fourth of july blow job

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Most people know that the Rant-ress isn’t a huge fan of holidays mainly because they’re an excuse for thoughtless—then reckless—indulgent actions instead of merrymaking. We’re a country of extremism; that’s not fun.

For me, no holiday epitomizes this like the Fourth of July. From the environmental impacts of fire-starting, spewing toxic chemicals by the millions of pounds into the air, waterways, earth, to damaging wildlife, frightening little kids and animals, spawning burns and activating PTSD in soldiers and others—what are we doing?

Environmental:

  • Total amount of fireworks used: 285.3 million pounds
  • Consumer fireworks used: 260.7 million pounds
  • Display fireworks used: 24.6 million pounds

Science editor Russell McLendon writes, “Fireworks get their flamboyance from a variety of chemicals, many of which are toxic to humans. From the gunpowder that fuels their flight to the metallic compounds that color their explosions, fireworks often contain carcinogenic or hormone-disrupting substances that can seep into soil and water, not to mention the lung-clogging smoke they release and plastic debris they scatter.”

Almost half the fires started around July 4th are firework related, which translates: we could have half as many fires if we didn’t replicate “bombs bursting in air.”

Social:

Fireworks terrify domestic animals and wildlifeWar vets struggle with the booms that trigger their PTSD. Males account for 74% of fireworks injuries. Insert Darwin Awards here.

Freedom:

And then there’s the issue of who was set free. Not women. Not black slaves. Not child workers. Not pagans. Not native Indians.

Black people didn’t get ‘freedom’ until 1865. The incomparable Frederick Douglass spoke on 5 July 1852, “What To The Slave Is the Fourth of July? :

“…your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast,fraud,deception,impiety,and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes…more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States.”

Women didn’t get the vote until 1920; they didn’t have the right to their own property or finances until around 1900. They may not have been bought and sold on a slave block but they were traded like chattel, often beaten and made to work long hours without pay. Sounds like slavery to me.

Simplistically, the Colonialists (pause at what that definition means) almost exterminated the native people of the Americas.

So while revering this jingoistic holiday in drunken, stoned, gluttonous glory, if  you aren’t a white adult male, remember that you have little to celebrate.

All we have are our stories. When those stories are based on lies and hypocrisy, they continue to harm. Let’s “green up” this holiday and not glorify war. Ditch the “bombs bursting,” and step into a more peaceful inclusive paradigm, one recognizing all races and genders—and their accrued pain—acknowledge other species’ torment and have deep consideration for Mother Earth at large.

 

 

 

blinkered bernie-ites: stop! you’re embarrassing the rest of us

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Many Christians love Jesus but are ashamed by certain followers. Well, “Bernie or Bust-ers” and various* Bernie lovers, I like Bernie and I’m not feeling “the Bern” the way I did. I’m feeling a bit burned.

IMHO, Jesus wasn’t salvation as much as a wise, compassionate philosopher. Bernie’s also a compassionate man but he’s no savior either. Your ‘god’ is not better than someone else’s ‘god.’ This is how religion has fomented hate around the world. It frightens the bejeezus in me—and probably in Bernie—to watch anyone placed high on a ledge, only to be pushed off later. Remember Obama?

Has a church denomination begun with Bernie starring as the deity? Because this lionization has many of the hallmarks of religious mania, complete with Hillary playing the role of Satan. I think Trump is more befitting of that part.

Didn’t we learn to not name-call when we were children? Can’t you support who you want without dubbing the other candidate “bitch,” “liar,” “cunt,” “republican”? Or displaying a disgusting misogynist meme with Bill saying, “I choose other women over Hillary; you should too.”

Or this fabricated acrostic:

C  Corrupt

L  Lying

I   Incompetent

N Narcissistic

T  Two-faced

O  Offensive

N  Nag

…blaming Hillary for Bill’s policies, not allowing Hillary to ever amend her stance? You’re sounding like those conservatives who called any progressive thinker a flip-flopper when new information altered their position.

I’m not here to defend Hillary but I am here to cry foul because these are all things I’ve seen from Bernie supporters, not Republicans who’ve always had their hate-on for Hillary.

I’ll say it again: I like Bernie. It’s mortifying to be aligned with such meanness from supposedly liberal intelligent people. Then if anyone protests about gender issues—which are more than real in this election—or dare to use “vitriol,” the best word to describe the sexist tripe I’ve listed, we’re dismissed.

Dismissed like black people have been by saying they’re using “the race card” when protesting unfair (and deadly) targeting by our society. Or rape victims who’ve had a sex life (nooo!) and sometimes wear “revealing” clothing. Or any man wearing a turban at the airport. Or a child who disagrees with an adult. Or native tribes when explaining how sport team monikers are insulting and hurtful. To discredit rather than stand for your beliefs is a juvenile way to deal with dissent.

