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Friday, May 31, 2019

Old & Vaping

Don't you hate when you do something so stupid that you hope no one in the world was looking? Maybe that's just me but I did such a thing just today.

I rarely use my smaller vape devices unless I am vaping a really strong or really flavorful juice. Otherwise, the flavors are just too muted. This is one of the reasons that, now I've run out of Snickerdoodle juice, I carry that beautiful Finic mainly for its looks and the compact size.


Remember, I won this lovely

Recently, I quit resisting and tried some mint-flavored juice. It's called Twin Mint and it's basically the flavor of mint gum. It's not overwhelming or harsh like menthol cigarettes can be but it's got a nice vibrant dazzle to it.

You remember being young and drinking Peppermint Schnapps while clubbing just so your breath smelled good? Again, maybe that's just me. Had vaping been a thing back then, I would have definitely been on this Twin Mint.

The mint in this juice is just strong enough to feel cooling. I couldn't wait to try it out in the Finic. I am in love all over again with the device. The Twin Mint is such a delicious vape in the device. It's way better than the Snickerdoodle because that one could be a little too intense.

So.

At first - just to test it - I only put in enough of the juice to wet the coil. Once I fell in love, I was ready to fill the tank. Now, I have no idea why I did what I did here. I think that, sometimes, my brain only has a certain amount of smart in it and every now and then, I try working past that limit. I don't know, but what I did - instead of unscrewing the Finic cap to get to the fill holes - I just started squirting ejuice right down into the drip tip.

What an idiot I felt like. The good thing is, I immediately caught my goof and stopped before I did a lot of damage. Also, no one was around to see it happen.

I was able to laugh at myself (once I realized the device was okay and working) because I was reminded of something I saw on Reddit.



That is so hilarious. I liked it so much that I saved the Reddit post and now I'm glad I did. At least, I've never thrown out a device. Thank goodness. But there are days when I wonder why I'm still allowed to walk around unattended.

Peace
--Free


EDIT: I am so used to scheduling my posts, this one has been just sitting dormant for a while. So... not "today".

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Great Alcan Adventure of '91

Sometimes I do way too much complaining on this blog. Oh, poor me. Grieving me. Sad and single me. In reality, I've had a really good life. I always had a good family - even though there were times I've been embarrassed to claim some members. I've had a lot of great friends - who sometimes seemed more like family. Basically, I've been loved and protected. I think that's why any time life throws me a curveball (I don't even know what an actual curveball is, people) I get all up in my "oh woe is me" feelings.

Tonight (and keep in mind, please, of how I schedule posts all over the calendar!) some of my family was over and we got talking about some of the good times we've had. Not that we always recognized until much later how good those times were.

We talked about the very first time my sister and I moved our mom and the kids to Arizona. Yes, there was a time we lived in Arizona before the time I had my fantastic drunk Mother's Day adventure. That first time, we moved because we thought the weather there would be better for Mom. What a mistake. She was getting older and the long Alaska winters seemed to be wearing harder on her. Since I was the primary breadwinner, it was my say to make that move. Again, I say, what a mistake.

So we sold our house and packed up the kids and made the move. If only it had been as easy as that sounds.

By the way,  I just checked my old posts and cannot believe I never talked about that first drive down the Alcan  (Alaska-Canada)  Highway. That highway is the only way to drive out of Alaska to the Lower 48.

So, let me tell you a little of what I can remember about that drive back in October 1991 (and I had to text and ask my niece what year it was).

The route out of Alaskaland

The adventure started about a month before we left Alaska. The house sold with no problem. We had the closing and move-out dates and I had my last day of work scheduled. Okay. Things seemed great. Until my oldest brother checked out our car and declared it not safe for the drive to Arizona. That car had barely been safe for the drive to the corner but, hey. We had never had great cars. We always had a house (or trailer) though. It was tough having everything when we had kids not covered by an employer's insurance but that is another story for maybe never.

Anyway. We had to hurry and shop for a reliable, used car that would hold us - three adults and 3 kids. Our 2 older girls were teenagers but one of them had a history of terrible car sickness. On such a long drive, we all would end up wanting to put her out on the side of the road at some point so we decided to fly her to Seattle. She would stay with family until we picked her up for the rest of the drive to Arizona.  The twins were just about 6 years old and small enough to squeeze into even a small vehicle. My sister and I would swap out on the driving and sitting in the back passenger seat. Mom would ride shotgun. Oh boy.

My brother managed to find a car that fit our budget but it was old and he was still a little worried. Between him and my other 2 older brothers, it was decided that we'd let the car get us as far as it could then if need be, we'd just fly the rest of the way. Since flying would be expensive, I prayed to God that wouldn't happen. Then when I saw the car my brother had found, I just prayed to God for the money to fly from the get-go. Like I said, my brother hadn't had a lot of time to find a car we could afford but did he have to find one with a manual transmission?

Neither my sister or I had ever learned to drive a stick shift. However, my sister was brave and I still had a brain that worked perfectly. And my sister-in-law was the best person to teach us how to drive this Subaru because my not-patient-at-all oldest brother would have ended up causing too-sensitive me to have a nervous breakdown. By now, we had about 8 days before we'd be heading out on our grand adventure. Yeah.

On the Saturday before my last week at work, the SIL drove my sister and me to a deserted school parking lot. (Quick note that matters to this story: my SIL is part Inupiat Eskimo.) She patiently explained how to use the clutch and the gear shift and told us not to stress. "Just remember to ease off of the clutch. It helps if you just relax." She drove a few laps around the lot to show us how it was done and then turned the driver's seat over to my sister.

Now my sister, "Mike" was always a get-it-done kind of person. She didn't have to like a task but if something needed to be done, she just wanted to get it over with. I've never been as confident. I need coaxing. So I was glad that Mike was going first. I cowered in the back seat while the SIL coached from the front passenger seat. She told Mike to go a couple of laps around the lot, taking it as fast or slow as she felt comfortable.

Listen. Mike apparently decided to just go balls to the wall. She TOOK OFF and we shot forward so fast that my head slammed back and my braided extensions were flying around my face. We took a turn so fast that I slid across the back of the seat. Mike was changing gears and clutching so hard that the car was jerking and lurching like it was having seizures. And the whole time, my sister-in-law was holding her stomach and laughing like we were on the best thrill ride ever. She was laughing so hard she might not have been breathing. At one point - when Mike made a turn that almost had the car on two wheels - my SIL was either praying in Inupiat or speaking in tongues. Mostly though, she was laughing.

I was absolutely terrified. My sister had never driven a stick before and she was careening around the parking lot like we were being chased. My sister-in-law was NOT IN CHARGE because she couldn't stop laughing. I was close to having that nervous breakdown I thought my brother would've caused.

And then suddenly, Mike slammed on the brakes and the engine died. Nothing was wrong with the car (except maybe frightened), she was just done. She had proved she could drive a stick shift.

And that's how Mike was about tough things. We had to deal with a lot of tough things. We were 2 women in charge of a house with an elderly parent and 4 kids. My sister was the person you'd want around in an emergency because she would deliver the baby or fight off the intruders or negotiate the hostage situation without worrying about the danger. Only once the dust had settled, she might admit to having been scared out of her mind. She was super brave in the right situations. And then there is me.

By the time I got into the driver's seat, my sister-in-law was mostly chilled out and under control. Mostly. I was almost sick with nerves. The first time I tried to move the car forward, it died. And the second time. And the third time. It took forever before I got the hang of doing what my sister-in-law coached and just "eased up off the clutch".

Anyway, I finally did get the hang of it. Kind of.  I never got past stalling out the engine anytime I was on the slightest incline but I was determined not to let the car beat me so I even drove us home. The five-minute drive took about half an hour. I learned to hate traffic lights. They all saw me coming and went to red every time. Every single time. Having to stop wasn't the problem but I would stall out when it was time to move again.

My sister was comfortable enough to drive herself to the grocery store that weekend. I rode along and tried to watch how she worked the clutch. She only stalled out once. I needed to get over my anxiety because guess what? I had to get myself to work all the next week. Not to mention the 3000-mile drive that was coming up fast.

