Written in the Sand

Last year I committed to spending more time at the beach. AND I DID.

My priorities and my visions of normalcy and success shifted with every minute I spent at the shoreline.

My intention was to continue regular beach visits in 2019 — multiple times every week — but so far this year … I haven’t gone much.

Today I didn’t even want to leave the house. Like most days this month. February is the worst month of winter in Washington (even without the snow that piled up last week); even though the days are getting longer, it’s not nearly enough sunlight after months of reduced daylight hours. It feels like darkness falls way too soon every day.

But I had to get one of Delia’s checks in the bank. It seemed like a waste of gas and putting-on-clothes to turn right back around and go home, so I made myself go to the beach, telling myself that I could just sit in the car and read. Just GO. Just GET there.

And there it was … proof that THE BEACH IS FOR ME, written like a personalized welcome mat:

Without planning it, the tide is often low when I get there. Especially on days like today when I had to ease myself into just the idea of being upright.

Funny coincidence: last night I read a story featuring sandwriting that was also like a personal bridge, but between where I picture the author Emma Donoghue and here in the Pacific Northwest. Starting out reading Slammerkin and The Sealed Letter, she has always seemed SO across-the-pond and decades and centuries ago from where I be, but in Touchy Subjects there she is writing about JESUS and TACOMA and the word COCKSUCKERS in the sand.

So far this book is full of stories I would never have imagined her writing, but I was totally surprised by Room coming from her, too. But maybe she was just making fun of us for that big JESUS CARES ABOUT YOU sign you can see from the freeway that you can imagine was an inspiration for it. It makes me miss Tacoma, actually. Lots of things make me miss Tacoma. But then I go to the beach here and don’t give Tacoma another thought.

Anyhoo … I had very tender feelings for “The Man Who Wrote on Beaches” when I read it last night.

“…he had a home with a view of Puget Sound and a good job and a great collection of German steins and a lot of laughs. Above all, he had Margaret, who was twice what he deserved.”

The older I get and resign myself to being My Authentic Self, I have to accept that even though I’m capitalizing those words like I’m in on the ridiculous joke of myself, I’m honestly NOT joking. I’m earnest and can say with my whole heart that I love The Man Who Wrote on Beaches. With recognition, relief that I haven’t taken it QUITE that far (but only because I got the idea of asking Jesus into my heart out of my system as a teenager), forgiveness … and no measurable amount of irony.

Values & My Favorite Things: Week 1

Like a lot of people resolving in January to do things differently or better or more or less, I committed myself to working on my values in three tangible ways, and blogging about it weekly. The first couple of things I’m dedicating myself to practicing weekly are like a lot of people’s resolutions: go outside more! Keep this one area of life clean and pretty! Blah blah blah … you’ve heard shit like that before from all kinds of folks. But my third values-magnifier is probably not something anybody else is devoting a year of mindful practice to.

The third way I’m connecting to and meditating on my values is through an object I treasure: my dancing bananas ashtray.

trixie's dancing bananas

It’s cheap metal. I think it cost about $2.57 over a decade ago, wrapped in crinkly cellophane. I DON’T EVEN SMOKE but when I saw it, I had to have it. I’ve kept it ever since.

There are a lot of things I’ve bought compulsively, but there’s something special about my dancing bananas. I need them on my nightstand. Sometimes I forget about them, but whenever I pick them up I get a surge of some kind of rightness that cuts through everything else competing for my attention as Most Important. I experience a rare sense of easy and relaxed happiness; THIS is CLEARLY what’s most important: my dancing bananas ashtray.

If I were to measure the worth of all of my possessions against this Most Treasured ashtray and throw away everything I don’t love as much? Pretty sure my environment and priorities would be cleaner, happier, and more in keeping with my honest values and aesthetics.

Classy People with Good Taste would dismissively call it kitsch. If they were giving me the benefit of the doubt they’d assume I love it as kitsch. I DON’T. It is a fucking spiritual touchstone and perfect example of beauty in my eyes. My dancing bananas remind me what makes human so lovable and fucked-up: our imaginations.

If you do not love my dancing bananas, I’m pretty sure you’ve advanced yourself into a profound disability that renders you unable to find comfort or delight in basic human yum yum. I do not want to spend a single night in your dry complicated irrational land of sophistication. I will stay here where we tell each other stories of saucy faceless slow-dancing fruits dipping their toes in gluttony’s sweet hot goo.


 

Like many Americans, I have way too many things. Many of them I value so much that I’m afraid to use them, even though they’re mostly worth nothing. So I’m going to check in every week with my dancing bananas to remember what it’s all about, this thing called (my) life.