We’re not calling out sexist behavior or suggesting thoughtfulness because we’re defensive or biased—leave that to the Trump-e-teers—but I also don’t want to defend the obvious. [see: men can ‘hate’ patriarchy, too] We’re trying to illuminate hurtful things, wanting to elevate the conversation. We’re asking you to act with grace. Be kind and be dignified in your disagreement. Unlike the tactics of the red party.

Do your research. **Hillary and Bernie have much in common. Dislike the parts that don’t match up. Be passionate about what you love and want; many of us do so without hating ‘the other.’ We still have a ways to go until this is decided. If Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, let’s all be graceful ‘losers’ not tantruming toddlers. Let’s all put on our adult panties and get on with it.

As my beloved role model, Mr. Rogers, says, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

 

*In case there’s a question: “not all” Bernie-ites

**Compare candidates

lie in the boat; look at the stars

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Last spring, after metaphorically spending some years building a safe enough boat, I set off from the familiar country of a 21.5 year relationship to destinations unknown. I just knew this land was no longer something I wanted, nor was it particularly good for me.

A year before, I’d begun examining all my relationships—family, friends, animals, plants, house—discerning what still worked and what did not. Every being gets to be who/what they are, I just don’t want to be around them much if I deem their actions/words demoralizing, unsafe, not inspiring or supporting, unkind, or just not ‘beautiful’ in all the ways that term manifests in my life: art, language, gentleness, food, joy, growth, sensuousness.

The thing about the unknown is that it’s unknown. Our culture is one that’s not fond of change. It craves novelty, but change not so much. The “leap of faith” that Kierkegaard wrote about is one that I experience each time I participate in any creative process, so it’s not unfamiliar to me. But just like lifting weights or certain asanas, it never really gets easier. A blank page is a blank page is a blank page. Trusting something ‘higher’ than myself—letting go—is what’s required. I must push off from my comfortable habitual shore.

Re-creating one’s life is a larger version of an artistic leap. It can be fearful, angst generating, thrilling—much like any other creative process—but your actual existence is on the line. Teenagers and burgeoning adults do this more often than age 27+. Most don’t choose to re-fashion themselves unless they believe they have to, and then it can feel so terrifying that they’ll fill that rushing hole of panic with whatever will stop it. Peccato, as it’ll just circle you back to a similar shoreline: same shit, different acreage.

This time, I choose to stay in the boat, to allow the space for my inherited injuries to heal. To be with instead of trying to fix the patterns, the pain, the sorrow, the grief of ancient stuff I’ve carried with me into every alliance. Those wounds didn’t comprise the bulk of of my relationships, by any means, but an infection in your toe affects the whole body.

Like anyone else, I don’t want to sit on this hot-seat of suffering. I don’t want to face what I once felt was inescapable. When we’re children, we’re vulnerable, dependent and needy. It’s the nature of childhood to be so; we must survive, and we do. Some of the ways we do is to place those impossible parts into exile. Later, we go to therapists/mystics/shamans to try to remember and recover these pieces in order to integrate them. There’s no way to become whole without embracing your banished pieces. And what I call suffering didn’t have to manifest only as physical horror. A sensitive soul is just that. A longtime friend calls me an “indicator species.”

Back to my symbolic boat. Simplistically, half of me gets weary of the mess, despair and sorrow. She wants to fall overboard into a new relationship, ‘fun,’ drink, drugs, even death. The other side says, “Give me those oars! I’ll find us dry land! TODAY! We’ll do more yoga, play guitar, write! I’ll save you!” That half is a douche-y chin-upper [see: chin up my ass], the ‘tell’ being her exclamation points!! These polarized, unrealistic sides are ‘valid’ and they both mean well, but neither is effective.

The first time I pushed off in a hand-built boat some 23-ish years ago, I held out for some months but jumped ship too early into a new romance, even with my mantra being: I want to heal more than I want to stop the pain. I was too young to realize I’d be jumping with an invisible backpack of ache that I’d just have to reopen and confront later.

Now my mantra is: Your job is to lie in the boat and look at the stars. Lie in the boat; look at the stars. Stay in the boat, dear one; look at the stars.

It’s paid off. Some stars are starting to shine for me—all of me—twinkling auspiciously of an untried regeneration. I suspect a powerful beach isn’t too far off. After all, my name means reborn.

 

~photo of Willem de Kooning’s studio. He once said something like: If I paint what I know, I’m bored. If I paint what you know, you’re bored. So I paint what I don’t know.

