Category Archives: life

dying and living and sleeping and waking

i feel as if my soul is dying a slow painful death and taking my body down with it. or vice versa. either way, i’m dying a slow painful death, or at least it feels that way monday through friday, from approximately 8am to 430pm.

i remember about a year ago, i was so happy to have gotten this position with my current employer. this current position started out paying more than what i earned at the last library i worked at, plus i thought it would build on the foundation i had created at the other job.  and truthfully, in some ways it has. i have learned a lot at this job, especially in areas of web development, and the intricacies of interlibrary loan and copyright law. this knowledge is something i may be able to take with me wherever i go next. (and i am going, somewhere, but that will be the subject of another post.)

and yet, today my work consisted of comparing a printed out list with the contents of a database. basically, this is bullshit work, as far as i’m concerned. much of the work i do in this position is bullshit work. i spend most of my days moving bytes of ‘info’ from one computer to another, in an ‘industry’ i’m feeling less and less respect for with each day that goes by.

there is so much real work to be done in the world, and i’m feeling as though my soul and mind are wasting away. just today i finished reading derrick jensen’s dreams, which is an amazing, amazing book,  and has made one hell of an impression on my psyche. one thing this book has inadvertently done is made glaringly obvious to me all the ways in which my job, and current way of life, are 1. bullshit,  2. pointless, and 3. evil. yes, evil. the building i work in is located next to, and affiliated with, a vivisection lab. plus, there’s this whole morality, or lack of, in the medical-pharmaceutical industry, a morality that revolves around little more than making money. it seems the purpose of the medical-pharmaceutical industry is not to get people healthy, but to keep them sick yet somewhat functional, and dependent on the industry. sadly, the work i do in an academic medical library supports this paradigm.

meanwhile, this country is literally on the verge of financial collapse, and this planet is on the verge of a far worse collapse. if it isn’t too late, i want to do something about the latter, at least in my little corner of the world, but am not doing a damn thing, other than going to and from my little cubicle every day like a good little serf. other than the plants in my cubicle, the closest i am to nature most work days is the contact made with all the paper i waste (although we do recycle – what good little stewards of the planet we are), paper that used to be in a forest somewhere. as of now, i’m still contributing to the problem (if you could call the planet dying simply a ‘problem’), and i want to do something different from that. i want something where i’m giving back instead of calling myself environmentally conscious while working a job that is in conflict with my soul, just so i don’t have to worry so much about keeping a roof over my head and sallie mae off my back. dreams has touched off an awakening in me where i want to work towards what is important and real. and these are all things i’ve thought about before, but jensen’s book about intangibles has shown me what is real and necessary and urgent. i won’t go into all that now because i do plan to write a fitting review of dreams sometime in the next couple of weeks. for now,  i’ll just say that this book is something of a catalyst for me and the upcoming changes i’m planning to make in my life. yes, i’ve known all along that collapse is imminent, and even if it isn’t ‘imminent’, it is going to happen probably in my lifetime (which i guess would make it somewhat imminent), and sooner would be better than later. it’s helped me to realize that maybe now is the time for me to extricate myself from this system, which i am in the slow process of doing. (also, more thoughts on this extrication in future posts.)

are you happy with the work you do (whether it’s paid or unpaid)? are you contributing to the demise of this planet or to the demise of civilization? (those ideas are opposites, believe it or not.) whom do you serve, Life or Death?

the opposite of fear

earlier this evening i had a friend ask if i was afraid of dying. i told him that i’d like to think i’m not. then i paused and said, i’m not afraid of dying; i’m afraid of not having lived.

love note to self: the opposite of fearing (i.e., being afraid) is loving. now do something with this.

same shit different year?

what a difference a year makes, right? 52 weeks ago today i moved out of what had been a cute little house i had shared with someone who at one time had been one of my best friends. i was moving into a temporary situation where i was to sleep on my sister’s couch, with my cat who didn’t like other cats (of which my sister had three), working 15-20 hours a week at the b&n with the possibility of a second job on the horizon, but not certain. even if the second job came to pass (which it did), it was only seasonal work, and i had no idea what was going to happen once the season was over. my plan for spring/summer 2010 was to find a room rental that was month-to-month and would allow me to keep my cat. at the end of the season, if i didn’t have a ‘real’ job, i’d pack everything and go to new orleans and see what happened. fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it), in a relatively short amount of time i got a ‘real’ job (with benefits and everything! please note the sarcasm attached…) with the state of kansas and was able to move back to kansas city.

