You’re Crazy

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“You’re crazy…you’re really crazy…you are aren’t you…” the woman stared at me, her eyes studying my face. “You really are aren’t you.” I looked back at her, confused. Christ, I was sitting in my new Audi wearing a grey turtle neck and holding my toy spaniel, yet there it was. Somehow, in some way, she had identified me as not OK. “Yep, totally certifiable,” I joked back, wishing to god this awkward moment would pass.

She’d come to the car to see my dog who is, I must admit, irresistible. A quick exchange of niceties had followed and then this glazed over moment when she searched my face and proclaimed me insane. I didn’t do anything to start this. I was just being me; just being a mom dropping off her son while holding a lapdog in a silver Audi, yet like puff the magic dragon my crazy had managed to make itself known. Or had it?

This is not the first time this has happened to me. In reality, crazy has been a lifelong companion. It was how my certifiably unstable mother undermined me from a very young age. I remember standing on my neighbor’s porch imagining a story I was telling myself only to be pulled out of it by my mother, appearing like a black cloud from nowhere, saying, “Don’t move your lips when you think, you look like a crazy person.” Later, while splashing in the bathtub I announced my wish to be president of these United States. “Don’t be crazy,” Mother answered, “You’re a poor white girl without an ivy league family. You will never be president.” I was maybe five? Yet the worst was the thousands of different times she and dad said, it’s fun to dream but if you think you’ll ever be anything, you’re crazy, in a thousand different ways over several decades.

Crazy morphed into, Emotional. Emotional became you’re too Sensitive, followed by Fractious, Unreasonable, Weak Minded, Fickle, Touchy, Confused, Flustered, Unbalanced, Irrational, Difficult, Hysterical, Crazy. You’re a crazy girl. Just crazy, girl. Too crazy to be anything!

All of these words have followed me like ribbons knotted in my hair and it’s taken decades to comb them out. And now I’m rich and loved and happy and successful and sitting in my Audi hearing, you’re crazy all over again.

It’s true what they say about your past. If you run from it, it will find you. Even on a good day, a best day, even when your hair is perfect and you’re dressed well, it’ll get you . It’ll sink its teeth into you and it will try to make you bleed. Today it used a closed minded, utterly vapid little rule follower, and it took her wholly and completely.  Like a faithful little puppet, vacant eyed and hungry for the answer as to how I’d got away for so long, crazy unleashed itself in words that flew like dull arrows and missed their mark. Even repeated again and again I felt nothing. No pain, no embarrassment touched me. I stared back in confusion until even the possessed felt the strangeness of the moment and snapped out of it. She said a few more niceties before walking away leaving me stunned. “Well that was fucked up,” my son said and he was right. It is fucked up to tell someone that they are crazy. What made the bite painless this time is the reality that I know I’m sane because I know who I am.

Crazy has been used for centuries to undermine women, homosexuals, rule breakers, and artists all over the world. To call someone crazy is to label them as rebellious, broken, shattered, irreparably insane. Lunatic is another word used to undermine individuality. The word itself is derived from Luna or Moon meaning that a woman on her moon cycle or menstruating was a lunatic when the P.M.S. kicked in.

Women were locked up in asylums for being hysterical. Hysteria is a nineteenth century feminine affliction involving anxiety, depression, overt sexuality, and mood swings. Hysteria was oftentimes remedied with a hysterectomy. (Hystera is the Greek word for uterus if you’re wondering.) So, to recap, we passionate types have been labeled as broken, been “negatively” afflicted by the moon cycles, and driven mad by our own uterus’s to the point where doctors removed them.

So why were woman and the marginalized so afflicted? Because their energies and purpose where stifled. They were allowed no personal exploration, could find no personal fulfillment, and were allowed no personal expression. They were wholly confined to the social norms they were born into.  Thankfully, things are so much better now. We are moving towards personal equality and it’s a beautiful time to be alive.

Equality isn’t women lording it over men, grabbing them by the penis and elephant walking them into a submissive and powerless future. Equality is simply the return of an ancient symmetry; the symmetry of the sacred female and the sacred male. These two, when brought together make a perfect unit. Stable like a triangle, they lean on one another in equality.

