you have to name your big gulp

Me: So, I’m desperately searching for this new book I read about online.
Ed: Oh?
Me: Yeah, and I can’t find it anywhere. I swear I read an article about it just a few days ago. But I can’t remember the title, the author, the main character, nothing. Not even where I read about it. But the basic plot is that objects disappear if you don’t say their names often enough.
Ed: Kind of like this book you’re talking about.
Me: Um. YEAH. That’s creepy.

Ed: And you’ve Googled it?
Me: Yes! And I can’t find it! I’m starting to wonder if I dreamed this, but it’s too detailed. The main character intentionally misnames hers suitcase to see how long it would take to disintegrate. So, look– *picks up cup* You don’t say “cup” when you pick this up, it eventually disintegrates. *pats table* Table. *touches Ed’s arm* Ed. *touches glasses* Glasses. Burgundy. Polka dots.
Ed *puts hands on his forehead*: Worried.

It’s a wonder I don’t give my husband a nervous breakdown fortnightly.

He named his Big Gulp before drinking it. Our 4yo looked at both of us as though we’d taken leave of our senses.
________________________

In other news, I finally found the book in question: AMATKA by Karin Tidbeck. Totally fascinating concept. It is now on my Kindle, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

listening to the rain (a brief treatise on fresh grief)

What do you do when your head and heart both are overfull and empty at the same time?

I’m sitting here in my car, parked in my driveway, waiting for my daughter to wake up so we can go into the house. She has spent the last few days and nights with my parents, and while I’ve enjoyed my mini-vay, I feel an urgency to get back to reading C.S. Lewis’s THE SILVER CHAIR with my kid.

A mother reading to her daughter.
Mothers and daughters have weighed heavily on my mind and heart of late.

One of the daughter’s favorite shows, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” asks the question, “What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad, you could roar?”

A similar set of questions has plagued me for the past 10 days…but mine go something like this:

What do you do with the sad that you feel?
When you feel so sad, you could soar
gently and without fuss on an updraft of foreign emotion
out of your daily life and
into some *between* state
neither dead nor truly living
simply drifting along
an automaton waltzing through life’s daily requirements
to the rhythm of
i-don’t-care
i-don’t-care
i-don’t-care
a beat as steady as a heart too calm
too deeply in repose
too distant ever to answer another call?

What do you do when you feel this grief,
this pain that underwhelms:

–i am not impressed with you
–i shall go about my life because i have such security
–oh pain, you do not own me

and overwhelms:
–i cannot begin to handle you
–i cannot anything
–what life?

How do you take your next breath?

Is it even yours to begin with?

Is the beginning of a next breath. even. yours.?

I do take my next breath
and the next
and the next

But they don’t happen in some serene cocoon
of Comprehension Of Death
no

Oh, on a certain level
I understand

We Live In A Fallen World
Death Is Not The End
At Least She’s Not In Pain Anymore
She’s In A Better Place
The Lord Plucked Her, Beautiful Flower, From His Garden And Took Her Home
do you really think any of that shit matters to me

when i grip my kitchen counter
trying to hold on
un
unable
sliding down the front of my dishwasher
oh so recently having completed its cycle
having done its job on the earth
having fulfilled its purpose
oh happy dishwasher
spewing its drying heat over me like vomit
all to the tune of
the cat’s ingurgitating her meat food
slurp smack
as i seek refuge with my cheek pressed against the floor
my nose in last month’s crumbs i haven’t bothered to sweep
scrubbing the cold linoleum with my tears

good
god
WHY

do you think any of your platitudes matter?
the strung-together syllables of anesthesia
that make so much sense when you’re not in agony

spare me

try listening to the rain
do you hear that hollow growling sound?

i tell you, it is Death

come too soon for her
come too soon for us all

come.
too.
soon

“I needed this today,” says I. “This quiet resting, this listening to the rain. They held her funeral this morning.”

“Rain washes everything away,” answers a friend.