Understand that I have never liked driving anyway - except for that short period of time just after I first learned as a teenager. You know, back when I felt immortal. To this day, I don't like to drive and have always said that if I won a lottery, the only luxury I'd go after would be a full-time driver.

I was so freaked out thinking about driving the Subaru to work that I made myself ill. I didn't sleep well on Sunday night and on Monday I woke up with a nervous stomach. I thanked God in heaven that winter was at least several weeks away. I still wished I didn't have to drive that stick shift.

On Monday I put off leaving for work as long as I could. Then I couldn't wait anymore. And guess what? I made it. I humped and bumped that Subura right into my employer's parking lot. I even made it back home okay - although when I kept stalling out at one traffic light, other drivers started losing patience. The nice lady driving directly behind me is probably why I didn't get my butt kicked by someone else that day. Once I got the car going, she followed me home with her flashers on. We did about 20 mph all the way. Other cars were going around us and giving me dirty looks. I want you to remember that part. Just remember that part.



I did eventually get the hang of driving the Subaru without too much trouble. I had no choice because no matter how I worked the budget, it was the car we were stuck with.

Now, I can't remember exact dates we had planned to head out of Anchorage but I know that it was sometime in the last couple of weeks of September. If it hadn't been for our budget, I wouldn't have had to work so long into the fall season. Normally - or at least back then - the first snow wouldn't hit Anchorage until after Halloween. Like I said, I can't recall specific dates but let's just say that we had meant to hit the road on a Sunday. Well. It snowed on Saturday. And I mean it SNOWED.

Yeah.

I have to take a pause for now. If you are interested, come back over here in a day or so and you can read about what happened when we finally did set out towards the border. Good times.

Peace
-Free

PS - Apologies for the crappy errors. I think I've caught and fixed most of them

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

**REVIEW** Hempure CBD Vape Oil

As you all might have read about, I tried CBD vape oil recently. I am now a fan of vaping CBD oil. I might even try using the syrup or gummies or other such products. In the meantime, I have been given the chance to try this product from Hempure:



The oil I previously used was pure CBD with some VG and PG for the vape experience. The ingredients in this one are Phytocannabinoid-Rich CBD Dominant Hemp Oil with MCT and fractionated coconut oil added. Interesting. If you want to learn more about the terminology, keep reading for the upcoming links.

What I ended up doing was looking at the lab results for both product brands I tried. The fact that Hempure has the lab results online is a testament to good practices as a vendor. Of course, I had no idea what I was looking at so I had someone else glance over the page for me. They assured me that Hempure's vape oil is a good quality product.

By the way, I have to give Hempure credit for having a wealth of information on their site. You can literally take classes to educate yourself via their CBD Library. No jive. There is a 10-chapter textbook course and you can enroll in other courses.

Now back to the CBD vape oil.

I like most that Hempure has guidelines of dosages. That's a first for me. Every other site I've perused doesn't get into the details.

This vape oil comes in strengths from the Standard 100mg (the one I'm trying) up to Concentrated Therapeutic at 1000mg. There are 4 flavors: Natural, Cinnamon, Peppermint, and Citrus. Since I like to mix mine in with whatever flavor I'm already vaping, I got the Natural. When I first tried it, I mixed it with some Spearmint juice and it didn't affect the flavor at all. The other CBD vape oil I tried before has a very slight, well, hemp-like smell and flavor that comes through when used alone. I wanted to try Hempure's oil solo just to see what the taste was like so I put in fresh cotton and loaded up. No rope-y taste or smell though there was the faintest flavor of ... something - maybe the fractionated coconut or the MCT? Both of those are generally flavor-free. Whatever. The taste was bland and not unpleasant.

I learned my lesson about overdoing it with CBD and this time I stuck to taking just about 3 hits. This was enough to help me relax about an hour before bedtime. I slept well and am glad to say that I awoke without feeling hungover. That's the biggest benefit to this vape oil.

I suggest going over and checking out the various products. If you do nothing else, be sure to check out the library of information. I'm so impressed by that.

Now that I have tried vape oil, I plan to look into some of the orally ingestible product. While going through the information at Hempure, I learned of some other potential benefits to CBD and Hemp. I want to find out more about using some of the topical products.

I'm no doctor so I can only tell you how CBD works for me. In my personal case, CBD is a replacement for general pain relievers and sleeping pills. Hempure has a pretty terrific product in this vape oil and I will be for sure using their site resources.

Peace
--Free


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary bottle of the product(s) mentioned in order to render my fair and honest opinion. However, I am not an affiliate or in any other way compensated for visits to the product website.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Journals and the Randomness

I've been blogging here for so long that I sometimes forget why I started or why I keep going. My reasons change with my moods. Currently, I'm in the middle of one of my "years that ask" moods.

Being in this kind of mood prompted me to look back over some old posts (I deleted a few lots of them) and to open up some of my pen-and-paper journals. Oh man. What a walk back through the tangled madness that is my inner life.

Part of me is pleased that I blog and keep journals. Part of me is alarmed at things that I have written down. I might regret it later but I destroyed some of my entries. I'm talking shredded the pages and soaked them in bleach before vac-sealing them and putting in the very bottom of the dumpster. Shit.

Some of my worst (and most cruel) entries were about my ex. And here's the thing:  I can try blaming him all I want but that man never did anything I didn't allow. I'm ashamed at the pure hate I directed at him in my journals. Hate mingled with self-righteousness. One line would be pure hate and the next would be about my intentions to pray for him. WHAT???? I'm telling you, love is its own form of madness...

My journals document my procrastination and head-in-the-clouds attitude. I realize that I need someone or something to ground me. In the past, I was rooted in reality with a lot of responsibility. For a long time, I only ever spent energy swimming against the tide of taking care of kids and a home and an aging parent, and then a sibling. Then, suddenly, I was "in love". And just like all money ain't good money, all love ain't real love. That was one of my mother's sayings. So much truth. One of my now-destroyed journal entries questioned whether I was actually in love at that time or if I was just reacting to the last hoorah of my then soon-to-be-extinct ovulation cycles.  That belated realization made me feel torn between laughing and crying.

I spent a few hours reading back over those journals. I almost can't believe how many of them I've packed around with me all these years. I'm undecided about whether I will be destroying any more of them. It's a little scary to have a written record of my deepest thoughts around. Deep thoughts, dark thoughts, deliriously happy thoughts, and hopeful thoughts. Some thoughts that should only be shared with the person who keeps your name safe in their mouth.

An interesting thing I learned about myself is what I am okay with and not okay with baring to others. I'm a lot like the society I live in. It's sometimes easier to share what should be kept private than it is to share what matters most. I think that is true of this time we live in. People are often more comfortable discussing their sex life with strangers than they are about being raw and open with a loved one.

Note: I'm in free-flow mode and can't be sure if any of this is making sense. Just hang with me for a bit.

I think I've mentioned here before that this blog is my passive-aggressive way of expressing myself. You readers are out there but not entirely "real" to me.  What I mean by that is I don't have to look into your eyes and see your shock or disapproval or condemnation. I just get to share. If I met you on the street, you would not even be able to guess at everything going on in my heart.

Warning: Some rough segues ahead. Really rough.

I wonder if it's true that when you die your life flashes before your eyes? I just googled this and, apparently, there is some evidence reported. I don't know if I want that to be a thing. I barely survived reviewing my old journals.

When I was deleting parts of my journals, the main thing I considered was someone finding them after I'm dead. Yeah. I think about that kind of stuff a lot. Not the dying part, but the part where someone goes through all my personal effects. Not that I would be here to die again of mortification but if I could, I surely would.

And all my paper journals!

And it's not like I have a lot of nasty-girl stuff stashed in the backs of closets and dresser drawers. My fear is that someone will find one of the journal entries I wrote right after I got mad at them about something. One of my worst personal traits is that whatever I feel, I feel deeply.

This right here is not just a joke, on a wrong day, it's my life

my feelings are easily hurt

Thankfully, the balance of this trait is that I have learned to channel any negative feelings into writing/journaling until it's safe to deal with them any other way.

