Saturday, May 28, 2011

Book Review: Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws

As some of you may know, I've hit some bumpy patches in the road recently, and I have to admit, some of them have been very difficult. A lot of my identity is bound up with my profession, and feeling like I don't have one right now has made just existing a little difficult. Hence my picking up this book. I'm not ready to check out just yet, and most people who don't want you to commit suicide make the big mistake of not telling you what you should do instead. Step one, don't kill yourself, step two, what? Well, according to Kate Bornstein, author of this book, there are a lot of possible step twos.

She starts out her book with the simple, obvious stuff--call a suicide hotline, get on medication if it will help, talk to a friend, whatever. Check and check. Then she gets into the more interesting options for what to do instead of killing yourself. Some of them didn't appeal, some of them appealed a lot. "Finish Your Homework" resonated a lot with me. I have at least a year to go before I have that PhD after my name, so that one should keep me ticking for twelve more months minimum. "Treat Yourself Like an Honored Guest" sounded very good as well. "Run Away and Hide" sounded almost too good. "Make a Deal with the Devil" and "Tell a Lie" didn't appeal, but maybe someday I'll "Make Art out of It" and write an amazing novel about all this. "Serve Somebody" reminds me that the community is out there waiting for me to be a part of it. And these are just a few of her amazing suggestions. Each option is rated on how easy, self-loving, and effective it is, so that you get an idea of how desperate you should be before you give it a crack.

The whole book is written from a strongly queer-friendly, transgressive perspective, in case that wasn't already clear, so that really appealed to me, though it might not to some people, and while it's aimed to some extent at young people (they being the most likely to try and shuffle off the mortal coil), it's not oppressively youth-oriented. Most of it is just good, sound advice for anyone who needs some good ideas about how to keep on living for a little longer.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gem Tree

There were a lot of dead oaks on our property that were cut down recently, and the shapes of some of the small branches were so pretty that I couldn't resist doing something with them. So I found a particularly interesting shape and trimmed it down, then attached semi-precious beads to each twig. It was very easy, and, as you can see, turned out very nicely (though I think the one my mother is making will turn out to be even nicer!). What I found most important while working on it was balance, and respecting the inherent structure of the piece. As you can see, Miss Betsy liked it too!

Friday, May 20, 2011

'Til Death Do They Part

My grandfather has always been one for whom past and present almost coexist. He'll go from complaining about his dividends one moment to telling you about a flight mission in Guam during the war in a heartbeat. Yesterday morning, however, he told me something that made an impact.

During breakfast, he began reminiscing about his wedding to my grandmother. They were married at a Justice of the Peace's office in Nogales, he said, and then he added, "Boy, I don't know if I could have gone through with a church wedding or some big fancy thing."

"Why not?" I asked. "Were you nervous."

"I was shaking like a leaf. Not because I thought maybe I'd made a mistake, but because I knew this was it. Forever. These kids get married today and they're half-drunk or something, but I knew what I was doing."

I was so moved by this that I got up and gave him a kiss because I knew, as well as anyone, how beautifully my grandfather had kept the commitment that he made that day. He and my grandmother have almost never been separated, except for stays in the hospital, and even now, when she's in the nursing home recovering from surgery, he travels thirty miles every day to go and see her and be with her. I watched them kiss and hold hands like lovers, even as my grandfather laughed at how loose their skin was now. He has loved and nursed my grandmother through years of invalidism and mental problems, without ever once questioning his own desire or need to do so.

I am the child of divorce. My mother married twice, my father four times. Each found their perfect partner in time, but on the way, there were these casual marriages that didn't last long or mean very much, in the grand scale of things. My father's father married three times. But my mother's father, my Papa, he met a young war widow in the 1940s, and he knew that he would never want anyone else.

I don't necessarily believe in marriage. I think the state sanctioning a religious arrangement is problematic, and looking at the statistics, I can't see that what we view as a solemn vow is kept any more often than it is abandoned. But I do believe in love and partnership, and I honor my grandfather and grandmother for how perfectly they have kept the vows of love made more than fifty years ago.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dream Potpourri

I've been settling into my new abode rather comfortably and have started working with a few touches to make it seem more homey--cut lilac on the kitchen table, orchids in the bathroom, and, because the bedroom is sometimes a little close, homemade potpourri on my bedside table. Here's my mix for a lovely, fresh-smelling potpourri.

Dream Potpourri

Rose petals
Fennel seeds, lightly crushed

It's not a very visually engaging potpourri, but it smells heavenly and has all the right ingredients for a peaceful night's rest. As with any potpourri, give it a stir to release fragrance, and use a drop or two of essential oil (perhaps lavender?) to refresh it when it seems "exhausted."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Big Moving Post

So, to begin with, never drive twenty hours straight without stopping, folks. It is so unfun as to be ludicrous. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

First, I want to talk about last Friday! A day of extraordinary chaos, but also great joy as well. I spent most of the day waiting for the charity people to come and pick up my stuff, and being completely freaked out when they didn't. But you know who did show up? My friend Jill, with lunch from Feast!

This is Jill, looking lovely with our starters of black pudding and welsh rarebit, both of which were quite delicious. We then ate our way solidly through a main course and dessert, both vowing to eat more things with chocolate and cardamom. I think that's the kind of resolution I can keep.

Later in the day, I was also lucky enough to have Amelia and Andrew visit with a delicious Reuben sandwich to sustain me through the evening. And honestly, I needed it. I was absolutely worn out from the frequent trips to the dumpster.

But, Saturday morning, I set out with all three cats harnessed and leashed (please note that when I arrived Sunday morning, only one cat had not escaped her harness) and my Beetle seriously crammed full. I drove through the day and into the setting sun and into a starry West Texas night, and, eventually, north through a gilded Arizona dawn. Mind, by that time, I was awake only through the use of two five-hour energy drinks. Horrible but effective.

And finally, I was up in the mountains and breathing in the chilly air, and my mother was waiting for me on the front steps with a hamburger. Seriously.

I don't think I've processed everything yet--I'm still unpacking, trying to get my sleeping schedule back to normal, and suchlike, but so far, everything is okay.