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This is not the simple little bit of writing it started out to be, I had intended it to be at 8:30 this morning, because it is too important to me for quick and dirty, and because I am having a very ‘bad brain day.’ The ramifications of Lyme & Co. and the hard-hitting anti-biotic I was taking and have now aborted, my latest effort to keep the bugs at bay, factor largely to above noted ‘bad brain day.’ So unless you have the capacity to finish what I/you have started, I respectfully request, that you refrain from exercising the hubris, the temerity, to comment, chastise or congratulate.

As I sat enjoying my space and a really great cuppa Joe this morning, I was texting with the Sailor about all manner of personal and global bitch-slappy and interesting, when he quipped about my life being more 🙃 read as: upside down ‘interesting’ since we have known one another, than most people’s…  I responded with: “it has been that way for 58.9 years Sailor, not just since we have known one another, for I was born into all manner of  🙃 and ‘interesting,’ and have also created and stumbled into, a great deal of my own  🙃  and ‘interesting,” and that, is truer than true my friends! And then, in the middle of that communication I remembered the date today: April 25, 2020!

What that means is: I have lived my life, made my choices from the ones available to me, had some made for me, because I do NOT have control over everything that happens, impacts me, only what I do with it, but I digress, how odd… What April 25, 2020 means, is that I have lived my life for 22 years, or 8036 days in-a-row, without the protective plexi-glass wall of alcohol, other drugs, and many auxiliary self- and by direct extension, other-harming strategies, that I learned to use at some point. I know exactly what ‘that point’ was by the way, down to the second, the words uttered at me, the actions that precipitated ‘that point,’ to get through life and her bitch-slappy, for without the plexi-glass wall, my only other option felt like that thing Parker’n Me  have thought about, written about, joked about, were never really kidding about.

What that means is:

22 years of bitch-slappy unfiltered,

22 years of learning how to own what is mine, without suffering through, without taking responsibility for that which is NOT; this piece in particular has been a ‘capital C’ Challenge.

22 years of attempts at navigating the rocky road NOT leading to ‘blame,’

22 years of attempts at avoiding the donning of the grossly unfashionable ‘victim coat,*’

22 years of trying on and pulling off identities, pursing, completing, abandoning, personas, goals, dreams, achievements considered desirable, assigned to me by individuals and systems/groups I both ‘landed’ with, and chose,

and 22 years encumbered by, trapped in, often held hostage by, the exorbitant number of boxes in the world we occupy, the ones I now take infinite pleasure in blowing up, for the buggers multiply at a rate quicker than bunnies,

22 years, to find myself located rather firmly, for better and for worse, here:

I have done better at it on some of those 8036 days than on others, better and worse at navigating calm and rough seas alike, better and worse traversing goat trails, maneuvering hair-pin turns on precarious mountain roads, and better and worse travelling with grace, on the few and far between straight-aways, the stretches with gloriously beautiful views, literally and figuratively speaking.

Recently, I have ‘enjoyed’ a most eclectic rain-storm, a rainbow coloured nuclear fall-out if you will, of several years in-a-row of WTF have I allowed, done to myself and my life(?), how the fuck did I land here?!? Me, who busted her ass so hard for exactly, NOT this!?!

But: I have done much of that, the bulk of it, on my terms, her (bitch-slappy’s) terms, and for the last several months, unapologetic, truly for the first time in my life, unapologetic for any of it. For I was acting on the often intentionally obscured-by-others information available to me, and in no small part, on what I believed at the time was the right thing for me, along with that all important thing called the context of where/how these things occurred, and the events/people/places I am powerless to exert any manner of control or influence over, regardless of any choice I may have made, to ‘be there,’ whatever that means in any given context, mine, theirs, yours, ours.

That is not to say I am unapologetic or regretful, and more importantly willing to ‘amend,’ in cases where others have suffered as a result of my actions, or even misunderstandings about my actions, not at all. I am unapologetic for who I am, and for being a flawed but most-willing-to-evolve, adjust, revise self and only self, human-woman.  And as I believe is true for many women ‘just like me,’ contrary to popular belief and the often misguided conventional wisdom which has some folks believing to know who I am, what I am about: I have not had the she-cojones, big enough, strong enough ovaries if you will, not to care about what others think, how they respond to me, not to be gutted by how they treat me, who they think I am, who they think I think I am, the truth, my truth, of the inner workings which actually drive the outward me; not other’s perceptions not their assumptions about it, but the invisible layers of my machinery, the nuances of each tiny bolt, the contribution of the older, some rusty, some broken bits, to the entirety of this human ‘mašina,’ and her original ‘culture and tribe,**’ The culture and tribe I identify and find myself planted in more firmly, rooted deeper in, attached more firmly to, as time does that thing it does, marches on, with or without me, with or without my permission, it doesn’t give a shit, so I have to.

