I’m lying in bed at my parents’ house in Cleveland. Took a red eye out last night after a concerned call from my dad about my mom’s condition:
“She’s not herself, Kare. She has no energy and just shuffles from the kitchen to the couch and back-again and stares out the window. She does nothing but that all day, and has been drinking iced tea OUT OF THE BOTTLE!”
I just snort-laughed writing that - imagining you all wondering: “what’s the emergency here?”
But for the bits of Mary Patricia (that’s my mom) that I’ve shared with you all, and what you experience as the best parts of me - you couldn’t know that her lack of energy and slight abandonment of couth is akin to an F-5 Sharknado sweeping through the house, and understandably freaking-out my dad.
So I answered said freak-out with a plane flight to assess the situation in-person, accompany my mom to doctor’s appointment, and in general to let them know I’ve got their backs.
Mom is 4’ 10”, 84 pounds on the outside, but a 6’10”, 300 pound, manic hulk (to my dad, anyway) on the inside. Whenever he ‘tries to help’ by adding his objective two-cents in doctors’ appointments, or suggesting/reminding her of… ANYTHING, she reduces this highly decorated naval officer to a recoiling speck.
So for the 2nd time in a month I flew across the country on a budget airline red-eye. But this time I slept, since the gentleman seated next to me shared one of his potent pot gummies!
SQUIRREL WARNING: I gratefully accepted his offer, ate the thing, and started a movie. I don’t even remember thinking to myself “wow, I’m getting tired, I’ll stop the movie and rest my eyes.” I just started the movie, and DOOF! Woke up 5 hours later to: “bbblump, bblump, skreetch, FOOOOOOOOSH.” when the wheels hit the runway.
When I told my Frank about my flight, and the street pharmacist I sat next to, he asked me if my butthole was sore when I woke up. Along with: “Jeez, Kare. You took an edible from a stranger flying a budget (Spirit) airline from LA to Cleveland… any thought that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea?”
Oh yeah. Forgot about that whole “don’t take candy from strangers”– thing… especially if you know for SURE it’s laced with drugs.
The best answer I had was: “what could possibly happen on a plane full of people?” And, “we had a Bloody Mary in the bar while waiting for the flight, and he told me all about his divorce and recent engagement… he seemed cool.”
To which Frank answered: “Lov, you really need to stop taking in strays.” I know he’s right, but I probably won’t.
So there’s the set-up for the place I’m in while writing this, but it really has nothing to do with WHY I’m writing this.
Honestly, I don’t know WHY.
I just need to work something out, and I think if I didn’t write it down, I wouldn’t bother… and something feels too important to not bother.
So congratulations, ya fuckin’ nutters. I want to write you a love letter, about me;)
Where was I? Oh yeah…
So my buddy, Scott, sent me this exquisite message after a group call today (hope it’s ok that I disclose this, Scott…. don’t worry, I’ll leave out the part about the brothel and sex toys) about what he’s seen. He shared about one of THOSE “I AM” moments that are so difficult to put words to – but the beauty of his words, and the sentiment of sharing them, was deeply felt, and aggravating (hang in there with me).
Deeply felt - because I knew of which he spoke. At times I’ve spelunked around in it for days, and whenever I feel I just. don’t. ‘get it.’ I know at least I can go there when I’m walking my dog. For a moment, I feel forever. Thought stops, and my stomach drops on the downhill of a roller coaster to right now. There’s no past, or future, or desire for “what’s next;” and I feel who I believe myself to be bumping up against the boundaries of reality - like I’m about to be told a secret that I’m not quite ready to hear, but I still want to know.
Something like that.
And aggravating - because as soon as I want to know, it goes. And I want to pluck my eyeballs out because I’m convinced that it’s my human sense of sight, that anchors me to this body, that is the thing that limits me from going… juuust a bit further.
And then I get all insecure about not ‘getting it.’ And this douschebag in my head starts to compare, makes me want to stick my tongue out at everyone and call them “lemmings,” and generally just not share my toys or play with any one ever again.
It was kinda like at the gas station last week…
After I dropped the girls off at school, I stopped at the gas station to fill up and buy a pack of cigarettes.
I rekindled the relationship with my 20-friends-in-a-box when we moved house last June.
