way to become a full-time writer. In it Bukowski answers an ad in which an author offers people $100 a month to quit their jobs. The above quote was Bukowski’s answer.

I read it and I thought, “Damn, I’d rather starve too.”

It will huge financial and emotional risk, and I have a way to go to work through my fear, but if I want to live a life that makes me feel alive I have to take it, and in the end, it may be worth it no matter what the outcome. I can’t do it today, but I have to work much harder to get out.

It is a huge financial and emotional risk but if I want to live a life that makes me feel alive I have to take it, and in the end, it may be worth it no matter what the outcome. I can’t do it today, but I have to work much harder to get out. I, like Bukowski, would rather “play at writer” than stay.

Of course, I could always just find another job but will it be any better in a new place than it is here? No other 9-5 will make me feel better, I’m sure of that. At least here I have the kids to keep me smiling and plenty of time off to write.

When your day job isn’t your dream job or passion, can be a place of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness. Day jobs where turnover rates are high, where employees are aware of how expendable they are, where they aren’t nurtured and encouraged, these places are soul crushing. Positive thinking will only get you so far. Humans need to have something that is just theirs, something they can be in control of, something that makes them feel useful, unique, and needed. We need to feel free. We need to feed our souls.

Capitalism tends to create a system where workers are little more than slaves. How many of us feel like we can move away if we wanted to? How many of us can take a vacation in the foreseeable future? How many of us can easily take a day off to rest without being penalized or made to feel guilty? How many of us feel like losing our job would be the worst thing that could happen to us? How many of us feel like losing our jobs is something that could happen, easily?

How many of us work jobs where we do as little as possible while there and lose sleep worrying about it in the night?

Too many of us.

Most of us are nothing but a means to someone else’s ends. Most of us aren’t even making enough money at the jobs sucking at our souls to enjoy what little time we do have to ourselves. A whole lot of human life, potential, and happiness gets wasted because the system is set up to make us feel like there is nothing out there for us. We are taught that we are free, but we are never treated like it. Life shouldn’t be like this.

I know everyone can’t leave their jobs. I know all of this is easier to say than do. I am living proof of that. I know what my passion is and I still can’t gather the courage to leave. I can’t leave because I am embarrassed by my passion, because I am afraid, and because I don’t believe in myself. I’m working on that, but I’m trying to light a fire under my ass. I’m reaching out because I need help and because I want to help others too.

This week, just think about your life. Are you happy? Is there somewhere else you want to live or work? Is there some significant change you want to make but it just feels so big that it may as well be impossible?

Maybe we only think so because we are told so. Maybe it isn’t so hard to make a change after all?

Maybe just trying will be all our souls need in the end.

***

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If We Were Having Coffee // It Feels Like Fighting Winter

“What do you want?”
“Just coffee. Black – like my soul.”

― Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

Hello dear readers and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and a chat. The weather is looking much better than last week but I will be honest with you, my mood is much worse. It’s been a long week and not just because of that man living in the White House now, though most of it is. It’s a combination of hopelessness, anxiety, and stress about huge and worldly issues and some tiny and personal ones too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am still in a state of shock over the new president. I watched the inauguration events most of the day, and through it all, I still couldn’t believe it. I understand that Obama was not a perfect President and that are some valid concerns over war and deportation over the last four years but he was such and optimistic and hopeful leader. He made me feel safer. He made me feel like progress was always being made.

Trump, on the other hand, makes me feel very anxious! He makes me feel like everything we know is going to be disrupted. There is no certainty under him. We don’t know what will happen from minute to minute. I am preparing for a life where I have to be glued to the news to find out what new and horrible ways he is affecting my life and future. It is exhausting! I am trying my best to prepare for the next four years, but emotionally I don’t think I, nor the country at large, can continue at this pace.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I was so proud and happy to see so many people all over the world protesting together, I did not make it to my local Women’s March yesterday. I thought about going, but I just don’t know if it was right for me, or maybe it just wasn’t the right time.

I realized yesterday that I am still very angry. I feel betrayed, but my fellow Americans and I don’t trust the word of its people right now. I don’t trust that everyone who says they are fighting this administration is really doing so at heart. I don’t trust that the person telling me that they don’t agree with the new President’s words didn’t vote for him. I feel like I was abandoned and it will take a long time for me to trust again.

