Sometimes in moments of pure existential dread, a light shines through. Sometimes impulsive decisions turn out to be part of some holistic synchronicity that defies explanation.
Earlier this week, before the Texas tragedy, I accompanied my moms to Tractor Supply as they needed more duck food (for the resident swan and other waterfowl they meet on their twice daily walks) and plant food. I hadn't been to a Tractor Supply since 2015 for a shot clinic with my rescued dog at the time, Angel. I'm not really the country music, cowboy boots, baseball caps with guns type. Surprise! BUT I heard there might be baby birds and I was curious.
Yes there were baby birds, no I didn't buy any. I did pick up a bag of tree spikes (long term tree food), a Venus Fly Trap growing kit for V, and a wadding pool with a dog bone motif for Boo.
Boo was not a fan of the pool, but I left it full as she was happy drinking from it.
Yesterday I received a number of PMs and @s on Facebook. I am known in my neighborhood as "The Swan Lady" and all around bird lover. I learned that minutes before said flood of correspondence, one of the Pekin ducks that had been introduced to our retention pond by "owners" unknown, had been by an alligator. The gator had just moved into the pond the day before. I was told she was alive, but in bad shape.
I was at my parent's house a little less than a mile away, borrowed by father's bicycle because I still don't have a license or car, and peddled like hell (though not well) to my neck of the (not) woods. I found my next door neighbor Steve (also from NJ) standing over the bloodied and cringing duck. Turns out he had witnessed the attack and already contacted numerous animal rescuers and wildlife management, none would take a Pekin duck. I had brought a reusable grocery bag with me (it's not like I was planning for this event) and Steve and I managed to fit Winifred (my family's name for this bird) in the bag and tie the straps together to sort of hold her in. Steve got back in his car, I got back on my father's bike, with the duck bag on my right shoulder, and attempted to ride home.
I wish I had a photo of this scene. Needless to say, not graceful. At. All. Very shortly into the trip, I had to dismount and walk the bike, with the duck bag fighting me the entire time. I was so focused on the bird, I went right past my house, quite a bit. I came to from my bird fugue, turned around and went back to my house. I dragged my father's beautiful bike as close to my front door as possible because I trust almost no one, and let myself into the backyard through the new gate I was so glad I hadn't locked. At this point the bag, bird, and I, all smell like duck shit. Once in the yard I immediately released Winifred (Fred) near the wadding pool and went inside to get food. Of course I always have waterfowl food. Who doesn't? I put Fred in the pool and sprinkled food. She ate like she had never seen food before. To be fair she's always been greedy. After she had eaten and had some water, I lifted her out of the pool to inspect the damage. A large portion of her left foot, is gone. The middle toe had two compound fractures and I had to carefully inspect her belly before being able to determine, only her foot was actually injured. Although she's lost most of her tail feathers. I watched her for quite a while, Boo came out and saw she was there and decided that she's not interested in being besties with waterfowl. And then I had to leave again.
I should mention, the Pekin ducks are my daughter's absolute favorite on the pond other than her two geese. Yes, I consider this pare of Canada Geese hers, and she's theirs. You have to see it to believe it, but it's true. Anyway... Hubs got home from work and I texted him to check on Fred before coming over to get V and I. When he showed up I (away from V) asked how Fred was, and he said she looked good. So I told V we had to get home right away because I had a surprise for her. She decided the surprise just had to be an animal, but when she saw Fred, she was wide eyed with tween joy. I checked on Fred's foot, and she has a good scab and had pulled out the fragments of bone. Go Fred! She can very gingerly hop/scuffle along, but she seemed even sadder than the pain and trauma would account for. Ducks are incredibly social, and she had been raised and released with her BFF/life partner, who we call Ethel. (Apparently others called them "Donald and Daisy" because Donald/Fred is so much bigger that they just assumed she was a drake.) So "Operation Grab Ethel" had to be accomplished. George disagreed. He though Fred would be okay to return in a couple of days. Dood, she's missing a third of her foot. No. So he went upstairs to lay down, and I snagged V, a string backpack, and my "waterfowl visit bag" (grocery tote with beach towel and food). Of course George came down while I was gathering supplies. I just said V and I were going to check on the other birds at the pond, we won't be long, I don't have my phone it's charging, don't worry!