So keeping a journal is healthy to a point. As long as you don't keep all of the feelings on paper where they do no one else any good. Blogging is a whole other thing. Blogs go out into the world. Even if you delete posts, they can be retrieved. Yikes.

I guess I currently feel that journals and blogs are great for general sharing. However, if you love someone or are worried about them or just need to tell them something they really need to hear, you have to be braver. Do that in person - and in private. To paraphrase something my mother tried to teach me: love out loud, argue in whispers, and never, ever let the sun set on your anger. That's one of the things I pulled from my journals.

Let's all just be good to each other.

Peace
--Free

Sunday, May 26, 2019

**EDIT** Dancing With Myself


(NOTE: I wrote this post piecemeal over a couple of days so please ignore any weirdness in the structure.)

I had to come back and add Rachel D'Arcy. I love her music but can never remember her name. I searched one of the songs I love and wanted to post it. Her voice. A bit like Amy Winehouse except more mature and sensual. She can really do her thing,

Remember when I mentioned posting some lists of songs I like? Well, this is a perfect time. When I was feeling like hell last week and in that deep blue funk, I tuned out of social media and plugged into my music.

There are so many songs I like, love, or am fascinated with that there's no way I can list even most of them. Since I live my life by my moods, I will list my music the same way. Here goes.
  • Someday We'll All Be Free/A Song forYou (Donny Hathaway)
  • Pata Pata/Mbube (Miriam Makeba)
  • Black Violin (A Flat)
  • Lovely Day (Bill Withers)
  • Hysteria/Love Bites/Animal/Foolin (Def Leppard)
  • Many Rivers to Cross (Jimmy Cliff)
  • Higher Ground/I Wish/ Fingertips Pts1&2 (Stevie Wonder)
  • Dancing in the Moonlight (Toploader)
  • Brick House/Zoom (Commodores)
  • Let's Work/Adore (Prince)
  • Joe Satriani
  • Didn't I (Darondo)
  • Celia Cruz
  • You & I/Hold Me (Emily King)
  • Public Enemy
  • Soul Flower remix (Pharcyde)
  • Back It Up (Nellie Travis)
  • The Emotions 
  • James Taylor
  • Graham Central Station
  • I Just Love the Man (The Jones Girls)
  • Underneath the Colors/ Tight/By My Side/Stairs (INXS)
  • Free (Jaguar Wright ft. Freeway)
  • Upside Down (Diana Ross)
  • Life is Beautiful acoustic & live (Sixx A.M.)
  • Slide (Slave)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Natural High (Bloodstone)
  • Shine (BarKays)
  • Noreg (Sky Townsend)
  • Turn Your Lights Down Low (Bob Marley)
  • O.H.I.O. (Ohio Players)
  • Wichita Lineman (Glen Campbell)
  • Nobody But You (by both Dorothy Moore & Joss Stone)
  • Wild Honey (Van Morrison w/Joss Stone)
  • Crazy Love (Van Morrison)
  • Still Life Blues (Elephant Micah)
  • Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover (Sophie B. Hawkins)
  • Black Girl (Lenny Kravitz)
  • I Go to the Barn (Band of Horses)
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Ooh Child (The 5 Stairsteps)
  • Do You Wanna Dance (Bette Midler)
  • Simply Beautiful/L.O.V.E./Funny How Time Slips Away (Al Green)
  • Does She Love That Man (Breathe)
  • Everything is Everything (Lauryn Hill)
  • Ordinary World/Come Undone (Duran Duran)
  • Sweet Thing (Chaka Khan)
  • What a Wonderful World (both by Louis Armstrong & Paolo Nutini)
  • Amos Lee
  • Diana Ross
  • Tears Dry On Their Own/Love Is a Losing Game (Amy Winehouse)
  • Crazy (Patsy Cline)
  • Quiet (MILCK)
  • Millie Jackson
  • Knocking on Heaven's Door (both by Randy Crawford & GNR)
  • John Mayer
  • The Temptations
  • Gladys Knight & The Pips
  • In My Time/You Got What I Need/Wake Up (Teddy Pendergrass - and w/The Bluenotes)
  • Holla If You Hear Me/Baby Don't Cry (2Pac)
  • I'm Still Here (Mindy McCready)
  • Fisherman's Blues (The Waterboys)
  • Love Ballad (LTD)
  • Sinnerman/Wild Is the Wind/Blackbird (Nina Simone)
  • Once In A Lifetime (Talking Heads)
  • Duke Ellington
  • Quincy Jones
  • Waterfalls/Swing My Thing Back Around/Am I the One (Beth Hart)
  • I Can't Tell You Why (Eagles)
  • Mmm/I Don't Want You Back (Laura Izibor)
  • Stormy Monday (T-Bone Walker)
  • Uncomfortable Truth/My Home (Nneka)
  • Water (Jack Garratt)
  • Baby Can I Hold You (Tracy Chapman)
  • Elton John
  • Jeff Buckley
  • God Only Knows (Beach Boys)
  • Alpha (Elvis)
  • Keb Mo
  • Hey You (Floetry)
  • Arrested Development
  • In the Mood (Glen Miller)
  • Unseen Zones (Destiny Lab)
  • No One Else On Earth (Wynona Judd)
  • Love (Kendrick Lamar)
  • James Brown
  • Wild Horses/Shattered/Beast of Burden (Rolling Stones)
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • It's You that I Need (Enchantment)
  • Love Me (The 1975)
  • Rock the Mic (State Property)
  • Everybody Needs Somebody (Solomon Burke)
  • Sea of Tranquility (Kool & the Gang) & Send It On (D'Angelo)
  • Brown Sugar (D'Angelo)
  • The Sky Is Crying (Gary B. Coleman)
  • Everybody Talks (Neon Trees)
  • Stars (Simply Red)
  • Hold Me/I Knew I Love You (Savage Garden)
  • Yours acapella version (Shai)
  • So Into You (Fabolous)
  • True (Spandau Ballet)
  • Smile (Ural Thomas and the Pain)
  • Creep/Waterfalls (TLC)
  • Madness (Muse)
  • Sleepwalk (Santo and Johnny)
  • Motown music (esp Marvin Gaye)
  • Some jazz
  • Some country
  • Some folk
You know what? This list is SO incomplete. I just kept this post open for a couple days and would come over and add to the list as songs popped into my head. Every time I thought I was done, I would think of another song. I'm going to just stop now before I drive myself bonkers.

And this doesn't even represent some other genres. I have so many gospel and Christian favorites that I would never be able to start listing them. The top faves include songs by Big Daddy Weave, Third Day, the Georgia & Mississippi Mass Choirs, and James Cleveland. I will do another post soon to list some of the Christian/Gospel songs.

 I wouldn't be able to do a good job of listing classical music because I only know the songs I like by ear. I do love stuff from musicals (like that beautiful song from Les Miserables "Bring Him Home" - but only as sung by the one dude with the huge voice that shakes my insides up). Man, I cried so hard the first time I heard that song. Maybe I should actually go see a musical. That would be something. Unless I ended up in a puddle of tears by the end. I think I'm way too emotional for hearing such glorious music in public.

Real quick before I sign off, I have to share how much I love Vapewild. I've been vaping on 21 Jump Treat ever since VW added it back to the lineup. Along with my juice order, I requested some of the famous Vapewild art. Guess what? I not only got the art subject I requested, but I also LOVE it. So freaking cute. You can probably guess what I requested. It was a toss-up between an orchid and... my grown gal crush:.

Vapewild art

I was having a really crappy day when the order arrived. Then I saw the drawing and - boom - instant smile. I'm such a kid at heart. By the way, I think that the artist makes him look more John Wick-ish than sweet Keanu but I still love it. The piece sits right next to where I do all my blogging and writing,

Peace
--Free

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Faith & Storms

Since I had my meltdown the other day, I am feeling better. I did a lot of praying after I finished that crazed, angry, and ranting post. My body started to feel better several hours after my infusion. I thought about deleting that post but decided to leave it up because of this one. Maybe it will help someone else to see the pair of them so they know that even severe "storms" pass over if we just give it time.

