Reboot, version 1,003,892,802.6

I’m writing a paper to present next month at an conference that will include actual non-administrators, which has become too much a rarity in my life. In preparing (nay, stealing from myself) the paper, I found, upon review of the materials in this space, that I used to really enjoy writing about really batshit, occasionally personal, and always snarky subjects. I even included research! On music!  And I’ve been writing on punk for at least 8 years (my head says I just started sometime last week)!

The question is, if I commit to returning to this site, will I?

Sure, what the fuck. I need to make my head work for a living in some space that will not (I promise) to include spreadsheets.

God, I hate spreadsheets.

The inherent problem here is that I often took my inspiration from conversations in classes and with students outside classes. And, so very sadly, I only see students in my present role when things are really, really bad. So, the inspiration from those conversations is somewhat less…invigorating.  So, to where might I turn?





Oh, what the hell, it’s probably their fault this is even rattling about my brain.  So, as a start, you should totally watch this:

It’s healthy. It’s invigorating.  It’s maaaaaaahvelous….

And, somehow, I’ll write this up without getting into politics, which should be a trick.

336 days later

So far in 2015, 355 times families and friends

got phone calls,

saw something on the news,

didn’t know what was happening until the moment they did.

Each of those moments  was different–emotions, outcomes, responses.

355 times people had to practice the now common “active shooter training”:




Get out. Barricade. Don’t move. Don’t respond.

Unless there is no choice.

355 times first responders had to hear “active shooter” and to



be unable to offer help until the scene is secured,

face the horror of potential, the horror of actual.

To break down doors to find





355 times people saw their co-workers, friends, families or strangers injured or dying.

355 times people felt the physical pain of injury and the myriad traumas that follow.

355 times people did not go home.

We still have 29 days to go.


Lent III: Calling Names

I encountered someone yesterday who was deeply horrified by mental illness. Now, I don’t know that she meant mental illness generally or the particular variety that televise well in a 24-hour news cycle, but I suspect the latter. Her barbs, framed as questions, merely cast around the term “mentally ill” and “you know what they are like” an variations on that theme. To her defense, she was terrified for reasons it took me 45 minutes to draw out, but I feel for her–living in that kind of terror must be exhausting.

As she spoke about mental illness and the inherent dangers therein, she, at one point, assuming I agreed with the discussion generally I guess, called me reasonable. This was the kindest of the name-calling that would happen in this discussion. I sat there, rather unable to say anything directly to her for a few moments. Mentally ill is dangerous. I am reasonable. Even in the midst of my compassion for her terror, that obnoxious imp in my brain made me make eye contact and think: “oh, honey. If only you knew.”

I am pleased that after all the training and medication I have received, I did not say it.

It isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this rhetoric in this particular place. I’ve found it in surprising enough people that I found myself seeking out a trusted, gentle soul to make sure this wasn’t as pervasive as it felt. That discussions of forced medication on a general population were the stuff of misunderstanding, misinformation, and, as with she of yesterday, fear. That the names I heard where only matters of ignorance.

I was shaking after the 90 minutes with her, even as much as I had been months ago when I sought out my friend. While I would like to say that my reactions are about the nature of social justice in this particular realm, many of them are entirely selfish. Self-protective. Hey, what about me? Am I dangerous because? Do I get a free pass for being white, female and well-educated? For being, apparently, reasonable?

Bringing in a diagnosis in the midst of such conversations is merely a gotcha and pretty useless as rhetoric goes. So, I don’t. Or, so I like to tell myself. It is also a matter of safety and of fear–if I tell, what will happen? Consider the framing: lock ’em up, medicate ’em, keep ’em away. I have the privilege of access to medication and medical assistance and the ability to pay for it (I’ve seen what those meds cost without insurance. Yes, privilege–but that seems too weak a word for this). My crazy (usually) can be packed away when it creeps out with a long, fast run. Or a phone call to someone who will call me back to reality. Who knows my name.

Ok, I admit it, I never thought I’d find myself referencing Maxine Hong Kingston in the middle of this (read Woman Warrior. No, seriously. Go read it. Then read Tripmaster Monkey. Because everyone should).

When I was diagnosed, I can’t say anyone (myself included) was surprised. Perhaps the only “surprise” was that I accepted it, since I had fought for years to avoid, deny–I had bought into some manners of fear. I preferred to consider myself odd. Weird. Which is not to say that neither of those is true, mind. When I told one of my closest friends of the diagnosis, her response, in her fine and wonderful deadpan, was, though I have forgotten the exact wording, “you think?” She’d seen it. She could have probably predicted the swings–she could damn sure identify them.

