I slapped on the visor and apron with uncertainty. Already I had worked the season opener for the local college team, now my volunteering efforts were geared towards opening day for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The USF game was its own special nightmare – scorching day, no breeze, collapsing bodies – but otherwise, sales at the Second Time Arounders Marching Band tiki bar boomed. I think it was because we were by the boat.
This time around, we were placed in a beer corner with not a lot of space to move between the six of us. Before I had finished dumping ice onto the premium beers it was go time! Customers lining up for all things frosty and salty. I did as trained – smiled as I took the order, if it involved alcohol I asked for ID, held the ID up to confirm face and date, then processed the sale with a cheerful “Enjoy the game!” to send their happy selves off.
And then, he came. A large, burly man dressed in Buccaneer regalia, beads dangling proudly from his neck. His face was cute, chubby, and pinked at the cheeks. He ordered two beers and a water. I asked for his photo ID. His chubby face became firm. He flared his arms, “Are you fucking serious?”
“Yes,” I calmly replied.
“I’m 54 years old! I could be your goddamn father!”
“I’m sorry sir,” I calmly explain, “I can’t sell you those drinks without an ID.”
I watched as he stepped backwards, almost into the couple behind him, then flare his nostrils and widen his chest. I swear he was going to rush the stand, but then he yelled, “Let’s settle this right now.”
My eyes followed his left hand waiving over someone. I’m thinking it’s his wife or somebody holding his ID. A dark blue suit with TPD on the lapel and a gun at the waist appeared instead.
Never in the history of me has a cop being waived my direction ever worked out in my favor. I’m flushed, I feel my heart start to race, and an “Oh SHIT” mantra starts looping in my head, all the while thinking, he called the cops on me, he called the cops on me…
The large man details the situation above and then tells the cop “She shouldn’t ID me.” Wow! I wish I had that kind of social authority! Being above the law, being able to tell a cop what should and should not happen to him during his good time at a privately-owned stadium.
The policeman looked at me, at him, then replied, “It’s her discretion whether she sells you alcohol or not.”
WHAAAT! He’s on MY side?
Never in the history of me has a cop agreed with me, even off-duty. I felt redeemed. And even though he was pouty after the fact, I still sold the big guy a water.
I don’t care how mouthy you are. Rule #1 in retail: get the sale.
I wasn’t worried about him, I was worried about the cop. He was worried about his beer, I was worried I was ending up in handcuffs. This is our world – a bunch of unnecessary worries. If I’m lucky in this lifetime, I shouldn’t feel threatened by the appearance of law enforcement anymore.
I’ve slept on this and still felt compelled to write, because it’s such a phenomenal experience. When you look a certain way, or hang out in a certain crowd, the labels and assumptions abound. Negative labels and assumptions unfortunately carry on with you despite social improvements. So when I describe this simple scenario, I wonder if you’re reading it as someone who’s been negatively labeled all their life, or if you’re wondering why the cop agreeing with me is such a monumental deal. It is a big deal. It signifies the necessary shift in the social wind. Not everyone who looks like me needs to be disciplined by the police. Moreover, people who look like me aren’t easily threatened by the gesticulations of the Great White Male, as was my friend’s mistake.
Be proud of me. This is my 1st event flyer of 2016, and it’s August. This represents a huge sigh of relief. A difficult start I had this year, but I’m proud I was able to recover within the 12 months. It’s the Ishtar in me, I suppose. Can’t keep a woman down too long!
And so here’s my new project, Spoken Works. Why Spoken Works? Written words are the definition of a generation’s experience. In my experience, too many well-written words by exceptionally talented artists remain unshared because of personal barriers: shyness, terror of public speaking, fear of judgment. Knowing that, I asked myself, “What can be done to avert those challenges?” Then I asked, “What helped me?”
Group sharing in my Creative Writing courses. Discourse amongst colleagues in closed environments. Finding the right tribe, and sticking to them, because I can trust them. Those experiences helped me. When I had a home base for my sharing, I was not inhibited anymore.
This workshop program is part of my POP Pinellas venture, a grass-roots poet outreach program. To poet and to be a poet, to me, is one in the same. Just as people use “their” as a gender-neutral derivation, I use “poet” as a title-neutral derivation for those who write their truth down. Makes sense right? Instead of listing, oh I’m a poet, author, lyricist, short story writer, blahblahblah. I’m a poet.
