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Author Archives: Jess

Something is going to happen.

This is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel this year, and “coincidentally” also basically what I was meditating on in May when I was getting ready to go to the farm up in Burnsville with Joanna for the first time and when I was arriving there the voice was very strong.  Here it is:

Artemis sighed and walked out the door alone to go re-scout tent sites, and prayed that Rory would get there soon. She ended up taking a little hike down to the creek where she sat on a rock to think for the first time since her Greyhound bus ride three days before.

Something is going to happen, she felt the voice speak over her like the friendly hug of a warm blanket. Something is going to happen and you need to take this moment now to let go and let it happen.

You think you’ve been living in freedom these past three years just because you’ve broken out of your conservative Christian community and angsty home and been off in the world traveling. And in a way, you have come a really long way. But that wasn’t freedom; that was only the prelude to what is ahead.

In the travels you oftentimes thought that you were finding answers when really you were finding more bondage, just of a different sort. Again and again you’ve had to rethink so many of your conclusions about how the world works because you thought you had it right and it turns out you were wrong again.

The last time this happened, it humbled you beyond everything. You realize now you are not invincible or unbreakable in any regard. You realize now that you can’t just be hedonistic about your life, you need to live as if you will watch everybody you have ever loved die tomorrow and all you will be able to think about is that the last conversation you had with them you snubbed them and now they will never know how much you actually loved them because you never told them.

But now you’re here. And you’ve think you’ve learned all the lessons you needed to but you haven’t; you’re about to learn the biggest one of all; you’re about to break through to a whole new level. And even THEN you will think you are done but you won’t be.

“I’m going to be horribly confused for the rest of my life??” she asked.

You don’t have to think about it as horrible or really even confusing. But, in essence, yes. That’s why I need you to let go. Because you need to let things happen. Big things, in small things. And… you don’t need to know why, and it would be best not to pretend you know why, but you may do as you wish.

Artemis sat there in silence, staring unblinking at a neverending ripple in the current but seeing nothing, thinking nothing but “What about…?” but never getting past that part of the question. She knew it wasn’t time for what-abouts. It was time to get up, walk back up to the main part of the property, and let the next few weeks happen to her.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Faith, Fear, Transitions, Writing

 

This is what it looks like…

anger management

…when I am angry at how messed up my religion has become.

Later I tore it up and I’ve been sticking the pieces in my typewriter to super-impose moody poetry among the color splatters.

This entire process has been a huge help in dealing with my frustration, and it is much healthier than the alternatives: cutting yourself, not eating, taking it out on loved ones, chain smoking, becoming an alcoholic, making passive-aggressive statuses on Facebook, going on killing sprees, or even just sitting around stewing about, letting your muscles get tense and form as many knots as possible in one person’s body.

My three main outlets for anger in general are poetry, art, and music, listening to it or playing it.  I don’t care if I am terrible at them.  They help and that’s all there is to it.

So – relax!  Throw paint at things!

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in A Day in the Life, Art, Happiness

 

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I am afraid of…

…being pretentious.
…people’s opinions of me.
…offending someone with my beliefs.
…offending someone with the fact that I have any opinions at all.
…being too obstinate to listen to what other people want and then I end up squashing them and their hopes and dreams.
…even if the issue is a simple difference in musical taste or place to go out to eat for lunch.
…telling people my whole story because it’s too complicated for me to tell it right and they won’t understand all of the gaps that don’t get filled.
…telling important-to-me people my whole story because it will affect them emotionally for some reason.
…investing too much love into something for too long and then growing old alone.
…being afraid of growing old alone and marrying the wrong person.
…not being alone enough and losing myself in someone else again.
…not knowing the future even though I have all these expectations about how it is surely going to turn out a certain way.
…not expressing myself enough to be heard and eventually the fact that I am not heard backfires on me.
…everyone I love dying.
…car wrecks, whether they happen to me or happen around me; I am completely horrified by them.
…not helping people when they need help because I assume they can take care of themselves.
…helping people when they would rather take care of themselves.
…letting people down.
…forgetting important things.
…seeming too self-absorbed.
…accidentally taking advantage of someone.
…failing at something very basic that most people succeed effortlessly in.
…losing my natural sense of wonder and ability to marvel by being caught up in the hustle and bustle of “normal people life.”
…causing someone great harm, especially without knowing it so as to stop or just not being able to be in control of the hurt I’m causing in order to stop it.
…becoming like the people in my life that have caused pain to me or that I have seen causing pain to other people.
…becoming like people in my life who have caused me pain in a twisted revenge on other people.
…becoming like negative people in my life in general just by picking up on how they are by being around them.
…that one day my dreams and nightmares will all be turned into movies and played in front of vast audiences who will then know everything about me.
…that I will waste my life away doing nothing.
…that I will never be someone who amounts to anything or even gives back what has been given to me through my friends and mentors.
…being judgemental of people in ways that other people have been judgemental about me.
…shallow and insubstantial; losing my ability to have intelligent conversation.
…becoming estranged from my family.
…losing my ability to hear.
…losing my ability to write and/or not being able to find a suitable substitute.
…having some sort of condition that limits my ability to have what I consider a normal life.
…becoming more narrow-minded.
…not loving people as much as they have loved me because I’m too preoccupied with myself and the HURT I’ve experienced from them.
…not loving and worshipping God the way he really ought to be; that I’m doing it all wrong
…that all the false, pretentious, judgemental, unloving, “fag-hating” Christianity will turn out to be the true representation of the One True God and that he really doesn’t love us the way I have been led to believe through my own journey in trying to understand him.
…that posting this list for all to see will expose everything about me and I won’t be able to hide anymore.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Faith, Fear, Healing