When appropriately medicated and engaging in self care (sleep, for one), I am relatively ordered, mentally speaking. When either of these are not the case, I am various shades of mentally disordered. I have a treatable mental illness and the means to engage that treatment.  But the encounter with this woman leaves me contemplating these gifts–having moved from a place of “you think?” to relative peace.  I am not quite sure where to move from here. Another set of teachings and teachers tell me I need to pass on a message of willingness to seek help–as the mentally ill or as the afraid.

How can I reach my hand in to help to stem the fears? My voice to call their names?

For 90 minutes her entire body appeared to be filled with terror over the images her mind insisted that she see. I could see her trying to hold her shaking body still in spite of that terrible fantasy that she wrapped herself and draped over her face. A fantasy-world built on an event that has come to define her every interaction. Every assumption. Every action. My heart hurts for her. I wish I could give her the gifts given to me–you don’t have to listen to your own head. Let the thoughts go by. Let them go. I hope she has someone who knows her name. Who can call her back to a reality not so soaked in blood and fear.

Zacky Vengeance playing "Seize the Day"

Zack, Knoxville, TN. May 2014

I think I’ll call this one contemplative. It captures more or less how I feel right now, save for the whole onstage with guitar thing. I mean he looks deep in thought, doesn’t he?

Lent II: Still Joy with Crows*

*with apologies to Tom Robbins.

It is entirely possible that I will never get the final song in Sons of Anarchy out of my head. In many ways it captures the joyful spirit of some hymns (not the dirges that are supposed to be joyful but are too mired in minor keys or, worse, choirs and musicians who insist on the funereal, since that is all that they ever heard, even in joyful compositions. See also Eddie Izzard on the matter.  I’m pretty sure I reference him every Lent).

The finale itself was, of course, entirely telegraphed from the beginning, even if Jax had more agency than it ever felt to me like Hamlet did (or not. The biggest what if the show will always be–what if Jax just didn’t listen to Gemma–either the one in front of him or the one in his head– then? Or then? Or that other time?). I’m going to have to parse that one more, since, however much I knew what was coming…I still watched in horror until I could not watch–I covered my eyes.

It’s not surprising that joy can come in lockstep with horror. That’s part of what Lent is preparing for, isn’t it? However much Easter looks to lift up in joy for believers, it still follows horror. Christological symbolism having been rampant in the show, and nowhere more than in the finale, where Sutter took a sledgehammer approach, I wonder how much Lent I just watched.

Watching the finale on Ash Wednesday may have been weirdly appropriate.

The show makes me want to write–to dig and turn over, which is a pretty nifty thing (oh, look, joy!). I’ve not looked to see what has already been pondered over the years, largely because I didn’t want to trip across spoilers. I’m not sure I totally want to now, because I know I will trip into SOA fanfiction, and as much as I love me some fanfiction, I do not want to go there right now.

Maybe because SOA has a alt-universe fan fiction quality to it? What if Hamlet had been in an MC? Should it have come with an alt-universe warning?

As always with Hamlet tales, I am curious about Horatio. The keeper of the stories. The one who survives to tell the tale to the armies at the gates. In this show, it’s the latter (the armies), that give me pause because those who will be getting the story are not the obvious armies. And that they become the vessels is far more disturbing than the armies at the door (since the obvious armies–the other outlaws–will never, if Jax’s machinations are this time successful, know. Granted, most of the other plots blew up in his face).

But, Hamlet. See, I was (and I hardly claim to be alone here, since it was the point of the show) utterly fascinated by Jax Teller, in the same way that I am utterly fascinated by Hamlet, particularly as imagined by Kevin Kline. I don’t know why, perhaps because Kline played Hamlet in the most joyful way I can recall (if a joy covered in derision). He doesn’t play Hamlet as the deep, oppressive, christian-hymn-solemnity that is so popular among those who wish to be counted as a “great” Shakespearean ACTOR. Or someone in high school. Charlie Hunnam usually didn’t play over-the-top unnecessarily (at least as I read the character). He had far longer to vacillate than poor Hamlet ever did, and boy did he let himself do so, right up until he stopped–which is when (as with Hamlet) everything came apart.

But, still, a twisted joy (relief?) permeates Hamlet. It’s over. It’s finally over. One that Sutter mirrors in Jax as the story winds to a close.

I used to love to teach Hamlet (still would). I would love to pair Hamlet with moments from SOA in class, the way I did with Odyssey and Oh Brother Where Art Thou? Not anything born of particularly unusual insight, but ways of seeing the same stories told in image and music. Even when blood runs across the stage, the death itself hidden from view, the music can insist on something more than mere horror.

Since I made the joke about trying to do this…


Matt Sanders laughing on stage

Matt, Augusta, Nov. 2011

Lent I: Giving Up, Giving In

I need to write. I need to write. I need to write.