That is the answer to what we do. That is the Truth.

So I let the rain come.

In my kitchen, in front of the dishwasher. With the heat and the filthy tear-washed floor and my soft-howled pleas for an explanation.

I let the rain come.

(completed and posted on 06/26/2017, backdated to June 2, 2017)

for Christians

I don’t often wax on (or off) about my faith on this blog–mainly because, if you’ve found your way here, you probably did so for the writing and reading and snark, not the “religion” stuff. (Note: I’m not religious. I’m a Jesus-follower. There’s a distinct difference. If you want me to wax and polish that in another post, lemme know. ­čśë )

Anywho, ballyhoo.

The current social and political climate in the United States of America is bringing me way low. Still, I sit in a place of privilege because I’m white, educated, and middle-class-ish. Husband has full-time & long-term employment, gets benefits; we’d do better financially if I took at least a part-time job, but we’re not in a position that I *have* to, so I can stay at home with kiddo and stay at home and write (sometimes); we have biological family who help us out with kiddo’s schooling and with LIFE; we have an adopted community that helps with LIFE; we have a network of local connections going back 25 years; we speak English, blah blah more privileged stuff blah.

So, I can sit here fairly comfortably at my newish laptop, reading Twitter and Facebook and news sites and bemoan the state of the Union in *empathy* with the under- and non-privileged, but it’s not like I’m out there getting shot for wearing a hoodie. I know where my next meal is coming from. I can walk into a bank and immediately get service and talk to personnel in English about my needs. I don’t have to know what month Flag Day is before I’m allowed to be a citizen.

That said, my heart still breaks…my soul is crying…my spirit feels, in many ways, broken–all because I see (with my limited sight) the pain and anguish people are suffering all over the world and all over this country, and I see the leaders of this country apparently doing everything they can to increase that suffering instead of diminishing it as they swore to do.

And what rends my heart to shreds most violently is that I see humans who claim Jesus Christ cheering on these corrupt ones instead of rejecting them.

So, I have something to say to my fellow humans who claim Him as their Lord and profess to pledge their allegiance to Him alone (wording intentional, *ahem*). If you’re not one of them and don’t want to read further, I understand, and I hold no negative thoughts or emotions toward you. If you’re not one of them and you *do* read further, please don’t hesitate to ask me anything you like about what I’ve written.

I am always open to talking of these things.
They are the core of my very existence.

If you are one who claims Jesus as Lord and feel moved to converse, please also do not hesitate.
If you are one who claims Jesus as Lord and feel moved to excoriate me or anyone else who comments, check yourself or wreck yourself. I will delete inappropriate or abusive comments and block you from this blog without hesitation.

If you’re a Christian, this one’s for you.

(I have also posted a version of this on Facebook.)

“Take a good look at her. She has had five husbands. And the sixth man in her life, with whom she is presently living, is not her husband. But Jesus Christ does the unthinkable. He introduces himself to her as her new Husband–the seventh* man in her life, the heavenly suitor who will love her like no man ever has. He will turn her tragedy into purity, her ashes into beauty, her misery into joy.

“This woman is a Samaritan; she’s a half-breed–half Jew and half Gentile. In other words, she comprises both Jew and Gentile in her body. She depicts the bride of Jesus Christ, comprised of fallen, tragic humanity, Jew and Gentile, who have been re-created anew to be the masterpiece of God’s matchless grace.”

–Frank Viola,
FROM ETERNITY TO HERE
(*7 symbolizes perfection)

So. If you’re going to ally yourself with Jesus the Anointed One of God Eternal, here are a few facts about yourself you’re going to have to accept:
(Note: every following “you” is collective, not singular.)

You are a hybrid.
You are a half-breed.
You are a wayward, fallen, tragic creature.
You are hunted.
You are a foreigner.
You are a stranger.
You are despised.
You are destitute.
You are homeless.
You are a refugee.