And this wasn’t my original idea. From James Baldwin’s 1963 speech, “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity”:
However arrogant this may sound, I want to suggest two propositions. The first one is that the poets (by which I mean all artists) are finally the only people who know the truth about us. Soldiers don’t. Statesmen don’t. Priests don’t. Union leaders don’t. Only poets. That’s my first proposition.
Which, heads up, a review of James Baldwin is gonna be my next blog post because I’m absorbing his words right now. If you want to book club it, I just started “The Cross of Redemption” and am still reading through the speeches.
Questions? Comments? You know how to reach me. And check out POPPinellas.com when you have a moment. I haven’t officially launched it yet, but it’ll eventually be where I post about Spoken Works and other local projects.
The first time we went out on the water, BF spent more time looking back and stopping for me than he did enjoying the adventure. For the inconvenience, on this time around, I assured him he could enjoy the trip without worrying about me, now that I knew the course of the river from launch to landing. Besides, with his shirtless back facing me, his sculpted shoulders busy at work, I had someone quite pleasant to focus on.
We planned for one more day on the New River; the cool, clear water beckoning us to enter and clear our souls. My soul was a bit heavy, having to bear the uncomfortable feeling of entering a home in distress. We didn’t know anything about our host family’s marital split prior to our arrival, and even more so, I didn’t know I had to be on the defense as the only woman among related men. For me the water was liberation from the snarls and scowls of a wounded male, a free moment to tune to nature and scale off the superficiality of man.
A meandering was in order.
Depending on which data you reference, the New River in the Appalachian Range is one of the oldest rivers in the world. To ask the locals you would be certain to believe it is the oldest. I’m not here to contest any of that data, but I will say this: from water to stone to tree to sand, the entire universe of that river felt primordial.
Pushed off and well into our course, I smiled, looking through clear water at the mica-flecked stones along the bottom. BF wondered if they were flecks of actual gold. I told him how mica is used in cosmetics to offer that under skin “glow.” In the moment of that interaction, I felt the goddess Isis widening her giving wings over the both of us. As much as I wanted to share, “Isis is here!” I remember the unfortunance of the double meaning, and hold back.
Our small barques wound their way over pure water, hugged by rocky shores with faces almost a billion years old, deciduous trees lording over us as the sky laced between their green fingers. The sun loved us enough to warm our shoulders bronze. A breeze, like a subtle tongued kiss to the neck, won over my frazzled spirit, and finally, I could relax. My stroke through the water intensified, my shoulders winding fluidly as I searched out the deep pockets. In the shallows, I dug with might and determination, “No! I won’t get out of this boat!” BF was far forward. I sensed he’s on his own journey, and let him be.
At the thought to allow my love to float along and be with the river, I came upon the most curious sight. Bear in mind the north-flowing current was constant but not strong that day. The water itself was cold, but not unbearable. As I paddled to the right of a patch of moss, I saw a yellow and black snake completely erect, protruding from the center of the moss. I slowed to admire this behavior. I don’t know of a snake that would sun in the center of a river, let alone do it standing up! Then I noticed he started to wave, along with the current, but I took it as a “Hello!” A glow of yellow-gold light, filled with good, fortifying medicine, swaddled me. Oh Snake, I prayed, thank you for your gift. I kept looking back at that vertical creature until the river pulled me from view. The entire time, Snake stayed in that tall position in the moss. Imbued with blessing, I hurried towards my love.
The New River curled towards our landing. We came across a black and white border collie, feverishly digging a hole along the shore. As there was a makeshift swing nearby, we figured he was a member of that riverfront household. The collie, more preoccupied with his find than us, leaped from his post then climbed up the hill ostensibly towards his home.
But he didn’t go home.
This collie followed us the remaining few miles of our trip, swimming between the kayaks, landing on either shore, taking off into the woods; yet he’d always return. I heard the words, “Wolf Medicine” echo between my ears, then, experienced an unavoidable snag in the river. My kayak landed on rocks. I watched as the collie and BF continued, then realized, Spirit wants me to hang back. From my landing it was abundantly clear, this wolf descendant and this mountain-spirited man were meant to meet. Side by side, Wolf and Man paddling, quietly as to not disturb the existing serenity. It was overwhelming to behold. To the mountain I prayed, “thank you for his Wolf medicine” before returning the barque to a deeper pool of water and paddling on.