so things have gone relatively well since my return to the city. i have a decent job in a medical academic library, and my current living situation i couldn’t have planned better if i tried. (actually, during a reading with my psychic last year shortly after my move, she told me that i had ‘created’ this ideal situation in my head, and made it happen, something she said i have a real ability to do. hmmm.)

on the surface, it all seems pretty sweet. i basically could work this current job until retirement (20-25 years!), after which i’d have a nice pension, and in the meantime, i could buy a cute little house in the volker neighborhood, and live happily ever after, maybe as part of a happy couple, maybe as a single old maid librarian-ish person with a bunch of plants and cats. point is, most people would look at my current situation and tell me i’m set. hell, if i were a normal person, i’d think i was set.

last weekend, talking on the phone with one of my best friends, i told her that i was thinking of doing all that, buying a house and settling down. her initial response was, ‘you want to spend the rest of your life in kansas city?’ when she put it that way, well, um, no. and that question and answer have been gnawing at me all this past week. i mean, it even kinda had before, but i had pushed my doubts under the rug. i figured i could buy a house here, and ‘bloom where i’m planted’, literally and figuratively. a cute little fixer-upper with a decent sized backyard would provide me with the space to do the urban farming thing, and i could work full-time to keep the roof over my head. never mind that i have hated the past two winters here, swearing that i needed to live somewhere warmer (new orleans?). never mind that while i do have friends here, finding freedom-loving sustainability-minded integrally-informed people with decent taste in music (no lady gaga allowed!) here in the nation’s breadbasket hasn’t been easy. never mind the fact that even though i have a good job, it has its pitfalls, namely that there are days where maybe i do 2 hours’ worth of work in an 8 hour day, and those two hours (or four or seven, but never eight) consist basically of my moving bytes of information from one computer to another. and i tell myself that i’m helping out society by giving current and future medical professionals the information they need to help people get healthy, but most of the information i’m moving about is nothing more than folks with a bunch of letters behind their names spouting conventional wisdom, and you can look in any doctor’s office waiting room, or even just take a look at people walking down the street, and you will see how far conventional wisdom has taken us. but i digress…

a couple of weekends ago, my roommate had a birthday party at which one of the guests included a professional psychic. after most of the guests had left, he gave readings for the few of us that remained. in my reading, i got several major arcana cards, which are the cards that indicate major life changes. (the 56 card tarot deck contains 22 major arcana cards. i drew six of them out of the ten cards contained in the celtic cross spread.) the cards i drew included the wheel of fortune, which the psychic told me indicated that something very good was about to ‘fall into my lap’; the magician, which he said indicated that my powers of manifesting were very strong, and i was good at getting what i wished for (which kinda backs up what my regular psychic said last year); justice, which he said indicated that i needed to take advantage of this upcoming opportunity because i passed it by in a previous lifetime; also, the hermit, the hierophant, and the lovers (reversed, which is just my luck) were pulled.

so, what does it all mean? even though i’m more settled down and things seem more stable this year, is it a case of same shit different year? maybe this current job is a temporary situation designed to get my feet firmly planted on the ground before making the next move. but what is that next move? i still want the little homestead where i’m raising veggies and chickens and making my own soap and knitting in front of the fireplace in the winter (some place where it’s not snowing every other day), and if i *must* work a regular job, it’s only for 20 hours a week, preferably in a library setting; otherwise i also make a little money writing about whatever it is i’m doing. i think some really bad shit is about to go down over the next few years, on a planetary scale, and there’s no reason to believe that the united states will be spared any of what might happen.  i don’t want to get all doom-and-gloom, but i think the ‘little homestead’, whether urban or rural, will be the best way to protect myself and whoever happens to be around it with me (because another piece of this puzzle is that i don’t want to do this alone). really, i’m not doing this for that reason, i genuinely love the idea of raising my own food and taking care of my own needs (whether by growing it myself or through barter/trade/etc. with others), and being more in tune with nature’s cycles, and more in tune with other people, and with reality. but there are definitely practical reasons why i’m interested in all this too. so we shall see. as i try to do with all matters, i put all this in the universe’s hands, and wait to see what happens next…

speaking with authority

‘it is not enough these days to simply question authority; you got to speak with it too.’

i love this video/poem! i think that the way people speak is symptomatic of much of what is wrong with this culture. if we want to be taken seriously, to be serious catalysts for change (and it doesn’t matter what needs changing), we need to learn to speak with conviction and to stand behind what we believe to be true, even if it’s not the popular thing. myself included.