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Woods & Water: Week 1

As mentioned in my previous post, this year I’m building and reinforcing my value system with three different practice-and-blog series. That post focuses on values about cleanliness by practicing and showing off nail grooming. The second post and series I’m kicking off here revolves around BEING OUTSIDE. Specifically in the woods and by the water, at least once a week each (and specifically SALTwater).

So on the 6th day of January, because I made this commitment to myself (so I can feel proud of my follow-through instead of like a beach bum slacker? see also: puritanical values about work), I dropped everything else and went to the beach:

 

Normally I’d avoid the beach on a Saturday (because normally I avoid people, and normally beach + Saturday afternoon = people), but because it’s winter and it was probably going to rain, there were hardly any people at all!

So I didn’t have to figure out how to interact with anybody except fog and rain and sand and space and day meeting darkness and feet hitting ground … and that is my happy place.

So what does this have to do with values? Well … I value: my body | fresh air | sweating | taking the temperature with my skin | working to LIVE | sunlight | LIVING TO LIVE | telling time by tides and shadows | free self-health-care as valuable “work”, more valuable than any desk work | connecting with what is REAL under my feet | my exceptionally good fortune in living in this time and place out of all of the times and places humans have existed | solitude | the colors green the colors brown the colors grey the colors colors colors blue yellow brown green green green green NIGHT | the enormity of sky | seasons | my freedom | my ability to exercise my freedom and to choose what is healthy(iest) | having a platform to celebrate and serve what I value and what sustains life | bunches of other good shit like just BEING ALIVE

Basically: I AM SUPER FUCKING LUCKY I CAN WALK ON THE BEACH EVERY DAY. Whenever I want. And very often have it all to myself: way more quiet, peace, and solitude than the vast majority of people on this planet have access to.

I value quiet, peace and solitude. And huge bodies of saltwater. I feel some kind of a huge moral ethical human spiritual obligation / necessity to feed on my good fortune and revel in the pleasure, nutrition and healing it gives me to be out there, in what little there is left for however long it and I linger.

 

 

The time & weather when I started my walk, and when I ended it:

winter weather in port touchdown

For that first week of January I did my woods and water walk all in one outing, hiking up the hill from the beach as it got dark. The trail was steep, slippery, and getting harder and harder to see, but I wanted to be speedy to cover as much ground before it got totally dark; this was a fun extra-sensory challenge to really focus on FEELING my footing, being aware of every step and seeing with the soles of my feet.

drainpipe near dusk

This wet walk alone up an eroding hill intensified my appreciation of the book I’m reading (It), remembering what it’s like to be a kid roaming around outside relishing freedom, suffering from fear, and just being alive outside with your heart beating fast.

Didn’t your values seem a lot clearer when you were a kid than they do as an adult? I want to be as clear as a childabout the value and rightness of certain things. Like mud puddles.

twilight alone

Being outside alone while it got darker and wetter and darker I felt more and more like myself, and giddy about it.

In some ways I’m not even sure what this word “values” means and how to talk about them meaningfully or accurately (is that possible?). But the darker it got and the more sure I knew where I was and how to get somewhere else, the more I remembered who I am and felt happy about the rightness and certainty of it: I’m a night person who loves being alone in my body outside.

I would rather listen to water dripping off of different things onto different surfaces than people talking words. Part of valuing these things – night, solitude, rain, outside, wet sounds – is valuing myself for being the kind of person who runs sopping wet through the dark alone in winter.

Note on blocking out part of our hometown name: it’s not a secret on our sites, but I don’t want to make it THAT easy for no good reason. Plus it’s more fun for you to read if it’s a blank you can fill in with your own idea of a perfect place to live!

VALUES and Nails: Week 1

VALUES are one of my big ongoing personal/spiritual/work projects. The (free, awesome) relationship skills class I took in 2016 taught me how much work I need to do on my own value system to be a better, happier person in relationship to other people and myself (and to work).

I wish I could say I’ve completed working on my value system in the two years since then, but I’m still wrestling around with it. Here’s what I want to do:

IDENTIFY & CLARIFY MY VALUES

What do I value?

ASSESS

how my values do and don’t fit in with other people’s

ARTICULATE

Be able to confidently & coherently articulate my values with pride

PRIORITIZE MY VALUES

What do I value MOST? Which values will I choose to navigate by?

LIVE IN LINE WITH MY VALUES

Commit to practicing and living in line with my values, securely relying on what I feel and have thoughtfully determined is good, beautiful, healthy & human.

This year I picked three straightforward, basic, tangible ways I can practice living in line with my values. One is to take care of, enjoy and present my fingernails and toenails in ways that are in line with my aesthetics, and reinforce my personal values around cleanliness, gender, time and money. I’ll also blog about the other two soon.