The first thought that came into my mind once I started feeling better was a self-rebuking "How dare you?" Seriously, who am I to feel sorry for myself? There are people in the world who would give everything to be at my lowest. I am a spoiled, first-world, insufferable jerk sometimes.

While at infusion, I see people who are dealing with diseases that make mine look like a bad cold. I'm not exaggerating. There was a 20-ish-looking guy in the ward who is fighting something that requires an infusion of meds so powerful that his chair is damn near sealed off from the rest of us - and there are chemo patients there. He was with a sweet-faced child-woman who looked younger than he did. She was wearing a wedding band and that just about broke my heart. Can you even imagine their struggle? Back in Anchorage, one of my doctors was treating children.  Those babies probably have never known a normal childhood but... here's me, drowning in tears for myself instead of praying for those people. Instead of being thankful.

Now that I am thinking more clearly, I don't know where I get the nerve to sit on my pity pot for even five minutes. Yes, I have to deal with a very inconvenient illness and I do wish I could turn back the clock to a time before all this, but I can't. This is called life. Life is not scripted to have something wonderful happen every 30 minutes. Life can be sad and disappointing and a struggle. And this is where my faith comes in.

For people who don't understand why I believe in a real and definite and specific God, I have to tell you that I don't understand your disbelief - or your ambivalence. And if you aren't in the mood to think about your position on the subject, just stop reading right now because I feel another rant coming on.

What does this mean?
I can understand how someone could want to not believe in God. I can understand how someone believes but has decided to rebel against God. What I cannot understand is how someone questions that there is God.

I've had people tell me that my faith is blind and ignorant and born out of fear and tradition. They are wrong. I would have to be willfully ignorant to believe that there is no God.

Some people like to say that they don't believe in what they can't experience with the 5 senses. I always want to remind them of the miracle that we are beings with those senses. Where did it come from that we exist as intricately made as we are?

And, by the way, I do experience God with my senses. If you can't understand how awesome I find the sight and sound of the natural world, then just stop and think about it for a moment. Just the fact that we have those senses - along with the ability to taste and touch and smell - that alone is pretty miraculous.

Dr. Hugh Ross - an astronomer and astrophysicist - explained in the simplest way what is so frightening to a lot of people (especially other scientists) to consider: "If there was a beginning, there is a Beginner."

Dr. Ross is obviously an intelligent man who has studied and theorized about things that I can't even pronounce. But all I need to do is open my eyes and look around to see "that the Heavens testify to the existence of a Creator". I can't even consider the beauty and complexity of life without considering God. There are resources for anyone wondering about the argument for God from different stances.

As advanced as man has become, he cannot create from nothing. He himself is a created being. All his greatness of mind comes from the DNA that he is. All that he discovers is from what already is. Man did not create himself or speak everything else into existence. God did.

When I think of where the first breath of man came from, I think of beginnings. When I think of time and dimensions - seen and unseen - I think of God. I cannot imagine the unfathomable intricacies of all that is woven together to create everything that is without considering God. How can you?

And, of course, there is suffering and grief and pain that we put up as arguments against there being a "just and good" God. What we don't think about is we're not just told: "There is God" period. We are actually given more information. An intelligent person will consider all the information. There's a guy named Lee Strobel who started out as an atheist but used his skills as an investigative journalist to consider the information. His goal was to disprove the existence of God. He came to believe. C.S. Lewis was reared as a Christian (that traditional thing), became an atheist, and came to believe - this time not blindly.

So, I don't need to have as much faith to believe in God as someone does to disbelieve. My faith is to help me understand and/or trust in God through my human condition. As I suffer depression and physical illness, I have to trust that God has not forsaken me.

Belief is easy; faith is hard but they go hand in hand.

Here is a quote (from an unlikely source for a Christian) that I thought about as I was writing this post:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. 
If you are anxious you are living in the future. 
If you are at peace you are living in the present.” (Lao Tzu)
The Bible puts it this way:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)

Faith is about living in the present because you know what the endgame is about.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sarcoidosis and the Worth of Life

The past couple of weeks have been brutal. I am a couple weeks past due for my infusion because of a paperwork screwup somewhere and my body is in full rebellion. At this point in my life, I sometimes wonder about the value in prolonging the life of someone with a chronic illness. Seriously.

I once got to see a bill for my infusions and it scared the crap out of me. The numbers were just crazy. And I always feel bad about the weight my illness puts on the "system". What is life worth, really? And what is the balance? If you think about what you mean to the world - to society - and try to weight it against what it costs to maintain your life...

In a week, I have two or three great days of health. The rest of the time I am depleted by one of my medicines. Every eight weeks, I get an infusion and feel amazing for about three weeks. Even my weekly med doesn't bring me as far down as normal. Right now I'm feeling worn out from the one thing I managed to do today - walk over to the market for things to make tea and a snack. I had to rest for a couple of hours before I made the tea. All I've done with the rest of my day is lay down and try to fight the heavier-than-usual fatigue and make phone calls about the screwed up paperwork. So I am just questioning a lot of things.

I'm not a mother and I no longer am responsible for children. I'm not a wife or life partner. My contribution to society is fairly limited. So what is the value of life?

Today has just been really tough. I'm sitting on top of all my feelings wearing this crown of self-doubt and trying to talk to God about it all. Sometimes, though, the higher I sit on my mountain of feelings, the further I feel from Him.

What is the value of life? That's what I'm going to be thinking about when I lay back down. And I am going to have to lay back down because just sitting up long enough to post this has worn me out again.

I really hate this fucking sarcoidosis. I hate the way it makes me feel and I hate the way it makes me think - when I can think. I hate how it has come into my life and just bulldozed over everything that makes me sure of my value.

Peace
--Free

Monday, May 20, 2019

CBD Oil & Self-Medicating Shenanigans

When I tried Kratom, I didn't post about it as an actual review. That's because I didn't want to promote the use of it. Kratom has worked for me but the variables in dosage and effects are too, well, variable for me to even think about recommending its use. CBD oil, on the other hand, is, in my opinion, a much more stable type of product and I'm okay with doing a sorta-kinda review of the one I got from Hemp Bombs.


As you might know, I've been using Kratom to boost my energy and lift my brain fog. The brain fog is persistent but I do get great results as far as energy. The side effect I notice most is headaches. On the day I started trying the CBD oil, I'd already taken my morning dose of Kratom. My energy levels were up and I planned to get some stuff done around the apartment before I had to take my injection and be med-sick for a couple of days. Things did not go as planned.

The CBD oil I'm using is made for vaping. I add a little of it to whatever flavored eliquid I'm using and just vape as normal. There are some things I knew about CBD from friends who use it. It helps with stress and anxiety and chronic pain. It seems basically to work as a non-narcotic mind and body relaxant. What I didn't think about what just how relaxing the oil can be. I also didn't think about dosing.


So, I've slammed my Kratom-and-OJ-shot, made my it's-so-icky face and done my it's-so-icky shimmy. I've got floors to vacuum and mop, bed linens to swap out, blog posts to be written and scheduled. I'm Kratom-energized and ready but I'm letting myself get a little worked up and overwhelmed because my mind is also in creative mode and ideas are bouncing around out of control. This is when I remember that CBD oil is supposed to be calming. I decide to Frankenstein up my mood and balance the energy rush of the Kratom with the calming of the CBD. Perfect.

I put on my housecleaning music and added some of the CBD to the Vapewild Hannibal Nectar in my vape. (By the way, I chose the flavorless CBD oil so that it wouldn't interfere with my other vape juices.)

Now.

I don't remember exact times but let's just say that I took the Kratom at 8:30 and did about three good vape hits of CBD at about 9. At 9:10 I'm pulling out the vacuum and steam mop and am bopping around with Paolo Nutini because he and I have our new shoes on and everything is right. Everything was not only right but just about as perfect as could be. For a while.

It was about 9:15 when I started to think that I might need to sit down for a minute before I started cleaning.

I was feeling zero stress and all those formally bouncing and distracting idea I had have calmed themselves. The last thing I recall was thinking that my couch is a lot more comfortable than I describe it to friends. And if I thought about anything else, I will never know.