 

Fortune Cookies Know Too Much

fortune cookies

In September and half of October I was unemployed and horribly depressed.  I’d go on Craigslist and look at jobs, make resumes, submit them, even go in to interviews, but it turns out I really hate interviews; they are stupid and pretentious, kind of like dating.  Actually, exactly like dating: “here is how amazing I only am and I don’t have any flaws so marry me!!”

Fortunately, when things get really bad for me, I end up doing a lot of stuff.  Especially since I had all that time, I spent most of it exploring my ability to be purposeful in my artistic abilities; I wrote a few songs, about a billion poems, and even discovered my artistic style of Squiggly Lines.  It was a really manic time for me, an OF COURSE now that I don’t have all that time anymore I am jealous of my past self and wish I had more time to create stuff.

Silly Jessica.

I prayed a lot during that time, and I’m not saying that to be holy.  I think a person prays a lot when they are desperate – poor God.  But then he comes through regardless, and in crazy better ways than anybody had ever thought it possible.

I’m beginning to think, though, that God has some sort of deal with the fortune cookie company.

The week of my deepest struggle, we had gotten Chinese takeout over the weekend and so there was a slew of extra fortune cookies sitting out on the bar for the taking.  On Sunday the 16th I picked one up, opened it, and ate it while reflecting on the fortune, which said: “Pay attention.  An opportunity will come knocking on your door.”

My eyes narrowed and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Monday, I saw the fortune cookies again and decided to give it another go.  “Don’t be surprised at the emergence of undiscovered talents!”

I looked over at the couple of Squiggly Line pictures I’d drawn, and back at the fortune cookie.  Again, my eyes narrowed.

Tuesday I was feeling particularly down and not wanting to work hard AT ALL to get a job.  I would peruse Craigslist for about 15 minutes before being overcome with laziness and then would just sit on Facebook endeavoring to Not Endure.  At some point in the later afternoon I picked up another fortune cookie, deciding at that moment it was to become a daily thing until I left Friday to go visit a lover of mine.

“The cost of something is what you give up to get it.”

Snarky fortune cookies.  I threw this one across the room and then retrieved it, folded it neatly, and put it on the dresser with the other two.

Wednesday I had another morning mental breakdown, upset that I was on my last dollars, that I would be spending the last of the last dollars on going to see Nahele that weekend, and that I would eventually be in the hole because I couldn’t get a stupid job.

I went into the kitchen to fix myself soothing tea and opened this fortune cookie: “Broke is only temporary.  Poor is a state of mind.”

ALRIGHT.  ENOUGH.

I was angry the rest of the day.  There is NO NEED for a fortune cookie to be telling me that I am being a poop.  I can figure that out myself, thank you!

By Thursday I’d had it and I actually opened the fortune cookie, ate the cookie, and then went to take a shower, forgetting to look at the fortune.

Mid-way through  the shower, I panicked at the thought that maybe I’d eaten the fortune.  And then perhaps I had assimilated it into my system.  You know, like Manny when he swallowed the Little Book of Calm.

When I came out of the shower, there the fortune was, next to my computer.  Not expecting much, I picked it up and read it aloud:

“In love you will be happy and harmonious.”

*blink*  *blink*

Fortune cookies know too much.