In His glorious, immeasurable Love, God the Father has handselected you to be the Bride for his Son.
In His glorious, immeasurable Love, Jesus the Anointed One has paid the bloodprice that is your dowry.
In His glorious, immeasurable Love, the Holy Spirit has led you to the Lord Your Bridegroom.

(Again, every “you” is collective, not singular.)

You are become His Bride, one day to become His Wife.
You are adopted into His Family.
You are a Living Stone being built into His House.
You are redeemed.
You are safe.
You are a citizen under His Lordship.
You are known to Him.
You are Beloved.
You are abundantly rich.
You are home.

You are still a refugee.

You have refuge in Him.

He does not reject the poor, the homeless, the destitute, the desperate, the alien, the stranger, the foreigner. He does not reject the refugee. He gave Himself to such as these, NO MATTER THE COST TO HIMSELF. This is His courage, His strength, His obedience, and His Love.

(Again: “you” is collective.)

And He lives in you.
His fullness lives in you.
ALL OF HIM lives in you.
His love, his courage, his strength to act in compassion and grace.

Is there a risk in welcoming the stranger? Is there danger in harboring the refugee?

Maybe. Maybe not. “But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
With the time that is given us.
With His Love that “tabernacles” inside us.
With His strength and the courage that reside in us, the Bride of the Anointed One.

The Lord has purified for Himself a Bride who shares His spiritual DNA. As Eve shared Adam’s DNA because she was made out of him, so the Bride has a nature identical to the Bridegroom’s. There is no distinction between the two of them, and when God looks at the Bride, He sees His Son.

Jesus the unique, Anointed Son of God welcomes the refugee.

So does His Bride, the church, the collective of the Called-Out, who is Herself a (formerly destitute) refugee from a fallen world.

The Bride of Christ does not reject the refugee.

And if “the Bride” does reject the refugee, then she is not of Him; she does not belong to Him; and she is not the Bride.

social media away message

I posted a version of this on Facebook this morning.

CLARIFICATION

I don’t hate any one person.
I don’t hate any group of people.
I don’t hate any demographic.
I don’t hate.

I feel angry.
I feel hurt.
I feel concerned — not for myself, not for any religious institution, not for so-called “religious freedom,” but for non-white, non-gender-binary, non-straight, non-legally-protected –> READ: non-*privileged* people, a majority of whom went to bed last night and woke up this morning utterly terrified.

In accordance with my daily-challenged faith, I will state my belief that Jesus is Lord of all, even this whole debacle.
But I will┬ánot forget that He was also Lord┬áduring the Dark Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust, ETC. His being in control does not mean we humans don’t find a host of absolutely horrific things to perpetrate against one another.

His being in control does not excuse any of us — especially those of us who claim to follow Him — from doing everything we possibly can to prevent those horrific things. Including keeping other humans out of power who perpetuate those horrific things.

I feel sad.
I feel love.

I live out Love.

RELATIONSHIPS

Some of you are aware of my heavy heart after a former long-time friend unfriended me a few days ago over this whole debacle.
Some of you will call me a hypocrite because I unfriended someone over this whole debacle.

This difference is that I didn’t attack or question the faith of the one who unfriended me.
The one I unfriended was never more than an acquaintance, and he attacked me and questioned my faith.

I don’t need that kind of unhealthy connection in my life.

I want to retain connections in which I exchange life (Life) with others.

I’m not sure that’s a sustainable thing via Facebook.

There’s more to all this. But I don’t have the words right now. If I find them, I’ll holler.

VACATION

I am taking a social media vacation. It will last at least until the New Year.

I will pop onto FB to manage my author page (facebook.com/courtcanwrite/). But I don’t plan to interact there on my personal account.

I won’t be checking private FB messages. If you want to contact me, please email if you have my email address, text if you have my phone number, comment on my author page, or comment on my blog.

Until further notice, I’ll be interacting on Twitter (@courtcan) only to promote my books and talk about writing.

