Whitley Strieber is now channeling his dead wife Anne and, if you subscribe to Dreamland (the portion of Unknown Country people have to pay for [I almost subscribed years ago!]), you can learn more about her messages from beyond. I can't decide if he's completed his journey to the Cuckoo's Nest, having lost the woman he so clearly adored, or if he's ramped up his charlatan side and decided to steal a little thunder from the likes of John Edward. At any rate, when someone starts claiming that they're talking to the dead, or having the dead talk through them, my respect for them is gravely damaged. I've always supported Whitley Strieber, even when what he's saying borders on kooky. I believe he experienced something and that the Greys were involved. 'Communion' touched me in ways I can't even properly express in written or spoken language. But this "my dead wife is imparting great wisdom through me" schtick is going a bit too far, even for me.
Why do people ask you to pray for them or others who have lost a loved one to death? What good does it do? It’s not going to bring the person back. It won’t comfort any of the living, unless they’re delusional, which may be a good thing. Being delusional during a time of great loss can ease the pain because you’re fucking delusional. But prayer isn’t going to do shit for anyone. God isn’t going to speak to anyone, except for the ones who stopped their meds during this time of grief. It probably doesn’t exist and, in the slim chance it does, it’s too busy inspiring other delusional fuckers to oppress and kill their fellow Earthlings.
Fuck that noise.
How many times did people say to me “I’ll pray for you” after Aunt Tudi died? A lot of them, the Christians and xtians mainly, didn’t even ask for permission. They just told me how it was going to be, whether I liked it or not. Thanks for the support, assholes. I got to where I was pretty aggressive about telling them, “no you won’t. I don’t want your prayers. I don’t want anything like that, and I don’t give you permission to speak to your imaginary friend on my behalf. You’re not my representative. If you were, I’d ask you tell your pal in the sky to go fuck itself.”
Yes, I’m still angry about it. Every time I see someone make a prayer request for someone who’s suffered the death of a friend or family member, it makes me want to take a sledge hammer to anything that will break under the weight of my rage.
I don’t want to hear how everything happens for a reason and that god is good. I didn’t in 2011 and I still don’t. Keep your Wiccan candle-lighting and “in Jesus’ name”’s away from me. I don’t require sitting shiva, nor do I need any petitions to Allah on my behalf. The same goes for any other religion, god, prayer, or rattle-shaking.
Someone has died. No one will ever speak to them again. The ones who feel the pain the most don’t need the condescending clichés that infect our modern grieving process. In my case, and in many others’ if they’d be honest, it just makes things a thousand times worse. When you’re grieving, you don’t hear god. All you hear is the buzzing drone of inconsolability. If you’re too selfish in your personal beliefs to respect that, and still feel compelled to bring a deity into the mix, then fuck you, get out of my life.
Things have been going on, so this may be a bit of an update from Hell, compared to my usually non-updates.
First off, my phone has been on the fritz for who knows how long. It’s not actually the phone, but the Cricket network. I went yesterday to try to sort it, but the folks at the store couldn’t even troubleshoot it, so they had to put in a service order, which means up to 72 more hours of no service.
Since the first of the year, my health has been shite. Recurring migraines with the most vicious nausea I think I’ve ever had, has beaten down my body more than I could have ever imagined. In the past month, I have lost 10 pounds, and spent three days in the hospital, thanks to these fucking headaches. I’m thinner now than I have been since I was 12 years old. It has gotten to the point where I can’t even walk to the bathroom, which is right beside my room, without my having breathing difficulties and a pounding heart. I feel like I am dying.
But, I might get to tick one thing off my bucket list before heading into the Void, if I’m lucky. Jeff Lynne is bringing ELO back to the American stage on September 9th, 10th, and 11th of this year, at the Hollywood Bowl. When it was announced, I emailed a bunch of people with a proposition that, if they could get the tickets, I’d try to arrange us a place to stay. My old high school friend, Andy, has always dreamt of attending a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and he bit. We’re just waiting for the tickets to go on sale, if I can’t finagle them earlier than 1 May. The target day is September 10th, as that’s the best day for Andy. It’s also my birthday, which would be perfect.
Speaking of Jeff Lynne, David Bowie’s unexpected and untimely death made me come to grips with a truth I’ve known for a long time, but never truly verbalised, even to myself. I decided to accept it and to come out, to use the term in a wholly different manner. I wrote Barry Andrews and told him that he was the single most influential individual in my life, more so even than even the godlike Jeff Lynne and JRR Tolkien. I wanted him to know it, in the event either of us kicks the bucket. You should tell people how they affect you before it’s too late. It could be too late in the next five minutes. No one knows what each second will bring. No one.
A few weeks ago, there was a huge shake-up in the format of the Work in Progress that officially made it into a full-fledged novel in the works instead of a collection of short stories. I don’t even know what brought it to mind, guessing it had to be some kind of divine inspiration. The long and short of it, though, is that Flint steals the New Hive’s first - and currently only - relic, Cadmus Pariah’s Harming Tree. The story will revolve around Cadmus hunting down Flint, with possible help from Orphaeus Cygnus, and will include the stories and vignettes I have already written about the Harming Tree. As The Blood Crown was essentially a Vampiric Hope & Crosby Road movie in book form, The Harming Tree will be a bit of a book version of a hunt and chase movie, kind of in the vein of Mad Max: Fury Road and the like. I have asked Barry if he could drum up a photo of his harming tree, which is seen only briefly in the ‘Captain Cook’ video, and is obviously the benign inspiration, despite its name, for Cadmus’ dreadful tool of agony. It would be good to have a very clear image reference as I continue this mad journey into the Darkness. I need to jog his memory, though, as it’s been two or three months since I asked him. I’m sure he’s forgotten, and I keep forgetting to remind him. We are old as fuck.