V and I walked hand-in-hand to the pond and found Ethel looking quite sad even though three Mallard drakes were near her. While V and I made sure no one was around, I tempted Ethel with the food, snagged her, and unceremoniously shoved her in the string bag. Immediately we gathered ourselves, the two bags, and duck, and went home. Again the bag, duck, and I all smell like duck shit quite quickly.
When we got home, I went in through the gate again, and released Ethel right in front of George. He smiled. I smiled. "I don't always listen to you! But I do sometimes. Just not this time." He laughed. Winifred IMMEDIATELY hobbled toward Ethel and they've been no more than two feet from each other since the reunion. This morning there was even a beautiful fresh duck egg in the middle of my yard.
George, sweet George, still thinks the ducks are going back to the pond. He hasn't noticed that I never say anything in response to that assertion. He keeps saying they aren't pets. Actually they are, that's why this happened. Pekin ducks are pretty much entirely defenseless and should never have been on that pond in the first place. So now I have ducks. Soon enough so will George. In the mean time I told him I'd tell the twins (my bonus girls) about them and they have to stay at least until they visit in July. Stay tuned...
The title of this post is actually a quote from my new friend and auther, Tom McCaffrey on his website The Wise Novelist. Tom wrote The Claire Trilogy and I cannot recommend it enough. The problem I have with this philosophy, which is great, is that I hate going to the gym. Also be prepared for this post to get dark.
I just learned that my LOA doesn't end next week, I have a few more weeks to get my shit together, which is not long enough because I never get my shit together. My to do list (I don't make lists) is more like a word map of anxieties than a manageable list of tasks that should be easy to accomplish. I slept until after noon today with only brief moments of consciousness in order to provide basic needs to my dog Boo. And I took my morning meds.
Now for what is paralyzing me for real today:
As I mentioned previously, I have great difficulty compartmentalizing but this most recent school shooting in Texas has me horrified. As I live in Florida, the response of our senators is disgusting. From the live updates on CNN:
In separate interviews with CNN, Florida GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott defended the need for AR-15s and semi-automatic weapons, dismissing calls for expanded background checks. Rubio instead said he would try to force a vote today on a measure to bolster school safety in other ways.
In a back-and-forth with CNN, Rubio contended that expanded background checks would not solve the problem and said even if Washington banned AR-15s, a killer would find a different weapon.
“Listen, at the end of day, you're arguing about what they're using to commit this, and the truth of matter is these people are going to commit these horrifying crimes whether they have to use another weapon to do it; they're going to figure out a way to do it,” Rubio said.
What the fuck else would I expect from the "government representatives" of this fucking state? Then on top of that, I get this from my daughter's school superintendent.
Back in the day I was trained in elementary school for attacks from above (hide under your desk when the air siren screams) and fire drills. In high school we had bomb threat training. Now, our children are trained how to barricade themselves from a shooter and teachers in many districts are encouraged to carry guns. How is this progress? With over 200 mass shootings in 2022 as of today, and school shootings on the rise dramatically since Columbine, what the fuck are we doing to protect our CHILDREN from this? The GOP response: More guns because only "crazy maniacs" will use those guns for harm, and if they can't get the big guns, they'll get little ones and it will happen anyway. "Thoughts and prayers" help as much as snake oil does for cancer. In other words, not at all.
Where is the compassion for human life and the drive to protect it? Why is everything reactive instead of proactive? What are we doing about the toxic masculinity that teaches gun violence is a cathartic answer to the stress of living in this country? How the fuck do I protect my children from this culture?
I'm counting the minutes until V is released from school today knowing she will go to my parents and be embraced with love by my moms. And I do not know what to do. Last night V and I were frustrated with each other, today I just want to wrap my arms around her and keep her there. Forever.