I 'm going to say that it was around 11:30 or a quarter till noon when I woke up from a full-on couch snooze.



People, let me tell you that I have never been so relaxed in my life. This wasn't a feeling of drunken or medicated relaxation. It was a more natural I-had-a-long-and-productive-day-then-laid-down-to-watch-some-TV-and-felt-like-drifting-off kind of relaxation. It was the type of relaxation usually only cats and newborn babies seem to master. I've seen depictions of heroin users and that nodding-off thing they do. I've never done drugs but I probably looked like I had that day.

There was no vacuuming or mopping - or even new shoes bopping - completed that day. It was all I could do to find my way to bed.

I "napped" (aka passed the hell out, open-mouthed and semi-comatose) for another half hour before I felt just too ridiculous laying in bed in the middle of the day when I wasn't sick. I made myself get up and I drank a lot of coffee and water so that I could at least get some lighter chores done. By 'lighter' I mean I managed to clean out some junk mail and sort some laundry in between non-narcotic nods. When I went to bed that night, I was out and sleep before nine. Just done and down for a 10-hour count.

The Complete truth
I'm not sure exactly how much CBD I put into the vape that first day. I know that my weekly injections are 0.8ml of medicine and I would say that I used maybe about half of that amount or even a little less of CBD oil.  And keep in mind that I mixed the oil into my regular vape juice and I only took a few hits off the vape.

Bottom line is that CBD oil can be powerful - though I understand that this depends on the quality/source. I now know that for daytime use I should put only a couple of drops of oil into whatever other ejuice I'm vaping. I won't be using the CBD as a nighttime sleep aid. For one thing, the Kratom is great for getting a good night's sleep - and I only need good rest, not long rest. I think I will save the CBD oil for when I do my injections. It will be nice to sleep clean through that nastiness.

Remember I told you I get headaches if I dose even a little too high with the Kratom? Well, even the tiny dose of CBD oil takes care of that. I guess it's true that people with chronic pain issues can benefit from the oil.


If you aren't into vaping, HempBombs (and other vendors) supply the oil in syrups, capsules, and edibles such as gummies. If you do vape and like flavored liquids, they have a decent variety. I'm no expert on CBD oil, but I think that I picked the right place for oil of good quality and pricing. Shipping was fast and I will be shopping with HempBombs again.

Peace
--Free


I did not receive product or any other compensation from the vendor mentioned in this post

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Nightmares and Ramblings

Well, it's 1:34 in the morning here and I'm so awake right now that I might never sleep again. I just had the worst nightmare. I figured since I'm up, I might as well post about it. Lord knows I'm not going to be able to shut my eyes even to blink right now...

I have a thing about sleeping with the bedroom door open. It was so hot when I went to bed earlier that I left the door open to let the AC circulate better. Never again. I'd rather sleep in a hot sauna. I haven't had a bad dream in so long that this one left me shaking.

Don't you hate not being able to remember a dream? Not me. Not this time. I can remember every detail of this one. In the dream, my little nephew was visiting and we had fallen asleep watching television. I woke up (in the dream) at one point to catch the kid eating chips. I made him put them away and we went back to sleep. I woke up again to the sense of being in danger. I get up to check out that windows and doors are locked and that there isn't a crazed killer lurking anywhere. When I go into the living room, the dogs (because, in the dream, I have 2 dogs) are cowering on the couch and watching the sliding patio door. Of course, it's in my nightmare that I have cute dogs and a patio. I'd love to have a patio. I could have indoor and outdoor plants if I had a patio... Anyway, I go over to lock the patio door and notice that there are a couple of strange snarling dog-wolf-kangaroo-looking predators outside. They look like they are trying to sneak up to the door. Now I'm really creeped out. I'm trying to lock the door but can't. I open it a little, slam it, and try locking it again and can't. Leave it to me to finally have a patio only for it to have a busted lock. I decide that just having the door closed will have to be enough (maybe somewhere in the back of my brain I realize that the weird animals outside probably can't open a door) and I go check out the rest of the house. In the bathroom, I can tell that the shower has recently been running but there's no one in there. Also, my nephew is now not in the dream. This is a good thing because I feel like I'm about to run, piss myself, and lose my mind all at the same time and I couldn't add the task of protecting him on top of all that. I get the idea that turning on lights would solve all my problems so I start going around, flipping on switches. And, oh goody, in addition to having a raggedy ass patio door, apparently I have lights that no longer work. Of course. All that I can think to do now is pray but I can't make my voice work.

At this point, I wake up from the dream. And, trust me, I wake up praying.

Now, I know what triggered the nightmare. For one thing, I had gone to sleep right after listening to some horrendous details in a crime podcast. Also, I think my subconscious was freaked out by having that bedroom door open. The first thing I did was get up and shut it. Then I texted my niece - mother of my nephew - and make sure that he is okay. She was kind of pissed that I only asked about him and no one else in her home. Doesn't she understand that she was never in danger of my crazed dream?

So now I am up and drinking coffee and I can't stop thinking about this nightmare. I wish I was talented enough to draw the images I dreamed of. Or maybe not. I don't need reminders of crap that scares me.

I will not be going back to sleep anytime soon. When I finish this post, I'm going to find the most colorful, cheerful, and childlike movie I can. I wish I could watch the old Zoobilee Zoo videos we had when the kids were small. I could really use a good Ben Vereen strutting around as Mayor Ben in that crazy costume he wore.



Does anyone else remember Zoobilee Zoo? Our kids used to love it. I once took my 3-year-old twin niece and nephew to work to babysit them while I finished a three-hour assignment. Popped in the video and they never bothered me for more than snacks and potty breaks. When my sister found out that I let her babies watch that much television I thought she was going to disown me. Man, I miss Zoobilee Zoo. I just found out that the videos are on YouTube!



I just watched that video and realized that Zoobiliee Zoo might actually give me nightmares...

Well, later today I have to attend the high school graduation of another of my nephews. Maybe that's what triggered my nightmare? All the "babies" of the family are growing up. I have this nephew graduating and a niece who is getting married later this year. Maybe I'm just a little freaked out by all this growth and change going on within the extended family? Or it could just be that I went to sleep with that damned bedroom door open.

It's nice and cool now because it's started raining outside. I think I'm just going to open the window and sleep with the light on.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, May 18, 2019

My Happy Place

It's been almost 2 years since I moved here. I know that because my rent goes up every year on the anniversary of my move-in date and I got the notice the other day. Whatever.

When I first moved here, I was still kind of missing Alaska. But only kind of. Some random thief had stolen my favorite boots and a shawl out of my car just before I left so... What I still miss most about Alaska are the mountains. No matter what crappy thing was going on in the world or in your life, you could always walk outside and look at those majestically beautiful mountains. What a way to remind you of power and beauty and forever-ness. I also missed the abundance of clean tap water and the absence of wild reptiles.

Moving here, I was looking for small-town peace and quiet. I was a little worried about the potential negatives of a small town - the gossip, clannish behavior, and lack of diversity, not to mention the lack of a Costco and Walmart. After just a few weeks here, I relaxed. The people are, for the most part, unbelievably civil. There's a sense of community here but without the clannish-ness. Most of all, there is a lot of peace and quiet. You can hear yourself think. Hell, in the winter, things get so cold and slow, you can hear your cells replicating. And the winters are the worst thing about this place - not long and dark like Alaska's but brutal and unpredictable.

Probably the biggest adjustment I had to make in my daily life was not being about to get to Walmart on a whim. The closest one is about 8 miles away. That doesn't seem like much but no matter where I was in Anchorage, I was never more than 2 or 3 miles from a Walmart. I do realize that's not a totally good thing and I'd like to be able to afford to refuse to shop at Walmart but... life.

It's not just having to practically commute to Walmart. The nearest Costco is in Minnesota. I don't mind that much because I can order from them online just like I can with Walmart, Khol's, Target, Old Navy, etcetera. I actually prefer shopping online because I don't like leaving the boundaries of my little hometown. Outside the boundaries, there's more crime and sketchy people.