The topless silo signaling our stop, our wolf company disappeared into the nearby tree farm. On our landing, BF found a perfectly flat, round stone which he pocketed. I helped myself to a larger stone, the width of my hand, so that I could enjoy ancient river medicine anytime.
Dear Person Who Self-Deprecates When Attention Is Drawn To You:
Hi. I’m noticing what you’re doing and it’s annoying the hell out of me. First of all, you look old enough to be my mother, and that’s not an insult, that’s a demographic detail. Second of all, we’re in the same room together, about to face the same challenges. While I sit here in tune to what’s happening, you’re sitting behind me, disturbing the persons to your left and right, saying, “I hope [he] knows how stupid I am” and “They better have someone who knows what they’re doing with me.” Do you even understand that what you’re doing is completely self-absorbed? Your pretend self-flagellation is actually a form of grandstanding that you probably inherited from a lifetime of leeching off of the kindness and patience of others. Shut the fuck up you stupid leech; you’re here to do a job. If you feel you can’t handle it, there’s the door. We’ve got this covered.
The Chick Wondering How You And She Are The Same Pay Grade
Dear Person Who Self-Deprecates As A Form Of Emceeing:
Hi. You’re not a comic. If you were a comic, and this was a comedic venue, you’d so not be making me laugh. Self-deprecation is a source of humor only when you realize the joke is supposed to be on you. But if your job is to warm up the mic, try not to spend those moments between performers – who may be nervous or amped or prepared – to talk about how much of a talentless waste-of-space you are. When you do that, you diminish the starlight of the talent approaching the microphone after your sad tale. It’s like watching someone murder a puppy between sets: not only is it senseless, but it doesn’t fit the grand ideal of uplifting artists and showcasing their artistry. Get it together, or get another project.
The Chick Waiting For Her Turn On The Stage
Dear Person Who Self-Deprecates In Order To Get My Personal Attention:
Hi. You done fucked up. I don’t do pity. I don’t do the pat on the backs and “there, there” acts. You’re phony and I smelled your phony the moment I saw your pinched shoulders and wavering eyes. You want to absorb my energy, I see it in your wringing hands. Are you actually telling me about your life problems without me even knowing you? Who am I, Barbara Walters? And don’t you DARE call me Oprah, or you will know my wrath. Get away. Grow up. Instead of coming to me about what you’re going to do, come to me about what you’ve already done, maybe then I can at least advise you. But your self-inflicted humility is not my charge, buddy. You’re an adult now. And if you’re an adult using lines like, “I can’t deal with adulting,” stay the hell away from me. I’ve got a life; get yours.
So begins one of the poems I created in that beautiful cabin nestled under ancient wood. The experience of connecting with nature at a primordial level is a powerful thing. My body – how best to describe this? – absorbed unfamiliar yet friendly energies. Vibrations were exceptionally high in the hills, and my connectivity to animals seemed heightened. To explore it neurologically, I would say my pineal gland received a profound tuning.
My sweet would nourish sleeping in as I would roam the deck of the cabin with my morning coffee. Then I’d go to the dining room, my designated office, and churn whatever creative forces into a precious morsel of art. Silence was a gift as well as a motivator. I needed the time between sips to really think what I wanted out of life. I’m ready to approach 40, but what am I to invest in as a human being for the next 40 years?
The answers seem to pop off Chappie the laptop’s screen, as if a big DUH! Time to showcase what you can do for others, Ivonne. Time to grow into the artistic community as a director, not just a contributor.
While in the cabin, I started to lay down the plans for a project I’m calling The Living Goddess Exhibit. Of course I’m going to represent Inanna (who could do better?) but exactly how are we going to praise her? What existing poems do I have that evoke her? What poems can I write in tribute to her? Suddenly in study mode again, I feel that excitement surge in me again, the excitement to share. I’m invested in my inner child, I’m letting her play! Gosh it feels good.
Even when we moved to the Cousin’s place, I was still in composition mode. Three large dogs make it difficult to keep expensive equipment out, but I did capture some creativity on my mobile devices. Here’s one that insisted on being written mid-sleep:
her torch knows no master
Balance is her charge
the Law as her guide
Love her as I do
Her power is needed
now more than ever.
So interesting that I’d reference the Law Goddess in my sleep state. This’ll be a poem worth developing, especially during election season!