Gay or straight, a balanced couple is a couple where both individuals have a balance of the sacred male and sacred female energies within each one of them. Sacred female is the energy of intuition, compassion, sensuality, and unconditional love. It’s an energy that when embraced balances the male energy away from toxic masculinity into a more open and peaceful masculinity that is beautifully powerful. Sacred masculinity is the energy of compassion, relational integrity, emotional intelligence, fatherly guidance, and leadership from the heart.  And the sacred feminine doesn’t demand that woman set aside their femininity but encourages them to embrace it, love it, honor it.

As we move away from gender identification, and socially enforced gender rolls, we will move instead toward a more classical, creative, and open style of living where we will again create the golden age spoken of in Egyptian hieroglyphs, and by Plato and Socrates. And in this new renaissance we will be able to let go of labels like lunatic, hysterical, and crazy, because radical individuality will have simply become the norm.

I don’t know why that woman called me crazy. I did nothing to call her attention towards me. But maybe my own individuality stood out to her as too different, too free.  Maybe some deeply awkward part of her was trying to use the crazy label to push me back into my place. Thankfully, I live in a time when it’s OK to stand out and be different.

To read more about gender discrimination through labeling others as crazy, read, A Brief Yet Fascinating History of the Word Crazy by Amanda Montell 

My Mustard Seed

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If you had bumped into me seventeen years ago you would have met a deeply depressed person. I was sick and tired of existing and I wanted off this rock. My level of despair was paralyzing. So what to do when you feel washed up at twenty-four? For me the answer was…a hypnotherapy class?

I remember walking into the classroom (a remodeled second story room over the garage) and wondering why in the hell I was bothering. My PTSD was so bad at this point that my anxiety came over me in waives, crushing me with panic attacks so severe that I often felt as if I was dying moment by moment.

Hypnotherapy class was…different. I met neat people, I learned about meditation, trance work and how easily humans are led through the power of suggestion. (We are predictably irrational creatures) I also learned what manipulation looked like and how…

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Put A leash on It

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“Get off my property. You don’t pay my taxes, and put my rock back.” I point to the granite boulder I purchased months before to stop people parking on my land. “I’ll put it back,” the man said, pulling it from where he’d wedged it behind his truck tire. “I’ll put it back. I’ll put it back where your property begins and city property ends.” The boulder falls at me feet, the man smirks and walks away leaving his truck on my lawn. “Get your fucking truck off my lawn I yell.” My husband walks with me, I hold my older dog in a carrier near my chest, my puppy is grasped in my husband’s arms. I feel vulnerable, angry, and anxious.

This isn’t the first go around, I’ve been in other land fights, lost land in adverse possession, seen my husband slugged in the face for walking his own acreage and I’m angry, I’m so angry that I won’t back down. The man says something else about my land being city land. “We’ve been to the city. We own all the land to the road. You don’t have the right to park on our lawn. Get the fuck off our land or I’m calling my lawyer,” I yell. The man starts in about family rights, how when his grandmother owned our house he parked where he liked. “There’s this thing called real-estate. When your family sold this land, they surrendered, the rights to it you dumb fuck. Call your lawyer if you want to prove you have the right to park on my land,” my husband counters. I follow the man who walks down the alley at the back of my property watching him as I make my way to my back door. He stops and looks down at me. “Keep walking fucker,” I yell. “Your people don’t own this land anymore so stay the fuck off it.”

“Keep walking,” my husband adds coming up to stand beside me. The man looks at Dan and then at me. “Put a leash on your pit bull, man,” his eyes move from me to my husband before he continues on down the back alley towards his rental.

This is the second time this year that a man has told my husband to put a leash on me for speaking out, for voicing my rage. “Put a leash on it,” were the words the other man used. He had been a friend who stopped by after therapy, triggered out of my mind. He sat in my sun room talking about his need to shoot Muslim women for eating in our local bake shop. I confronted him, asked him how he could feel entitled to shoot locals for wearing scarves over their hair while eating cake. “After all,” I added, “doesn’t shooting innocent woman over their dress code make just as big a fucking monster as the Taliban?” Turning from me to my husband this friend of several years told him to, “put a leash on it!” before getting up to leave.