I guess that because I grew up within the Western Christian liturgical calendar, I tend to hit Lent with the feeling that I need to do something. The giving up, the taking on, goodness knows I’ve done both–though I left the institution long ago at this point. But my head still finds its way to that cycle.

Advent is the beginning. Lent is, among others, preparation (as is Advent, in truth). And it is often associated with (or practiced as, celebrated (?) as…) fasting. Giving up.

It is inevitably a period when I do, in fact, give up. Often on whatever it was I gave up or took on, but I often do give up. The same is true of whatever New Year resolution I think I’ve made, but Lent is particularly noteworthy for this.  Possibly obscenely.

Wow, this sounds ridiculously serious. It shouldn’t be. There is something freeing about the giving up. And the taking on. Again. What the hell.

Avenged Sevenfold guitarist smiling

Syn, Honolulu, Jan. 2015.

So, how about a happy-guitarist picture to set the Lenten mood. Looks pleased, doesn’t he? (aside: happy to see him smiling on stage–very different from the mood during the Nightmare tour. Wherein he, of course, was trying to recover from a nightmare and wore the grief so completely.) So, different mood here as well. Happy-guitarist-playing-solo mood. I feel that I have a particularly intimate acquaintance with moods so as to be able to provide a more nuanced accounting than “happy.” So, happy-guitarist-playing-solo it is. Difference? That man is onstage, in the place and space he clearly loves, playing a song of his own making, existing within his passion. And, yes, getting attention for it.

Having said that, I am wondering if I could manage to use my live photos of this band each post to represent a mood…This is probably a terrible idea. I have sufficient photos to never repeat during that time, but I’m pretty sure I’ll come up short on facial expressions.

So, I’ll give up and give in for Lent. Give up, if not the coffee I should give up, then the traditional meat.* I’ll give in and write. I’ve mentioned that I need to write, yes? I’ve resisted this space for months. Written in my journal each morning, but not here. And I like this space. I like that I have–in the past–been able to spread out my thoughts. Turn them over and stare into the connections. Write in some vaguely academic way about the things that excite my head. And I’ve put aside that part of my brain in learning all this new of late in this life I have been granted.

So, give up the easy, give in to the need. The good needs. Some of those needs that saved my life: writing, researching, and meditating. Creatively. Playfully. Because that’s what I have and that’s what keeps me sane. And in the aforementioned mood.

After all, I like sanity. It’s kind of cool.

*Funny–my worst enemy in these efforts is inattention. For instance, the day was all of 12 hours old when I walked into a lunch meeting at which there were chicken wings that smelled really, really good. While I ate none, it was not until I left that I realized that I’d not thought once about the Lenten commitment. I just happened to not get any because I’d brought my lunch with me. *headdesk*


Lessons in Humility

I’m told that when something keeps happening I need to listen. Repetitions of numbers, song lyrics, etc. Certainly this has been true of many major changes in my life–especially the lyrics. Thank you, “Unholy Confessions” for the role you played in 2010. For almost a whole month. Two lines. Over and over and over.

And then I got around to listening to them. And to the ones that danced through the month before. Thank you, “Buried Alive,” though your message quite a bit less obscure than the song that followed.

This time it is not a song (though there was one that I still haven’t figured out the message my brain was sending. Maybe it was just scrambled), but a repetition of events. Namely, failures.

I have a great life. A job and a place I love to be in–the differences from last year are so dramatic as to be pointless to try to describe. I’ve been fairly successful in my endeavors professionally thus far–nothing huge, but still there. And then there is this month. None of them life and death, only one panic attack induced (and talked down by rhyte and then a solid 5-miler), but no less failures. And public ones–a federal grant, a conference proposal (see, none of these are of grand significance outside my own head), a something else that I can’t recall at the moment–none of these private.

On the one hand, given the sheer number, the one panic aside (which was over something other than the failures), I’ve handled this terrifyingly well for me. I might be numb at the moment (oh, I did just remember the other thing. *sigh* yeah, it was important after all), but I’m more okay with this than I would have ever imagined myself being. That reaction is, of course, subject to change without warning and with plenty of drama.

What I am hearing in all of this is a lesson to be learned. I want to ask why I need to be humbled, but why probably isn’t the question. How do I respond from here–to this and to things that follow.  Do I hide from big projects? Do I apologize for my existence <–a personal favorite?

And what exactly am I supposed to be learning here? Ah, right, patience. Humility.

I forget so easily.

And at the same time all of the above is unfolding, I ran two races last weekend–a 5K and a half marathon–and PR’d in them both. For what may be the first (and last) time ever, my athletic-life is more…successful doesn’t feel like the right word, but it probably is (bonus: band on stage as I finished the half was playing Guns N  Roses).  My work life is fine–I’m doing the things that need doing, and perhaps I need to let go of the image of myself as a grand success in the particular area in which the failures are arising. Take steps back. Look at the matter. Turn my energies elsewhere and let that side marinate for a bit. Maybe come back later. And, as they keep telling me, sit with the discomfort.

