My Friend Skink

12:18 PM (3 hours ago)

As I was stripping leaves off of the green switches* Pepper of the Death Maul Clan appears to be pouncing again on a skink. Oh, it appears to be the same one I rescued a couple weeks ago, it’s tail then a sharp-edged stump.

The tail has grown back a bit, but is nowhere near as long as it ought to be. I grab Pepper and scoot the skink away – oh, where does it go? Under the cat. So, I pick up the skink – amazingly – and scoot the cat away. The skink seems to struggle a little, but then calms a bit. Shock, I imagine. I take a picture of my new friend skink and then go to put him in the Virginia Creeper. And he just sort of sits there. Is it hurt? No, I can see that it is holding on. I take a picture. It seems totally undisturbed. Man, most skinks would’ve been outta here. The second the ground was in reach of their tiny articulated fingers, smaller than thread. The skink and I were calmly regarding one another now and I really was hoping it would skink off, fast as lightning like they do. 1/2 lizard, 1/2 snake is what they seem to be.

I really had things to do. Wasn’t I right in the middle of stripping switches for the wall of the kitchen? You’ll see.

So, I rustled the leaves of the virginia creeper…with, um – yeah the phone camera. If this skink was gonna hang around…haha…well, I ought to at least try to take a picture of it.

I expected it to fall, hurt after all – somehow paralyzed? But, no – it just peeked at me from behind a leaf. Okay, then – fine. You are terrestrial after all. How silly of me to put you on a vine in the air. The skink was patient as I plucked it from it’s mid-air perch.

My friend from this morning, inchworm.

Hmm, odd.

We spent some time together. The skink and I. I quiet regard. I could see that it was missing one segment of a left toe. It must be hard to be small in a world so rough that it tears you apart and sends you still on your way.

I could see the light shine red in it’s auricles – the little hollows that are it’s ears and I could see quite clearly that it was not afraid of me. Perhaps because this was, I believe, the second time I have saved this particular skink from a particular orange cat.

It posed well for me and I regret the limitations of detail and focus: camera phone. However, if the pictures were perfectly what I saw –

Well, it wouldn’t be the same anyway.
I like the limitations of the camera phone. It is a mighty step above a pinhole camera – any film device, really…

Still, though – it has it’s limitations.

Which is good. When the medium gets too complex, the meaning gets lost and convoluted in the process. Photographing animals with a digital camera leaves a lot up to chance. I like the images I capture with this thing. Sometimes the results are surprisingly sophisticated.

And sometimes they just help to illustrate. My friend skink is a blessing, I am sure. And I know the people down at Varick Chapel are thanking the man they call Jesus. But, it is goodness and it is hope and it is the sheer luck of having the chance to save the same skink twice.
I don’t actually know what it is that calmed that skink. Shock or injury or a buzz from the camera that only skinks can hear.

It just seemed to like me.

It’s eyes were dark and surprisingly wise for a sphere the size of a small spinach seed. And the skink clung to my hand and we seemed to be telling each other hello and it’s eyes looked a lot like Shiny’s and, in truth – the aftermath of that moment of grace is a little upsetting. What is one to think when you lay a skink upon a stone and it can move but it does not. And you tell it go on, and nudge it to the edge of the stone and it seems to

be reluctant to go.

But it skinks under the stone and you sit a minute and lift the stone up. To see if it was really there. And it was. You are relieved to see that it has, in it’s still and gathered crouching, regained some skinkishness now that it has touched the ground again.

You reach out to see if it will run, and it does and it’s eyes seem to not know you at all. Well, maybe a little.

And then you go up to the much cleaner porch, sidestepping the huge pile of biomass you have cut away from the trees in the calling: ‘Make Something You Think Is Beautiful’

And you forget about the switches and you say thank you to the sky and feel like a damn loon. So, you sit down to write this and hope that someone will tell you if there is no skink in these pictures.

There is a skink, right? If so, it is my friend. And – in truth – if not, it is my friend.

We must take comfort where we are able to find it, even if the world doesn’t understand. I think it does though. Whenever I meet people, I sense their narrative. And I think we are more lost than we ever imagined and I think we are hungrier than we know.

hungry for the wanting to stop

…a kindness to a lizard dumb enough to be caught twice. The one chance I have ever had to observe a skink so up close, without it’s tiny hands scrabbling to the freedom of a panicked and skink-ish open air dive to anywhere but the human hand. Truly priceless: for whom would I pay to do such a thing and what would I hope to learn from the purchase of sublimity, which can be bought or sold after all. Just worked for and waited for and…in the end, recognized.

Thank You, Skink.

Last night…

show details 10:54 PM (16 hours ago)
Okay – fine, maybe I do have some cyclical dance of dys/euphoria…not that I am euphoric right now. And not that I was dysphoric before, when I was all weeping to Jesus, but thinking about other things entirely…my brain always misbehaves. If I were braver, I’d likely be more evidently deviant in my intentions – however, I’m not brave and I really do find extreme and obvious axis-oriented deviance a bit irritating. By axis oriented, I am referring to reactive and oppositional forms of deviant behavior. Thus, the behavior – no matter how deviant – is still aligned with the cultural axis, i.e. The given expectations of a particular culture in reference to

the behavior in question.

I really should not – I am now realizing – drink red bull. I have never had the stuff, but considering I am going to try to be productive tonight – I picked a couple up at some place…ah, yes: the Ingles. Safe, anonymous Ingles.