There is a very strong "Us vs. Them" attitude here in Florida. When I first moved down here, my father encouraged me to date. I had broken up with someone I truly loved before the move, and was significantly depressed. So I set up a POF account (don't do that, just don't) and was very honest in my profile about who I am and what matters to me. Including that I'm a progressive liberal and conservation/animal rights/human rights advocate. I wish I had kept the screenshot of one of my first responses... I was told, in a three paragraph screed how I had moved to the wrong state and should be in California with all the other "fruits and nuts" and wait for the state to fall off the continent with the next big earthquake because if I didn't like guns and trucks and confederate pride I didn't belong here.
On local Facebook pages I see posts aplenty about how "Northerners" moving here for less taxes and better weather (I'd argue the weather is not a draw for me) are "ruining" the state. And to be truthful, I do believe the great influx of people moving here IS ruining the state, but for ecological, infrastructure, and educational reasons. Development here doesn't seem to be controlled AT ALL, and the only reason my development is building a new school is because a mother who moved here on the initial promise of plenty of schools drug up the initial building contract promising a school in our midst. That's it! They got called out on their own legal contract and acquiesced to local pressure.
Not to mention that "Florida Wo/Man" is a REAL THING. The people here are damn good at making bad decisions. Attempting to rob a fast food joint with an ALLIGATOR is a thing that happened here! Even in my "good development" in the "best county" in Florida, there's a rash of bicycle thefts that result in the bikes being thrown into retention ponds. And someone was shooting people with a bb gun out of a car. They shot an elder lady walking a dog.
I live between Jacksonville and St. Augustine (I believe both were locations of crimes in Criminal Minds). My father is a retired police Sargent from a large city near NYC in NJ. He has stated more than once that the murder close rate in Jacksonville is abhorrently low. He has mused that retired law enforcement officers should set up an independent task force to actually solve those cold cases. I wish he would set that up, he would find equally amazing retirees and definitely make a difference. My father also believes in on the street patrol (hoof it, don't drive it) with officers recruited from the neighborhoods, to increase the trust between civilians and LEOs. When my father was a patrolman in the 70's in a very diverse city, he had friends EVERYWHERE. As a "punishment" one time he was sent to sit in a vehicle near a potential "hot spot" all shift, every shift. It was near where we lived. Every shift he received free full meals from the people he knew there. When asked how it was going, he replied "great!" And his commanding officer realized my father could make the best of any situation.
I don't know how to make the best out of the current social climate. I'm not interested in hearing that there are good parts on both sides of the gun control debate. There aren't. Like most parents, I want my children to grow up and have the lives they want. That used to be a relatively easy dream. Of course there has always been violence and accidents happen, but this... This is chaos.
This fear washes over me and I cannot shake it. I'll try to read. I'll play with Boo, I'll hold V until she tells me "Mama, let go!" and my dreams will be filled with screams and blood and helplessness.
And tomorrow I'll tell V how much I love her as she goes off to school and hope that today is not the day someone enters her school with a high powered gun, and hope if it happens, she's smart and quick enough to survive. Parenthood in 2022 should not be like this!
Change does come from within, and the individuals and families that have had enough of this will eventually prevail (Hope springs eternal...) but will it be soon enough? I do not know.
I've always had difficulty with expressing what's in my head (like speaking words that make sense) because aphasia and word salad are a symptom of my migraines. But since the mental collapse of winter 2021/2022, it has become much worse, so I'm really trying to figure out if compartmentalizing is what I actually wanted to say, since spell check isn't freaking out, I suppose it is.
My mother recently suggested that I discuss an issue with my therapist. The issue is, I get too emotionally involved in issues I can't do much about.
I had to stop following the news about the war in Ukraine because I was living there, through it, in my head. I CAN donate, share information, and hold space in my heart that maybe that asshole Putin will give up, even though that's not likely with that fucking narcissistic dictator.
I moved from New Jersey to Florida (ugh) in 2017. V (the wildflower child) had been in an elementary school in NJ that had, as just the basic curriculum, Spanish, Art, Dance, Music, Computer Sciences, as well as the standard Math, ELA, PE, Social Studies, and Science. So we move with my parents to the county in FL with "the best school district in the state." Again, for perspective, that state is FLORIDA. Guess what's not available in these public schools? SPANISH, dance, art as a basic requirement, and you know, SPACE for the kids.