So, I spent the day with family, which is what my soul needed and sometimes I have to put my soul first. I will fight my own way for now, and I will join that public fight when I am ready. In the meantime I assure you I am watching, I am rooting for us, and deep down  I am so happy to see you all coming together.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am not giving up I am simply changing my perspective. I think fighting this administration feels a lot like fighting a hard winter. We can fight all we want, but it is still going to be winter.

It will hurt, and it will be cold. It will be so cold that people might die of exposure and we will mourn and cry, and still it will be winter. It will start to feel pointless, but we still have to fight, not, because we might stop winter, but because we have to keep warm to keep alive. We have to fight because winter can live in your heart and follow you into spring if you let it. We have to fight so that when the season changes we can meet it with warm hearts. We must be ready to get out there and plant beautiful flowers and trees. We have to get out and repair the damage.

I am doing my best to remember that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope the damage won’t be too great.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my doctor’s appointment Monday went well, but I was so worked up over it that afterward that I was exhausted and stayed tense and nauseous for a full day.

I will need more testing and more appointments but so far I have anxiety, migraines, a problem with my right kneecap, and something is going on with my colon, maybe. For the anxiety, I am working on learning how to sleep better, since that is the area of my life impacted the most right now. For the migraines, I have a prescription to take as needed. For the knee, I have exercises and will need future x-rays. For the colon, they will have to take a look. Too much information, I know, but imagine how I feel! I am terrified!

I’m glad that I have finally started to figure out what is going on with me, and I feel a bit better knowing that whatever is going on I am not knocking on death’s door or anything, yet. I am okay for now, and soon I will be doing even better and knowing that feels so good.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had to put down Plato’s Republic this week. I know that book is a classic and a cornerstone of Western philosophy but so much of it sounded, well, dumb. I wish I could have lived back then and argued with Plato, the world might be a very different place today. Before anyone lectures me, I am trying to remember that those were very different times and in the context of history, Plato was a forward thinking man Still, it was frustrating.

So, I took a break and picked up My Ántonia by Willa Cather, who, it turns out was a lesbian. That, of course, has nothing to do with the story and no impact on whether or not this is a good story, I’m just trying to read more books by women and by women of color or queer women. It’s nice to make progress on that front even if it was only by accident.

So far the story is good. It’s different. I haven’t read much on the early American West, so it’s refreshing to explore a new world. I’m hoping to read this one quickly, I’m behind in my reading challenge already!

I’ll get back to Plato eventually.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had better get going before time gets away from me, and I don’t get anything done. I have laundry to wash and fold, a kitchen that is a shameful mess, and shopping to do for the pets. I hope to get a jump on a few post and look into starting a “life audit” later in the evening.

I hope you had a great week. Please, leave a love note below and let me know how you are holding up.

Until next time :)

Life lesson.

A photo posted by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

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Written in response to Part-Time Monster’s weekly event, Weekend Coffee Share

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The Week’s End // A Roundup of Interesting Reads

Hello, friends! If you’re looking for some interesting reads to check out while you relax, look no further, I got you covered. Here are some things I found important, inspiring, and interesting enough to share:

Believe.

Segregation never stopped.

Use what you have.

Promises or Lies?

More lies.

It’s never 9 to 5.

Obama.

A reading list.

Entering white spaces.

Let the men twirl.

Aaliyah + Rihanna

5287e6ac-d6bc-4424-9e4f-fc865f264242

Subtle Ceiling

 

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This list was sent out with yesterday’s newsletter Resist!. Check it out and subscribe!

Original image via Unsplash

To Live in Righteous Anger

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

For me, this Monday is one of reflection and courage. I am thinking of the great Martin Luther King Jr., and I am facing some big fears and anxieties this morning in a doctor’s office. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to see a doctor. They frighten me, but I’m not sure why. It’s as if somehow seeing the doctor will be what leads to my death. It’s stupid and irrational, but that doesn’t mean my mind can let it go. Wish me luck in my morning of panic attacks.