It would seem that 2016 is sucking rhino balls when it comes to decent people dying, and leaving pieces of shit to horrify us more with every passing day.
In 2009, I took one of a litter of Beagle pups that had been born on a farm. I named him Fitzgerald and, for the few months Aunt Tudi and I had him, he was an absolute joy.
Except for one thing...
On our return from grocery shopping one day, Fitzgerald met us at the car. You may be inclined to think, "So what? That's what dogs do!" But, see, my yard is completely fenced in, thanks to another Beagle in my life, Henry Herman, who ate all the wiring out from under my car. I figured there had to be a hole in the fence somewhere.
I investigated, and found one spot Fitzgerald could squeeze through if he really wanted to. I blocked it off and figured the problem was solved.
It was not.
The next week, coming back from the store, Aunt Tudi and I watched slack-jawed at Fitzgerald bouncing merrily alongside the car, acting like he was herding some nerfs. But I couldn't find anywhere in the fence that was compromised.
A few days later, Janice called to inform me that Fitzgerald was up at her and Uncle Michael's house, and she saw how he was getting out.
Fitzgerald, wee escape artist that we is, or was when he was a pup, was climbing the fence to get out and follow whatever scent he'd caught. He could climb out, but didn't seem as confident trying to climb back in. Not only that, but he was almost guaranteed to be hit by one of the speeding maniacs who lived further down on Paul's Drive or facing a fate worse than car homicide. He could have been taken by people who could sell him to less than reputable labaratories, where he'd be caged, tortured, even mutilated, then usually killed.
The lady who initially told us about the Beagles said that she could take Fitzgerald back. We were assured he'd be living a good farm life with wide open spaces to roam, as that would have been his gig had I not snatched him up in my arms, suffering from full-on Beagle Fever. The last I heard, Fitzgerald is living the good life out in the country. Considering the chaos that life has been since 2011, I'm glad I gave him back.
After Toby passes, assuming he goes before I do, I don't see myself with another dog. My age, living arrangements, and health concerns make it all too clear that bringing another dog "home" would only end in grief and god knows what else when I'm gone. That's not fair to the dog. I don't like the idea of never having another dog in my life, especially if it's a Beagle but, when a decision you make will have bearing on more lives than just your own, it would be beyond unethical to make a pooch believe s/he has found their forever home, then find out their forever home called in dead, having hanged herself from the Cabrillo Bridge with a dog leash.
Looking at the possibility of future adoptions, then looking at the peevish expression on Fitzgerald's face, I am certain I'm making the best decision for everyone who is, or might be, involved or affected in the matter. That said, if anything should happen to me, don't do the flowers thing. And no, I'm not engaging in suicidal ideation. I'm just writing this as though it were a tragic dog drama lauded by the Academy Awards. Anyway, instead of purchasing dead posies for a dead person, give the money to the Beagle Freedom Project. Click their logo seen in this paragraph to learn more about the BFP, the Beagles they have rescued, and their plans to rescue even more as soon as they can.
Even better, this handy-dandy app does not require death for you to get involved right now. In fact, instead of endorsing death on any level, purchasing the Cruelty Cutter will help you save lives and spare others a grim, pain-filled existence.
Sally forth to buy the Beagle Freedom Project's app, Cruelty Cutter, that will allow you to shop cruelty-free, as well as add your voice to the thousands demanding corporations end their unnecessary, immoral, and antiquated research methods.
The app is cheap, but it works like a charm, and the $2.99 you spend to get it will go to help the organisation rescue and rehome Beagles who have spent most, if not their entire lives locked in a cage that's locked in a laboratory.
Do it for Fitzgerald, the pooch who earned his honorary title, The One that Got away!
The other day, I came across this article - and soon found myself in awe of the information the piece provided. It’s an image-heavy article, which means this post will also be image-heavy. I’m not copy-pasting the text, so I strongly suggest clicking this telling image to be taken to the full write-up, especially if you’ve had a breakdown, know someone who has had a breakdown, or you ever fell victim to one of my unexpected, late-night, inexplicable and incoherent ramblings via email, blog commentary, or any other method by which you and I maintain contact.
With each image that applies or have applied to my experience, I will share how it felt for me, if I suffered from the description in the picture. The first one here will show what will be behind the cut, should you decide to read further.