No one has ever told me to leash my husband. He’s told other men to fuck off in corporate meetings. He’s fought hard and fought back in every verbal and legal war we have ever entered into together. He’s been hit, gone to court, stood beside me while we got restraining orders against aggressive neighbors and countered our ex-military friend for talking violence against women and yet no one ever said, put a leash on it with regards to his behavior.

I’m not meek, I’m not demur. I’ve seen where those two passive modes of conduct lead people. I don’t look away from a problem and I don’t back down. I will take down a two-hundred-pound man if he threatens my home. I will sue anyone who trespasses on my land. I’ve voiced my rage over violence against prostitutes, inviting the drunk asshole who talked violence against sex workers to come see just how fast a pretty cocksucker can take down a drunk ass motherfucker in the parking lot. But even that bastard didn’t tell my husband to, put a leash on me.

Nowhere in history has it been “FUN” to be feminine. Even as I child I was told not to raise my voice or talk back to little boys because someday they would be priest of the church, men, fathers, leaders.

Life has taught me that demure woman are dead women, broken women, silenced women. I heard the stories, memorized them, watched them remembered in whispered tones, listened while the women of my family discussed a wedding where a rape attempt went unnoticed for proprieties sake. Grandma had stood on the other side of a door calling her oldest daughter’s name begging her to come out, knowing full well that she was fighting off a man twice her size. Why didn’t you fight with her? Why didn’t you open the door and fight? I asked. “I didn’t want to embarrass him on his wedding day,” Grandma answered. An hour later that would be rapist married Grandma’s youngest daughter. No one put a leash on my aunts second husband, no one did a thing.

I love men. I love women. I fucking hate this prissy society that says be inoffensive, keep your mouth shut, cover up and keep your head down or you’ll get what’s coming to you. I hate the parents who tell their children to cover their shoulders and dress down or people will think they are flirtatious. I hate all societies that tell women to cover up so they don’t entice, enchant, encourage admiration. And I hate everyone who says to turn the other cheek, that what’s done is done, to forget, dry your eyes, move on.

If someone trespasses in your life, back them down. If someone touches you inappropriately, knock them back, if someone hurts you, string them up in a court of law. If your daughter or sister, son or brother is screaming on the other side of a door, break it down. And if you are broken in the fight, remind yourself that it’s better to die on your feet than live as someone else’s bitch.

 

Tanya

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We were six. You were a Navajo, and a black girl, my soul sister-more sister to me then my own flesh. I loved you. I love you. You were dark brown and your hair hung in glossy black ringlets. We read books on archeology in the library, we giggled over mummies and sphinxes, talking about the ruins we’d wander, the deserts we’d ride across on camel back. I’d hold your hand. You’d hold mine and say, “Shall we?” I’d answer, “we shall.”

Home was hard. My mama screamed, punched, kicked. Your mama drank, smoked, fucked your nameless fathers. Thank god for grandmas. Mine was an immigrant, dancer, nurse, a jitterbugging good time girl grown gray. Yours was a white haired squah, mother to many, once a reservation maiden sent to Indian school and beaten for speaking in her people’s tongue. We both lost our families to violence.

My mama brimmed with poison, spilling her lies into my ear for spite. “You need to know Eleanor,” she said, “Tanya is not black, and she is not Navajo, and there are no people  who will claim her. She has no people. Her mother is a bad woman and her life will be hard.”  I looked at my mother, the red-haired L.A. calendar girl, ex-go-go dancer, and nodded, my heart sinking in my chest because I loved you.

That week we stood in the sun watching your little brothers play, one Mexican, one almost white. “I got something to tell you,” I said, and I poured mama’s poison into your ear in a hushed voice, a loving voice laced with concern. “I need you to be brave,” I ended, “because mama say’s your life will be hard.” I remember how your big eyes held mine, how you nodded at me and said, “OK.”

I cursed you that day, my mama’s words working you over through me. Christ, how her lies laid thorns in your path. No one knew what you could be but mama’s words took everything. You and I…we were everything…until that day. I remember saying goodbye. Mama didn’t want me playing in your apartment because she’d asked your uncle where he was from and when he kept saying, “here, I’m from here,” she’d got angry. But honestly, where else could a Navajo be from but here?