What that means is: I was not born tough, or even resilient. I was born wild, creative, funny, fun-loving, smart, painfully sensitive, and with an imagination and heart bigger than big, with a seemingly bottomless capacity for understanding, compassion toward even those of us humans who have committed unspeakable acts of heinousness, the most damaging of wrongs, toward others, including me. I was born to and with, and have honed, a significant capacity for knowing that context is everything, for taking the time to look for it, for it is rarely to never obvious, and almost never pretty. I was born with a view to the contexts which often drive human behaviour, born with and to, a clear and painful understanding of the fact that we do not live in a benign world, one in which all is fair and just. Those are words. Like love. And they are demonstrated, like hate, ignorance, fear and anger, through actions, not utterances. I was not born many things, I came to them, battled for and against them, most often out of necessity.

And I am a realist, and like Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, I know that:

“Life is beautiful in spite of everything! [and that] There are many thorns, but the roses are there too.”

What that means is: shit happens! People do good shit and people do bad shit, and bitch-slappy has played a very strong game in my world. And while outwardly it has appeared as though I have kept up with her, the inner working parts, my inner working parts, are often battle-weary. For I have willfully or willingly, at times not-so-much but stoically, waged too many wars, engaged in too many wars, on my own and others’ behalf over the years, and on a handful of dubious occasions, I have waged war against and upon myself. Most often, however, I have picked up arms in the name of those ubiquitous but rare-in-real-life philosophies; fairness, justice, human rights, human dignity, love; I have gone into battle against and with individuals and/or systems, that I had not the slightest chance of emerging as anything other than slaughtered from, barely limping away with my wits and life, a handful of times, literally so.

And while parts of that ‘wild child’ have never been vanquished,  the child who was always heard singing aloud, the one who loved nothing better than to try different tastes in her mouth, the sound and impact of different words on her tongue, the one who still lives to find new and exciting ways of putting conventional words and other life and real food ‘ingredients’ together in unconventional word- and real food recipes, loves nothing more than feeding them to others, people I know and love, and people I have never met and love, and even people I have never met but love to hate and hate to love.

And like so many of us who care to, are awake enough to know, are not so beaten by it all that a flicker of that human child remains to find back to, I have had to battle relentlessly, repeatedly, to find my way back to her. And in this context, 8036-days-in-a-row, have been a key component of that war. For as much as I want to be a pacifist, I was born into a war-torn rebel’s world, and contradiction is as irrevocable a piece of me, as are intensity and softness, just some of the many cogs’n gizmos in my inner workings, along with the night visions, which often call upon me to see, to examine more than simply one, flipside.

And so today, March 25, 2020, at 8036 of 21,466 total days to date, I make the decision, out loud that is, for it has been resolute within me for a very long time, a decision I have been avoiding for the better part of a decade, and since a particular set of momentously important to me flashes of introspection, flashes so hot that they took my breath away. The fire started burning 10 years ago, along with one in 2006 which served as the original kindling. These moments, this blaze, burning over the past 14 years, are about a deepening understanding, awakening to that thing I have mentioned here, and in other articulations: context.

It is, has been about, using the cognitive abilities I was gifted with, to think beyond the obvious, the easy, the overly simplified. For complication and complexity are not one and the same thing, and while simple may suffice in some instances, complex problems and issues are rarely-to-never solvable, with simple, surface-level, easy, band-aid if you will, solutions and fixes and with punitive, self-deprecating, other-worshipping practices and beliefs.

So I made a decision in 2006 NOT to make a decision about continuing involvement in a movement I have incredible gratitude for, but the core tenets of which I have ‘bought into’ less and less, the more I grow into me, and my ever evolving world view. I know that I made that decision not based on my own needs, wishes and desires, but because I was afraid. Afraid of what others told me would happen if I didn’t go, afraid that I was too bad a human do deserve anything better, because those messages, had been beaten into me repeatedly, literally and with words. Afraid to rock the boat, because while one half of my original people spent his life doing just that, and it is in my blood, the other half spent a good piece of hers running, having to hide, from her and her mother’s violence-inflicting tormentor, and rocking the boat was a life-threatening endeavor for them, also in my blood. So for years, I continued to make a decision I was not happy with, but kept convincing myself I could ‘live with,’ because other people’s tapes, other people’s history, other people’s choices and thoughts about what I should do, who I should be.