For me, this was not a sudden mindset, but a gradual one. In crises, I was always the one that held things together. I could switch off parts of my brain, and do what I needed to do at that moment in time. At the age of 12, I was the one who gave directions to the paramedics, when my great-grandmother had her massive stroke. Granny was a non-functioning, human-shaped manifestation of panic, and Aunt Tudi was frantically trying to get things ready for when the ambulance arrived to the point where, honestly, she was being a detriment to any progress we might could have had. It was only two days later that the upheaval found me, at which time I became non-functional for a period of time, just a few days. In times of turmoil, I realised I could take care of whatever situation I found myself, then release it all later in private. The only times I ever lost that ability was the night before Granny died in 1993. The doctors told us there was no hope, and she could die at any moment. Since Granny also helped to raise me, having lived with me all my life, I fell to pieces. But the next morning, when she died, I was cool as a cucumber. This was Aunt Tudi's mother, to whom she had been excessively close. This blow to her emotional well-being is something she never quite got over. I was the one who had to make Granny's arrangements, and I did so in a disconnected manner, devoid of bothersome emotions. Things needed to be done, and there was no one but me stepping up. I remember a cousin remarking that I had to be some sort of Vulcan, or just callous as hell.( Click this if you care to continue. )
We would go up to Craggy Dome at least once year to pay our respects to Granny.
The last two times I visited, it was to add Aunt Tudi's ashes to Grannys. I went back up a couple of weeks later, broke my camera, got lost, and finally got back to Janice and Uncle Michael's.
I want to go again. One more time. I need it. The only other place I could imagine being happy to die there is Craggy Gardens in Asheville, NC, and magick that is Avesbury.
Visiting the area from which we scattered Granny's ashes in 1993 seemed to bring a kind of peace to Aunt Tudi. She might have started the journey a little down in the mouth, but crazy music and dangerous coffee took care of all that. And it allowed us to have the fun, I'd like to think Granny would have wanted us to have. The one solemn moment was when Aunt Tudi would retouch the black cross on the stone from which we launched Granny. I could always tell when she needed some alone time. I never thought I'd be making that drive by myself, intent on tracing a Pentagram beside the cross. Aunt Tudi was not a Wiccan or a Pagan, but she grokked it in a way a lot of self-proclaimed Witches are at loss to understand.
I want that sensation of flight and try to spin onto my back like a bag in the wind, so I can face Nature's painting masterpiece and maybe even glimpse the spirits of Aunt Tudi and Granny, as they stand to welcome me after gravity has had its dark way.
I need to go home.
Inspired by listening to Without Real String or Fish, James from Canada (his preferred cognomen) felt compelled to share his thoughts about the mighty “Coelocanth."
Coelocanth: The Last Shriekback Song I Will ever Hear?
So here we are in 2015, and Shriekback have just released their 13th album, Without Real String or Fish. And a most excellent album it is, too: full of the usual Shrieky goodness - clever lyrics and wordplay, groovy basslines, catchy tunes that run the gamut of dark, light, thoughtful, funny and sombre (often at the same time!).
So it is not surprising that while one is feasting on a plate of brand new songs, that one also reflects on a band’s past releases, and how they may have influenced one’s musical tastes, preferences, or - perhaps - one’s life.
In my case, I'd like to look back at one particular song - "Coelocanth" - the atmospheric conclusion to the Oil and Gold LP back in the 80's. I was a teenager back when Oil and Gold was released, and at the time I preferred all the hard-rockin' tunes like "Nemesis" and "Malaria." So while I loved most of the Oil and Gold album, I always thought that "Coelocanth" was a piece of crap. "What the hell is this?" I asked at the time. "Did Shriekback hire Zamfir and his cheesy pan flues to play on this record?** Awful!" As far as I was concerned at the time, Oil and Gold finished with the conclusion of "Hammerheads." And so it went for many years... until Manhunter.
Many Shriekback fans either discovered or re-discovered the band as a result of Michael Mann’s film Manhunter, which featured the Shriek songs “Evaporation,” “This Big Hush,” and “Coelocanth.” For me, when I saw the famous tiger scene in that movie, set to the music of “Coelocanth,” I had a bit of an epiphany. All of a sudden, this song wasn’t a cheesy woodwind “extra” tacked on at the end of Oil and Gold, but something which really penetrated deep down into the soul. I promptly began to listen to “Coelocanth,” and with my ears now finally open (so to speak), I realized just how haunting and beautiful a track it really was.
Back in the late 90’s, I once had a dream about this song. I remember it quite vividly - I was lying on some ocean beach on an alien world, with a huge ringed planet rising in a dark aquamarine sky. I heard “Coelocanth” playing somewhere in the distance, although I knew that I was alone on this planet.
At the time I didn’t give the dream much thought… it was just a cool thing that happened. Well, you can imagine my surprise when several years later, while I was surfing the internet for some new desktop wallpaper for my Mac, I came across this particular image at the Digital Blasphemy website :
This image - minus the palm trees - was almost 100% verbatim what I saw in my dream. It really chilled me to the bone to see my "vision" realized by some person whom I'd never met. Of course, I immediately pulled out Oil and Gold and played “Coelocanth,” and found myself thoroughly captivated by the synergy of sound and image…it was absolutely hypnotic, even magical. I had already grown to appreciate that once-belittled track “Coelocanth,” but from the moment I heard it in conjunction with this image from my dream, it just became so much more.
So why is it that I say “Coelocanth” is “the last Shriekback song I will ever hear?” Well, it may not be, but - and this is where I perhaps get a little morbid and over-the-top for some readers, but bear with me - I have for many years thought that “Coelocanth” would be the perfect “last song” for me. The last song is essentially the soundtrack to one’s end: when you’re on your death-bed, and you know that you’ve only got minutes left to live, but you can pick one piece of music to accompany you as you journey out of this world and into “whatever-lies-beyond.”