I do realize that one of the reasons it's so peaceful here is that there are no big box stores around. To be honest, I was so damn happy to find out that we have a Dollar General that I forgot about Walmart for a while.

What's nice about not having big-box-corporate-megalopoly type businesses here is that we still have a lot of family- and locally-owned establishments. The main grocery chain is one owned by a Midwest family. The town coffee shop is locally-owned. Most of the downtown restaurants and boutique establishments are local. The butcher's shop that has ruined me for eating any other ground beef is awesome. By the way, I love the idea of being able to say I have a butcher.

I have complained about the winters here but they are a much-needed wind-down after the festive summers. Things haven't revved up here yet this year, but I can feel the town itself getting ready and doing warm-ups. From about June through October, the population probably triples. People come from all over the rest of the nation to move into the houses surrounding the lake. The roads start filling up with expensive cars and motorcycles. The locals start coming out of hibernation to mingle with (and maybe keep eyes on) the visitors.

My first summer here in this particular apartment started out beautifully. I live right off of our historic Main Street and I was excited by the car shows and street festivities. I'd sometimes take my folding chair out to sit on the sidewalk and observe. There was live music, carnivals, and street vendors. I loved the atmosphere and liked to open my windows and let all the fun noise and music wash through my home. I was in love with all the merriment. For about a month. Then that shit started tapdancing on my last good nerve.

My neighbors had warned me. They had just been waiting for my summer glow to wear thin.

However, this is a tourist type town and all of the local businesses really depend on the flood of funds generated during the summer. That summer income is why the small businesses can operate through the leaner winter months. That summer nuisance money is why we have nice, clean streets and a cute as can be downtown to enjoy year round.

When one of my brothers and his wife came to visit last summer, they fell in love with this place. They live in Arizona though and would never make it through one of the winters here. Plus, they only like the small-town flavor for short periods. They actually like the larger cities in Arizona and California (where the SIL is from) for the hustle, bustle, and attitude. I personally hate almost everything about both those places except for some of the weather and most of the food. Not to generalize but I found the people in larger cities to be slightly rude and disconnected. And, yes, I know that both attitudes are reflexive and possibly necessary when living in big cities. I get it. I can go three miles further in town from that Walmart I told you about and find the same attitudes. So I'm not picking on any particular place.


The other day, my sister-in-law and I walked down to the lake. We didn't stay long, we just wanted to see if the water was clear and if there were any pontoons out yet. The water was clear but there were no pontoons out. The SIL did spot some fish leaping. We watched people walking by with their kids and pets. Locals. In a couple of weeks, the lake houses will start filling up with tourists and other summer people and the park will be full. Sometime in June, the bandstand will be booked and I'll be able to open my windows and hear live music. Oh, and June is also when out downtown starts celebrating Thursdays on Main. There will be more live music and car shows and street vendors. Right around the middle of August, I'll be praying for winter.

No matter the season though, I love so much about this town. It feels like home to me.

Peace
--Free.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Old Dog, New Tricks?

Because of a conversation I had with a friend the other day, I've been thinking about some of my personality traits and whether or not I'm an old dog needing to learn new tricks. And should I? Can people change as they get older? Should they? I think about this all the time because I know that some of my personality traits keep me a bit isolated from people.

I've always been a very private person. I think that the reason I love this blog so much is that it allows me to be so expressive from behind a screen in a semi-anonymous way. In real life, I tend to be shy and not as sharing. Most people who read the blog don't know me. I'm just this person typing out her thoughts. It really is a win-win situation.

That friend I was talking to the other day got up in her feelings and mentioned that she thinks I don't trust her. I never knew she felt this way! She told me that after all the personal stuff she's shared with me, I never reciprocate. I didn't realize how true that was until she brought it up. Honestly, I do trust her for the most part but I'm just not as comfortable as she is in "sharing". Ironically, I think that one of the reasons she shares with me is because she knows that I can be like Fort Knox when it comes to someone's confidences.

My best friend is probably the one person who knows almost everything about me now that my sister is gone. And my she thinks this can be kind of dangerous. Once, I was casually dating a guy - nothing real serious, just in that whole getting to know each other dance - and my best friend was the only one who knew about it. This went on for a few months and when she realized I hadn't mentioned anything about the guy to my family, she was really alarmed. Comically alarmed. She worried that if something happened to me, no one would know about the guy. I said that she knew. She responded by reminding me that she is old and has had a previous heart attack. "I should not be your last line of defense, girlfriend!" I so love that woman.

I'm also a loner. That's another thing that worries my family. They get it, but every now and then they remind me that they are there if I should need them. I know that. What makes it easy for me to be a loner is that I know I don't have to be. It's that whole alone-but-not-lonely situation.

So, what else should I try to change? Should I try to be more social and outgoing? I am getting somewhat better about socializing with my neighbors. I still don't attend the potlucks and other get-togethers but I have been doing a little more mailbox socializing. For a long time, I only checked my mail during low-traffic times in the hallway. I would even usually do my laundry as late in the evening as I could. I just didn't want to get roped into those conversations full of building gossip. (Okay, I kind of like some of the building gossip but from a distance. I like distant gossip...) Lately, I have taken to chatting more with a couple of the more easy-going women in the building, so I'm not completely antisocial. Not usually.

What else? Maybe I could work on some of my phobias? I've gotten a lot better about plane rides. I didn't even have to get a little bit lit before the last trip to Arizona. Of course, that flight is almost shorter than the drive to the airport. Next time I travel, I plan to use my Kratom powder or CBD oil to calm myself. I'm better with that stuff than I am with alcohol.

My sister-in-law wants me to go on more road trips with her and my brother this summer. Of course, that would mean getting out of the house and into a car situation that I wouldn't be able to escape from for at least two or three hours. On the other hand, I adore my brother and sister-in-law so I wouldn't actually be stretching my boundaries.

I was chatting with my rheumatologist during my last check-up (I think he thinks I'm quirky) and he idly asked what I planned to do with my summer. Do? As if I have a different life for every season, right? I told him that I planned to buy more plants and maybe get a different sofa. He said he wasn't talking about my apartment. He wanted to know if I planned to do anything fun or special. I told him that I'm a homebody and I find it fun and special to make my home homey. Now I'm worried he might refer me to a therapist!

Here's the deal: I know that I have an odd personality and weird ways and lots of phobias, but I am okay with my life in general so why can't people let me be? (And why did Kenny Loggins just flash through my brain, singing "I'm alright. Don't nobody worry 'bout me. You got to gimme a fight. Why don't you just let me be"?)

Speaking of that, I just love this thing I ran across on Reddit a while back. I keep threatening to have it printed onto a t-shirt.


How perfect is that?

So, you know what? I don't think I will be making any changes to my personality after all. I am okay with who I am and if you aren't, that's okay too.

Peace
--Free

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Opposite of Love?

For some reason, my sister has been on my mind more than usual these past few days. Ordinarily, I think of her most often on the anniversaries of her birth and passing. Sometimes, I get in a mood and will start looking at old photos, then memories of her flood my heart. But these past three or four days, she has been popping up in my mind. Her smile, her laugh, or the way she would suck her teeth right before she was going to say something funny.

While thinking of my sister, I always remember how loving she was. Along with my mother, she was the comfort of the family. Her children, her nieces and her nephews, her friends' kids - they all experienced the healing power of my sister's hugs. She gave the best hugs.

Something dawned on me while my sister was on my mind this week. It was about the meaning of family love and friendship love. I realized that there is no power in the word 'love' - people have tossed that word around so much that it's beginning to lose impact. The power of the word is in the person offering it up. Scripture tells us that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue". I knew that passage but I have only just now been thinking deeply about it.

When my sister gave you love, she did it with compassion and a pure heart. She patiently listened to your problems or waited out your anger or just soothed you through your fears. And she never seemed to want anything in return. She did get love reciprocated but that was never her goal. What I realized too late in her life was that sometimes we were all too busy depending on her to let her lean on us. I hope she did know how much we all loved her back. She taught us all so much about standing strong. She taught us all so much about everything. Because of her, I have finally realized something important about life and love. So she is still teaching me! It's as though I got to have a little Bible study with her again.