more f*ckery

(yeah, as far as nablopomo goes, i’m out. i hope i’m not making excuses here, but i sit in front of a computer every day for at least 7+ hours. i don’t want to come home and turn on a computer and be forced to write in the evenings after staring at a screen all day.)

continuing in the spirit of my last post on the word ‘fuck’, i’m going to repost something i wrote back in 2006 on my now defunct blog ‘books music food’ formerly hosted by bloglines. it’s mostly something of a treatise on the use and misuse of the f-word, and how it loses its meaning if it’s continually used (and i guess i’m at the risk of doing something similar here…).

fucking for dummies

I have a friend who has read my blog and made the comment that I am ‘brave’ because I used the ‘f word’ in a public forum where it could be read by anyone.  I’ve thought a lot about his comment (incidentally he made several other comments about my blogging that were quite complementary) and realized that I disagreed with him (on this one comment only).  Saying the word ‘fuck’, or many of its variations, in public is no sign of bravery; indeed the brave thing is to be able to converse with another person without using it.  In my travels throughout a typical day, whether it’s on the city bus, in the grocery store, being around loved ones, or complete strangers, it’s a rare occasion where I can go without hearing the words fuck, fucked, fucking, motherfucker, or a poor excuse for an euphemism, such as freakin’, flippin’, frickin’ (these usually uttered by an adolescent whose parent is somewhere nearby).  Thankfully I’m in a workplace where some sort of professionalism prevails, but otherwise I feel like my poor little virgin ears (sarcasm) are assailed most places I go.

Trust me, I’m not a prude and I can throw about the f-word with the best of them.  In a heated moment (and define heated however you wish), I can and will introduce the word into a given situation as warranted.  A good percentage of the music I listen to and the fiction I read (and the nonfiction for that matter) has a noticeable presence of the word.  However, I truly believe there is a time and place for everything, and that includes profanity.  It seems to me that a definite downside about excessive use of this word is that it loses meaning when heard and used all the time.  I know people who literally will use the word ‘fucking’ at least one time per sentence.  (I’ve heard sentences like, ‘I fuckin’ hope it don’t fuckin’ rain again to-fuckin’-day.)  So how is one to know if you are truly upset about something or need to make a significant point if you are constantly fucking up your sentences with this word?

Also, excessive use of the word shows me that you really don’t have anything worthwhile to say, so you’re just filling up spaces between your meaningless words.  Instead you are making yourself look low-class and just plain trashy, with a minimal education and vocabulary, even if you have an advanced degree.

I do understand the need and place for the word; all I ask is that people only say it when they really mean it.  And if you take issue with anything that’s been said on this topic, please, go fuck yourself.  (Just kidding…)

On a related note, I have another friend who is currently living in Ireland.  She recently told me of a milder version of the word fuck, ‘feck’, that people use in pretty much the same way as fuck, except the meaning is not so intense.  So I’ve been amusing myself and others (getting on other’s nerves is probably more like it) by using it in conversation on occasion.

In completely unrelated stuff, here is what I’m currently reading: Collected Fictions by Jorge Borges, The Middle Mind: Why Americans Can’t Think for Themselves by Curtis White, and still working on The Devil Never Sleeps by Codrescu.  I’m also trying to listen to a 3 cd lecture by writer, activist, and anarchist Derrick Jensen entitled The Other Side of Darkness, where Jensen discusses injustice and what humans are doing to the planet and each other.  The only problem is that these days I don’t have time to listen, but I guess I need to find it somewhere, because he’s incredible.  I would recommend to anyone a couple of books of his, The Culture of Make-Believe (on how Americans are in denial about racism) and A Language Older Than Words (about his experiences with child abuse and how those experiences really are a metaphor for what western civilization is doing to the planet).  He doesn’t really give answers in these books, both of which are rather lengthy, but that’s one problem with Americans; we always seem to look to other people to solve our problems, instead of looking at what we can do to begin to fix things.  (But now I’m digressing…)  On the other hand, according to Jensen, he thinks it’s too late and we’re fucked no matter what we do.  Whether you agree with that or not, I think Jensen gives a much needed dose of reality and would be well worth an investment of time.


a stupid little facebook quiz

(yeah, i know i’ve been gone for a few months. i’m going to ignore that fact and proceed with this like i’ve been blogging faithfully every day. by the way, i’m living in the kansas city area again, on the kansas side this time. we’ll get into the how and why that happened in future posts.)