And in all fairness, over the years since 2006, I was able to at least in part, ‘take what I need and leave the rest,’ but the truth is, my truth is, that I cannot buy into most parts of it at this point, and believe strongly that some of the ‘instructions,’ and for lack of a better word dogma, are so damaging, that it is not possible for me to continue on as even a part-time participant, and live comfortably in my own skin. My own skin happens to be the only one I have to be, need to be, comfortable in. And so I wish most fervently that you are picking up what I am putting down, though I already steel myself against potential backlash from lack of exactly that.

Because people will read and interpret the articulation of this decision as all manner of things I am NOT saying, and because people will inject all manner of things I do NOT believe, and will NOT do, and people will discount the fact that I will continue to ‘count,’ because I have no desire to be anything but Marcela unfiltered, Marcela undiluted by anything but life-pure, with internal and external vision clouded only by age and the bacterial war inside me known as Lyme & Co., NOT by the survival tools I put away for good, 22 years ago today. Because please, know that there is more than one way to skin a cat, sober up a horse thief, more than one way to find and keep, self.

And while the one person who has been with me in that movement since before April 25, 1998, including through several years of physical and other separations, the one who would have remembered the date before I did today, but is not in a position to think about anything but her own battle in this moment, the one other really important one, the human I started counting for in the first place, did remember, and called to let me know.

And because of his context, and something beyond my control, our relationship has taken a most unexpected turn, but after the initial shock and pain, in an odd way, I am beginning to see the parts that are for the better, though I haven’t quite worked out the exact bits around much of it, yet.. but my point, and I do have one, is this: that human my son Thomas, understands, deeply, far beyond the surface, why I stayed, and why I cannot at this juncture; why my world views, my belief systems, my inner ‘mašina,’ no longer allow me to consider myself (and others) in the terms and labels ascribed us by our culture, in regard to so much of life, but specific to 8036 days, in regard to human responses to trauma and general bitch-slappy, and that not everyone comes with the same set of ‘resources,’ or choices, or birthright, to deal with said traumas and H.R.H., bitch-slappy.

And that, his ‘getting it,’ his remembering, is gold that no medallion will ever give me, though along with counting, I may still collect them too, because we can buy all kinds of fun’n fancy ones online, just not all the work and battle, that is not available on Amazon, in case you were about to google that shit.

And please, make no mistake: the difference between now and the years I speak of, is not that I am going to do anything differently in maintaining a back-to-back count, it is that I am telling you I won’t be coming by anymore, to eat cake, for counting back to back, and to be told how great I am, or to have my dignity affronted with assumptions/conclusions and uninformed opinions by people who have met me less than a handful of times, some for less than 5 minutes. Really, it comes down to where/with whom I want to expend the precious time, exert the precious little energy and other resources I have available to me, and it does not mean I am not grateful, or that I will not always cherish the ‘beautiful souvenirs,***’ please do not make that mistake, or do if you must, but do, please spare my oh-so vulnerable heart.

I picked up my plexi-wall on April 24th, 1998 for the last time, and I have as little desire to raise that battle shield again as I did in my most fervently ‘in’ days of service and ‘movement’ involvement, but pretending to be part of it, knowing I have not bought in for more than10 years, is not something I can, not something I want, choose, to live with anymore.

Thanks for reading, it has been a laid back, eat too much, and do whatever-the-hell-I-want-kinda-day, and the neighbours’ fence panel, is the only bit that turned 🙃 ‘interesting,’ during a big-ass gust of wind this afternoon. I, have been unwell, but calm as the proverbial cucumber. I think I’ll make a Czech, Okurkový salát outta that!

~Marcela: Stepping out, gracefully, with gratitude, and bereft of a single dram, of maleficence or even resentment.

*A very different phenomenon from true victimization, something I am also familiar with.

**This is a vast topic for me, to be investigated and noted in a different context than the one in this piece of me, and it includes my original home and native land, its food, customs, belief systems, ways of living and being, my original tribe, their history, and their influence on my deepest self.

***“I can’t spend time with people I don’t enjoy. I can’t do it anymore as theater. I make choices, and that’s a beautiful thing about growing up, learning to say no, in a nice way, just say no. I have this friend…we just went different ways in life. Once he came to me and said, “Francis, you don’t like me anymore.” and I said “No, it’s not that I don’t like you, we’ve chosen different styles of life. I still have beautiful souvenirs of all the things we did together and how close we were, but the truth is it’s not that you bore me, but I don’t enjoy talking to you anymore and I don’t want to fight with you but there’s nothing in common between your life and mine nowadays.” I would have never said that but he asked me. So what could I say? I said the truth. Growing up has a bit to do with that, to be able to tell the truth, to show who you are, even if it hurts.”
― Francis Mallman