 

catcalling 101

cartoonAll around the planet, females have to fend off catcalling from when we’re toddlers, topsy-turvy teenagers, ‘hot moms,’ middle aged, finally slowing at matron until we’re almost invisible at ‘peri-crone.’

If we’re smirked at, whistled to, insulted, kissed at, patted, pinched, sang to, leered at, winked at, had lewd gestures performed in front of us, yelled at, scolded or called names even once a week—after 20 years of that—it’d be overwhelming. For some of us who regularly walk in cities, it’s outside of 10 times a day. Check out this comic strip by Ursa Eyer and especially this 2-minute video of a woman who walked around the NYC for 10 hours (in jeans and a tee-shirt) and was catcalled 10.8 times an hour!! plus, creepily, had one guy silently walk next to her for five minutes!! (exclamation points extremely necessary here)

Besides the obvious intrusions written above, this stuff starts with saying ‘cute’ comments to children, like: S/he’ll be a heart-breaker or You’ll have to beat them off with a stick, are despiritingly objectifying. Kids don’t like it and they feel uncomfortable.

Then there’s the ‘nice harassments’ women endure: You pretty Baby, Don’t you wanna talk? Niiiiicce or the ubiquitous, Smile. This is still harassment. Feeling uneasy while out walking, riding the bus/subway or getting into a store or work makes it that much easier to decide to drive, but if you live in big cities, you often don’t have that choice. Frankly, I’ve even gotten this obnoxious bedeviling while biking.

Hearing the dictum, Smile, arouses anger in me and others. I used to call my regular face “neutral mad face” because if I walked along any street, some wanker would tell me to smile. Why must I smile when I’m out? Lots of men don’t smile while walking and us women don’t command them to show their teeth. There’s a 2 1/2 minute faux public service announcement that gently ‘advises’ us how to view women wearing a “resting bitch face.”

Contrary to media driven messages, my life purpose is NOT to make men happy. None of us are here for your entertainment. I didn’t wear my skirt/shorts/top/yoga pants/jeans/swimsuit for you. I don’t have to smile if I’m not feeling it no matter how much “prettier” I’ll look to you. If you’re male, I’M NOT HERE FOR YOU; it’s not about you. Please leave us be. Say hello to us as you’d talk to a child, a grandmother, a dude, a nun. Wouldn’t talk to them? Then don’t talk to us.

Erin McKean succintly said:

“You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.'” And neither is smiling.

f@#k the bucket

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The marketing department of planet earth spends outrageous amounts of time and exorbitant monies directing our desires in hopes that we’ll buy or do whatever they’re selling, earning further money only to shell it out again to persuade us to get something else where they gain even more $$, forever and ever, Amen.

Thereby, a common occurrence in my therapist chair is that many people don’t know what they truly want. If they’re teenagers or emerging adults, that makes sense—due to developmental phases, and, simplistically, to pervasive parenting styles that dismiss kids’ feelings instead of helping them to organize their emotions effectively. Ultimately, we erase who we are.

The tragedy is that many/most adults operate from what they don’t want—usually past pain—and subconsciously spend their life ‘avoiding.’ Default living is—unquestionably—sad.

To counteract this, certain souls design “bucket lists,” activities to do or objects to acquire before they die. But are those lists actually what they want, or what they’ve repetitively been told they want? Russell Brand in “Messiah Complex,” warned, “Choose your heroes carefully or the culture will choose them for you.” Damn right.

The problem I’ve found with people who write bucket lists is that they approach life from the head—not the heart—equipped with an agenda, a checklist of achievements instead of an unrehearsed, yet inspired, evolution of deep living. Meaning, one moves from the inside out, following one’s true natural rhythms of imagination and eagerness.

In making art or writing, I may start with a ‘plan’ of sorts but the poem or piece rarely follows it. Often the spark that set it going gets edited out. All art moves organically, or it wouldn’t be art. See: is this art? who’s an artist? for the rant-ress’ take on that issue.

So, how do we know if we’ve been culturally indoctrinated—because fads come and go even if they seem authentic at the time—or if what we feel we’d want is genuinely ours? Contemplating these questions might help clarify:

  • I would do this experience even if I couldn’t tell anyone or no one saw/read/heard about it.
  • I’d choose/buy this even if everyone I know thought it was foolish or strange.
  • I wouldn’t feel superior to anyone if I accomplished/acquired it, or inferior if others did and I hadn’t.
  • If I never publish that novel, hike the Overland Track in Tasmania or produce an album, but enjoy the process of practice/training, would that suffice?