Oh. I see. Perfectionism, isn’t it? Right, that one. The one I keep having to work on. Gotcha. Comically, I have been tiptoeing into that morass. My bass sits behind me right now, waiting for me to play badly just to play (it had been so long that my fingers are having to relearn the stretch across the neck). I have a sketchbook in which I am learning perspective and color. A poetry notebook so that I can laugh at myself, and a tentative research project beginning to join the nest around my favorite chair.

Clearly, whatever it is that needs to remind me to work on that rather significant character flaw has never seen my drawings, heard my music or read this blog. Perfectionism is clearly not a problem (I kid). Of course, none of the above (save the blog) is for public consumption, either. So I probably don’t get to count most of it.

So, there is more work here, apparently. More of the public variety, I expect.

Be mindful, be forgiving, be honest. <–perhaps my mantra for a while.

So, I checked my journal for the recent lyrics (which, thankfully, have been on a rotation). Today’s (which did not need checking, what with it being in my head at the moment and all): “Until our second chance, just enjoy the dance,/ and find out who we are /(these dreams will never leave you)/Let’s find out what we are/ (the dreams will never leave you)…” (“4 a.m.”). Recent others: “you’ve fallen asleep in denial/look at the way we’re dying” (“Blinded in Chains”); and for several days “There’s something in your eyes/ a part of me that I recognize” (“Lost it All”).  Personal favorite (and the kind of earworm that would not leave, no matter what I did): “Play your game you better walk away/your integrity don’t mean shit/run away you fucking parasite/or I’m gonna take you out.” (“Trashed and Scattered”)<–primarily the second line. Make of that what you will.

There were others, some of which are so commonplace as to have a permanent space for themselves. So: denial, identity formation, dreams, recognition and…threats of violence in the voice of a cocky 25-year-old male.  Creative interpretations are probably necessary.

50 Miles to Anywhere

I live in a small town now. Small enough that there are not a plethora of bookstores, and the majority of stores generally close by 7pm. It’s definitely odd. I run with wild turkeys and a vague threat of mountain lions, and I had quail move into my attic for a weekend. Did I mention odd? Within those quirks and myriad others, the cross-country move has proven to be as wonderful Running_Beachas I imagined–and in many cases, far more so:

I took this picture halfway through a 12 mile run that began at my house. As midway points go, even ones that require a climb over a dune, this does not suck. Neither do the views on a 10 miler from Asilomar to Bird Rock (off 17 Mile Drive). Nor from Del Monte Ave. to Point Pinos. Or parts of the wild in Fort Ord (did I mention the mountain lion)? And so forth.  Perhaps moreover, all of these runs can be accomplished during the afternoon. In August. Such was never possible in GA, where summer long runs demanded a very, very early start to beat the heat (though not the humidity, which is often highest right around sunrise). I got to watch the sun rise this morning as I ran toward home. Right up over part of the (I think) Gablian range. Just beautiful (and an unusual sight, since sunrise usually happens while the marine fog is still hanging around).

And so I run. With glee. (note: not Glee). I have miles and miles of coast and trails that I’ve not yet run.

I turned 39 earlier this month, and while I’ve never been a roadie (unless one counts extinguishing fires from cheap-ass candles before Duff’s Cleveland show), I feel like I’m doing pretty well on the so far, but I also feel the need to do *something* remarkable before or around my birthday next year. Because.

I started CrossFit (shut up) last month, more or less on a lark, but that doesn’t feel like “it” (what with having zero desire to do heavy lifting), though it seems to be good for my running strength thus far. And it turns out that I may have somewhat less range of motion in my right elbow than I thought. Doesn’t quite bend far enough to do some of the weightlifting.  This is not really a huge surprise, but it does make for some humerus (*ahem*) moments.

For this “remarkable,” I have to reach into the “things I’ve never imagined I’d do” list, so I’m glad to have some time to ponder/scheme/etc. I probably should cross-reference with the “things neanc has already forbidden” list.

In the meantime, I’m training up for a half marathon (hence the double-digit routes above). I’ll start training for a marathon immediately thereafter. Dammit, I am on the West Coast, I will run/hobble the Surf City Marathon in 2015. Whatever it takes to finish that race (hell, to start that race–injuries immediately before the last several made for too many cancelled trips).

Seriously, I will crawl if needed (which would have the benefit of meeting the “imagined I’d never do” criterion, this crawling a marathon. Perhaps in a tutu? Duck costume?). Granted, the course time limit could create a problem with this solution.  Oh, and the traffic on PCH.

Suggestions are welcome.