just for fun i took this little (well, not so little – it was 50 questions) quiz on facebook, one that calculates a person’s autism spectrum quotient. the questions were of the variety where one is forced to pick a response, requiring that you choose whether you agree or disagree with various statements. a normal score for a female is 15, and for a male, 17. people with high functioning autism or asperger’s syndrome score at about a 35. my score was a 34.

granted, one could say that, it being a quiz on facebook of all places, it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. plus, just because of the way i move through life, i knew i wasn’t going to score a 15. and, the questions were weighted heavily towards math, and social skills. still, such a high score came as kind of a shock to me. at the same time, it makes perfect sense, again looking at the way i’ve moved through life.

i don’t remember much about my childhood. rather, how i remember it is not through specific experiences so much, but as an overall feeling of being different, of always being on the outside. (at this point, i really wish my mother were still alive so i could ask her a whole bunch of questions about my behaviors during my first 10 years or so.) i went to speech therapy around the age of four, because although apparently i was developing normally in most areas, i wasn’t talking. i just wouldn’t talk, but apparently whatever therapy i underwent worked. and, i don’t know this, i’m just surmising, but i guess things were okay until i entered school.

actually what i remember of first grade was fine. i do remember getting in trouble for stuff like stealing a math workbook to take home and completing the entire workbook in a weekend, or getting a zero on a penmanship assignment because i stuck curly-cues at the end of each of my letters, or writing a dirty letter to this boy that i liked (‘dear d—–, do it to me. love, gail.’ seriously.). second grade was when my troubles began. after being in there for only a month, i was promoted to third grade, because the work i was doing presented no challenge. third grade was when the teasing and bullying began. i was an immediate target because of being moved up a grade, which supposedly meant i thought i was smarter and therefore better than everyone else. it got to the point where sometimes i would deliberately not do homework or do poorly on tests/assignments just so the other kids could see that i was ‘normal’, just like them. but it didn’t really matter. the die had been cast.

fortunately, in a number of ways, the school system in sedalia finally became desegregated my 4th grade year, and i went to a new school, which had the potential to be a new beginning. i made lots of new friends there, many of whom were white, something new for me at that time. however, some of the kids also came to this new school from the old school, and continued making fun of me, but now for an additional reason: they thought i acted white. part of it was the way i talked (very proper/’white’ – which actually happens to be a symptom of asperger’s) and part of it was that i continued to do well in school (except when i deliberately didn’t). then some of the ‘popular’ white kids got in on the act, and it was done. i spent much of my time in junior high and high school avoiding certain hallways and people simply because i didn’t want to be teased. i got made fun of because of my good grades and because people knew i wouldn’t respond to their teasing, other than to maybe run off crying. yes, i did have a few friends throughout this time, but i was always on the outside looking in. those friendships were genuine (and some have since been renewed through facebook), but at the same time, there were far too many people who were nice to me only because i would let them copy off of my tests (and i let them, because i wanted to be liked and this was the only way i knew how).

during high school, i was involved in a few extra-curricular activities like choir and yearbook staff. otherwise i didn’t really have a social life. i didn’t go to parties, didn’t go to a single dance, and didn’t even go to the school-wide party the night of graduation. it was too intimidating a thought to even consider. i knew that if i did attend such events, i’d be the one standing near the wall all night, or the one someone would play a practical joke on. it was better to just stay home and read a book.

going away to college at mizzou was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. (although, i must insert here that i did a really stupid thing my senior year in high school. i turned down a full scholarship to the university of chicago because it was ‘too far away from home’. and my mother let me. damn damn damn damn damn.) it got me into a new environment, where i could truly start over. i made a whole new set of friends who knew nothing about my past, and began to learn to socially interact. i was also introduced to alcohol and drugs, which were significant aids in my social education. i actually learned to interact so well that i stopped attending class and flunked out my second semester (but eventually did go back and complete a degree, after a few semesters at sfcc).