I had a beautiful weekend with Nahele and after having that time to sort out a lot of life stuff, reflecting on the fortune cookies, and finally a lot of crazy, emotional talks with God, “Papa” (involving me jumping out of my little spaceship of “comfort” and trusting him to bring me around, help me find a fulfilling job that would help me get closer to being with Russell, my dear love who lives far away and that I never get to see, but that’s a different story), I finally surrendered.  It sounds sickeningly simplistic, but now I have two fulfilling jobs and even have been able to see Russell more than I originally thought I’d be able to.

Maybe this month of blogging will explore all these little journeys more. We shall see….

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2012 in A Day in the Life, Faith, Life Pursuits

 

On Privilege

This is a rant I went on a few weeks ago. It’s very angry and pointed – and I don’t mean it to offend anybody.  (It is also completely unresearched and missing a lot of actual words for things.)  I am not angry at the people to whom my arguments were aimed at any more; however, they remain my views, so if you are interested in some slightly heated musings on this thing called privilege, read on.

What do you think?

I’ve given it some good thought, and I’ve concluded: it is the most ultimate show of “privilege” if one spends the majority of one’s time and energy being “concerned about, talking about, and reprimanding the “silly, unaware, ignorant ‘privileged’” people about privilege and people’s attitudes about it.

Most people are hardly ‘privileged’ enough to know all of your fancy words and terms for different types of discrimination and insensitivity. And the people whom you reprimand for the sake of all the people like you who sit around whining and complaining about how victimized they feel by certain things people say (When maybe it is a good idea to be moving on now to just working on living meaningful, productive lives) – does it ever occur to you that perhaps these people you’ve now attacked for their “privileged ignorance” are people who have stories that you don’t even know?? Perhaps if you knew that they’d been through a lot of the the things you now attack them for being ignorant and insensitive about, and how they have simply come out on the other side with legitimately educated opinions – not because of privilege, mind you, but because as individuals with minds they made the conscious choice to not let something so minor as a “lack of privilege” get them down or hold them back.

And you might argue that “some people don’t have that option; stop being insensitive to those who are underprivileged with no encouragement, no opportunity to not be gotten down, not be held back.”

Well, you know what?

a) You don’t actually know these people; we’d be able to tell if you did. The only people you know are those who may have been in that position, but who have risen out by whatever means in whatever ways, though it sounds an awful lot like maybe they are now in your group of people-sitting-around-whining-while-pretending-to-have-intelligent-discussions.

b) By acknowledging these people, underprivileged people, as being any kind of “less than”, whether you do it with an air of concern or unconcern, you are practicing exactly against what you preach: you are, more than anything else, actually affirming and perpetuating these cultural stereotypes, limiting the individuals, heavily judging them, not thinking the best of them, and not giving them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they will “rise out” and will achieve. You’ve also painted an incredibly limited picture of these people, so much so that anything that they do do to rise out of their personal ashes and achieve potential will be darkened and overshadowed by this stereotype you are eternizing in your efforts to dispel it; that perhaps if they were not underprivileged this wouldn’t be such a feat, or so small, maybe they could even be more – and/or you patronize them: “Wow, look at what that poor, underprivileged person ended up doing after all and despite all odds!” – Yes. YOU are the real racist. YOU are the real cultural-whateverist-that-I-can’t-remember. And YOU are the real one condemning and judging underprivileged people. I hope you know one day that you hurt more people than you help…

c) The product of A and B: it does not make you a better person to sit around and talk about how educated you are on your choice issues and got around trolling others whose stories you don’t even know – and informing them of their ignorance to your petty little concerns. No, what would make you a better person would be to HELP the people you claim to protect with your awareness campaigns. Why don’t you use your privilege, whether you were born into it or gained it with your own self, to help the people you feel so sorry for, if that is the way you truly feel?? Yes, by all means start with feeding the hungry or building houses for the homeless – surely you’ve seen Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where it says people need food and shelter before they can get into things like trying to rise up in the world.

If you are more concerned with those having difficulty with things such as race discrimination, achievement of education (any type of education for whatever reason), sexuality discrimination, that cultural whateverism that I can’t remember the term for right now, then it is no less of a cause to help these folks with your obvious upper hand. I really doubt you can afford to simply pay for someone to get a college education, but that is thinking inside the box anyway, and ultimately maybe paying for everyone to have higher education isn’t going to solve the problem (though that is another rant).

What people – no matter who they are – need is encouragement and hope. What if you spent your whining, limiting-others time to give somebody lacking hope hope?? That is how everyone one of us has gotten to where we are today, because someone has given us encouragement to be ourselves and hope to achieve all we aim for and to rise out of our limitations, whatever they are, and you cannot deny that – unless you’ve been ‘privileged’ enough to never have needed that… which I hate to add, because yes, I am mocking you.