Recently a zoning suggestion for the "new school" being proposed, would split our development into a minimum of three different school zones. Sometimes one side of the street was zoned to another school than the opposite side of the street. I'm not even going to get into the bussing fiasco. The thing is, the very reason we moved to this county and this development, was because there was promised at least two new schools built HERE, in the development. I'm going to give you one chance to guess how that's going. I'm absolutely livid that there's a chance my daughter may have to go to her last year of middle school (8th grade) in a completely different school. WTF is that? Anyway...
I'm a longtime supporter (and member of) the LGBTQ+ community (yes I married a man, doesn't mean I'm straight). The attacks on rights, people, and even fucking recognition of the legitimacy of LGBTQ+ rights as humans and their value to our collective community... There's a rage I can't contain. I can only make sure my home is a safe space, and donate to the local shelter organization for Jacksonville LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, JASMYN. I want to find the parents of children disowned for being themselves and well, I should try to understand, but violence is my first instinct. My daughter is asexual bi-romantic and I'm so proud of her for being herself.
I hate all of the GOP at this point. Anti-science, anti-environment, anti-compassion, racist, misogynistic ego maniacal monsters. All of them.
And why the fuck would someone my hubs has worked for, without a raise, who is family, refuse to give him a raise, right after telling him he spent between $1000 - $1400 a night on a resort stay in Hawaii, and then say his expenses are too high for a raise. Fuck him.
There's no infrastructure here to support the continuous development. For all Florida's social and political flaws, the environment and wildlife is astonishing. But none of that is safe from the siren song of easy money for developers.
I'm angry. I'm angry about everything that I see as injustice or exploitation of people, resources, animals... I'm a progressive liberal leftist and that will never change.
One of my favorite lines in the televised version of "American Gods" is Mr. Nancy's "Anger gets shit done." But my anger allows not much doing of anything I can do to change the situations. I've protested, I've walked, I've donated when I can, I call out people for using hateful, outdated, or prejudicial speech. But I can only change what is right around me. And that makes me feel hopeless and insignificant. Which makes me even more angry.
I do have to do something to compartmentalize what I can, and cannot change. And try to be satisfied with leading my own life in line with my values, helping Hubs to understand my views, and raising V, and hopefully my bonus children, to carry on with compassion and awareness.
Sometimes though, that's not enough, and I rage. Today is one of those days. So after posting this long rant, I will try to relax, focus on my small gardens and my dog, make sure V's cramps are under control, and keep Hubs from feeling overwhelmed and depressed. And tonight when I lie down to sleep, I will try to not dwell on all the things I cannot change.
So I've talked about the swans... Let me introduce you to, the bluebirds.
As I mentioned previously, I put a bluebird nest box up in my yard and it was a complete success. The parent bluebirds, named Marla and Tyler, did a fantastic job of raising four healthy offspring.
Who are fledging today. So by tomorrow at the latest, the nest will be empty. I'll have to clean it out. Make repairs to the box, and re-mount it for the next clutch.
Three are already out of the nest, one lone baby, who may or may not be 24 hours younger than the siblings, is still in the nest figuring out what to do next. Meanwhile, the parents are still feeding them in the nest, while keeping eyes on the ones that are now who knows where getting their wings together. Here is a timeline of their growth from eggs until today. They hatched April 1st. Not a joke.
So there's simply too much to say about the last couple of years to really cover everything. So consider this a continuation not a recap. We'll all catch up I'm sure.
During the last four or five months, I have issues with time right now. And words, that's another story. But during this time, I've discovered an even deeper connection with the animals outside my home.
When the hubs (George) and I bought this house last year (almost to the day actually) It was new construction in a newer "neighborhood" of our very large development here in NE Florida. (GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY!!! Fuck you DeSantis).Since I've gone on LOA, I've been taking almost daily morning walks with my Moms (yes you will learn, Mom1 is my birth mom, Mom2 is my step-mother, Dad is well Dad, and they all live together in the house around the way that we originally moved into. I didn't get far and my family is weird). We take a walk halfway around their neighborhood's "lake" (retention pond) and keep track of the wildlife. I've taken hundreds of photos of the birds (and alligator) we see.
