this week in god

remember stephen colbert’s occasional segment on the daily show called “this week in god”? here’s some stuff:

Tuesday, January 16
*Memorial of Shinran Shonin – Buddhism
Anniversary of the death in 1263 C.E. of the founder of the Jōdo Shinshu (True Pure Land) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism in Japan.

Thursday, January 18
*Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins – Christianity

Friday, January 19
*Sultán – Bahá’í
The first day of Sultán (Sovereignty), the seventeenth month of the Bahá’í year.

Sunday, January 21
*World Religion Day – Bahá’í
A celebration of the teachings of unity found in all religious traditions. The observance begins at sundown.

Sunday quote

“What kills a soul? Exhaustion, secret keeping, image management. And what brings a soul back from the dead? Honesty, connection, grace.” — Shauna Niequist


saw my sufi teacher yesterday. yet again the things that have been speaking to me were confirmed; i need to start with myself before i can help others. i have this huge need to give but i don’t know what and i don’t know where, and the thing really is, what do i have to give? i gotta develop it first.

secure your own mask before assisting others.

changing one’s framework and point of view is the first order of business. you don’t HAVE to view the world in a negative light. you CHOOSE to, and you can equally choose not to.

i need some sort of coherent spiritual community. the sufis i hang around with have zikr once a month but other than that you sorta have to initiate contact if you wanna talk to anybody, we aren’t in regular communication with each other. i think i need to visit the church of conscious harmony on sunday. sunday church, argh. but this is not a regular church by any means. it’s a bunch of contemplative christian mystics who see the divine in much the same way the inayati sufis do, that is, we are in god and god is within us. there is constant binding union and otherness has no place, there is only One. this sort of thinking makes regular christians pretty nervous.

anyway. taking a facebook holiday. it’s filling me with negativity on a daily basis. need to drastically reduce that.

now i have to read the gospel of thomas.

minneapolis 2001

okay could the universe be any clearer about what i’m supposed to be paying attention to?

THURSDAY, a wise man at zikr: (roughly) don’t feel guilty if you don’t feel moved to pray for world peace. you’re not powerful enough to change the whole world all on your own anyway. if getting through the day is all you can possibly manage, then just pray for that. it’s fine.

FRIDAY, psychiatrist: don’t take on any more than what is really yours to take on.

SATURDAY, another wise man: “…think about what this saying from Hazrat Inayat Khan means for you: ‘Life is what it is; you cannot change it, but you can change yourself.’ Focus yourself on the area in which you have control, that is, yourself. Do you wish to see justice in the world? Become just. Does it bother you that other people lie and are cruel? Become truthful and kind. Realize that the only way that you will find the qualities you hold dear is if you make them real in your own life, regardless of the behavior of others. […] In other words, without losing your compassion, be independent. Care about the world, but don’t let your inner feelings and sense of self be determined by external circumstances.”

TUESDAY, therapist: quotes this thing from the gospel of thomas: “Jesus said, ‘If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.'” (Gospel of Thomas verse 70 as translated by Elaine Pagels)

this is all beginning to circle in on itself and shout that i need to get busy. but i’m not sure what the next step is.

Happy new year

So I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. Total setup for failure, why court disappointment? This year though people are talking about having a “word” for 2018, some thing or concept to focus on for the year. Summing up a goal in one word. Somehow that seems to be less daunting.

Up until this point (8pm New Year’s Eve), I haven’t given it much thought. But “presence” has occurred to me just now, and it’s got me thinking.

Being present for the immediate moment. Present for others. Present before God, God’s presence in me. Being a “present,” a gift, to others.

That’s quite a lot and it only just scratched the surface. And speaking of surface-level, I’d like to be present here on this blog more often than once a year, which seems to be my average so far. So I’m going to try harder. I wish it had as wide a reach as LiveJournal did, as Facebook currently does, but I guess I’ll just mirror it on Facebook and Twitter and hope for the best. I really want to get away from Facebook but it’s so hard — everybody says that but nobody leaves because then they’d lose touch with their friends. What if we all left at once, wouldn’t that be great? Unthinkable though.

At any rate, happy new year to you and yours. May it be eight thousand eleventy hundred and seventy-eight point three one four percent more awesome than 2017.

a year later and where am i at?

it seems i only post here once a year; wonder why i even have this anymore. the “about me” page needs major updating.

so i got that english horn. ended up that we paid it off altogether so i didn’t have to deal with layaway payments. that was maybe in march? it’s lovely, has a crack but it was well-repaired. old old rigoutat from like the 50s-60s. carlos coelho was like “what IS this thing?” when i brought it to him at oboe camp in july. he fixed up a sticky pad for me and all is peachy keen. i’m too lazy to link to him, but he’s quite notable and it was a treat to see him.

yes, i went to oboe camp. geekiest thing ever. it was pretty awesome. we made reeds for like three hours each day. played in small ensembles and one big one with everyone. still playing with ACWE, no other groups anymore. i’m busy. now studying with andrew parker at UT (kind of a big deal) but i’m a slacker on practicing. today would be a good day to do that.