If you really cared enough about these issues, the way you would change them would be to help the people you’re concerned about rather than obnoxiously attempting to change the attitudes of everyone else you are perceiving as hostile towards these people. Don’t fight the symptoms: fight the disease.

I am not writing this because I am more or less qualified to have these thoughts than you. Maybe. I don’t know your whole story and you also do not know mine. I just wanted to take the opportunity to point out the fallacies in your constant arguments and rants on these matters, and I’d like to make sure you understand you are offending, hurting, and even making enemies of more people than you are actually helping. Please consider what I’ve said before you open your mouth to criticize someone’s words or actions again. We’re all just people here.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Soap Box

 

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Hostels and Handshakes

So, this extended weekend (Wednesday through Sunday), I am working with Unschool Adventures on the Asheville Intensive – a program geared to giving college-aged peeps the tools they need to pursue their goals, whether or not that ultimately involves college.  I’m cooking, helping with workshops, and providing general moral support and such.  We are staying in a rad place in downtown Asheville called Sweet Peas Hostel.  It’s a lovely loft-like place that is extra-specially lovely in the mornings.  I snapped this picture yesterday as the sun was pouring in from Lexington:

Quite lovely, isn’t it?  It makes me want to do something.  Or be totally peaceful.  Or paint.  Active peaceful painting.  Yes.

After breakfast, our mornings consist of workshops that build skills such as interacting with awesome people.

In the above picture, Blake – assisted by the lovely Danielle – is demonstrating how to “PASHE” someone – that is, having good Posture, voice Amplification, a Smile, Hands that don’t flop around like fish, and Eye Contact when meeting someone new.

In the afternoon, everyone has time to pursue people to speak to about their relevant and similar goals and interests.  I took it upon myself to stop by the local Master Gardener Cooperative Extension Office to ask the resident Master Gardeners what it was like being a Master Gardener and how I might pursue that myself.

Unfortunately, I must report that the lady I talked to did not seem to be very interested in answering my questions.  Whether it was my age, the way I asked my questions, or just that she felt her completely volunteer position very holy and me unworthy, the brief interview did not go overly well.  Essentially all I got was a lecture about what a dedication it was to be so giving with my time and that I couldn’t use it to get paid (I had researched this already, but she had to tell me at least 17 times, you see) – and a bunch of papers.

Here is a picture of the papers:

However, my failure has only given me more confidence in myself – perhaps I do not want to be a Master Gardener at all – at least, not like that.  I want the knowledge and skills, yes.  But I have never been one to rely on any sort of institution to teach me all I want to know or even just give me credibility that I really feel better just establishing for myself.

And I feel much better about that.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Life Pursuits, Unschooling

 

The Days of Burnsville…

Once upon a time, my friend named Andrew said to me, “Come up to the mountains!  You will love it here and never want to go back home again… you will need to bring all your possessions and all your family and just come up here and stay like me because I fell in love with it and there ain’t no goin’ back for me!”
I didn’t believe him.  I’d fallen in love with many a place with a small desire to stay, but nowhere ever felt like home in the sense that I would almost prefer it to my hometown of Raleigh, NC.
Still, I made plans to give the mountains a chance.  I arranged a work-trade at a fish farm in Burnsville, NC.  I also was able to convince my very good friend Joanna to come along (didn’t take much pulling and tugging).  We arrived to possibly the most beautiful place imaginable, owned by some of the best people imaginable.  Here is our tent:

Here is a boat.  I took it out for a test drive on one of the ponds with their neighbor Linda once.  It was a beautiful afternoon:

There were muscovy ducklings upon our arrival!  (Their coloring and the lighting made this picture hard to get, but I tried):

Then there was Creasy, the resident lovesick goose.  He followed me everywhere, honking all the way.  I am now incredibly interested in goose behavior.

We collected many rocks from the creek for various decorating and masonry projects around the farm: one day I found the teeniest salamander:

One day while cutting down locust trees, Tommy found this grey tree frog.

Oh, and last but not least, I met a boy named Russell who comes to the door of my tent to serenade me with blues music.  Do take notice of the indignant goose in the background.

Suffice to say, Andrew was right: I am very much in love with the mountains.  I don’t want to leave, even as I really want to get back home to friends and family.  My next goals are going to focus on ways to spend, ultimately, half my time at home in Raleigh and half my time up here in the Asheville/Burnsville area.

Stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Animals, Farms and Farming, Photography

 
 
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