Catch a fire

It’s not everyday reading something on the Internet can move me to tears, but I’ve given up hope on seeing something like this post (and commentary) at Whiskey Fire. The study is not yet published and I know it only begins to scratch the surface but for the first time since the tests were done on me I have hope, if not for myself I can imagine glad tidings for tomorrow’s little Dickens.

When the neuropsychologist laid it out for me 10 years ago I was crying and he was almost crying, because he couldn’t answer my very pointed questions and account for the disparities in my mental examination. An evaluation spanning eight hours over two days, as comprehensive as it gets, followed by a 25 page report and two hour debriefing and still something missing hangs in the air. In the end I knew that he knew and we both knew what I needed to hear that he couldn’t say. What I didn’t know was that he couldn’t say it because there was no supporting cognitive science to make our unspoken hypothesis official in a formal setting. Correlation is not enough to move the world off its ass, but I have had enough correlation to last a lifetime, and that time is running out. Catch up with me.

He tried to make me feel better like Jake the Snake talks at Whiskey Fire — it’s not a life sentence, keep building up strengths, focus on your incredible resilience and amazing inner resources. Oh please. Show me the science.
Now we’re talking. It’s a start.

“This is a wake-up call…these kids have no neurological damage… yet, the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as efficiently as it should be….researchers suspect that stressful environments and cognitive impoverishment are to blame…The study is suggestive and a little bit frightening that environmental conditions have such a strong impact on brain development…”

Suggestive and a little bit frightening indeed.

Jimmie Dale Healer

Welp, I went ahead and signed up to put in my time and am delighted to find the Obama campaign has impeccable taste. Tonight’s local debate party will be kicked off with music by the world’s most charismatic outlaw who’s sly compassion is as legendary as his high and lonesome zensoaked warble. Jimmie Dale Gilmore is a Saint. This is not hyperbole, but a well-known fact. I can’t find the words and believe me I’ve tried. Anyone familiar with my (cough cough) oeuvre might recall I spent year one in Austin determined to self-destruct in a flamboyant way but what you don’t know is it was Jimmie’s weekly supper gigs at Threadgills that kept me tethered to the planet.

And I didn’t have to pretend I wasn’t hateful, alienated and falling down drunk or the last thing I wanted to do was gather round a picnic table in red-checked oil cloth, pass catfish platters to the homespun hippies sitting next to me and literally rub elbows with women who wear their hair down to their ass in 110 degree weather. Navigating his fan base was not for the squeamish but they are what they are and blessyerheart, we’re not in Kill City anymore.

All this was almost 2 decades ago, a single year that’s now a Texas legend, singing and supper with Jimmie at Threadgills, who saved me on a weekly basis without a single word between us and I know I’m not the only one.

I can’t find any Threadgills footage at youtube but here’s JDG in Norway around the same era doing his single hit Dallas. Heartfelt thanks to the Democrats for putting him on the bill tonight, now I got me some memories and buses to catch.

A problem from Hell

Good to know. How can I help? I don’t have anything different to add to the online cacophony other than my endorsement, but yesterday’s statement by Eve Ensler on Huffpo perfectly describes what’s clanging around my own feminist head and heart. Actual blogging may be on hold these days but there comes a time to cut & paste:

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it’s their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don’t like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story — connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God’s plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, “It was a task from God.”

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist’s baby or not.

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God’s name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don’t move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, “Drill Drill Drill.” I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

Molly Ivins’ Oxymoron

It feels good to be blogging again, get this down. I’m spending time here now, and went in on a shrug and a guess but it’s everything I want so let’s just pause and bow our heads for the miracle of work without pay. As a volunteer you choose where to go, what to do, learn at your own pace, you’re in demand by all departments and are treated like a hero. That’s what all work should be like, but since it’s not hooray for service, it’s given me 10 times what I’d have in my life without it.

This is Texas, hell on earth. Here’s the TCRP video describing their services. They fight to uphold the First Amendment, disability rights, battered immigrant wives under the Violence Against Women Act,  they’re all over the Texas Youth Commission, and it all boils down to hope.

I’ve been overwrought because I knew I had to go there but I’m not college, don’t know about law — ask me, what’s a plea, what is disclosure, what is a brief? I don’t know shit. You’d say that’s okay but I can’t get that through my head.  I’m terrified, shakes, humiliation and being ashamed of the humiliation, I’m sorry I’m sorry, head down, obsequious, problems with information processing, how to be, afraid to ask, a willing victim, it’s my whole personality, placating, fear of exposure. You can’t hide that, so what can you do? Bless this mess and watch them wait. I’m safe. Everyone knows that but me, I know they know I’m afraid and are too classy to interfere while I come to my own understanding. I am a rather steep learning curve too.