burned out hard after the east austin studio tour in november 2014 and didn’t paint for nearly a year. did some new stuff for EAST 2015 but still haven’t been working much. my art blog remains untouched as well, though i should post as i’m now looking for a new studio mate; mine is moving out of our totally ghetto space. good for her, she needs a bigger place than just half of a room.

still a barista. still at RLM pushing a button on an old and dying superautomatic machine. can’t even remember how long i’ve been there. three years probably. let my barista guild membership lapse. coffee is no longer a career prospect. yes, i’m bitter about it. it seems none of the hip specialty shops in austin want a 45-year-old female barista, even a guild level 2 one. wtf. so yeah, done with that. i’ll stay at RLM until i think of something else. no idea what that “else” might be. getting closer to 50, still a barista.

but i can’t complain. i have a roof over my head and good health insurance. i am protected and loved. it’s all good.

english horn

i am posting everywhere i can think of. i need to either buy a used english horn or find one to rent from now until may. really really want one. a lot.

bipolar story

i keep meaning to tell my bipolar story. so here, finally.

at the very end of my sixth grade year my family moved to a new home that was outside our school district. i continued to go to the old school in april and may and then started at the new school that fall. Thirteen, what a wonderful age to change schools at. oh dear god. it was every bit as awful as you might think. i was the smart kid and kinda funny-looking and didn’t have any friends, etc. really quite ostracized for the first few years there.

that was about the same time that i noticed my bipolar symptoms. crippling depressions, manic rages that no one saw as i lived it all out in the confines of my bedroom and my own head. i turned to mild self-harm for a while as i couldn’t come up with an explanation for all the pain i was feeling, so much deeper than others seemed to feel. wanted a reason to feel such pain so i gave myself one.

fortunately i didn’t have access to drugs; alcohol never appealed to me much. and i was a Good Kid [tm]. any major acting out occurred in the dramas with the few friends i did have.

i knew this was something serious, and i suspected it was bipolar disorder. but when you’re a 15, 16 year old girl, nobody’s gonna believe you when you tell them you think you’re bipolar. just drama, just teen angst, learn to control your emotions. started seeing a counselor at school who, though very engaging and friendly, was utterly of no help.

i got through my high school years without incident, amazingly enough. i was deathly afraid of my parents’ potential reaction to whatever was wrong with me, so i hid it inside, locked away like a top secret file. didn’t dare do anything drastic. i was terrified they’d “institutionalize” me.

i got to college and the disease only got worse, mostly huge depressions but once in a while a manic rush here and there. it was a religious school and i was studying theology — mainly because i was manic and wanted to “glorify god with my intellect” — and my peers had me convinced that some sort of spiritual warfare was going on and that satan was trying to keep me away from the joy of christ. yeah, really. so, no help there. prayed so hard and so much to have it all taken away from me, to no response. i was high on jesus the first two years but during the first week of my junior year i realized everything i was doing was wrong, wrong, wrong. i had screwed up my future in a colossal way and i had no idea what to do.

fall of my senior year was the worst. i had realized that my theology degree was going to get me nowhere — i had never planned on going into ministry but had vague ideas about an M.Div from some seminary and then going into teaching, but nothing ever came of that. i couldn’t imagine surviving on my own. terrified of ending up living in a cardboard box somewhere in some seedy part of minneapolis. couldn’t possibly imagine any sort of work that would give me a decent living considering all the student loans i had.

i went down, down, down. i played oboe in the concert band, and oboists need sharp instruments such as razor blades and knives to trim their reeds and such. so during rehearsal one night i had a razor blade out, gently tracing over the lines in my left hand instead of playing. the other oboist was horrified and unsure what to do. i managed to contain myself for the rest of the rehearsal and then went into the band director’s office, hiding under his TA’s desk and sobbing. for an hour.

my friend kim, also in the band, watched over me. eventually she said “look, i love you very much, but sometimes i think you need to go to the hospital.” as i could see it, the only choices available to me were to either go to the hospital or go home and slit my wrists. do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

i chose the hospital.

i was there for seven days, not very well cared for. they recognized my depression, but that was all they saw — put me on prozac and after a week had passed they sent me home.

i took incompletes for the fall semester and made them up during the one-month “january term” between fall and spring semesters. my professors were all very sympathetic and understanding. the art department had sent me flowers while i was in hospital.

being in the hospital meant that my parents had to find out about my mental illness, which mortified me. my mom didn’t take it very well and didn’t really get that mental illness was actually a real thing and not just excessive drama. dad was just quiet and worried. they said later “we always knew something was wrong but we didn’t want to say anything and make you angry.” yes, i grew up in minnesota, can you tell?