For me, “Coelocanth” conjures up many feelings and imagery. The obvious one is that of prehistoric fish moving through the dark depths of an ancient ocean. But I also see strange alien landscapes (as in my dream), or even the infinite depths of outer space, filled with stars and galaxies. Combine all that imagery with the background synths and trickling water samples, and you have a concoction that just soothes the soul in a way that’s hard to explain. This is why I would be quite happy to spend my final moments with this song in my head. It really encompasses, well, just about everything, for me. Not bad for a previously-mocked, little 4 minute atmosphere track at the end of a 30-year old album.
So why all the “deep-thought” and rather mawkish gushing over this old song? Well, for me, it really demonstrates what I (and no doubt many other Shriek fans) love about Shriekback. How their music grows on you over time, and how deeply it can affect you. It’s not surprising that I’ve been a fan of the Shrieks since the 80’s: they’ve consistently delivered amazing and diverse music, and the new Without Real String or Fish album continues this tradition. Hopefully there are many more wonderful albums coming from this talented bunch in the years to come.
©James from Canada
8 March, 2015
**with apologies to any fans of Zamfir. I also heartily recommend Digital Blasphemy’s Desktop Wallpaper site. The worlds that this guy creates with 3d software really go well with the whole Shriekback vibe. “Without real worlds or matter”, I guess!
Someone will tell you the Beatles were overrated. Someone will commit suicide. You will be disappointed, horrified, irritated, aggrieved. And yet you will forge on, swimming against the cold, pitiless tide of culture and clinging to what you first loved in the music and musicians you love. And then you’ll know which ones really mattered all along.
A few minutes ago, I read that Kim Fowley had passed and, once again, my stomach lurched. This has been a very common reaction of mine since I began hearing music from my generation turned into Muzak, relegated to "classics" video programming and Classic Radio, and encountering young people who had no idea how important George Clinton is to the music of their time is or how the woman (Annie Lennox) who co-wrote and sang "Into the West" at the end of The Return of the King broke crucial ground not only musically, but in the areas of gender identification.
As it has been throughout time, all things must pass. And, as I grow older with my generation (the bipolar, apocalyptic, activist Gen X), it is always in the back of my mind that our icons and idols grow older with us. But most of them are 10 to 20 years older, which means that, logically, we'll have to suffer their deaths just as much as we celebrated their contributions to what made us us. So, every time I see a headline that even hints of "rock music legend dead", I get sick to my stomach.
For decades, I have made it no secret that I am going to be a hot mess if Jeff Lynne goes before I do. I told my supervisors at work that I would have to take bereavement leave from work, because I would be no good to anyone, for who knew how long. Over time, others were added to this list of One. And, since I became even more dedicated to my music, as it became my sole refuge from a grief that just refuses to let go, my dread of some promised inevitability clenches at my heart. On 30 December 2014, Jeff Lynne turned 67. Just thinking of him, or anyone else on my list, passing before I do feels like an evisceration.
To be honest, I don't think I'll be able to cope with it.
When I was as young as three years old, I believed without question the existence of god. At four, I began wearing a towel on my head (don't go there with the jokes...), held down by a plastic mixing bowl, to pretend I was a nun. I also attended temple a couple of times with the Mother Unit. I got my first taste of wine there. Mogen David FTW!
At the age of five, in my first grade class, we were all required to recite psalm 23. Since my family was of mixed faith, and not excessively religious (I was probably the most "devout" at that time), I knew no bible verses by heart. I was the only one in my class not to get a silver star by her name. Looking back, this was my first experience with indoctrination in a setting that should have been more in line with the law of separation of church and state. It was mortifying, to say the least. I remember crying all the way home and staying up well past my bedtime to memorise the psalm, but was never called on in school to clear my name as a godless fiend. During this time, I also got it into my head that I wanted to be a preacher.
Aunt Tudi explained to me that I couldn't be nun, because I wasn't Catholic, and female preachers are few and far between, and usually weren't respected or listened to. So that was that.
A few months before my sixth birthday, my family exploded, when the Mother Unit requested a divorce. During this time, a pastor started frequenting the house. He'd take me for rides in the car on occasion, and we'd sing the BINGO song. While he was showing the face of a concerned man of god during this difficult time in the family's life, the family comprising of the Units, Granny, and Aunt Tudi, he was discreetly fleecing anything of worth from an already desperately poor family. I didn't find out that last part until years later, but I had always wondered why he suddenly stopped visiting, especially when I felt I needed him most, after the break-up was finalised and my Father Unit had a nervous breakdown. It turns out he got what he wanted, which was pretty much everything we had had as a family unit.
While I was being verbally terrorised by the Father Unit, as he instructed me to despise the Mother Unit for all she had done, and telling me she had never loved me, otherwise she wouldn't have left, I prayed fervently to a god that never seemed to hear me. I felt adrift. I never felt safe. When I got to see her, Granny would tell me the story of Job, and that all I needed was to hold on to my faith, and eventually everything would be okay.
But it wasn't. I had my home, my neighbourhood, my parents, and my favourite grandmother and aunt taken away from me, until the authorities decided on what to do with me. By the time I was seven, I was living with Aunt Tudi and Granny, in an A-frame chalet in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I still wanted to believe in the existence of a higher power, so I began reading the bible frequently. Aunt Tudi bought me a Rainbow Bible. I still have it...I think.
