We stood in the Carolina sun and discussed enlightenment, rebirth, and something that resembled saṃsāra.
In the last few years, I’ve learned about ad blockers for my internet browser. It’s not just been ad blockers, I’ve recently learned that you can add all sorts of add-ons to Chrome. Laugh if you want, it’s one of those things that’s keyed me in on the fact that I’m starting to move to the official “old lady” age of my internet experience.
So now that I have these wonderful little programs that counterbalance the ads, I keep getting these windows asking me to disable them to support the sites I visit. I understand (roughly) about ads and monetization. Money math is a tricky thing for me. While I do want to support the sites I visit the purpose of the ad blockers are to block the swarm of ads that are overtaking the spaces I’m trying to read on. Sometimes I don’t want to see commercials for shit, I just want to fucking read. I just want to get to the core of the issue without having all these things in the way.
There are some sites that guilt trip the user about having ad blockers in place. There are some that don’t allow the user to read any further until the site is placed on an exemption list. While this is just a necessary evil of playing the ad blocker game, it got me thinking. How much of this interaction would benefit real life? What if, and stick with me here this might get loopy, you could treat your emotional self like an internet browser? What if you could put ad-ons in place that blocked “ads” or “pop-ups” of people or ideas that were negative for you?
Normal people call these boundaries, but for those of us who either have emotional traumas, are Empaths, or are beset by damaged or toxic people we call those FANTASY THINGS THAT OMG I WISH EXISTED!
Emotional boundaries can be thought of as the property line that separates your thoughts and feelings from those of another person. Think of it like this:
You and I both have pasture land that’s side by side. On my side of the fence, I keep sheep. On your side of the fence, you keep lions. If the fence is strong and well taken care of, everything is fine. If the fence is weak and flimsy, if it battered by storms and not cared for, if it is often driven over by ATVs taking a short cut, it fails. And then the lions get out and devour the sheep.
Boundaries work the same way. When they fail, the person they fail for suffers the same fate as those proverbial sheep. It’s not bloody or gruesome in the physical sense, but it’s still tragic. And even worse, it becomes a habit. It becomes a learned mannerism. The sheep learn that they are lion food and just wait for the end.
I’ve done both. I’ve been the lion’s food and I’ve built walls out of Adamantium. Security feels much better than being fodder, but I promise you, it won’t make you popular. Those that depend on your allegiance and support will expect you to place them on a list when you roll our your rules of engagement. When you start exercising your “no more”s they will start expecting special passes. Their special treatment and VIP status to your new, often life-saving, rules will determine how much you are allowed from them. They’ll try to choke the stream of information, emotion, attention, and affection you get until they’re giving you what they think you’re worthy of. Be prepared, this revolution will rock your world and show you just who values you.
That’s why when you live without boundaries in place, it’s like browsing the internet (are kids still calling it “the net” these days?) without ad-blockers. Constantly you’re faced with calls for your attention, demands for your time, and things that want to suck your stream of thought right from your body. Every task you try to set out on is met with something begging for just a moment of your time. And after being the person that always answers, you become the one that can be counted on. You become old reliable who would never shut down the neon ads. No matter the hour, or the weight of your baggage, you are the one that will be there to mend wounds, open doors, and hold gates while they keep crossing over.
That’s because when you don’t live with boundaries, people expect you to stay that way.
So please, build your walls.
And re-enforce your fences.
And deadbolt all your gates.
Set your boundaries so hard and firm that no matter how much it causes rifts, and how hard it makes them revolt, you don’t waver. You deserve it. You are not just food for the lions. You are not just a target audience meant for the betterment of others. You are your own experience.
You are yours.
And for the love of the gods, install some damn ad blockers.
We all have a lot to forget when it comes to assessing children and ourselves. Good and bad are archaic terms that don’t really have a place when it comes mental, emotional, and educational wellness. When we let go of our neurotypical way of thinking and allow ourselves to see that there are many sides to the same coin, then we can be totally inclusive with our thoughts and understanding. And maybe a little bit nicer to ourselves.
When we are young, we all have this idea of what we are going to become. We’re asked from the time we learn to put words together “What do you … Continue reading On “Being A Writer”
I didn’t pick up I’ll Be Gone In The Dark because I read true crime books. Out of all the genres of books in the world, true crime is one of my least favorite. I’m not a practical thinker. I’m not one for procedures. It’s hard for me to stick to the actual and not lose interest when strategies and laws and formalities start getting explained. When things get analytical, I nope out.