A word about magic. Twenty years ago while deciding if I would take the job at WOXY or a station outside of Chicago I went to a bookstore and pulled A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man off the shelf and started reading. I near fainted on the spot to see the protagonist’s name is Stephen Daedalus, because I just got off the phone with him, WOXY’s program director! That was his radio identity, I had no idea he took it from a story. I took it as a sign. Nothing like that has happened before or since til last month after taking the job at TCRP I went to the library and picked up a bunch of books. That night while reading Molly Ivin’s last tome I got to read 2 chapters praising Texas Civil Rights Project! It’s a coincidence, I know, everything is random but still somehow connected, isn’t it.

This is what cognitive behavioral therapy fixes & that is why it must be stopped

Bukowski: the shoelace

a woman, a
tire that’s flat, a
disease, a
desire: fears in front of you,
fears that hold so still
you can study them
like pieces on a
it’s not the large things that
send a man to the
madhouse. death he’s ready for, or
murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood…
no, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies
that send a man to the
not the death of his love
but a shoelace that snaps
with no time left …
The dread of life
is that swarm of trivialities
that can kill quicker than cancer
and which are always there –
licence plates or taxes
or expired driver’s license,
or hiring or firing,
doing it or having it done to you, or
roaches or flies or a
broken hook on a
screen, or out of gas
or too much gas,
the sink’s stopped-up, the landlord’s drunk,
the president doesn’t care and the governor’s
lightswitch broken, mattress like a
$105 for a tune-up, carburetor and fuel pump at
sears roebuck;
and the phone bill’s up and the market’s
and the toilet chain is
and the light has burned out –
the hall light, the front light, the back light,
the inner light; it’s
darker than hell
and twice as
then there’s always crabs and ingrown toenails
and people who insist they’re
your friends;
there’s always that and worse;
leaky faucet, christ and christmas;
blue salami, 9 day rains,
50 cent avocados
and purple liverwurst.

or making it
as a waitress at norm’s on the split shift,
or as an emptier of
or as a carwash or a busboy
or a stealer of old lady’s purses
leaving them screaming on the sidewalks
with broken arms at the age of 80.

2 red lights in your rear view mirror
and blood in your
toothache, and $979 for a bridge
$300 for a gold
and china and russia and america, and
long hair and short hair and no
hair, and beards and no
faces, and plenty of zigzag but no
pot, except maybe one to piss in
and the other one around your

with each broken shoelace
out of one hundred broken shoelaces,
one man, one woman, one
enters a

so be careful
when you
bend over.

Busy, busy busy

Our sensitive overlords at the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care are holding a conference this weekend; their 3rd in a series spanning two decades. I must be in pretty bad shape to consider this good news, but beneath the layers of shmooze and self-congratulation must lie some potential toward changing hearts and minds in the bureaucracies they toy with. That’s what I tell myself, looking over the program schedule (PDF), which kicks off July 10 with a private all-day Consumer/Survivor/ Peer/Expert Meeting to develop a National Consensus Statement on Trauma-Informed Care. Heaven knows it is time for that or something like it.

From the pink flower-embossed, healing brochure:

The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) has been sponsoring conferences that have defined the agenda of what needs to be done to recognize, understand, spark, and speed the healing and recovery process from violence and trauma.

From Dare to Vision in 1994, to Dare to Act in 2004, and now Dare to Transform in 2008 we are moving closer to real action for positive and lasting change. Our Goal: Revolutionizing Human Services with Trauma-Informed Care.

Trauma-informed programs and services represent the revolutionary transformation as the “new generation” of mental health and allied human services organizations and programs that serve people with histories of violence and trauma. Trauma survivors and consumers in these programs and services are likely to have histories of physical and sexual abuse as well as other types of trauma-inducing experiences.

These adverse experiences often lead to mental health and other types of co-occurring disorders such as health issues, substance abuse, eating disorders, HIV/AIDS, and contact with the criminal justice system. Unrecognized trauma also may lead to misdiagnosis or mistreatment of consumers and survivors.

When a human service program becomes trauma-informed, every part of its organization, management, and service delivery system is assessed and potentially modified to include a basic understanding of how trauma impacts the life of the individual seeking services. Trauma-informed organizations, programs, and services are based on an understanding of the trauma survivor’s vulnerabilities, which traditional service delivery approaches may inadvertently exacerbate and, as a result, cause re-traumatization.

This shift marks the change from a place that merely
carries out services to one that becomes a safe place of healing for the people it aims to serve. It is from this place of understanding that we have come together at Dare to Transform – a starting point for revolutionizing our systems of care.

Program highlights:

Continue reading

Social sympathy, motherfuckers

Another week gone by and no one’s been murdered by a mentally ill person? The lunatics are off their game, better put God back in his heaven and make all right with the world, slackers.

I’ll tell you what’s been eating me. Some asshat blast from my past 2 weeks ago, after shaking through this I go over to Pandagon for my daily visit and oddly enough see a post up about WOXY, a freeform modern rock station I worked at for four years. Now I’ve been a crusader for commercial radio since age thirteen and set out to rehabilitate every station I’ve ever worked at, with deliberation, cards on the table and signed contracts ensuring my unquestioned creative freedom.