since that time and beyond, i think i’ve learned to appear ‘normal’ for the most part. but i don’t feel normal. i still have trouble looking people in the eye, especially those i don’t know well, and in certain social situations, i don’t know how i’m supposed to be or what i’m supposed to do, or at what point in the conversation do i say something. more often than i’d like, people wonder why i’m so quiet, and i know that some people do see me as being stuck up (which is so not true) or aloof. i would like to think that people are pleasantly surprised once they get to know me, that i’m really actually a pretty interesting person who has a lot to offer in a relationship, whether it’s business, friendship, or romantic. it helps that when i’m in social situations and drinking, i tend to be a happy drunk, for the most part, although surprisingly, i’m not an alcoholic. (um, my addiction is sugar.) i’m everybody’s friend when i’m drinking, but that doesn’t happen that often (which is probably a good thing). i realize that, overall, i’m a really hard person to get to know, especially in a face-to-face environment. i really do try to work around it, but at the same time, i’ve accepted all this and can live it.

which is why i don’t understand why the results of this autism spectrum quiz mean so much to me. but they do. it gives this all a label (although i’m typically anti-label, i think this can be an exception, as long as it’s not used as a crutch) and helps to make sense of why i behave in certain ways, why i feel the way i do in certain situations. i’m okay with going out to bars and to live shows, etc. (i even went to woodstock 99 and was fine there, as long as i was at the edge of the crowds), but i still am quite uncomfortable in crowds. i hate going to stores like wal-mart (not just because it’s wal-mart, although yes, their ethics are a part of my hatred) because i always feel so raw and exposed and annoyed by the end of the trip. my idea of a vacation from hell would be a trip to disneyland or disney world. this label explains all that and tells me it’s okay. it also explains why i may seem quirky and aloof to people who don’t know me well (or even to people who do).

i wish i could be ‘normal’ and know how to interact with people, without feeling freakish, but that’s not going to happen. that fact is illustrated to me every day during my daily commute, just by how i interact and try to avoid interacting with most people on the bus. it is a small comfort to know that there is some sort of reason i’m like this, but what to do about it is the big question. in most situations i do appear normal, and am able to fake it, to some degree. however i would like to be able to interact with people without it feeling forced. i suppose the next logical step would be for me to see a psychologist, to get some sort of diagnosis. as i work at an academic medical center, how hard could that be? today it seems pretty dang hard. i’ve been looking at a few sites having to do with adult asperger’s and hopefully they can help give me some insight as to what comes next.

what are the main symptoms of asperger’s syndrome in adults?

wrong planet – autism community

asperger’s disorder

when you find a fork in the road, take it

today i understand clearly, perhaps for the first time, that i will likely never again hold the type of job that is coveted by most job-seekers: the full-time position with medical benefits, paid vacay, paid sick days, and all those other little perks that come along with being a wage slave. it just isn’t going to happen for me. part of that is simply a function of the current economic climate. there are people in my town with masters and doctoral degrees competing with one another for retail and service-oriented jobs. (my degrees are in art and religious studies; seriously, other than teaching, what other job would i qualify for but retail?) to even get an interview at the local university is considered to be a major coup (a coup that i managed to achieve once but didn’t make it past the interview). so it seems that i have no choice in the matter.

yet, because of the lifestyle i ultimately want to live, it is a choice i’m making, a choice to end the futility but also a choice to consciously live a life more aligned with my values. and yeah, it’s obviously also a choice born of necessity. if i still held my last position at kcpl, i would hold onto it indefinitely, especially knowing what i know now, but you know what they say about hindsight. still, as i planned for library school and my eventual career as a professional librarian, part of the plan was that i’d also do this urban farm woman thing. i’d work a few years as a full-time librarian in an academic library to save up for a little fixer-upper bungalow. once i got the homestead into decent shape, i’d slip into part-time work (in this fantasy, i’m not alone; i have a significant other) and raise veggies and chickens and knit and preserve food and teach other people about these things and live happily ever after. well, i think we’re gonna have to skip over the full-time librarian part. therefore it’s gonna take a little longer than planned for the fixer-upper bungalow, but that’s okay for now. i don’t necessarily need to own a place to start growing veggies, etc. i just need the will and a few seeds and some dirt and a windowsill, and i’m in business.

what i do need immediately is a place to keep myself warm, dry, and fed, and yesterday i may have gotten some good news toward that end. i don’t want to jinx it so i won’t go into details just yet. however, if it works out i should be able to afford to volunteer at the integral theory conference in late july, plus save up enough money for a fresh start in the fall. i’ll either go back to kc, or who knows, i could end up in the big easy. meanwhile, this summer i’ll work my ass off and will work towards getting a freelance writing/editing gig set up via elance.com.

for the first time in days, i see a light at the end of the tunnel. i just hope that light isn’t a train coming at me!