I created a little garden next to one of the contractor installed trees (a cyprus) in my backyard, mounted a bluebird house, and have spent more money than sense on bird food of all kinds.
Also a pair of mute swans appeared on my retention pond in my little neighborhood. If you haven't seen mute swans in the wild, it's intense. They are HUGE and make Canada Geese look slight and delicate. These swans literally just appeared one day. And I fell in love.
I know I was going to walk away after that last post. But I decided to upgrade some things if I'm going to take this seriously again. Like a professional adult or something. Not that I make impulsive decisions or anything. But whatever. I have a domain now, and cool sounding name and I'm happy with it.
I should probably get some sleep at some point. I have to check on my swans in the morning. I'm not a morning person and officially I don't <i> have</i> to get up. But I will.
On that note, time to read more of Wil Wheaton's "Still Just a Geek" (I'm almost done) and then crash. 'Night Loves.
So... A lot has happened since my last post. Trigger warning: Mental Health, SI, Self Harm
|Angel passed away from cancer. I adopted Boo Violet. I got a job at a very large bank. I met a guy. I got moved around to a new project. Started dating said guy. Got moved to another department. Proposed to the guy. He said yes. Bought a house with the guy. Moved me, my kid, and my dog in with the guy. Adopted two girl rats. Planted gardens. Married the guy. Got drunk at the reception (which pretty much sucked a bag of dicks), crashed my car, spent my wedding night in jail. Quit drinking on Halloween 2021. Had a mental health crisis during the holidays. Went on Leave of Absence from my job 12/20/21... Haven't gone back yet.
Also made friends with two swans who appeared around the time I was contemplating and planning suicide. They are a large part of how I survived. I also entered a partial hospitalization program, changed my meds (still doing that), and re-focused on my art, and the natural world.
I am more tan than I have been in years, and my body dysphoria just hates that, but mentally, I'm getting stronger every day.
I'm currently too tired to write much as to why I've been "away." Or think too much about any one thing. But here is an email I sent today to a very dear, very new, friend:
Fuck a duck... er... swan
This is your fault, you did say keep in touch. And I knew you'd empathize.
So that's my thoughts today. Glad to be back doing this. Will probably be even more random now than I was. Is that possible? Who know... Am I talking to myself? Probably.
It's really hard admitting that you've fucked up. I think this is a universal human trait, I may be wrong, but owning one's mistakes seems to be one of the more difficult things I've experienced, either in myself, or in those around me. And today, I need to woman up and admit that I have fucked up. Huge.
For the past two years or so, my relationship with alcohol has been getting progressively more problematic. Particularly when I drink alone. Besides the fact that I am taking medication that contraindicates any alcohol consumption, at all, I have a history of self medicating with alcohol. I had been rationalizing and consoling myself that I only got drunk at home, don't drive when drinking, and am not hurting anyone else. Except that's not really true is it?
Not only am I not going to be a good mother if Wildflower Child needs me when I am inebriated, I am hurting the people I care about by lashing out at them in the midst of drunken dark hours. Last night I polished off two bottles of wine. I remember nothing after opening the second bottle. I apparently had two phone conversations based on my cell phone records, and got very toxic in my communication with people I truly care about. I am horrified and ashamed by my own behavior. I have this idea of myself as a good person, but that person that I was last night, is most definitely not a good person. She is someone I do not want to be for another moment. I would completely understand if I was cut out of the lives I bulldozed into in my blackout. I am 100 percent at fault and would honestly deserve it. I have absolutely no one to blame but myself. And the worst part is, I honestly do not remember anything.