I remember reading about Gideon in Judges, how he wanted proof of the existence of god, and put the deity to a test. This verse, Judges 6:39, impacted me:
And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
I figured if Gideon could do this, and be answered by god, surely I could too. It was in the bible, so it must be something that was true and could be repeated. I got a dry washcloth and, placing it in the very back of my closet, asked god to let me know he was with me, that he did listen to me, by making the cloth wet by morning.
Morning came, and I rushed to the closet with hope and expectation. The cloth was dry.
I could not bring myself to say there was no god. Atheism is still unthinkable in the Southeast United States, but back in the 70s, the very word itself was an abomination. I could not not believe in god. But I learned a new word - agnostic. From 1975 until 1988, I was an agnostic. That doesn't mean I didn't have spiritual experiences. I had a few throughout my life, like the revelation of Durga at the age of five, and the irrefutable holy feeling upon seeing the beginning of the movie Xanadu, featuring Jeff Lynne's music. Even Star Wars triggered a spiritual reaction in me, which I found out later was a very natural one, considering the use of archetypes and stories older than even our most ancient ancestors.
In 1988, I began studying Wicca. I felt like I'd come home. Here was a spiritual place that you carried within you, a way of life that held everyone (male, female, human, non-human - all life) in a kind of reverence. It renewed my belief in magick and the possibility of a life of wonderment. By 1990, I had become a New Age Fluffy Bunny. By 1992, I was a High Priestess in the Caledonii Tradition. Even though I eventually turned to solitary practice and dropped the Wiccan label, preferring the cognomen of Witch, my faith never faltered.
Until 2011. On August 25th, 2011, I was catapulted into the gravest spiritual crises I'd ever known. It was different this time. I didn't feel as though god/dess was not listening to my prayers; rather, I found I had nothing to say to any deity. If people would ask, I'd nonchalantly say that I was going through a spiritual crisis or that I was a Pagan-leaning agnostic.
Monday will mark the third anniversary of Aunt Tudi's death. When it happened, people wanted to pray for me, or pray with me. They tried to comfort me with praise of god/dess. I felt myself being offended and angry, not just with deity, but also with the people who seemed to crawl out of the woodwork to use my tragedy to turn me to god. On Christmas Eve, I called my Aunt Josephine to wish her a merry Christmas. I was only four months out from losing Aunt Tudi, so the wound was still raw (honestly, it still is). Instead of giving me any sort of comfort in her own way, instead of even wishing me a merry Christmas back, Josephine proceeded to tell me that I needed to get right with god; otherwise, I wouldn't see Aunt Tudi in the afterlife, as she was in heaven, and I was definitely headed for hell. That was the last time I ever talked to her.
Three years on, and where am I as far as my quest for a higher power or my need to commune with deity? In all honesty, I would have to say that I've crossed that line between agnosticism and atheism. With all the horror I see in the world now, I prefer the idea that there is no god as opposed to one that seems to revel in the continuous abject suffering of its creations. I have no patience for any of it, in whatever incarnation people claim it exists. I want no part of it.
Now some may say that this is simply my own version of the descent of the goddess, and they can believe that all they want to. If I've been descending, then this post is the end of my journey, because I don't plan on ascending. There is nothing up there for me.
So yeah, I think it is pretty safe to say that I am an atheist. Looking back on my experiences with the spiritual world, I can see now that it was an inevitability.
If you are seeing this post, you are counted amongst many people who embraced me three years ago this month, as well as all of you who've stuck by me since then. I may be abrasive, contrary, stubborn, and generally unpleasant, but I try to never be ungrateful. So, thank you.
"The most important thing is to say a huge thank you. What an insubstantial way to express something so big, but thank you all the same. Your compassion made the bleakest moment of my life strangely inspiring too.” — Click to continue
I am not in the best of health, physically or mentally. Every day, the thought of what will happen to Toby and Smidgen enter my mind. I have made firm arrangements for them, though.
Toby will stay here with Matt and the Mother Unit. Toby adores Matt, and I believe Matt is coming to genuinely love Toby. They get along fabulously. Toby has never been happier than he is here, what with the plethora of cool scents and the abundance of playtime he and Matt have.
I was thinking of having Smidgen returned to South Carolina to live out her days with Janice and Uncle Michael. Janice really loves Smidgen. But my girl-girl turned 10 a couple of months ago, and I think she may be starting to have some kidney issues (I'm taking her to the vet later on this month). The trip back to SC may prove to be too stressful for her, plus, even though Janice has assured me that Smidgen would remain a house cat, I've seen too many animals end up outside, and many dogs end up in cages out behind the house. Smidgen is too old to end up outside, since she's not used to that. So, when I can, I'm taking Smidge up to meet lyfeinmyhead, and her pooch and kitty, to see how Smidgen interacts with the fur-babies. Smidgen is very laid back. She has never taken issue with any cat or dog. I just want to make sure the cat and dog are amenable to having Smidgen bunk with them, should anything happen to me.
But that's not my sad decision. My sad decision is that, should I outlive Toby and Smidgen, I'm not going to get another pet. It would not be fair to them, if I provide for them a home that they would (I hope) love, then dislocate them from that home in the advent of my death. I'd be bereft, not having a fur-child in my life, but it's selfish of me to take on an animal, who may end up suffering or being "put-down", because I died and left them alone with an uncertain future.