Look forward to two productions from me, one in November and one possibly January. If you can’t make the shows, there’s always my performances with The Second Time Arounders Marching Band during the 2017 season.
I’m working on two poetry exhibits for the coming Fall season. One to do with the Divine Feminine and the other on mental transformation and healing. Yup, big topics to chew on, but like my large five-rose tattoo, when I do things, I do ’em big.
Pulling some sketches out for inspiration, and others to revisit. The continuing visitor in my book is “the purple woman,” so named because she either appears bathed in purple, or she’s cloaked in purple. I’ve been seeing her all my life, yet in the past six years, she’s been manifesting in my visions quite regularly.
Hoping to try other mediums and tools to convey my visual art this year. Perhaps need to wander over to the Arts District and learn from the local masters. Won’t you join me?
“Daisy” 2016. Postcard material, amirite?
Purple Woman 2016. She’s calm, demure, yet still proud.
“Change” 2010. The small person is me, cowering at a booming voice declaring CHANGE!
Purple Woman 2010. She’s fiery, yet genuflecting, as if surrendering to…a higher power?
I admit, I’m being a little too research-intensive for a 4th of July weekend, but it’s helping me keep focused on something positive. Ever have that? Such a constant flux of negativity that you have to FORCE something positive to engage in? Sad.
Anyways, this weekend I’m going the phenomenological route by visiting the work of R.D. Laing, and then the metaphysical route by visiting rando blogs and websites with 1st person accounts of metaphysical being-in-this-world. I tumbled across a members-only forum for ‘light workers, star seeds, and indigos’, to which I wondered, what and what?
To the search engine, to enter the lame question, and came across this helpful article at Gaia.com. I know you like to skim down to the meat ‘n’ taters of the article, so I’ve done it for you! Do read the full link if you, like me, go through this list going, “Yup, yup…uh huh, yup…yuuuup…”
While you do that, I’m looking up “indigos.”
From a young age, you have had an inherent wisdom that usually comes later in life for other people.
You’ve been told you’re an old soul and you agree. You feel ancient to the core.
No matter where you are, you always have a feeling of homesickness. You know what home feels like, even if you can’t express it, and you know that your house is not it. This may even lead to depression in some cases.
Even as a child, you have always felt different. As though you are unique and others cannot understand you.
You feel divided from the world — As if it is a constant battle of “them” vs. “you.”
You often feel morally superior to others, regardless of education or social stature.
Your sense of empathy is overwhelming. You feel different from those around you, however, you have a natural inclination to relate to their struggles.
Your physical body is an enigma to doctors. It functions differently than everyone else’s and the medical world struggles to understand it. This may manifest itself in ways as small as a lower than average body temperature or inability to withstand heat.
You are incredibly intelligent but bored easily by traditional academics.
You have had a paranormal or psychic experience. You may have seen a ghost, heard other’s thoughts, had dreams that became reality, etc.
You feel as though you have a purpose or mission to fulfill, but struggle to find what you want to do with your life. You lack the passion or intrigue to truly devote yourself to one area and understand the banality of life.
The physical limitations of your body often frustrate you. You feel as though you should be able to do more but are vexed by your restrictions. This is because Starseeds remember far more freedom in their physical form.
Your dreams are vivid and exceptional, and waking life never seems to measure up. Often, your dreams will seem other worldly — as though your mind has created a completely separate universe.
Others are often wary of you or feel uncomfortable in your presence. People instinctually know that you are different, but struggle to verbalize why. You may even feel isolated within your own family.
You have very few friends, but those who are seem to understand you without need of explanation.
Animals trust you and are naturally drawn to you. You understand them to the point that it feels as though you can communicate.
The same is true for babies and small children. They find you fascinating and seem mesmerized in your presence.
You can feel who people are without them ever saying a word. You see beyond the external façade and instinctually know when they are lying.
You may seem rude in conversations because you know what the other person is going to say before they’ve even started. People think you are disinterested, when in reality you are frustrated by the pace of the conversation.
You are interested in spirituality but see the divine beyond books and religion. You may not be able to put it into words, but you have a deep understanding that spirituality has always been an intrinsic part of you.
You are drawn to metaphysics and the science behind other worlds.
From a young age, you questioned the ways of society and still feel perplexed as to how other’s don’t see its mistakes.
Though your dreams are exceptional, you’ve always had trouble sleeping.