Today in church I was installed in the new Pastoral Care Team that my congregation is building. My role as a member in this team is to offer spiritual care to those in need. How can I authentically be a helping, healing, presence, when I am so hurtful to those closest to me? I can't. I need to make a change, and today is the day that is starting. I will no longer consume alcohol because for whatever reason, I have once again lost my ability to navigate safely my own emotional minefields when I drink. I will no longer consume alcohol because I absolutely hate the person I become when I am drunk. I will no longer consume alcohol because I DO NOT NEED IT TO BE HAPPY. I will no longer consume alcohol because I'm tired of not knowing what I said or who I might have hurt. I will no longer consume alcohol because I want to be the better version of me I know I can be. I will no longer consume alcohol because I am responsible for someone else's life and I cannot risk mine in such a manner. I will no longer consume alcohol because I do not have a healthy relationship with it. I will no longer consume alcohol.
I have been lingering in a sort of limbo since I moved to Florida in October 2017. I am still unemployed, though I have been looking (not as intently as I could, but I am putting myself out there). I have only just recently found a Primary Care Physician for myself and the Wildflower Child, even though I found a veterinarian for my dog immediately. Still need a dentist, therapist, neurologist, and eye doctor.
There has been some dating. And after a lot of ugly nights involving texting and phone calls, I truly have made piece with my ex from New Jersey and we are getting along as legitimate friends, probably for the first time in our relationship. And this seems to have coincided with us independently starting to move forward in our own lives.
I finally found a goal worth working toward after joining my local Unitarian Universalist Church. I meet an incredible woman who is ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and I am hoping to be able to apply for their distance learning program next year. I am also on the Religious Education and Pastoral Care teams in my church. I just dove right in didn't I?
So, saying all that, you might think I'm some sort of stuffy "Church Lady" eh? Have you read my former posts? Because the answer to that is "absolutely not." I'm deeply agnostic, mostly Pagan, frustrated by most "Christians," and not really interested in any dogma. But I feel a tug in my heart I need to follow. And so I am. I am "officially" ordained by the Universal Life Church, but that's just a paper ordination. I feel the need to do this process fully and truly commit the time and resources it takes to be the best version of me I can be. I want to help people. And I believe that this is the way I will be able to achieve that goal.
In the mean time, I am trying to get my health under control (migraines have been kicking my ass regularly), and taking care of the human and canine lives for which I am responsible. And just in general attempting to be less hard on myself as I try to be a better person today than I was yesterday.
I may be the strange woman next door, but I am the woman next door. I am the woman in the pick-up line getting the Wildflower Child from school. I am the woman playing Bunco. I am the woman at church volunteering and participating. I am the woman getting her mail and going grocery shopping and taking her dog to the vet. I am also a former sex worker.
I. Was. A. Sex. Worker.
I am not ashamed of this. I fulfilled a niche market and managed to keep the lights on and the oil filed in my home while my (now ex) husband drank away our funds. I supported various people in vulnerable parts of their lives and made money doing it. It was exhausting, sometimes exhilarating, always work. I was a web cam model. For years.
I was "safe" because I was separated from the client by cyberspace. I worked out of my basement and on my own terms and with my own hours. I blocked the people that offended me, gritted my teeth through the ones I didn't really enjoy, and enthusiastically participated with a select few. Some of what I experienced while participating in sex work online helped me get the confidence to leave my abusive husband. Some of the people I met have become long term friends. It was ultimately a positive experience. And one I have walked away from.
There are many people however who cannot walk away from sex work, and aren't "lucky" enough to work exclusively online. These are the (predominately women) who are meeting men in hotel rooms and back alleys and anywhere else, filling a need that we demonize in this country.
SESTA and FOSTA are acts that remove the ability for sex workers to use websites to screen clients. There's much more involved than that but basically, it strips websites of the ability to protect sex workers in this country under the guise of preventing trafficking. The thing is, there's zero alternative for the adult, consenting, sex worker, to protect themselves.
This country has a completely twisted relationship with sexuality. Yes, trafficking of people for sex is a problem, but removing the ability of sex workers to vet their john online isn't the answer.
I'm literally fuming right now and less than coherent than I want to be. Sex work is a thing. It will always be a thing. Women and men will always find their way into sex work and have plenty of clients. Children and those being abused need to be protected, obviously. There needs to be more honest and open awareness of what sex work can add to a society.
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.