I'll volunteer to help the animals. I'll dogsit and catsit for people, if they need me. But I can't, in all good conscience, possibly add to the suffering of an animal who needs a home. They can all find homes better than the one I would provide. The only exception is, if the Mother Unit and/or Matt arrange for any of the birds to remain with me upon their deaths. I would do that to try to ensure them the life they've always known.
But he told me a few sessions back that, that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to lose control. He wanted me laid bare, so we could build on something healthier for me. He wanted me to do the exact thing I did not want to do.
So, yesterday, late in the afternoon, it was getting dark, and I was preparing to get Toby into the house, which I did. Then I double checked that Smidgen was on her usual throne, my bed. Everything seemed in order.
But then, leaving the beasties in my room, I came back out and began to frantically search. I called out Chester's name two or three times. Matt, who was going up the stairs, stopped and asked me who Chester was. I was kicking myself both emotionally and mentally, but I "manned up" as "they" say, and tried to explain to Matt that Chester was the Yorkie who used to live with Aunt Tudi and me, and later on just me. And I explained to Matt, I had no idea why I looking around so frantically for a dog that had passed just a few weeks before I left for California. Matt found this extremely funny and said something along the lines of "your dead dog won't come, no matter how much you call for him." He was literally guffawing, and called to the Mother Unit what had just happened.
I just turned around, went into my room, and closed and locked the door. And I cried as though my heart would break. It was the first thing I did when I woke up at 2 AM, then later in the morning when I saw Matt.
Dr. Harrington asked how I came to have Chester, and wanted to know how he died. I explained to him about Winston dying in Aunt Tudi's arms when we went to visit him at Dr. Patch's. I've never seen her so attached to a dog, and I wanted her to have the chance to be blessed with such feeling again. I searched the sparse rescue homes in the Upstate, but no joy. I finally found a breeder about 30 miles away from me. Aunt Tudi picked the pup for her, and we spirited the bundle of joy home.
He was Aunt Tudi's xmas and birthday gift that year. As I was trying to tell the doctor everything that had happened, and how devastated I was to first, be stupid enough to call a dog that was no longer alive and second, the scenario turned into fodder for Matt's ridicule.
The entire time I was telling Dr. Harrington this, I was crying as though my heart had broken. And this made me feel even worse, that I was crying so hard over Chester in front of anyone. It was as if I placed more loss and grief over him, than I ever did Aunt Tudi. The doctor asked me if I had ever heard of transferance. Of course I had. The dictionary definition is: Psychoanalysis: the shift of emotions, especially those experienced in childhood, from one person or object to another, especially the transfer of feelings about a parent to an analyst. And he just looked at me for a moment.
"You know where I'm going with this, don't you?"
"That subconsciously placed all my hidden emotions and grief onto a dog that was brought to our home specifically for Aunt Tudi."
He just smiled, and I apologised for bubbling. He reminded me that this was exactly what I needed to do. Well, this made me cry even more. He made it quite apparent that with the one brick of stoicism metaphorically weakened by recent emotional upheaval, we could get down to some brass tacks As he was talking me down, though, he asked why I hated so badly to cry, especially in front of anyone else. I told him that the stock answer for bullying those days was the "sticks and stones" mantra. And if anyone did pick on me, avoid contact and never, ever cry, because the bullying would get worse. I learned to keep my head down, avoid eye contact.
He told me that I've been internalising shit a very early age and now, it's time to purge myself of emotions and grudges, or else I would implode. I told him about the writers' group and the walk around Mission Valley, whatever the hell that is. I'm also going to a writers' group.
We talked a bit more about my rampant misanthropy, and how I could feel like I do, but like individuals. Still, though, we are part of the problem on this planet and, if even one human survived it could well proliferate the virus again. He wanted to how just one person could this. In one word - parthenogenesis. So he asked for clarification about how I want the world to end, that surely I would want to be on the planet, and not have to deal with people any longer. I explained that I wasn't keen saving the planet for myself. I was keen on our species exiting the Terran stage. That we were a bad experiment living in a petrie dish some intern forgot to dispose of.
That's all I can think for now, but it is pretty intense nonetheless. More soonsoon
I go back to him in two weeks.
Just after her death, we started getting "flocks" of hummingbirds around the house. They didn't come in flocks, but there were tons of individual hummingbirds that flitted around our house, almost every minute of every day.
When we went to Craggy Gardens to spread her ashes, a hummingbird came and literally hovered face-to-face with Aunt Tudi. It comforted her in a way none of us ever could. Both of us believed it was Granny's spirit telling us that she was okay.
Aunt Tudi's favourite bird was the Carolina Chickadee, which very often came around our home, especially in the Winter time. This is the second season after her death, and I haven't seen one chickadee. They used frequent our home, and particularly loved the Witch Tree (contorted filbert). I haven't seen one chickadee since her death. I think I would have found comfort in seeing a chickadee just like Aunt Tudi was comforted in the hummingbirds that seemed to gravitate to her.
There has been nothing. I have had no sign whatsoever that Aunt Tudi's spirit is anywhere around me, is watching over me in someway. That's one of many reasons I question the existence of any higher power now. My faith in signs and portents of any sort may well be so deep, I may never recover it. My bear totem seems ridiculous to believe in. The owl spirit I have long honoured and adored seems irretrievable. Any sort of message from the natural world around me is lost on me, I don't see or hear proof of existence.
