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. : )

How to Burn a Pitiful Omelette

Burnt Omelette in 10 Easy Steps

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 tbsp canola oil
1 skillet
1 stove burner, heated

Directions

1. Place skillet on heated burner.

2. Crack both eggs into skillet. Add canola oil.

3. Scramble eggs (because scrambled eggs are what you intended to cook in the first place).

4. Walk away.

5. Sit down at computer and look at Twitter.

6. Smell something funny.

7. “Run” to kitchen (except that you can’t run because you’re 39 weeks pregnant and everything hurts).

8. Observe “pitiful omelette” smoking in skillet in place of scrambled eggs.

9. Scrape pitiful omelette into trash can.

10. Repeat from Step 1, omitting Steps 4-10.

I’ve never been suicidal. Not really. But.

The title of this post might serve as adequate warning. But. In case it isn’t, please note that this post concerns suicide. If reading about suicide is a trigger for you for suicidal thoughts, please don’t read this. Instead, call someone you consider a friend. Or call 800-273-TALK. Or click here for resources.

On the blog of Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, I read this morning that today is World Suicide Prevention Day. The goal is to raise awareness of suicide, reach out to those who are suicidal (which we all should be doing anyway!), and possibly help prevent more suicides from taking place.

In honor of this, Take 5 To Save Lives is asking everyone to light a candle near a window at 8:00pm, Monday, September 10th (today). The site also encourages us to read their warning signs of suicidal behavior — and to have the courage not to ignore it.

I can’t claim to know or understand what it’s like to feel suicidal. Certainly, when I was a teenager and miserable and felt as though the entire universe were aligned against me, I had moments of thinking, “I wish I were dead!” But those moments resulted only in bathroom crying jags and passive-aggressive behavior toward my parents.

For me, the I-wish-I-were-deads never led to thoughts of how I could go about killing myself. I never even used poetry, my avenue of most intense emotional expression (still), to delineate my frustrated misery.

Because that’s all it was: frustration and misery. Through it all, somewhere in the back of my mind and in the depths of my heart, I continued in faith and in hope. I knew — whether I felt it or not, I knew — that life would change (it did), things would get better (they did), and these feelings wouldn’t last forever (they didn’t).

As an adult, I haven’t had the I-wish-I-were-deads per se…but there have been times during which I looked around and saw the pain other were going through, and I thought, “God, I can’t bear to see this anymore. Help them…and if their pain doesn’t stop, then please, just take me so I don’t have to see this anymore.” And yes, I do recognize the hypocrisy and selfishness inherent in that prayer.

This, too, passed.

Depression lies. Through faith, in spite of the cloud of doubt and fear and sadness, I’ve always had that assurance and held on to it.

Suicidal people don’t have that assurance.

I can’t know how it feels not to have that.

I can’t know how it feels not to have hold of that faith. I can’t ever say to a suicidal person, “I know how you feel.” I can’t even say, “I understand,” because how can I understand an emotion I don’t have? It would insult you and invalidate your emotions if I claimed to know something about your feelings that I can’t possibly know.

All I can say is that, even though I don’t understand how you feel, I do understand that you feel this way.

I’ll never be the saving light at the end of someone’s tunnel; I’m not created to be that. (No human is.) But I can be a way station, a guidepost, a mirror that reflects the true Light. We can all be that for someone else at some point, I believe. We can all brighten the world by lighting our tiny corner of it.

Sometimes, that little tiny light, reflection of the true Light, is all a suicidal person needs to hold on for one more moment. And then one more. And then one more. Until they can see the Light that guides them out of the darkness.

Shine a little light into the darkness today.

Humans, Yeah…But Love Them Anyway

A fellow blogger recently reminded me of the following: a “poem” that circulates around the intarwebz under the title “Anyway” and is generally attributed to Mother Teresa. After doing some research, I discovered that the original was penned by one Kent M. Keith and entitled “The Paradoxical Commandments.”

It seems worth reblogging.

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

~ Kent M. Keith

(A version of these was made famous by Mother Teresa.)

The last two “commandments” stir up a lot of thoughts and mixed emotions in me. On one hand, every one of these resonates with me, and I want to shout, “YES! The world would be a glorious place if every one of us believed these things and acted on them!”