What I have come to fully understand is that love means nothing without truth and sacrifice. The opposite of love is pride. Love - true and real love - is giving, honest, open and willing. Love shines outward and pride radiates inward.

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Music & Shame

Is it just me or does anyone else have songs they are ashamed of loving? One day, I was using Alexa to listen to the playlist I have hidden on my computer. I started hiding that playlist file a few years ago when I would let my little nephew use my computer. He was only supposed to be playing his games and watching some kid movies. However, at 4 DJ was smart enough about computers to probably write code. And there was no way that the child needed to know what was on that playlist.

I am ashamed of some of the songs I like simply because they are slightly inappropriate. First of all, no self-respecting woman should be grooving to the lyrics in Tupac's "How Do You Want It?" or Prince's "Lady Cab Driver. So I only listen to those songs in private. I mean, Tupac's song is a straight up thugged out stripper groove but, damn, it is a nice groove. I don't even know how to explain the cab driver song, but it's great music to clean house to.

Some of the songs I like though are secret only because I think my family would tease me about them. For instance, I have always loved the song called "I've Never Been to Me" by Charlene. I'll play that one on days when I just need to drain myself of tears. Sometimes all I need to feel better is a good cry and that song will certainly do it. I have other songs that I like to cry to (and, yes guys, that is a thing). There are songs that make me think of the loved ones I've lost. I can never listen "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" without thinking of my father. James Taylor's "Walking Man" is a little easier on my heart but it makes me think of one of my cousins who died young.

By the way, one song that I don't have to hide is James Taylor's "Fire and Rain". That's a lifetime favorite for both me and one of my older brothers. Years ago when I found out he liked it as much as I do, I almost wept. Now it's a thing with us. It's nice to have a sweet thing like that with a sibling.

Millie Jackson's songs are some hidden favorites. Her songs might be raunchy but they are so real-life and honest. There's not a lot of sugar-coating with Millie. It was my sister who introduced me to Jackson's music and the first time I heard "If Loving You Is Wrong" I loved it even though I was too young to really understand it. I am double ashamed that I once felt like Millie was singing about one of my relationships when I heard "Hurts So Good". Great song, bad situation.

Speaking of songs that are kind of strange when you really pay attention to them, one of my favorites was always "I'm Going to Make You Love Me". Great song but... stalker much?

There are other songs I like and am not ashamed of but are surprising to some of my friends. One is Charlie Daniels' "Devil Went Down to Georgia". That is a bad-ass song with some top talent fiddle playing. However, it is right up there with the theme from "Deliverance" on a list of songs I'd rather not hear while riding through any sundown towns...

My favorite song to sing along with is Bette Midler's "Do You Want to Dance?" That's a great song! So sweet and romantic. And I don't have to strain my vocal cords or make horrible faces to keep up with it.

Then there are the filthy songs I only liked because I never paid close attention to the lyrics. One of the dirtiest songs I've ever heard is called "Magic Stick". Just the fact that it was Lil Kim and 50 Cent (you know, Fitty) singing should have been a clue. I actually could make out the first few lines of the song but couldn't really be alarmed.
I got the magic stick
I know if I can hit once, I can hit twice
I hit the baddest chicks
Shorty don't believe me, then come with me tonight
And I'll show you maaagic
(What? What?) Maaagic

My little brother was in the car with me one day while I was blasting that song and actually singing along with the "What? What? Maaagic" part.  He asked if I knew what they were singing about. Because he is younger and I know I should set a good example, I felt bad admitting that, yeah, I knew it was a song about weed, but I just liked the music.

Listen. I thought my brother was going break a rib laughing. When he could breathe again, he explained that the "magic stick" was not a joint they were talking about "hitting".




Oh. My. Damn. Now every time I even think about those lyrics, I feel like I need to wash out my brain with holy water!

So, I am over here, putting together a new playlist that I don't have to hide. Because I come to things late, I've only been obsessed for a few months with Amo Lee's "Seen It All Before", "Colors" and "Arms of a Woman" - basically everything on his debut album. All I can think is how did I not know about this singer before? For a couple of days, I had those songs on a loop along with John Mayer's "Gravity" and Bonnie Raitt's - not Steve Winwood or Blind Faith, but just Bonnie Raitt - singing "Can't Find My Way Home". I tossed in my man Al Green doing that masterpiece "Simply Beautiful." Perfection.

As for not paying attention to song lyrics, I bet I'm not the only one. If you are old enough, think back to the sweet and innocent-looking 80's darling Sheena Easton singing "Sugar Walls". Ever pay attention to those lyrics? Yeah. Prince wrote that freaky song. I can forgive him though because he also wrote one of Earth's greatest love songs when he penned "Adore". ~sigh~ I so want someone to play that song for me one day before I die.

Anyway, now that DJ is no longer constantly around my computer, I guess I can come out of hiding with all my playlists. If I'm not too embarrassed, one day I'll post a full list here. For now, I have to put on some decent music and clean the kitchen.

Peace
--Free






Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Back to Church

I can't remember (and don't have the patience to check) whether or not I have ever posted here about why I left the Pentecostal church. Basically, it was all about that church being a legalistic man-based religion instead of being Bible-based and God-led. The church I grew up in worried more about a person's outer appearance than they did the inner heart. And they really loved to pick and choose which parts of Jesus' teachings to follow.

Anyway.

One thing I did always love about the church services of my youth was the music. There is no Broadway production that can beat a Sunday service at the right church. When the preacher finishes performing, then comes the choir with its musicians.

I have always had a hard time explaining to people what the music was like in the church I grew up in. Then I found this video. It took me back 45 years and sat me down in a pew in Big Spring, Texas just like I never left.


This is why some church services lasted well into the night. Just when you thought you were going to be dismissed and get to go home, someone on the keyboard or drums would get inspired to hit one more note and then someone else would start to get "happy" and we'd be back into another round of singing and shouting. I got used to being in church and banging a tambourine until as late as ten o'clock on a school night.

Say what you want about all the stuff that's just wrong about the "Holiness" church, you can't badmouth the musical talent.

My ex and his cousins were the musicians in our church and their talent was just astounding. My ex is the best musician I know. He grew up in church and around all that great music. Too bad that growing up around all the preaching didn't rub off on his behavior as a human being.




I want to mention that not all people associated with the church were bad. There were a lot of good, well-meaning and true-hearted Christians who attended. Just like in the rest of the world though, it's easier to focus on and criticize the worst of the bunch.

Peace
--Free

Monday, May 13, 2019

**GRIOT** Bacon Grease Lotion

This is about one of the stories my mother liked to tell about her youth. (I lost part of the old notes about this one so... some things might be skewed. Forgive me, Mama.)

When my mother was a girl of about 14 or 15, she and her cousins had to walk quite a way to school. They took shortcuts through alleys and people's yards. Once when my one of my mother's cousins (I can't recall which one) had taken too much time getting ready for school, the other kids had gone ahead and left her. When she was almost ready to leave, she realized that there was no skin lotion around. There were a lot of girls in the home who all slicked up with moisturizer every day. Jergens was a household favorite but, when they ran out, they would use Crisco (which my mother still sometimes used as an elderly woman). This cousin noticed that not only had the lotion been used up but she couldn't even find the Crisco. Her skin was dried out from her bath and she needed to at least take care of the ash on her knees and elbows.

No lotion? No Crisco? The next best thing was some of the bacon grease that Grandma Jack collected in a tin can that sat on the stove. Bacon grease - aka fried meat grease or "seasoning grease" - was only mostly from bacon. Sometimes it was from ham drippings or some-other-part-of-the-pig drippings. People are more health conscious these days but back then, it joked that Southerners would eat everything on a pig but the toenails.

source in the photo


Anyway, this cousin had no choice. She dipped out some of that bacon grease and put a shine on her legs and arms.

I don't know how she was bothered by being ashy for one day but didn't mind smelling like a country breakfast. Maybe she had a poor sense of smell? Maybe but by the time she got a couple of blocks from home, she was reminded that dogs have a great sense of smell. It's not like they had to be bloodhounds. She was wearing pork grease. I smoked for a lot of years and to this day, I can walk into someone's house and tell if they use bacon grease to cook with...