Perhaps I could have healed just a little if I had been given any sign that her spirit lives on, but I haven't. It sort of makes you think that upon death, there's nothing. Absolutely nothing. And part of me wants to believe in that, because nothing is better than every moment of your life is bereft of hope or meaning.
When she died, people came out of the woodwork, proclaiming Aunt Tudi's deep concern for my slipping into the treacherous grips of Satan. I knew they were lying. If anything, I often defended their right to believe as they wished, because belief can be a powerful and comforting thing. Why burst a bubble when you may need it the most? But that was exactly what these people, whom I had defended were doing to me, using Aunt Tudi's death to convert me to their way of thinking. Do you know what it did? It made me question what little faith I did have in whatever faith I had chosen. I feel like a lifeboat lost at sea, like that old black & white nail-biter that make you wondering whe was gonna get distilled and eaten for the day.
They're lying to me. I know that they're lying to me. I knew Aunt Tudi all too well. They're usuing her death to supposedly save my soul. If selling out the one person I love on this Earth other than than my mama, my soul does not deserve to be saved. I deserve whatever hell is waiting for me. If hell exists, if I took the route these "do-gooders" want me to take, I deserve it and a thousand times more.
I've never had much like for my fellow human. For years, I've hoped the Earth will be saved from the virus that we are. One an even more personal level, I can honestly say I hate my species. And I'm not excluding myself from all this. We're deceptive, opportunistic, and harmful to ourselves and our fellow Earthlings. Jesus Christ taught to turn the other cheek. The man must have been made of nothing but billions of Pink Floydian 'The Wall' cheeks, 'cos he'd have to be turning them forever. I want the Jesus that kicks the money-changers' arses. I want Boadiccea. I want Cailleach. I want NEMESIS.
Every time I've ever forgiven, I've been hurt just that much more. I don't care about forgiveness anymore. I care about getting through until the end of the Mayan Calendar with the hope that that the hype is right and the Earth is left to a much better species than we shall ever hope to be.
I don't know if all this is gonna end up getting me committed. Surely, I'm not the only one who feels betrayed by everyone and everything in my life. I lost my best friend last year and now everyeone is telling me to get over it. I live in a house I hate in a state I completely despise, with an aversion to crying, yet finding myself doing so in public. I want to abandon everything and just hit the road to nowhere.
Maybe I'll meet Ozzy Osbourne.
In the few minutes I was gone from the house, my frail and brave feline had lain down on the floor and succumbed to the spirit of death that seems to permeate this house.
So I am now down to four animals.
Steve hit me hard, though. I tried so many things to make sure his health was at least marginal. He was born with feline herpes and was almost blinded by it. He would have outbreaks every few months that demanded antibiotics. In fact, he had just ended a regiment of the medicine only two days before. I knew he wouldn't live as long as the other cats, but to lose him this way was just very sad.
Diane let me come spend the night at her house last night. I may do the same tonight as well.
Approximately a month ago, I attempted suicide. I couldn't deal with being alone and so very lonely anymore, and watching in my mind's eye Aunt Tudi dieing as I held her hand. Her eyes were so blank and she didn't grasp my fingers in reciprocation at all. She was gone in less than five minutes, but every second of that moment was branded into my mind. Every time I closed my eyes...no, I didn't have to close my eyes...I saw her lying there...dieing. One night, I couldn't take it anymore, hearing her voice and seeing her die, over and over and over. I had only taken three of my Ativan, but on that dark night, the void took my beyond my natural reasoning, and I swallowed 87, the rest of the bottle, all at once. Two days later, I woke up in an urgent care facility that promptly escorted me to Carolina Behavioral Health, a psychiatric hospital. I spent a week and a day there, learning coping skills on how to overcome my loss. I also was placed in drug counseling because of the way I attempted to kill myself. The psychiatric to whom I was assigned surmised that I may be suffering from PTSD, and he explained that some people, especially those who were so attached to the person who passed away, went beyond simple grief and fell into the despereate realm of post traumatic stress and unbelievable depression. He changed all of my meds and prescribed me new ones. I had to see a judge before they would release me from the hospital. But I left feeling much better, with a large list of grief support groups where I could find some solace with those who were going through the same thing I'm enduring. I made some friends there and, thanks to Ambien, I was able to sleep at night and not be in a phantasmic state, reliving Aunt Tudi's last breath over and over and over. I learned how to deal with the guilt of all the things I could have done for Aunt Tudi and all the things I did that I shouldn't have, making her bereft and worrisome. I haven't found a support group yet, but I'm no longer suicidal, although I experience moments of indescibible pain and loss, so all-encompassing that it's almost tangible. My entire body aches from it and I cannot stop the tears that come, pouring from my eyes like a fountain. Never have I cried so often and so hard and unstoppable. Toby tries to comfort me during these incidents, and Smidgen is attached to me almost 24/7, face to face with me, purring in an attempt to stay my grief. So many nights I have fallen asleep hugging my beloved cat as she purrs me into unconsciousness. As always, Chester doesn't give one tiddly bit. He's too old and tired to be bothered with my neurosis, and I really can't blame him. I'm still in recovery and the doctor said I may be in the grieving process for a very long time, considering how close Aunt Tudi and I were. He suggested that I tell people who try to make me get over the whole thing, that everyone grieves differently and that I needed support, not a sermon and not judgement. I've already had to do that with Uncle Michael, and he has changed his tune and simply loves me as I go through this process. I don't want to end up in the hospital again, although they supplied me with amazing food and chocolate milk. It was there that my appetite was jump-started. I gained some weight while I was there, from 202 to 216. I felt like an utter pig, but I didn't care. I've attempted to maintain my appetite and my family doctor suggested that I start a regimen of multi-vitamins and nutrition drinks, just to build my strength back, so I wouldn't be falling all over the place.