my plans for taking the GRE and going to graduate school fell through. there was no way i was going to be able to prepare for the test that year, so i never did take it, never did go to grad school. i put my nose to the grindstone, finished spring semester by the skin of my teeth and then graduated.

i found the cheapest apartment i could get that wasn’t technically subsidized housing. i temped for a while, struggling to pay my student loans, struggling through the depression without any health insurance. couldn’t afford the prozac. i remember my dad trying to help me find some sort of social security help, but i couldn’t go into the building. i walked by it and couldn’t open the door. not that it was locked. i just. couldn’t. open it. he paid for my prozac for several months.
i was so suicidal. so so very very suicidal. but despite it all i have never once attempted it. too afraid. afraid of failing, afraid of god’s wrath. i sat in my quiet office cubicle and thrashed around in my mind for something to hold on to. nothing worked.

i got a credit card and developed a taste for fancy scotch. the depression turned around into mania and i got super promiscuous and super drunk rather often. one night i was at my friend amanda’s place visiting and as i left she told me she thought i had a drinking problem. this totally horrified me and my thoughts whirled around in my head a thousand miles an hour. drinking problem?? that’s some serious shit, man. what do i do, where do i go, i can’t be alone right now. i called my friend bill from a pay phone (remember those?) and said i need somewhere to go, i can’t control myself, will you take me in… he very kindly obliged and so i went downtown to his apartment.

i was in what we call a “mixed state,” manic and depressive at the same time, changing by the minute, laughing and crying and laughing and crying… bill had severe OCD and depression himself, and so he got on the phone to his doctor and was asking him advice on how to keep me safe through the night. i was on his futon going completely out of my mind while he patiently watched from the other side of the room, checking in with his doctor every hour or two.

in the morning he took me to the community health clinic that he went to himself. doctor listened to my story and he goes, “sounds like bipolar disorder to me.”

oh. my. god. VALIDATION. the reason i had been searching for, the reason for all my pain, suddenly appeared before me like an angel. oh my god, you take me seriously, i can’t believe it, this is amazing, THANK YOU. i was 23, having gone it alone since i was 14.

the community health place set me up with a doctor — thankfully i’d found a steady job with insurance earlier that year — and sent me away without charging me any money. i went to the doctor as soon as i could and was prescribed depakote, a mood stabilizer, to take along with my prozac.

it wasn’t the perfect drug, but it sorta made a difference. years went by and we tried lots of different drugs to see which one was best — i didn’t really truly stabilize until i moved to massachusetts in 1997 and found a doctor who got just the right mix of antidepressants and mood stabilizers to keep me level and sane.

i’ve had episodes here and there since then, one major one in 2006 when the first doctor i had in texas messed with my effexor dosage so bad it sent me into huge mania (and nearly destroyed my marriage) and then the deepest depression i have ever ever known. had to switch doctors and advocate for myself even though i was at the lowest point i had ever been. but the doctor i changed to has been the best one i’ve ever had, and i can say today that i have never felt better. i take six different drugs; four antidepressants, a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic. it’s a lot but it works and i’m not about to mess with it.

my life is really pretty normal. been happily married for 16 years. i’m an artist with a part-time barista job. at 43 i’ve become the person i was meant to be and i’m stable and happy. there are ups and downs but they are quickly dealt with and i spend most of my time in a very good place. i am a lucky, lucky person, and thankful for every day that i have.


so this blog has been sitting here unused for like a year and a half. what kind of internet addict am i, anyway? oh yeah, a chronic facebooker, that’s what. it’s mostly here for the genealogy thing which reminds me i should upload those pictures of the blacksmith shop. gotta find what jürgen wrote about them for me.

got deeply engrossed in the charlie hebdo thing last night and ended up at a pretty dark place what with all the killing and hatred and stuff when we’re on this tiny insignificant rock floating out in the infinite cosmos all alone as far as we know — and all we have is each other, that’s what it comes down to, so why can’t we love? that’s all we fucking have that means anything at all. why is there so much hate?

i gotta read how the existentialists dealt with it all. need a “sartre for dummies” or something.

it’s been cloudy and rainy for weeks and no sign of it letting up. that’s certainly part of my mood. see the dr. in just over a week. we’ll see what he has to say. maybe i should start using mathew’s special happy light thing.

so winter break is now over and the cafe opens back up on monday. classes start the week after. back to RLM, joy of joys. i interviewed for another job over break but it was on the 22nd so there was holiday and all that and on top of that they’re just being really slow. said they were waiting on one more interview this week, which doesn’t sound good. i mean if they wanted me they wouldn’t have scheduled another one, right? so yeah, right back where i was at the coffee bean. someplace that’s okay but not good enough. RLM kinda sucks but it’s okay at least. the people are chill. the customers are mostly fine. it’s just that i’m pushing a goddamn button on a superautomatic machine instead of using all that expensive barista guild training.

also, do i really want to be a barista when i’m 50? i’m 43 now, it’s going to become relevant at some point.

i have no idea what else to do, is the thing.