My main reasons for this vacation (from Facebook) are that I’m tired of being personally attacked, I’m tired of having my faith questioned by people who know little to nothing about my daily life or my beliefs, and I’m tired of providing a space where people I love and respect bicker with, yell at, and aim “friendly fire” at each other (necessitating my intervention).

I’m just weary. And this isn’t helping the depression I’m still in treatment for.

I love you all.

Facebook ya in January. Maybe.

 

In the meantime though, I’ll for sure be blogging here. Stay tuned!

passion

all i can think to say

this is the capture
and the crystallization
of a thought concept idea emotion
and all the talk around it
     illustration with words

the one thing
to brighten darken collect and sing
crisp the breath
the mind
emboldened to lay aside all reservation
     just before the now

deliver ye unto me
the fresh cut the distinctive taste
singular pleasure
texture on the tongue
raw volcanic sensation
remaining locked in a moment

     just before the now

no quarter given
relinquish our original
yield up to me the whole
and witness the transformation
from love to always
from made to right

     promise me the wine of undiluted delight

               and i am yours.

Courtney Weger Cantrell
July 2, 2015

An original poem to celebrate #NationalPoetryDay (which was yesterday)

Hile, sweet inklings,

I wanted to post this yesterday, but the blog was mysteriously down. Blahg doon! We have a blahg DOON! *ahem* Anyway, I thought it’d be fun to post an original poem in honor of National Poetry Day, which was yesterday. So that’s what this is all about, YO.

I’d be thrilled if you let me know in the comments what you think. (Note: I’ve disabled comment moderation again. More on that in a later post.)

This poem originally appeared on the delightful Laurie Laliberte’s blog in honor of National Poetry Month.

succor

by Courtney Cantrell

dont pick at that
momma said
youll make it bleed

i wont forget
curled up in the rocking chair listening
as you yearn to watch over me

i wont forget
vulnerable to your gentle hands
you knead the pain from my soul
heal my winter
break my fall
even as the black dogs of your despair nip at your vitals

i wont forget
sobbing the hollowness from my heart
into yours
and your eyes like the sky
wide
welcoming
filled with the softest storms
that cleanse and soothe

i wont forget
enveloped in your sweetest darkness
hidden held whole
heart brought back to life
raw and wild
beating mad with the knowledge of what can and cannot be

i wont forget
tinged with crimson or no
still the memories are warm
and i drink them.

Happy poetizing, people!

Obligatory First Post of the Year: Pookiebottoms Sweetmunch

“…[Y]ou have to walk through time. A clock isn’t time, it’s just numbers and springs, pay it no mind, just walk right on through!”

–The Skull
“The Last Unicorn” (film)

Happy New Year to you, my most dashing and darlingest inklings! I hope your 2014 is off to a safe and pleasant start.

As ever, I am mindful that the calender is naught but a human construct for making our lives more convenient (or less so, as it were), so in reality there’s little difference between calling today “January 1st” or calling today “Pookiebottoms Sweetmunch.” All this talk about “new year’s resolutions” and “let’s make this the best year yet!” doesn’t make much sense when you consider that there’s as much difference between December 31st and January 1st as there is between April 3rd and April 4th.

But.

There’s also this whole collective subconsciousness concept, this idea that when the majority of us humans are celebrating the new and the fresh and the forward-looking, it’s not a bad thing to get caught up in what it all really boils down to, and that is: hope.

This is a hopeful time of year, a time of new beginnings, and I would consider myself particularly jaded if I went around believing and telling everyone that their hope-filled joy is nothing but a chemical response in their brains to the continuance of a human construct. If I believed that and tried to shove it down people’s throats, I might as well stake out my spot on the porch and start yelling at everybody to get off my lawn.

So. HAPPY NEW YEAR, PEOPLE. And yes, let’s make it a good one…and a better one than last year.