I hadn’t had a cigarette since 2013. I quit after my youngest daughter, Sofia (6 years old at the time), climbed into bed with me and said:
“Mommy, your boobies look like pickles.”
It wasn’t the pickles that made me quit – but the surgery required to re-inflate said pickles into something that looked more like the fruit of my youth – before the 3 little loves sucked the life out of them.
So I left the closet of my hidden habit for 5 years, and over the summer I walked back in.
It was gradual and almost imperceptible to me – like I was paying attention to too many other things to notice.
The first one was with my friend who helped us move – she offered me one on a break from moving our schizzle into the house – Ooo! That was a nice ‘break.’
And then another ‘3P’ friend was in town and came over to hang and check out the new digs. That was lovely… smoking and wine and laughing while bitching about the world. That night reconnected me with one of my favorite quotes from Kingsley Amis that makes me feel like I’m linking arms with fellow renegades on this life’s journey:
“I enjoy talking to you more than anybody else because I never feel I am giving myself away and so can admit to shady, dishonest, crawling, cowardly, unjust, arrogant, snobbish, lecherous, perverted and generally shameful feelings that I don't want anybody else to know about; but most of all because I am always on the verge of violent laughter when talking to you. If you were here, I keep thinking, we would spend the time in talk and drink and smoke and I should be laughing a lot of the time, and I should be enjoying myself a lot of the time.”
(Yeah. That’s who I want to hang around.)
And then, during the chaos of getting the house settled, kids registered for school, and figuring out WTF to do with them during the days of summer whilst trying to maintain some work hours during all that shit… I bought a box for myself.
Smoking independence! No longer do I have to rely on friends who smoke to visit my house and offer me one!
So there I was at the gas station for the next, last box (this is the last one, again I swear) before I walk out of the closet I’ve been smoking in once again.
And my “Gas Station Guy” - as my kids have named the dude who works at the counter, because I spend an inordinate amount of time talking shit with him - asked me for the first time:
“What do you do?”
And before I could get out an answer, he said:
“Are you JUST a housewife?”
….. (insert shocked Emoji Face Here)
My intellect immediately went to DEFOCON 1 to combat this nuclear attack on my roaring ego. The next words that came out of me were:
“Uh, that’s one of my full-time jobs that I don’t get paid for. But when I’m not doing that, I’m a teacher and a coach and I’ve been a nurse for 22 years…”
(While a voice came from the box of cigarettes on the counter, yelling: “YOU FUCKING HYPOCRITE! TAKE IT BACK! JUST TELL HIM THAT YOUR JUST A HOUSEWIFE AND YOU SMOKE!”)
While that back-of-the-shed-in-my-head beating was going on, the gas station guy pressed on:
“Do you teach meditation?”
And one of the 12 voices of my personality came to the rescue with some bullshit, like:
“I used to meditate a lot. But I what I teach people is how to live life from a place of meditation, rather than having to go to meditation, like going to a drug (insert voice in my head: “OR FUCKING CIGARETTE?”) to quiet your mind.”
I’ve done enough psychedelics in my life to be pretty sure that if I were loaded with some psilocybin in that moment, the box of cigarettes on the counter would’ve busted out laughing at me with the filters morphing into the teeth of Jim Carey’s ‘Fireman Bill.’
The gas-station guy responded (dismissed me):
“You should start meditating again.”
I said “thanks, have a good day.” Vowed to never, EVER go back to that gas station again. Put the cigarettes in my purse, and walked out with a raucous chatter-festival amongst the voices in my head:
“Wow, you’re so full-of-shit even gas station guy can smell it off you.”
“Who does he think he is? ‘Just a Housewife?!’ Dick.”
“I should meditate?? YOU should meditate! Maybe then you wouldn’t be working at a gas station, LOSER!”
“He’s right, you know. You should be meditating more.”
“Yeah, Kare, you’re kind of a loser yourself.”
“Shut up! I know what I’m doing.”
“Yeah, but you smoke. And you’re clients have problems with addiction… isn’t that sort of a problem?”
“I know, you’re right. I’m a loser. I’m so full of shit. Should we see if this gas station is hiring?”
“But seriously, who does he think he is calling you “just a housewife.’”