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

— Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was thinking about forgiveness the other day, a virtue I have struggled with my whole life. I thought about how I had hardened myself against forgiveness, lumping it in with all the other parts of religion that aim to keep us weak, passive, and easily manipulated. Forgiveness erases the past and makes us easily controlled in the future. It makes your pain pointless and gives the abuser, oppressor, and manipulator the impression that they have no dues to pay or apologies to make. I do not forgive, not deep down, even if I act like I do.

Many people have told me, both face to face, through sermons, and through motivational quotes, that forgiveness was good for the soul. That forgiveness was for you and not them. That forgiveness was the ultimate test and proof of strength. Bullshit, I thought.

But the other day, out of nowhere I got it. Forgiveness isn’t saying it’s okay. It isn’t saying that the people who hurt you aren’t to blame. It doesn’t mean I have to like them, love them, or give them another chance. It doesn’t mean that my anger isn’t real or warranted. It means that I don’t have to live in that anger anymore.

I don’t have to spit cruel words, or go out of my way to make my anger felt by them, or myself. It doesn’t have to be a part of every day of my life. I don’t have to throw it out, I just have to put it in storage, and I only have to take it out when I want to, when it’s useful to me.

This felt like a real breakthrough. Like, there were parts of my psyche I never realized were so tightened up with anger and finally, a mental muscle that had been working, working, working, got to take a break.

Hatred is the same I suppose. I hope.

I don’t hate often but when I do it is a deep and mean kind of hate, all consuming. I have hated bosses, I’ve hated family members, I’ve hated celebrities, and, more recently, I’ve come to hate a whole slew of politicians, pundits, and swaths of citizens, voters, and non-voters. I feel it like a dark whole in my chest, painful, inflamed, and crippling.

My hatred lives on a nation level, and I blame one man for it all, Donald Trump.

Hatred is a strong word, a strong emotion, to center on one man, I know, but he has become the leader, the figurehead, of a movement of destruction. He has given power to those who people like Martin Luther King Jr. fought so hard to against. He has taken us back to a time and a moral standard that is devoid of compassion and empathy. He has made the worst parts of humanity into virtues and left those who needed protection out in the cold, to be ridiculed and hated again.

This week that man will become President of the United States of America and I keep asking myself: What would Martin Luther King have to say about the state of our country today?

I think he would be livid. He would be disappointed. He would never stand for this, and he would surely be reminding us of how far we have fallen from his dream.

He would be angry but would he feel hatred the way I do? I believe he wouldn’t and if I could meet him and speak with him he would tell me not to live in my hatred. HE would tell me to hold on to my anger but to make it a righteous and useful anger, not an anger rooted in meanness and revenge. I do not wish evil on those unwilling to do what is right, simply because they are afraid of inclusion and equality, but I am angry, and I will fight them.

I am learning to forgive by not living in anger. I am learning not to hate by fighting back with everything the opposition lacks. I want to fight with love. I want to fight for everyone.

All the great leaders I’ve studied did two things: They told the truth. They didn’t bother with insults or exaggerations. They didn’t bother with comeback or promises of punishment or revenge. They didn’t build themselves up at another expense. They only told the truth, and if the truth made you look bad, it was your own fault.

The second thing the did was push, pull, and drag everyone to the problem and the solution. Our true leaders didn’t just preach to the choir, the spoke to the very people who need to hear the truth. They spoke to the people who were part of the problem, not by action but by inaction too. They made it clear who was responsible and how the responsible could make a change. They laid the crime on the criminals and taught the victims how to stand up, be strong, and fight back.

So, I guess that is the kind of person I want to be. Not a pacifist, as Dr. King is often betrayed, but a righteous warrior. Someone who fights back in a way that my conscience can live with. Anger is ok, but living in it, never feeling compassion for the enemy is not the right way. Use your anger to never let them forget or make excuses. Use your anger to make them do better, not to make them fear you. Use your anger to uplift your community, not use them to make you feel important and god-like.

I will work on not hating the people who want to hold us all back, watch others suffer, and even kill for the pleasure of a win.

I will try not to hate people who are taking away healthcare from the people who need it most. I will try not to hate people who wish to take rights and dignity from people who have already lived in shame and fear. I will try not to hate people who want to keep people from America who need our protection the most. I will try not to hate people who want more prisons, more guns, more bombs.