On the other hand, I struggle with setting healthy boundaries. The fight is not as tough as it once was, but there are still areas of my life in which I know my boundaries are ridiculously shoddy. (And I have a hard time not beating myself up about this.) So, to someone who has difficulty with drawing a firm line in a healthy place, Mr. Keith’s final two “commandments” can feel intimidating.

At what point do I withdraw (not my love but my self)? Where do I need to draw the line so that I’m not enabling instead of helping? For I know that there are, indeed, situations in which loving someone means not giving them my all. How do I know when I’m approaching the need to set that boundary? How do I know when I’m right on the line?

How do I know when I’ve crossed it?

These aren’t questions anyone can answer for me. The answers depend on the situation, on the people involved, and on my level of comfort (which, again, also corresponds to situation and persons). Relativity strikes again, I suppose. I just have to keep reminding myself to be patient — with me. It’s frustrating to have come so far in learning these boundary-setting skills…and then discover that I still have so much to learn.

But. In the meantime, “The Paradoxical Commandments” are good ones to live by, and I stand by the truth of that statement. Even the final two will, I think, lead one into a more meaningful and intentional life.

And that, really, is the kind of life I want: one that’s deliberate, intentional, infused with meaning. I don’t want to look back at my life and see a woman who has let fear or complacency or apathy rule her. I don’t want a life in which individuals or society have determined my choice, my direction, my goal.

Every one of Keith’s commandments resonates with my desire and my passion to brighten the corner where I am.

Every one of Keith’s commandments resonates with my desire and my passion…

“…to live deliberately…to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
To put to rout all that [is] not life and not when I…come to die
Discover that I [have] not lived.”

~ Henry David Thoreau
(adapted)

Loving people “anyway” — not giving up on them, not casting them aside — seems like a good way to do that.

Cowards, Silence, and Innocent Blood

As I write this, I am watching the kids get off the bus at the stop outside my house, and tears are streaming down my face.

I had decided not to write about this. I had decided that I would put out a few links on Twitter and Facebook, briefly state my opinion, stop reading news articles, and turn my attention to happier things in order to preserve my sanity.

But I can’t.

My heart hurts too much, and for this moment, I cannot look away.

When, as an adult, you come come across another adult raping a small child, you should a) do everything in your power to rescue that child from the rapist, b) call the police the moment it is practicable.

–from John Scalzi’s Omelas State University,
November 10, 2011

There was the rapist. There was the 28-year-old man who witnessed the rape. There was the father of the witness. There was the coach who heard it from the father. There was the school administration who heard it from the coach.

Not one of them stood up and stepped between that child and his tormentor. To be clear: A 67-year-old man was anally raping a 10-year-old boy in a university locker room shower. Within days, at least five people knew about it, and not a single one of them reported the rape to a law enforcement agency.

The silence of these men rips my heart to shreds.

Now, there is a campus full of at least 1,000 university students who rioted over the firing of their beloved coach — their beloved coach who knew his friend and co-worker was raping young boys and did nothing to stop him.

Some of these students, according to the sister of the boy in the shower, are turning that boy’s torment into a joke. They talk about getting “Sanduskied.” They laugh.

Don’t tell me that this is unlike German civilians ignoring clouds of ash above a concentration camp.

Don’t tell me that this is unlike audiences of young Americans in the 1990s, laughing at the nakedness of imprisoned Jews in the movie “Schindler’s List.”

Don’t tell me dear old “JoePa” did what he could by reporting the incident to his administration. Don’t stand there and tell me he fulfilled his legal obligation by telling the university.

What of his moral obligation?

What of these men’s collective moral obligation to that child?!?

To that child, the report of the rape to university officials means NOTHING. They left that child in the cold, and the other victims with him. They turned their backs on that child and shook hands with the man who raped him.

Oh, cowards.

How can you justify remaining silent when the blood of the innocent calls out for justice?

Want me to get graphic about it? How about the anal blood of the innocent?