You have a natural ability to make others feel better – whether through medicine or your words. Strangers will often open up about their problems without even realizing it.
People’s first impression of you is often aloof or cold, however, one they get to know you they consider you to be one of the most loving people that they know.
You avoid large crowds and find it hard to handle people in large doses — even friends. To you, people are overwhelming and their emotions and actions seem chaotic.
You have an ability to emotionally or spiritually grow much faster than those around you. Your sense of morality keeps you grounded, even when presented with emotions that are difficult for others to handle.
BF enters our home after dawn, returning from the previous evening’s menschkeit. He finds me wide awake, sitting up in bed with the overhead light on, coloring in a black-and-white picture on my lap table. “What time did you wake up?” “5:50…” I respond, as I fill roses with crimson. He groans. “Go back to bed…”
But I can’t. I’m as alert as a track runner about to sprint off the blocks. This has been my life for the last six weeks. Med changes bring about biological changes. The answer the medical team had regarding my situation? Take your pills earlier. Nope. Still wide awake before the sunrise.
I am maximizing the utility of less hours of sleep. I conduct yoga stretches, tai chi walks, centering exercises, meditations, channels, mudras, anything to get that energy to go anywhere but within. I’ve gone through the Rolodex of morning star deities and have gained much insight, especially on how to merge the primordial with the 0s and 1s. More details on that later. What else? I’ve written poetry, I’ve paid more attention to emails, and yes, I’m blogging more frequently. Again, gotta ground all this swirling energy, and the mood stabilizers just ain’t doing it. Thus, the reason why I approach my mental health treatment plan with Western AND shamanic medicine. I try to compensate one’s failures with the other one’s practiced successes.
Yesterday was a full moon in Sagittarius and I thought, “Alright, cosmic buddies, I’ve been told a Sag is good for me. Let’s take advantage of it.” After an attempt at a nap, we headed to our municipal pool and enjoyed a dip before the Father’s Day rush. I flung myself off the diving board, slithered down the water slide, carved ten ½ laps, all while earning a lovely glaze of a tan. Later, we met up with our closest friends for a Sunday cookout. The moon rising, I spend as much time on the patio and walking about.
After our delightful evening, we prepare to depart with filled tummies. Standing by the car, I look above at a clear, inky blue night and a bright Sagittarius moon.
My feet plant in second position. I feel my body sway.
The top of my head feels like a tendril of ivy climbing upwards towards the moon.
My arms begin to flutter in rhythm; eventually they rise and sway, Parting The White Horse Mane.
My eyes close. I begin to hum.
BF approaches. “What are you doing?”
“A moon dance.”
“Then you are an Airbender.”
I say nothing, then enter the car.
This morning, I receive loving kisses, then collapse back to sleep. The next time I wake, it’s because the dog wants to go outside.
I can tell this morning as the long legged, wide winged, red boy who lives in the nest in the upper join of our front door hovers in front of the A/C unit, waiting for the fan to spit up the condensation building up from our constant usage.
Yep, it’s that time of year. Three-digit utility bills. Constant moistness, especially in the naughty bits. For me, it’s a little more detrimental, as a new medication in my treatment plan requires me to, and I quote, “avoid becoming too hot or exposed to heat too long.” These mental health practitioners in Florida are absolute geniuses.
But that’s how it goes when you are depending on sliding-scale, high-traffic, short-timed resources to get healthy. Things fortunately are going to change for me next month in the insurance department, so let’s all hope this means I can receive better quality treatment for my condition.
Knowing what I went through this time of year in 2015, I’m scared to overheat, literally, scared. BF is concerned about the rising costs of cooling the house, as any responsible neurotypical should. But I’d so rather pay a $100 utility bill then try to pay $800 for an ambulance ride because I overheated. Dems be da breaks..
The unit has kicked on, so Red Boy and his suitemates can get their morning drink on before heading off to terrorize children. I managed to sleep in, but awoke with a dull headache and a very hot spine. This week I’ve been on the go; while impressive since I’m still dealing with insomnia, I’m not doing myself any favors by not resting. Today then, I dedicate to staying still and cool. I’ll follow Red Boy’s cue and drink ice cold water. Certainly, going to avoid the outdoors.
The lesson was learned hard last summer. I implore you, neuroatypical especially, to be careful in the heat this summer. Don’t deny yourself the cool you can afford. Remember, you’re not good to anybody dead. 🙂