“Right!?? I’m SO never coming here again. And he said I should meditate! Dick. He’s so much less enlightened than I am.”
“Yeah, but he probably doesn’t smoke.”
Blah-dee-blah-dee-blah, all the way home.
So that whole thing was torture, and a wedge in the Trivial Pursuit Wheel of what I’m struggling about lately (I meant to write “TRIVIA Pursuit,“ but I’m keeping that typo):
WHAT IS TRUE?
I mean. Sometimes I feel I’ve come so far… at least when I’m desperately seeking evidence of my growth in the files of my memory to quell my insecurity:
“Look at you, you winner! You no longer jam your fingers down your throat after each meal, you haven’t killed yourself, you’re fairly kind, and you’ve helped people with chronic illnesses heal by just telling them what you’ve figured out!”
But I don’t buy it. I feel like I’m still wickedly fucked-up.
I mean, last week I said out loud to Frank: “I JUST WANT TO BE DEAD!”
And I didn’t mean I wanted to off myself. I meant: “I just waned to be out of that stuck, hopeless, unworthiness soup.” (And I was really grateful in that moment that Frank just wants to tell anyone who is in the least interested in non-duality: “Get a fucking job.” Because if anyone would have said to me in that moment: “it’s only because you’re experiencing your stuck, hopeless, unworthy thinking,” they would have left the convo without hair or teeth.)
Have you ever seen those clear plastic wheels that people put hamsters in for exercise? It’s a genius blend of cute and cruel, and an apropos illustration of how this whole seeker-thang often feels.
“Where’s the effing hatch on this thing?!”
It’s like I’ve trapped myself in a clear plastic ball made out of the expectations how my life ‘should be’ – and I can see that just on the other side is freedom, if I could only ‘get it’ …if I could KNOW what those enlightened, plastic-hamster-ball-escapees, are on about.
As I’m writing in my wallowing, something is raising it’s hand and wants to be noticed – and it’s breaking my heart… in a good way.
It’s like the feeling when my dad picked me up at the airport (that came through despite my pot edible haze); and when I was making dinner for my parents tonight: I forgot about myself and got lost in the service of feeding them something warm and delicious, while making them laugh about mom graduating from anal-propriety, as evidenced by drinking iced tea out of the bottle.
It’s the feeling of being in flow with their doctors, or the frailties of their age and their ailments, that makes me intuitively address their needs and their vulnerabilities like a champ.
And they feel held. And I feel held, by holding them. And they smile when they have nothing to smile about – because something came through me, for them. And I know that’s why I traveled so far.
Even though I feel lost a lot of the time, I don’t when I’m in service. When I’m being USED for something big enough to lose myself in it.
And even when I feel lost WHILE in service – my lost-ness is IN service when I admit it. When I own it. And it seems to somehow make people feel heard, and less alone.
Maybe my lost-ness IS the thing that helps. Maybe this heartache is what brings other humans back to themselves.
Perhaps the journey isn’t to the other side of the hamster ball, after-all.
Maybe it’s about being a wretched, lost, closet-smoking rascal, trapped on the inside with the people I love. Holding hands together, as we smoosh our lips against the glass and make blow-fish faces, to have a laugh while waiting for what’s TRUE to open the hatch for us.
Maybe just being ‘ok’ with your rascal, IS what opens the to the Divine using you.
It must be. How else could we survive ourselves, unless that was so?
That feels true.
And as I write my final words, there’s a feeling in my chest that I’d call heartache if it wasn’t so sweet.
Maybe this feeling is the ‘Holy Spirit’ I was told about in my youth – but it’s not dressed up as a dove, or the wind, or the burning bush that my pastor preached about from the pulpit.
Maybe it’s so simple that I miss it, all the time. And this feeling of heartache is what it feels like to be loved beyond measure.
Maybe God really doesn’t have a problem with me, and it’s just that I have a problem with God not having a problem with me until I’m perfect…. (Or at least until I don’t smoke.)
I can live with that.
More than that – if the shit of my lost-ness, and not-getting-it-ness adds to the Divine compost of ‘me too,’ where others can grow… in that, I can find buckets of love and tenderness for myself. (well done, you little hamster, you.)
Sure. I’ll go first.
Oh my, God.