My goal is to do all of the above with my nails this year. How do I think hands and feet and nails should be cleaned and presented, and how important is it?

Here’s how I plan to live more in line with my values in 2018 by focusing on my nails:

  • check in with myself on a weekly basis
  • share pictures of how well I’m practicing hand, foot and nail hygiene
  • reflect on experiences, values and issues related to hands, feet, nails, and being clean and presentable
  • welcome and encourage other people to reflect on and talk about individual and cultural values around cleanliness, presentation, investments in body maintenance and presentation, etc.
  • celebrate and feel good about my body and healthy values

Cleanliness and personal hygiene are super deeply emotionally value-loaded bundles of standards and procedures for living and doing and loving and judging ourselves and each other. What is clean and dirty are some of the very first and most important things we’re taught. Pretty much immediately after being told over and over and over again to identify ourselves and each other as either boys or girls; I’ve experienced values about gender and cleanliness as being deeply (and dysfunctionally) intertwined.

I feel shame and embarrassment over that picture of my toenails. Even though I spent time and resources to maintain them (tea tree oil, letting them breathe/no nail color in months, pushing back cuticles with orange stick, exfoliating soles and calloused places, rubbing minty lotion on them at night, keeping clean underneath the free edge) in the weeks preceding this, they do not meet my standards (and I’m painfully aware they don’t meet other people’s standards). THOSE NAILS ARE TOO LONG!! They need to be trimmed and filed! They’re not pink-white enough / they’re too old and yellow-y looking! The cuticles are still messy! And that’s not even getting into judging the aesthetic value of my feet and skin. And my pilled-up leggings.

Compared to my toenail picture, I feel only a little embarrassment over my fingernails on the same day, which is funny because they are MORE out of whack with my personal values (I like short, shiny, well-groomed, super clean fingernails) than my feet are. Maybe because aesthetically I think my hands are more beautiful? More likely because I’m overly aware of how many people think feet are dirty and gross and that you’re a slouch if you don’t trim your toenails to the quick on the regular.


Maybe talking about values and cleanliness and gender aren’t the porn you came to my site trying to find, but they have SO MUCH to do with whether or not we feel good about our bodies and whether or not we feel good experiencing sexual pleasure. My relationships and continued work as a webwhore depends on me peeling back all of the layers and lessons I’ve gotten about gender, cleanliness and personal presentation to be realistic about what work I invest myself in, and to find healthy ways to let go of gigantic resentments I have about the absurdly different ways men and women are taught to clean and present themselves.

Are you interested in any of these topics: values, beauty standards, cleanliness, pictures of hands and feet, gender, and personal grooming? Or do you think it’s just totally weird for me to go into this remedial examination of fingernail clippings like they’re spiritual tea leaves for 2018?


 

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15 Years (and a Decade) Ago

The first time Delia told me she loved me was 15 years ago … the day my dad died. I wish he’d been able to know her … he would have loved her so much. Their loving kindness and senses of humour are so exceptional and similar.

And just over ten years ago, near Mother’s Day of 2007, is when Delia decided to transition. My memory of that day and her announcing this beautiful change is one of the happiest and most hopeful, joyful memories in my whole entire life.

I fervently wish for everyone to be able to be their best, happiest, truest, most green-growing radiantly-thriving selves, and be surrounded by love, safety and the certainty that we all want the very best for each other, and allow each other the freedom to determine what is best for themselves. It may not be true today, and it doesn’t seem probable … but it is possible, and I want to focus on believing that kernel of goodness is in everyone as much as our capacity for fear, willfully self-centered comfortable ignorance, and cruelty.

 

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Dancing at Sunrise

My wake-up dance-around music-for-sunrise today >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Maybe an album called “Moonbathing on Sleeping Leaves” isn’t thematically appropriate for rise-n-shine time, but I think Sky Cries Mary is perfect for most ANY magical time.

Delia and I are working on crafting a home with lots of open space — indoors and OUT — for dancing. Rolling around on the ground, jumping … RUNNING.

Stomping shaking flying leaping stretching reaching singing … hanging upside-down.

It’s more important to us than couches or bedframes or chairs. OR CLOTHES.

I don’t want to start my day reading scary news before I’ve even had breakfast, or checking email or anything else where what somebody else wants or thinks sets the tone and overshadows my own priorities.

I want to start out my day by dancing (or fucking), waking up my body by moving it.

What’s your favorite way to start your day?

I’d love to hear what your morning rituals are, if you have any … or what they would include and feel like ideally.

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