In the land of high expectations, disappointment and regret lurk around the next bend. Second-guessing, insecurity and greed is the head’s static frequency. One-upping for the epic, the extreme or the remote, spoils spontaneity and joy, dangerously disrupting the spirit. In fairy-tales, the princess who’s fake-friendly to the frog for her magic desires has very different energy than the princess who’s convivial for kindness’ sake. So, please be kind; stop comparisons! They never feel right even when you’re ‘on top.’

Check our culture’s paradigm at your heart’s door. Honor your soft-bellied Self.

For a refreshing antidote to bucket lists, see: 30 Things to Do Before You Die

april fool’s is not foolish…yet

Since tomorrow is April Fool’s Day and Easter’s this Sunday, the Rant-ress thinks this older blog post may still have something to offer, especially to those who have kids.

rant-ology!

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Little Luca Lucas came to Nonna’s house for his first Easter hunt of naturally colored-eggs from my “girls,” plastic eggs bestowed with foiled chocolates, pecans and kumquats and a red collection basket. It took a bit for him to get the gist and then…surprise, joy, challenge, satisfaction. Brunch followed: buckwheat waffles a la Kelly, sausagees (vegan sausages) a la Nonna, stewed fruit. To the park for slack line jollity and playground. A lovely personal time.

At the park, a church was setting up for a large hunt by helter-skeltering 8000!! plastic eggs over the ground. Apparently the idea is to greedily grab as many as possible. No hiding, no challenge, no merriment. Lucas and I walked through this mine-field for the visual but I believe that even this almost two-year-old could feel the lack of inspiration that he’d just experienced. Contrary to U.S. belief, children don’t like ‘easy.’ They LOVE…

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science is not god, sorry

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…but science now appears to be the new religion in some secular communities, complete with self-righteous fanatics who’ve decided that what they’ve chosen to believe science is, is thereby the TRUTH. No one has the lock on truth—not even the Rant-ress.

Facts aren’t ‘true’ either; they’re information. They can lead to truths but scientists are the first to say that one set of facts will be disproved by another.

Monotheistic religions believe there’s one god but many other religions don’t. There’s not one science either. As Dan Gaylinn put it: “Anyone who tells you that something is “settled science” is, by definition, anti-science, since the scientific method is implicitly about unsettling the consensus of what is currently believed to be true. That’s how knowledge advances.”

Thereby:

  1. Science is not god
  2. There’s more than one science (just ask scientists)
  3. Sanctimony is particularly unappealing

I ‘believe’ in science as much as I do in religion, but I belong to no church. They each have something to offer humans who seem to need to create ideology to have faith in. However, zealotry about anything scares me. It’s not an either/or world.

It’s true that religion has fueled most wars since the inception of the patriarchal paradigm. Has religion also formed a structure many people can use to do good in the world, help others and find solace for Self within? Yup.

Science has furnished us with wonderful knowledge of our biological world. Do some find comfort and security with that information? I do! Yet has science created bombs, drones, GMOs, herbicides/pesticides that are killing our flora and fauna? Absolutely.

Until recently, science insisted that bacterial colonies were bad, bad, bad! Anti-bacterial soaps and gels were essential to health! Turns out that science was “wrong.” Microorganisms outnumber human cells 10-1. Yet the gels are still everywhere. Antibiotics were once deemed the savior drug and now it’s patently evident that they’re seriously compromising our immune systems leaving us wide open to all sorts of disease and permanently disrupting our human microbiome, creating resistant superbugs.

In both war and medicine the only thing that needs to be eradicated is this mindset: the avenue to safety is to kill…whatever/whoever. Instead, let’s discover how to live with everything on this planet instead of annihilating what we fear.

The pro-vaxxers are brandishing the extremism of the newly converted. They don’t seem to disagree with the anti-vaxxers as much as dismiss and despise them. There’s no room for open intelligent dialog. Highly educated people reside on both sides of this issue (there are pinheads, too, but let’s not generalize). The cartoon above is needlessly vilifying. When has smugness ever been effective?

If you’ve vaccinated your kids you must ‘believe’ the vaccine works, right? What follows? Your kid is protected. Secondly, this is a country where we’re free to choose the form of medicine that works for us and our kids even if you don’t agree. There’s no unanimity, scientific or otherwise.

Your truth is yours. Leave it there. Be certain and inspired, not self-righteous and jingoistic. Priggishness is unattractive even if absolute ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ could exist. Which they don’t. Nature, and this planet, just aren’t that simplistic.

There’s a few things that always get the Rant-ress’ goat: unkindness, cruelty and defining/dissing another because you see the world differently. Take a deep breath. Find your intelligent heart, then open your mouth.