That’s not to say I do not love the genre in other forms though. I’m a child of the Unsolved Mysteries, American’s Most Wanted Generation. I love true crime TV shows and will spend hours watching documentaries. I absolutely love true crime podcasts. Most of my podcast feed is true crime in nature right now. And I’ve spent a good chunk of time scrolling through online websites and forums devoted to crimes and cases, suspects and victims. But with the exception of The Devil In The White City, I haven’t touched a true crime book in years.
That was until I heard that a comedian/actor who I’ve been fond of for a long while had lost his wife unexpectedly. We’ve had some close calls recently, so the fear of losing my husband is forefront in my mind.(I’m a nervous wreck and worry all the time, so what’s one more horrible thing to worry about right?)
As I was following that story, I found another story, tucked inside it.
It was a story about a woman who ordained herself a writer as a young teenager and was inspired to slip into the world of true crime by the nearby murder. It was about a night stalker whose 12-year campaign robbed the residents of a section of Califonia of their sleep, sanity, and in some cases, their lives. It was a story about dedication to clues and advances in science and about never giving up. It was a story about a serial killer who was obsessed. It was a story about a woman who in chronicling that obsession, became obsessed herself.
That woman was Michelle McNamara.
And her obsession was the Golden State Killer/ East Area Rapist/ Original Night Stalker.
One of the first things I said to my husband after I started reading it was “Holy shit, Michelle McNamara was a hell of a writer.” The story of the Golden State Killer (a name McNamara coined herself) is interesting on its own but has enough dates and location changes that it could read like an entry in the most boring of textbooks.
McNamara makes sure that doesn’t happen. Her ability to take police report data and turn it into a narrative that as intriguing as any classic whodunit is almost magical. She weaves the horrible crimes committed by the EAR (one of the many names for the Golden State Killer) with not only stories of the victims and neighbors, but about the officers, detectives, forensic scientists, and online sleuths that spent years if not decades on the case. She focuses not only on their methods but how the case affects them as people. How the case seeps into the pores of their careers and forever leaves a mark on who they are as people.
She doesn’t leave herself out either. She cast the lens as sharply on herself as she does the killer or any other side character in the book. She is not afraid to show her faults or the dark side of what an obsession like this does to someone. Her devotion to bringing justice is on full array, and so is it’s price tag. Tales of events left and anniversaries forgotten show the impact McNamara’s devotion to justice had on her life.
Just like the reality of her devotion, the details of the crimes are not sugarcoated either. Taken straight from victim statements and police reports, every detail of the heinous crimes of the Golden State Killer is put on display. His actions, and inactions, are laid out not as a case study but rather like a really great episode of Law and Order. The retelling of the horrible events almost feels like fictional stories sometimes while you are reading. Then it hits you. These horrible things happened. This isn’t a scripted show. This was an actual period in time when one man terrorized an entire section of California. And then, years later, mentally perplexed so many people all over the world.
That’s one of the things that kept making me have to put the book down while I was reading. I would get so invested in the story that when the people of the book would reach out and connect with me, it was like a slap in the face. McNamara stopped being just an author. I felt like I knew her after reading the book for a very short while. I felt like I was there, researching and writing along with her, as the book unfurled. So when every so often, the Editor’s Notes would start a new chapter, my heart would pause. Those would be the moments when I would have to remember that the woman I’m reading isn’t sitting on the other end of the keyboard, or at her home with her daughter and husband. She’s not on a book tour or getting ready to do interviews for the upcoming HBO documentary. She also not relishing in the fact that the man that did all the horrible crimes that her book was written about was finally apprehended.
Michelle McNamara passed away in 2016 before the book was even finished. In 2017, in the closing of the book, the editors who pieced together her work to create the finished project vowed not to stop until they got his name. In April of 2018, Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested for being the suspected Golden State Killer, thanks to new DNA information.
This story is still growing and evolving. And I feel that we owe it to the victims and their families as well as Michelle and hers to make sure we see it to the end.
Excitement abounds! Tonight is the night of the Blood Moon Eclipse! Overnight from January 20th to the 21st, the Moon, who happens to look a bit larger thanks to its … Continue reading The Blood Moon Eclipse
As this year slips quietly into the next one, I’m thinking a lot about the passage of time.
I told you about turning another year older a few posts ago in Chapter 34. And while I mostly used that post to describe the day, I did speak briefly about how now I need to start letting go of so much of the baggage associated with my birthday. Like Elsa in Frozen, I need to Let It Go.
(I have a four-year-old little girl. I’ve seen Frozen more times this year than I’ve seen Law and Order. It’s worked it’s way into my brain. Please send help.)
Part of letting it go is accepting that while I’m still knee deep in the waters of motherhood, cronehood is within my sights.