How can you justify the culture of silence surrounding this horror?
How can you justify the seed of awful darkness that grew in this silence?
How can you justify supporting a man who supported a child rapist?
How can you make jokes about the rape of a child?
How can you look away?
HOW CAN YOU WITNESS THE RAPE OF A CHILD AND LOOK AWAY?

__________

Some of you know that I’m involved with the Kindle All-Stars project, a collection of short stories in support of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Center.

It is a small, small thing I do, donating a story to help prevent the rape of children. I feel humbled and thankful that I can help even just a little bit. I pray that I will have opportunity to do more.

But my small contribution doesn’t make my heart ache any less.

I feel like I’m in mourning.

Either in the near future or in the distant future, the rapist and his accomplices in silence will pay for what they have done. In the meantime, there are at least several thousand young adults who care more about their school’s and one man’s reputation than they care about the sexual torment of at least 8 innocent children.

That breaks my heart into more pieces than can be put back together right now. God, please save all of us from this corrupt generation.

As I write this, I am watching the kids get off the bus at the stop outside my house, and tears are streaming down my face.

In Which I Think My Navel Is Helpful

Hile, inklings!

If you’ve been paying attention (and I know you have, because that’s just the kind of sedulous inklings you are), you know that I generally post something on this blog every Tuesday and Thursday —

— and you’ll have noticed that I missed Thursday last week.

You’ll also have noticed that today is Wednesday. At least, it’s already/still Wednesday where I live.

Wednesday usually means no courtcan.com blogpost, except that today it does mean a courtcan.com blogpost.

“I’m explaining to you because you look nervous.”

(Odds bodkins, but I love that line.)

“That’s not the point!”
“So, what is the point?”
“The point is…the point is…I’ve forgotten the point.” (Love those ones, too.)

The point is, I’m blogging off-schedule, and I’m enjoying it, and I’m doing it today because I wanted to share links with you.

These links are to posts I’ve written for friend and colleague Aaron’s Pogue’s Unstressed Syllables. I want to share these particular ones here, because as I re-read them, I feel encouraged and enlivened.

Ha! That sounds awfully navel-gazer-ish. ; ) But I’m not talking about energizement based on my own writing. I’m talking about remembering how people and ponderings brightened a corner of my writing world. If there’s a chance such blogpost remembrances can brighten someone else’s corner, I don’t want to pass up an opportunity to share those remembrances here.

So. Here they are in random order:

1. What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Twitter, in which I showcase some favorite tweets that rally us all to be more passionate humans and bolder writers.

2. What I Learned About Writing This Week…from My Writers Tribe, in which, for the first time, I chronicle the pitfalls and possibilities of being around people who don’t think my writerly brain qualifies as mental ward material.

3. What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Getting Edited — oh, the horror? Just how bad is it for someone to spirit your baby (READ: novel) away and vivisect it?

4. What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Taking a Shower
Even writers have to get clean sometimes. (Yes, we must needs leave the house occasionally and be presentable so as not to frighten the children.) But what about the purification of the writer’s soul? Our spirits need uncluttering, too. How’s about a fresh start to everything?

5. What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Observation, Redux
Watch them when they don’t know you’re looking. It’s fascinating, and it will open your heart to the poignant beauty in everyone around you.

So click through, read, enjoy, ponder, commiserate, decry, invigorate, challenge, rejoice. Leave comments over there, or come back here and share your questions, comments, concerns, and cookies! I’d love to hear from you. : )

Have a cramazing day!

The Author Lost Her Brain

Hile inklings!

I have a lesson for you today. Just one little lesson. Won’t take a minute, I promise. And I’m going to tell you it in my very next paragraph. So here goes:

When you schedule a blog post in advance, make sure that the post actually has something written in it before it automatically goes live.

We don’t need to discuss the circumstances that led to my arrival at this wondrous bit of concluding wisdom, do we?

I didn’t think so.

Moving right along, I’ve got a less than pleasant medical test to deal with today, so I must needs leave you dears to fend for yourselves. Have a look at the image below, drop me a line, or feel free to check the sidebar for previous posts that might be to your liking. Ooooh, or go check out my About page! I updated it a few weeks ago and would love to hear what you think.

Have a cramazing day!

Click image to embiggen — especially if you reside where it’s hot and, like we Oklahomans, could use some relief!