Years later, when we were 13, I heard you got pregnant. You partied drunken like your mama, while I rode fancy ponies in pretty show rings in a tweed jacket and hunt cap. I was told you left school to earn money while I went to college to pursue my dreams. I became an angry person when the dreams fell through, ready to fight the man and the system. Did you fall into the system? I grew up, grew old. Did you get to be old too? I remember everything about you, the way you danced, how the sun lit up your hair. I remember that I loved you…never seeing your pretty color as anything but beautiful.

If I could take my white mama’s curse back, I would replace it with courage, with kindness, with the vision of us riding camels in the desert together seeking lost civilizations and buried treasure. If I could change the past I’d hold my hand out to you and say, “Shall we?” and taking my hand you’d answer, “We shall.”

5 out of 5 Stars for Magdalena’s Shadow

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Magdalena’s Shadow received a much earned 5 out of 5 stars from both the Manhattan Book Review and the Seattle Book Review. Thank you to all of you who have supported my work over the years. This has been a long hard haul and right now, for the first time, I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel. I am so grateful to everyone who has offered me their support and encouragement. Especially, I would like to thank my husband Dan. Without his love or support I would never had the time or the courage to tell Coco’s story.

God bless you all,

E. E. Orme

Why We Help

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I recently had an enlightening exchange with my psychiatrist. We were talking about the nature of love and mothering. I’m a mother hen and always have been and the question was, why do I do it? What do I get out of looking after people? Our conversation went something like this.

 

Doc-“So, what do you get out of it? What’s the payoff for wearing yourself out caring for others?”

Me-“I guess I help people because I think life is hell and we need help to get through it.”

Doc-“We are animals. We make life a misery for ourselves and others. Coyote’s don’t help each other, neither do bears or lions. Why should people help each other? Why do you help?”

Me-“I help because I know we are sentient animals. We are aware. It is our spiritual duty as aware animals to seek God and to help everyone, every day of our lives. I feel it’s our prime directive to seek peace and love and to help everyone we can.”

Doc-“We are sentient animals but most people only live for themselves. People go to church and they do their charity work and they help but it’s usually because it makes them feel good, or it makes them feel a part of something. Spirituality and religion are no more synonymous than ape is to human. Not many people put others before personal investment. Most people are self-orientated.”

 

When I was young, I remember feeling a sort of narcissistic glow when I helped someone. I remember feeling like a good person for just a moment. Helping made me feel good about myself. But it’s been many years since my feeling good came into the equation of, “why I help.” Honestly, I believe it’s motherhood that changed me. After fourteen-years of giving, it’s become an unconscious act. I love people. They don’t have to be family, I just love them. They don’t have to be good or perfect to receive my love. We are all animals wandering through the same shit show together but what matters is that we are conscious animals. So, support your neighbor, help your friend, help a stranger, give money to Meals on Wheels, and protect school lunches. Help peacefully protect our human rights, civil liberties, and personal dignity. We know what is right and what is wrong. That’s why it is our absolute duty to help one another get through each day. No one gets out of here alive so let’s at least get through it together.

Love and Bless,

  1. E. Orme

Magdalena’s Kirkus Review

 

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My new book has been released and so has its Kirkus Review. I’m actually pleased with it. It’s obvious that the reviewer skipped through the end, something Kirkus is under fire for. The reviewer calls Coco’s ability to successfully run a business a “head-scratcher” yet Coco admits that she doesn’t know how to run a business and nearly runs the label into the ground. Still, I’m happy with the way the reviewer states that, “Lovers of fashion will enjoy the fantasy of a supermodel’s daughter being showered with free designer outfits and instantly becoming a lauded model herself. Also likely to please are the details of Coco’s and others’ clothing designs and insider looks at the fashion world. Coco’s abandonment issues also deepen the story, as she learns to handle both independence and motherhood.”  I loved writing this coming of age romance seeded with little bits of wisdom and a whole lot of romantic drama and sexual intensity. I loved telling Coco’s story from beginning to end. If you want a fun escape with a coming of age romance  filled with fashion, sex and intrigue give Magdalena’s Shadow a try.

Love and blessings,

E. E. Orme