Physically, I can no longer make babies. In August of this year, after years of struggling with birth control, I had a tubal ligation. Four months later, I am not sad nor do I mourn the loss of the ability to make a new life. Maybe it’s because I’ve supplied the population with quite a few new faces. I’ve done my part and met my baby quota. I honestly no longer get that fever feeling when I see a cute little dumpling of a baby. I’m ok with never having to carry a child again.
The three children that I am circled by are more than enough. And while they are my world, every day I can see them growing slightly more independent and getting closer to the edge of the nest. While that might strike fear in the hearts of some mothers, it makes me really happy. I want them to be free to be themselves. They have to fly away sometimes. They have to be complete people outside of me. I will be the tree they can always return to, not the anchor that weighs them down. It’s going to happen, they are going to get older.
And you know what? I want to get older too.
But it seems that the world keeps telling me that I shouldn’t want that.
Every time I open one of the magazines that show up at my house randomly or scroll down the social media platform I’ve been meaning to quit, I get reminded of all the steps I should be taking to keep my impending age at bay.
I’m shown creams to stop wrinkles and spots, dyes to hide gray hairs, undergarments that lift, flatten and boost body parts that need to be modified. It doesn’t even end there. I’m reminded by billboard ads and radio jingles that there are plastic surgeons who can make me look younger and thinner in just a few trips. And if that’s too drastic of a change, I could always just purchase a Groupon for a spa nearby and get some Botox and eyelash extensions for 40% off. I don’t have to let time effect how I look. According to all these ads, I have the power and the opportunities to rally against it and forever maintain my youth.
(Just to put this out there, I am a huge proponent of dyeing your hair all the colors of the rainbow and I support every person that decides that plastic surgery is for them.)
But what if I don’t want to participate in that war? What if I don’t want to hold on to my youth?
My issues lie in that I do not support being told by people I don’t know that I NEED these things in my life. I do not support the idea that I must take part in these activities as some act against my body. I don’t like the idea that I should wage war on myself just because the years are changing my outer husk. I sure as hell don’t appreciate being held to a standard of beauty that I didn’t sign up for. If I want to change my hair color, fuck yeah I’m going to do it. If I want plastic surgery, fuck yeah I’m going to get it. But it’s going to me for my own reasons. Not to fit into so some “forever young” standard.
Listen, I think women are beautiful. That includes all women. From the young, shining and dewy-eyed to the old, bent, and wrinkled. I want to live a life that shows I’ve done both. I want to experience both ends (and the middle) of my womanhood with the same amount of reverence. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.
By pushing us to worship youth, our culture pushes us to hate aging. And there is a huge fault in that. We demean and devalue the act of aging and of growing because we fear moving away from what is accepted. We see being old as being less. And we really fucking fear being seen as less. Less beautiful, less worthy, less important, anything that is deemed less, we strive against. We have fought long and hard to not be seen as less because we’ve been told endlessly how just being a woman makes us such. So for something as simple as the passage of time to render us useless is unnerving. That is why there are billion dollar industries that make their money by telling women that there is only a fleeting window of beauty they can attain. They don’t want us to see the beauty in all walks of life. They want us to desire to be unblemished, unmarked, untouched maidens forever. Just the type of maidens they, conveniently enough, find attractive.
It’s a little messed up, isn’t it?
Cronehood is just as worthy as maidenhood and motherhood. It is not diminished because of the ability or frailty of the human body. It is not diminished because of the perceived lack of beauty. We are not made less because our bodies are weathered by Father Time. If anything, we are made more. The knowledge we acquire through the tribulations we face accumulates. If we mature as we age, by the time we have reached the age of the crone, we should be a wealth of experiences and knowledge. We should be a library ready to share with those around us. We should be well-written books full of adventures, ready to share our worn pages and the stories within.
(Obviously, this is not always the case. Personality disorders, untreated mental illness, and being an asshole are a motherfucker. The inability to change and accept your faults hinders the ability to grow and learn. But that’s talk for another day.)
I don’t want to be frozen in place forever. Life was not ment to be lived in stasis. I want to evolve and grow old. More than anything, I want to experience life and learn. I want to learn all the things. The good ones and the bad. And life can only be learned by undergoing the passage of time.
Life is fleeting. We must respect and enjoy its passing.
So bring on the wrinkles. Bring on the gray hair. I welcome the bent fingers and curved spine and the age spots and the declining eyesight. I want to be the old woman with silver hair, covered in tattoos, sitting under the old oak tree teaching grandchildren how to snap peas. Or how to tell if a storm is going to be bad. I want to tell them stories like my grandmaws told me. I look forward to my older self and all the adventures that await. I don’t care what society tells me. When it’s time for me to be a crone, I will wear the title proudly.