I will try every day not to hate them, but I will never stop talking about their crime.

I will never let them forget.

I think Dr. King would approve.

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If We Were Having Coffee // A Gloomy Day Chat

“I love to drink coffee with people in the morning. And I love to drink coffee in the morning with no one in my fucking face – Excuse my soul.”

— Jack Kerouac, from a letter to Allen Ginsberg

Hello dear readers. Thank you for stopping by on this cold and gloomy day for a bit of coffee and conversation. Days like this are for laying under thick blankets, drinking hot tea, cocoa out of big mugs, and watching TV. Days like this are for staying in your pajamas all day. BUT I want to be productive. There is so much work to be done around the house and a little shopping later. I needed a reason to get up and get moving, and coffee date with you is just the excuse I needed to get me out of bed and dressed.

Thank you.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was a loooooong one. Working for the school district this wasn’t surprising. The week before had been a short one, plus we got a surprise snow day, and this week was one before a three-day weekend. We were still adjusting to the regular schedule and looking forward to another break. Time slowed to a crawl in all that fatigue and anticipation.

On Friday our boss’s boss’s boss came in to talk to us about the hiring shortage and what courses of action the district may be considering. None of it sounded good even though they did their best to sugar coat the situation. As a result, my coworkers were tense, and things turned negative quickly. The future seems pretty bleak, but I feel a renewed motivation to work on finding a way to start making money through writing.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the highlight of the week was the Pulp Fiction movie party at The Alamo Drafthouse Friday night. I had been looking forward to it all week, and through all the frustration and fatigue I stayed positive because I knew I was going to get to sit in a movie theater and see my favorite movie of all time on the big screen. Plus, hearing a hundred or so people quoting along to every f-bomb that Samuel L. Jackson drops is hilarious.

Pulp Fiction is one of those films that you catch something new every time you see it. This last time I realized that near the end when Butch is heading back to his apartment to retrieve his father’s watch, he passes an open window where a radio advertisement for Jack Rabbit Slim’s is playing. The same Jack Rabbit Slim’s restaurant that Mia and Vince eat at earlier in the film.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this coming week is going to be a hard one. I’m spending my day off facing one of my biggest fears, the doctor’s office. It’s been years since I’ve seen a doctor and in that time my body has been falling apart day by day. I have joint pain throughout my body, gastrointestinal problems, peripheral neuropathy, migraines, plus anxiety and panic attacks. I’m sure we will only get to a few of my issues, but it will be a start. I have to get over my fear so I can get well.

The rest of the week I’ll be working, working, working. Most people like to work more, or at least they like when they get paid more for working more, but I don’t always feel like that. I like to have time to write, even if it’s only few minute to write for myself. But this week we have a new class starting, and I have some testing to catch up on. So I might not be around much. Trust me, I’m not happy about it either.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that whatever free time I will have I’ll be working on a piece of Femsplain about mental illness that I really hope will be chosen for their online publication and a set of poems for Platypus Press’s upcoming anthology A Portrait in Blues.

I’ve been published in Femsplain before but the last few pieces I’ve submitted haven’t been chosen. I keep trying though because I love what they do.

I’ve only recently discovered Platypus Press, though, and it has been my dream ever since to be published by them. They seem to have an eye for emotional and intense writing, and if they chose me one day, I would know I was on the right track. Plus, I love how hard they work to promote their writers. They seem like a good home for my work, one day when my work is worthy that is.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that time has seemed to slip away from me and I really must get going if I want to accomplish anything. The Christmas tree has to come down to-day, and I need to get across town for some grocery shopping. It’s been great chatting with you, and if you have a moment before you leave, I’d love if you dropped a comment below and let me know how you have been.

Until next time :)

I'm sick but I'm trying not to be a bitch about it 🙃 #sickandtiredofbeingsickandtired #selfie

A photo posted by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

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When Elections Are Just About Winning, We All Lose

“The ultimate effect of democracy is to render political leaders helplessly incapable of true governance, since they are inevitably forced to gratify and flatter the common people, who can turn on them with impunity as soon as they fail to please.”