Let’s make changes that are beneficial to us and to those around us.
Let’s practice kindness, compassion, and empathy.
Let’s dream big, go out, do things, and make lots of somethings.
Let’s say no to bigotry, no to oppression, and no to hate.
Let’s say no to security and yes to vulnerability.
Let’s give without expecting anything.
Let’s help people when it doesn’t make any sense to help them.
Let’s love people when it doesn’t make any sense to love them.
Let’s read things that disagree with our worldview.
Let’s make friends with people who disagree with our worldview.
Let’s watch less TV and play fewer video games.
Let’s spend more time outside and more time in face-to-face conversation.
Let’s open the windows and let the air in.
Let’s drink more water.
Let’s smile and laugh more.
Let’s say no when we mean no and yes when we mean yes.
Let’s tell the truth kindly but firmly.
Let’s be honest with ourselves.
Let’s face reality.
Let’s give ourselves a break.
Let’s enjoy the ice cream without thinking about the scale.
Let’s take that vacation.
Let’s write that book.
Let’s write that email.
Let’s write that letter.
Let’s speak those words.
Let’s paint that picture.
Let’s jump out of that plane (with a functioning parachute).
Let’s play more.
Let’s quit that job.
Let’s stop waiting.
Let’s forgive.
Let’s step out boldly.
Let’s dance.
Let’s sing in inappropriate places.
Let’s take the stairs.
Let’s revel in the sunshine.
Let’s revel in each other.

Let’s live.

Happy Pookiebottoms Sweetmunch. : )

Memorable Medical Marijuana

Ed: The Gambills ate at Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs today.

Me: You are totally stalking them through Foursquare!

Ed: I told them I was gonna.

Me: Where’s Idaho Springs?

Ed: Remember where we turned off to drive up to Mt. Evans?

Me: Three years ago. In Colorado. No, I don’t remember where we turned off to drive up to Mt. Evans.

Ed: Really?

Me: Really.

Ed: Do you remember going up Mt. Evans?

Me: Yeah. Where we stood on top of the mountain and tried to get a cell signal.

Ed: No, where we stood on top of the mountain and tried to get oxygen.

Me: That too. Yes.

Ed: Okay. The little town where we turned off before we went up the mountain, that was Idaho Springs.

Me: Certainly.

Ed: You really don’t remember? There was the old church way up on top of the hill, and then we went over the scary little dirt road called Oh My God Road*.

Me: Yes, I remember the scary little Oh My God Road.

Ed: And before that, we stopped in Idaho Springs. We got gas there.

Me: Oh! Was it across the street from the medical marijuana place?

Ed: Yes.

Me: Okay, yeah, I remember Idaho Springs.

Ed: *SIGH*

___________________

*Oh My God Road is a real road between Idaho Springs and Central City, CO. It is dirt, it is steep, it is twisty, and it is completely, utterly, pee-your-pants terrifying. These photos do not do it justice.

You know what happens when you assume, right? (Hint: ass-u-me.)

This is a post about how I made an ass of myself.

And nobody knew about it but me.

So no one would ever have had to know.

Except that I’m putting it on the internet.

Which might make me an even greater ass.

The jury’s probably still out on that one.

I considered drawing a picture of the other type of ass but thought better of it. This isn't that kind of blog. I think.

I considered drawing a picture of the other type of ass but thought better of it. This isn’t that kind of blog. I think.

So, I was driving, right? And I stopped at a light on Memorial Road and May Avenue in north OKC, and there was a man with a sign that read, “HUNGRY — GOD BLESS,” and I was at the front of the line of cars, and I thought, “Great.”

He wants me to give him money.

He’ll probably use it for alcohol.

I don’t want to give someone money for alcohol if they have a drinking problem.

I don’t have cash anyway.

Who carries cash nowadays?

Wait. I do have a couple of dollars.

But that’s my emergency money.

You know. Just in case.

(Of I don’t know what. But at least I have it.)

I’m not giving him my emergency stash.

I don’t have anything to give him.

Oh, look. There’s the guilt.

Because I’m supposed to help the poor.