Mama always got so tickled at the point of the story when she'd tell how her cousin had to sprint and leap a couple of low fences when some neighborhood dogs caught the smell of her on the wind. Apparently, despite her girly vanity (I mean, she could have waited to borrow lotion at school!), this chick could move like Wilma Rudolf and leap like a superhero.

The cousin made it to school in one piece but by the time she got there, she was a hot sweaty, stinking mess. Literally stinking. Bacon grease only smells good on bacon.

So that is one of the stories my mother used to tell. I'm glad that I had some notes in one of my old journals to remind me of it.

Peace
--Free

Sunday, May 12, 2019

As Seen On TV

WARNING: I feel a rant coming on and I've had a lot of coffee.

Remember back when Dove started doing those ads showing "real" women? I kind of loved that, but... I kind of didn't.

I have a love-hate thing going with commercial media - television, films, advertisements. I love being able to temporarily and vicariously experience things I probably never actually will. I have to face the fact that, with all my phobias, I'll probably never fight off gangsters, monsters, or zombies. I have trouble dealing with cranky store clerks and sullen teenagers trigger my anxiety.

I'm fascinated by female actors who can immerse themselves into a fictional world and become these badass characters. They go in as Mary Lou, originally from Cleveland, and appear on screen speaking a foreign language and using 3 different types of martial arts, all while wearing perfectly fitted leather body suits so smooth and shiny that I could use them to apply makeup. Just getting into one of those suits would be the last superhuman feat you'd see me perform.

Still. we all sometimes need to have a Walter Mitty moment because a little escapism can be therapeutic.

On the other hand...

I think that we've all gotten a little too lost in the world of make-believe. We forget that actors are real people and that we are too. Life is not a fictional thing (for most of us) and it's so toxic when we forget that. This is the part I hate about commercial media.

You have to pity the person who has managed to make a living on stage or screen. Notice I didn't say that you couldn't be jealous of them. But can you imagine other people not being able to separate who you are in your real life from who you are on stage or screen? For us "commoners" that would be like your boss calling you by your job title and always expecting you to be on the clock. I once almost quit a job because my boss asked me to work on my birthday.

But that is my sorrow for the famous. For myself, I hate what media has done to the world I have to live in.

As a dark-skinned black woman, for years I was opposite to the standards of beauty portrayed in media. When I was a teenager, the only thing I had in common with the girls on the covers of magazines was that I was skinny and flat-chested. Until my late thirties, I had the build of a boy taking small hits of estrogen.

Not only was "white" media not my friend, neither was Jet or Ebony. The only black girls I saw in movies that looked like me were the "field" slaves in "Roots" or the hookers in Blaxploitation films. The men could be dark skinned. Think Richard Roundtree as Shaft or Jim Brown as Gunn (and what the hell was up with all the phallic names?). But the ladies could usually pass the paper bag test.

Diana Ross was kind of my image hero because she was thin and (kinda) dark like me. Except, she could sing and act and, eventually, her skin seemed to lighten up a little. Or is that just me? That cannot just be me, people.


She's bad to the bone, but... c'mon now

By the way, I still dig Ms. Ross. If you're going to be a diva, be one of the first.

I will be damned if, by the time my dark skin came into vogue, I had suddenly grown hips and boobs. And the total "boy" look was still in. Son of a bitch!

Still, dark skin stopped being the biggest stigma for black girls. Sometimes, it reversed itself. I dated one guy who admitted that he liked me because I was "exotic". Not because I was funny or nice or just fun to be with. But because I was exotic. I wasn't sure what that meant. Every time he came around I wondered if he felt like he was on the Serengeti or dating a chick from his National Geographic fantasies. Once again, son of a bitch.

That was the heavy stuff. On the lighter (um hm) side of my love-hate affair with the media, let's deal with the commercials. Race and color aside, when it comes to straight advertising, I can find at least 3 other issues to discuss with a therapist. Size, height, and lifestyle. This kind of brings me back to the Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty". Shows how much attention I pay, I didn't even know that was the name of the campaign until just now.

It's too late for me to acquire more self-esteem. If I haven't learned to accept myself by now then, to paraphrase The Blue Notes, I will never never never... But kudos to Dove for lifting up the heads of young women. That's some needed air to bring into the conversation about self-acceptance.

Then there are the commercials I grew up with. The ones that didn't make me feel excluded by race and ethnicity but just confused me.

I never did understand why there had to be a commercial about a  mother and daughter discussing vaginal freshness. That was right up there with other things to be discussed in the privacy of my bedroom with my mother. That's where we had our talks about sex, smoking, drugs, and that one play auntie who likes women and I was supposed to respect and stand up for nonetheless "because we don't care if Wilma Jean lives with Martha Sue Townsend. That's your auntie and you aren't supposed to be up in grown people's bedroom business anyway."  (~deep breath~) Somehow this last bit derailed my initial question about what exactly was French kissing and was it okay for American girls to do it too. (I hoped so because I didn't want to think that my cousin Candy was breaking some kind of international law.)

Also, there were the commercials showing how some families in some apparently fictional land called "not at my house" lived. In these commercials, kids ate a lot of Twinkies and McDonald's French fries whenever the hell they felt like it. In our home, we ate homemade cakes for desserts and once every other anniversary of Halley's Comet we got to go to What-A-Burger. In our house, kids did not just run and grab stuff out of the fridge whenever they had company over or wanted a snack. No no. If I had company (it was usually some kid related to me), Mama served us what she wanted us to have. If I wanted a snack, I'd have to ask permission and my mom would most likely look at the clock first to judge how much time it had been since the last meal. We weren't deprived but we did not run the house. Mama ran the house until Daddy got home, then they tag-teamed the crap out of us.

I watch commercials now and wonder how the heck these people have their lives so together. Everyone's car is spic-and-span clean. All the furniture in their homes matches everything else in their homes. They wear clothes that are new and color-coordinated down to their underwear and socks. They manage to have their hair done, house cleaned, dinner ready, children well-behaved (or adorably mischievous), and their spouse only looks at them with all the love in the universe. No one wakes up with morning breath, eye boogers or hair shot up on their heads. Oh, and their bedrooms are always sun-filled and (apparently) fresh-smelling because (again, no morning breath) and (damn it) color-coordinated.

Here's the part I hate most about those commercials. For one thing, even if I had the kind of money it took to live in the universe of perfect homes, you'd never see me lolling around in it. I'd be so busy working my high-powered job or turning tricks or selling drugs or being a politician to pay for all that perfection. Because, let's face it - I can't sing or dance and I won't do the sex- tape thing. When the hell would I have time to enjoy my sun-filled, fresh-air smelling, color coordinated, impossibly always perfect home? Tell me that.

What I am saying is, it's all a lie. One way or another, some evil power is playing all of us against each other. They or "it" keeps us all so busy wanting what someone else has that we have to remind ourselves to be happy where we are. I firmly believe that there is some "celebrity" out there who envies my ability to go to Walmart without fear of being stalked by fans or photographers. I just know that there are days when someone who lives in one of those perfect, furniture coordinated, always fresh smelling homes wish they could trade places with me. Well, maybe not me because my life is pretty crappy right now, but you know what I mean.

Now, just for added fun and cruelty, we have the internet, pushing us into the same cracks of self-doubt and dangerous comparisons...















Speaking of the internet and trends, I was reading a book the other day that made a great point about the relationship between the words "Influence" and "Influenza". Now think "viral" and "virus". We currently use those terms to convey positive things. (And, yes, I am over here point a finger at myself for that joining into that silliness.)

Here's my message to all my brothers and sisters out there - ALL of you, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, or gang  social media affiliation - let's use media for what it should be. Let it entertain us, bring us together, take us away for a while, show us something we didn't know, and just be our temporary entertainment. Don't try that TV pretend sh*t at home. That goes for the commercials too. Buy what you need and what you want - not what someone tricks you into thinking you need or want. Be kind, be funny, be loving, be healing, be helpful, and be as healthy as you can in your mind, body, and soul. And always, always be you.

Peace
--Free