If you’re wondering how I got away with how it should be it’s not due to my charm and persuasion but because I had an engineers license and in those days the FCC required an engineer to be on the premises of every radio station 24/7. That was my unique selling proposition, if a station hired me they could make me chief engineer and save a ton of money, but I came with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds as part of the deal, maaaan. Being both a disc jockey AND engineer was near unheard of, and I used it as leverage in medium markets throughout the midwest and we had a good run, but decent radio is dead and I deplore its corporate takeover and the pigstains who destroyed it. So I rant vengeance at Pandagon about the demise of WOXY, next day the program director shows up, and with his first post at Pandagon huffs and puffs that he has no idea who the fuck I am. I play there, idiot who the hell are you? He says I can see by your blog you have a screw loose. I tell him there are 8,000 radio stations in America and I’ve shit on none of them, sleep well, wrecker.

He pats me on the head, behave, calm down, WOXY is in the past, 1989, time to let it go, You’re upset Robin, sorry I upset you. Try not to kill anyone, mental patient, cuz after all was said and done there was a reason management had to change the locks.

There it is, stigma, upfront and without apology. He may be a smarmy sumbitch but he is far from easily dismissible, he’s a mirror, the paper that brings the news. Speaks to why we are on our own, and why so few of us are out of the closet. I don’t want to calm down. Prejudice is based on ignorance and ignorance is more dangerous than I’ll ever be.

I’ve never wrestled with coming out of the closet, back in ’89 I was a public figure and so disturbed coming out of the closet met me halfway. Let me share with you my criminal past, how things were for me the week they changed the locks.

This comes from my one-shot titled Good-bye Radio, Hello Happiness, written a month after leaving WOXY. A note before reading–I’m okay, don’t worry about me, I have had remarkable therapy and this unbidden turbulence was a part of it, and no longer happens, at least not to the nth degree, but it did, day after day and for fucks sake had I known then that people found me dangerous I would have blown my fucking brains out.

August, 1989:

i saw memories today tumbling speeded up like when you shuffle a deck of cards  it was like fifty fast images no sequence just flashes  it lasts about three minutes and then it stops til the next time when it’s a new deck  i’m in all the pictures  i can see everything in exact detail but i still don’t have any feelings about any of it lucky me i feel bad for wanting to write about it i am ashamed for just thinking about it why can’t i let sleeping dogs lie i have been walking around in shame even though none of it was my fault  i don’t think  if being a writer means opening up these channels then maybe i should be doing something else   as if i could kneeling between ricky’s legs him slapping my face back and forth back and forth mom pulling my head up from under the faucet slamming my head now against the bathroom wall screaming no running water after ten o’clock me naked standing over ricks face spreading my labia as he beats off babbling “cunt pussy whore stink” etc seven years old lots of hiding under tables and beds cutting myself it seemed like the thing to do  shredded draperies fourhundred dollar brand new drapes hanging in jagged strips because someone broke into the house someone was always breaking into the house and doing that stuff she never called the police because SHE was doing it  me throwing a kitten against the window screen age twelve wanting to hurt it not knowing why gunbullets flying through the picture window mom yelling hit the floor and we crawl around like that until they stop  speeding cars heroin sessions  hospitals  pacing  someone in the room always pacing back and forth sometimes me but usually rick  mom kneeling in front of me with a butcher knife begging me to kill myself like I was killing her  fucking our german shepherd rickrickrick i saw that age nine  letting my hair grow into a massive tangled knot age sixteen i refused to cut it she fixed that  me and mom at the emergency room trying to convince the doctor i fell  mom shows no remorse but babbles to herself all the way home mindtricks witchcraft black magic deprivation training because “pain makes you strong little girl” rituals constant mindfucking rituals afterwards i’d have to tell her what i learned from them  she’d come home after two in the morning wake me up and we’d count the towels together she’d beat me with a broomstick because there were never enough  coming home from school and seeing UNFIT MOTHER chalked on the sidewalk in big white letters so we’d throw garbage in all the neighbors yards  the boys would light fires  rick would light himself on fire sometimes  cops breaking into the house at all hours beating my brothers we fought back it made us closer in car with bestdad he pulls onto shoulder moves next to me and wordlessly pops the whiteheads on my arms and legs then resumes driving  ricky always in the hospital in restraints ricky in prison for life sexparties sexshows insidious sexmomsex even the good-dads coming after me mom jealous not protective jealous accusing me age eight age nine ten etc sexsexsex mom not protective not safe not good but sometimes with her index finger she’d trace idle invisible circles on the back of my hand over and over we’d look into each others eyes and i knew i could tell that she KNEW in that odd moment drawing concentric circles on my hand it gave me lots to think about like why doesn’t she stop maybe she cantstop in other words i’m dead, no no i’ll make her stop  i’ll be good.