And what kind of awful person am I, if

A. I automatically assume he’s an alcoholic, and
B. I don’t help someone who needs help?

I suck.

*sigh*

But also, I’m a woman, and I’m by myself.

What if he’s dangerous?

(Not because he’s apparently homeless. Just because he’s male.)

Okay, I really suck.

But I’m still not giving him any money.

Screw it.

That was my train of thought in the second it took for me to pull up at the light and for the man on the corner to make eye contact with me.

Eye contact.

Shiny.

He held his sign higher. And the words “HUNGRY — GOD BLESS” might as well have been divine fire from on high emblazoned across the sky, searing my retinas. But still, my retinas perceived the man, and my mind assessed him. About my age. Longish, dark curly hair. Bright blue eyes. Clean-shaven. (Clean-shaven?) Backpack. Old clothes. Pain.

He held his sign higher, and I held up my hands and mouthed, “I’m sorry.”

He moved on past my car, but not before he said something that I couldn’t hear but that was clearly — clearly — a derogatory response to my choice.

He probably just cursed me out.

He doesn’t know if I’m just refusing to give him what I have, or if I really don’t have anything.

At least he didn’t flip me off.

Dude, I’m sorry, okay?

I need my emergency money.

And then there’s the possible addiction thing.

Oh, God, I suck.

With both hands gripping the steering wheel and my eyes on the red stoplight, I sat there and looked at myself and didn’t like what I saw. The thing is, I’ve done this assessment in the same situation and with the same results countless times. It never changes, because I never come to an answer that makes sense to me.

Memory delivers me my old neighbor, Alex, who would come to my door asking for a couple of Euros to buy bread and cheese and meat so that he and his wife could have something to eat. Never mind that a couple of Euros isn’t enough to buy bread and cheese and meat, but it is enough to buy a beer, and if enough neighbors give him a couple of Euros, he’ll have enough to buy the number of beers it takes for him to get drunk enough (again) to beat his wife instead of fixing her a sandwich.

The specter of Alex and his wife haunts me at the traffic lights and the street corners and the mouths of alleys where men in disheveled clothing ask me for money and use God as their letter of reference. I do not know what to do with these men. I cannot know their hearts, and I cannot know the source of their pain.

I look into the bright blue eyes of the man at Memorial & May, and I don’t know what I can do for him that will allow both of us to leave this corner with guilt-free, satisfied smiles on our faces.

I’m thinking all of this as the man moves on past my car and I grip the steering wheel in miserable indecision and I look down and see a Walmart Great Value brand granola bar in the car’s center console.

I grabbed the granola bar and punched the window button, and I swear I leaned halfway out of that window, waving that white-wrapped granola bar like a white flag of surrender, with the Goodness of the universe as the enemy who opposes my bitter self.

“Sir?” I screeched out the window. “Sir! Hello!”

He was three cars back, but he came running. I prayed that the light wouldn’t change and that the drivers behind me wouldn’t be too irate, because I wasn’t rolling up that window or letting go of that granola bar until I could place it in that blue-eyed man’s tan, possibly grimy, but also possibly clean, and who cares about their condition anyway? hands.

When he reached me, he was saying something about not being able to run. I met his eyes and said, “I found this.” And I offered him the granola bar, and he took it, and he asked, “Did you hear what I said?”

I swallowed. Hard. “No, I didn’t.”

He smiled. He was already turning away, moving back down the line of cars. But he locked eyes with me one more time.

“I said, ‘I love your hair.’ God bless!”

I swallowed again, harder this time. “You, too.” It was all I could manage.

And then he was gone, and the light turned green, and I drove away and thanked God that I don’t have to be a slave to my assumptions. I don’t have to be an ass. If I’m an ass, it’s by my own choice. And I always get another chance.

Sometimes, that chance is delivered via a blue-eyed homeless man who loves my hair. We both left the corner of Memorial & May with smiles on our faces, and that’s how this story can always end.