When I came home though, all gung-ho to apply what I had learnt, I was told that Aloysius, Aunt Tud's cat, may have been hit by a car and he ran into the woods. I walked into the edge of the forest where Janice said she had found a cat, but was unsure it was Al, and I discovered, to my grief-stricken heart, that it was indeed Al. That took the wind out of my sails, and I found myself isolating once again, lying on the couch in the dark, watching Gordon Ramsay and Law & Order. One night, after not eating all day, I fell backwards hard, and broke Aunt Tudi's happy face table. I also ripped my right great toenail partially out, and had to go to a foot doctor to have it removed. But it was like everything that belonged to Aunt Tudi is either dieing or being destroyed. I'm at a loss for words how distressing this is. But I'm muddling through it, and actually cleaned the house for the first time since August 25th. I also caught up on the laundry and the dishes. I did all this in one day, and felt like I was gonna go mad from all the work I'd done. I'm not a domestic person, and I'm lazy to boot, so this was a monumental achievement. I've marked the weekend as the time I will clean house. I must get organised.
Today I went to my orthopaedist for the first time since 2008. He reviewed my x-rays and examined my knees. Then he told me that, even though it was preferable to wait until the age 50 to have a knee replacement, I could not wait that long with the horror that is my left knee. He's going to schedule me for the surgery as soon as possible next year. This came as such a relief to me, as I have been in horrible pain with my knees for years, wishing I'd get to 50 without screaming myself to death. Right now, Dr. Keith is my very best friend, my ultimate hero.
Since the death of Aunt Tudi, I have been unable to write. This is the primary reason my journal has not been updated for so long. There was so much I wanted to say, but the words eluded me. This frustration only added to my distress. It didn't help when I found out that one of my favourite authors and writing influences had recently passed away. 2011 has been a bitch and only makes me hope that 2012 brings the Alpaca Lips, so I can reunite with Aunt Tudi and Granny, and all the animals that passed away over the years. I know that sounds like I have a death wish, but I assure you; I'm not going to do anything stupid like what I attempted last month. It's not my place to take my own life when it's obvious I'm supposed to remain here. The medical staff all said that I was lucky to be alive, and I took this as a message from the Goddess and God that I'm to remain alive until they say it's time to cross over. To be honest, I really want to hang around to see the end of the world, if that's what is going to happen on 21 December, 2012. And so I linger and cope with this crippling grief the best I can.
I've gotten three holiday cards so far, and I want to thank popfiend, beechelfromhell, and gunslingaaahhh for their generous cards. Unfortunately, I'm unable to reciprocate because I haven't bought one thing for the horribleday season. I'm officially boycotting it this year, and that seems very logical to me, given the circumstances. gunslingaaahhh's letter in her card made me cry. It's exactly what I needed at that moment. I love you all, all my online friends, my Tribe, my Ka-tet. Thank you for being my friends. Your love passes through all the Internet cables and satellites, comforting me in a way I'm incapable of putting into words. You're one of the reasons I'm glad the Ativan didn't do its job.
I promise I will try to update the Cliffs of Insanity more often. Perhaps forcing myself to write about anything and everything here, even if it's shite, will be therapeutic. One can only hope.
Upon my return, I found crosses etched all over the stone that marked where we scattered Aunt Tudi's ashes. I hid my hurt and rage at this, since Aunt Tudi was most definitely not an xtian, so I asked for the scissors Janice used to etch the crossed into the stone, and I carved a Pentagram and a Triskele into the stone in amongst the crosses. This would balance out the variety of faiths to which Aunt Tudi had been exposed and the bits of each religious tenet she took with her and found relevant to her own path. If I could have remembered it, I would have etched the symbol for the Unitarian Universalist Church on the stone because, if she were anything, it was that to which she was closest. I'm going to get that symbol and return to the stone to etch it into the rock for her, because that church was very important to her.
I thank Lady Neith for that and I always will.
After the scattering and before the Faery walk, we all said something in Aunt Tudi's honour. Little Michael and I were the last to speak. He offered up prayer to the xtian God, then I spoke of mine and Aunt Tudi's relationship, her system of belief, and then I recited "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" by Mary E. Frye. I handled it all pretty well and hugged tightly those who lost it, especially Blake, who had always been very close to Aunt Tudi.
I'm spending the night at home tonight, by myself. The spirit of Aunt Tudi is with me and I don't feel so terribly haunted and wounded. A strange peace has settled over me for right now, like I'm blanketed by the Goddess and she is coming to me in the form of Aunt Tudi. I'm going to stay here on the love seat and watch TV until I fall asleep and then, tomorrow, I'm going to a cookout with the family after I try to get the house in order. It's been almost two weeks now since anything has been done, and the house looks like a pipe bomb has gone off in it.
It's time to get myself together and get ready to leave for a while to help in the healing and to reunite with loved ones I have not seen in much too long a time.