— Elizabeth Watson Scharffenberger,
Introduction to Republic by Plato

Inauguration day is just one week away, and there are a lot of people still trying to wrap their heads around our new President, how he came to be elected, and what he will mean for our future. Many of us are angry. Many of us are still in shock. Many of us are trying to figure out what weakness in our system lead to this and how can we fix them for the future.

One place blame has been placed, rightfully so I believe, is squarely on voters. Elections have become little more than a game show to us. Most of us are not informed. We don’t want to be informed either. We don’t carefully consider our candidates let alone the impact their views will have on all Americans. Instead, we join a team, Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Tea Party, Green Party, and cheer our players on.

Our elections are no longer about the happiness and cooperation of American citizens but about who has a claim on what America is. It is about who America belongs to, a question  I thought we had answered a long time ago.

Every cycle we do whatever it takes to win, the job of governance be damned.

When we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt. And when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

Barack Obama

President-elect Trump ran on a platform of hatred and fear. He has promised to work closely with a party that is known for pushing a brand of governance that favors some groups over others. A party that many would argue not only doesn’t serve all Americans but in many ways perpetuates harm and humiliation onto Americas most vulnerable.

This has happened not because the majority of Americans agree with the President-Elect or his party but through a quirk of American politics that is fair in some ways and unfair in others, the Electoral College. Most Americans wanted one thing, but those Americans weren’t spread out enough, and so the other thing happened, and now we can’t agree on who was right or what to do now.

I think our system is broken, but I don’t have any the answers. No one does. Or maybe we do, it’s only that so many of those answers make us uncomfortable.

We Americans are arrogant when it comes to governance. No one does it better than us right? We have it all figured out. Even through all the infighting and political road block we are sure we are doing it better than everyone else. I would argue that this last election proves the system needs a little tweaking. I wonder:

  • Should we have a system where the popular vote elects the president?
  • Should we have a system where one party can be allowed to control all branches of government?
  • Should there be more qualifications for President of the United States? Should there be more for his cabinet appointments too?
  • Should Congress be allowed to vote in their own interest?
  • Should the government be allowed to take away rights and care from its citizens, for example defunding Planned Parenthood or repealing the Affordable Care Act?

There aren’t any easy answers to these questions but they are things we need to start considering. Our system is failing and that means people are scared and suffering. There should be no excuses for this.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

Barack Obama

There is no question that we have taken our right to vote for granted. We have forgotten to use our voice for good. We have forgotten that we had a dream once, to be the greatest country on Earth. We forgot about freedoms to live the way we wanted, to tolerate and cooperate, to work together to overcome any obstacle. We forgot that education and hard work are what we are all about. There was a time when the most qualified person got the job, but now the loudest, crudest, and cruelest are our only qualifications.

We have not earned the great privilege we possess.

No, that we should ever take away the right to vote from any citizen, in fact, I personally believe it should be much easier to vote. We should never make anyone earn it or prove that they deserve it. What needs to change instead is our philosophy around voting and political participation.

We should feel a need to be worthy of what is given us by birthright. We think the geographic luck of our place of birth makes us better. We are Americans, and we are too good to have to care who are elected officials are and where they plan to take us. Maybe we think nothing bad can ever happen to us. We are like naive and inexperienced teenagers enjoying the thrill and never believe we might actually die.

I am embarrassed by our behavior. I am sickened by our disregard for one another and our high and mighty attitude.

We should have been taught better what the right to shape our collective future means in the context of history. We should have been shown what can happen when people have no voice. We should have been told it can happen to us.

We should have been reminded that we aren’t better by birth but by our attitude, our ethics, and our drive to take the high road no matter how hard it may be. We are better because we care. We are better because we are inclusive and nurturing. We are better because we look to the future and do what needs to be done to ensure that we not only survive, but thrive.

At least, we used to be.

I want to think we can get back to that and I hoped we could do it by looking at the mistakes of others. But most people have to learn the hard way, and maybe nations follow the tendencies of the people. I hope we all can survive the next four years and I hope we all come out of it with a greater sense of obligation to participate in the future of our country.

But remember, none of this happens on its own. All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting , regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.

Barack Obama

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