This is reminiscent of the afternoon I experimented with ginseng prior to playing trivial pursuit with a group of slightly older and much admired peers. Record store people, music snobs with bachelors degrees. They seemed, to me, like geniuses.

Imagine my dismay to find that the ginseng I expected to make me quick witted and charming had caused my brain to function in fits and starts and long confused stares.

“The Panama Canal is North of what country?”

And although I could see the map of Africa and pinpoint where Libya is and knew so clearly that South America is NOT in Africa…I got a bit tangled and blurted out Libya…a dusty old fart of a memory of Dan Rather news in the nineteen – eighties. Me baffled and bored and scared by these men in suits and these deserted places and the way the President looked like a doll, with his hair in proper plasticene.
It was all boredom and hard floors and my dad shushing me while the men in the suits talked of places with hot names: Panama, Libya, Lebanon…

I was so embarrassed to have known my answer was wrong, but to have blurted it out anyway.

My mother’s father’s family is from Lebanon, from The South – as it is known. The moved to Florida in the 1940’s and their name became Nicholas. My mother told me the names of his people: Khoury is one. I forget the other. The one I remember means Priest. But, everything means something else in Arabic. English, as well.

It’s getting a bit late. On towards ten. I have gotten quite a bit done today. Nothing ever gets quite completed. The hedges are trimmed – but just on one side. The cut branches are piled in clumps, here and there, but they’re nowhere near the street.

The rabbit does, however, have a clean cage.

I feel like I am finally getting unpacked. We moved here six years ago in November. The attic is a minor issue, but the major triumph is the reclamation of the spare room and the upstairs porch room. Finally, it ALMOST in a state of functional disorder…instead of the sheer chaos those spaces had been.

This is the After shot, I am pretending the Before didn’t exist. So, perhaps more of an IN PROGRESS shot. I have a bin just for glue and other adhesives. A whole bin for cork sheeting. I don’t know why I have so much cork?

I don’t even know where so much of that stuff came from. I know where it went: either the dump or the goodwill. Bags and bags and loads and loads and boxes and boxes…for years we have been emptying this house. Binging with supplies for this project or that, and the bins get filled – but with what!? A rag-tag jumble of kid stuff and junk: puzzle pieces 1/2 chewed, a small dress with no doll, a playmobil massacre of heads with no hair and small disembodied capes: all arms raised in various postures of attack or surprise, save those few figures whose arms both lay still at their side, universal supplication.

Speaking of universality…I think I am having some sort of crisis of universal simulacrum. (Wait…no, seriously.) So, yeah – I was reading through the handy Introducing Postmodernism and I came across old Baudrillard and his notion of a collapse between the borders of art and reality and all the images and symbols float freely, unhinged from our conviction of true meaning.

Another way to put that is: she’s gone completely nuts.

Yeah, maybe.

Feels like it sometimes. Like now, sitting out here blathering away about The World According to Faith.

And to what end?

Well, nothing I could say about anything hasn’t been said at least once before…the world – or perhaps I – has/ve gotten so jaded…there is plenty of irony there.

If everything seems obvious, look more closely.

All I really feel justified in discussing at length is me, myself, and, I…and some of the PLACES I have held dear to me…for some dumb reason or another.

And the thing is…wait, this is serious:

I have always had a great and wicked fear of death. I am not scared for me…actually, I am pretty okay with concept of out-of-here. I am scared for my family: what if some awful thing happened…I am, in some ways: hypervigilant, in others: self-destructive. But, isn’t that the way for most of us? Perhaps it’s not. Perhaps the lines are stretched so far apart, perhaps there is a wide smooth road that you can, and do, walk with your eyes closed.

I have always been leaping back and forth between death and salvation…it makes living and breathing hard, to know that every single moment has a hundred a thousand a million possible outcomes.

I used to be so curious about what would happen next…and still, I am…but, really: I just want to be able to take my life for granted as being stable and secure. I have pulled the reins in tightly now…so tightly that my free movement in and out of this small realm of mine is, well: constricted a bit.

I have too much to do to be out gallivanting. I think I realized that I will not be able to enjoy life so much if I have to worry about what will happen to the children if I were to die…

(By the way, all of this death obsession came from severe injury as a kid, a television show: “everything is going to be A-OK!” and old people…however, it was rekindled by a presumably innocent meeting with my insurance agent. I have only car insurance and they are concerned they may not be meeting my insurance needs. So, I got – among other things, like The Renter’s Insurance Talk, The Life Insurance Talk.

And I walked away baffled and filled with a guilty fear…what WOULD happen if…?

The rare all white Rose-of-Sharon, volunteers by our backdoor. White blooms all summer. Interesting sixth petal growth on this one.

“ugh. death.”

Horrible stuff, I thought – hot in the car and rolling a cigarette that would preclude me from getting the Non-Tobacco User rate for the Life Insurance Policy…wait a second!? Life Insurance!?

(Thank god he didn’t offer me life insurance on my children. There are programs that fund such total morbidity. Parenting magazine (‘gift’ subscription) sold our names to companies that send out, with unholy amounts of paper and un-requested address labels, solicitations for donations to supposed child-friendly causes and also offers for low premium life insurance for children…so if your child ceases to be, you get paid…which any large lump sum has it’s obvious advantages, especially if your world is irreparably shattered as I would suppose it may be…but, really? Totally weird.

Especially given how hateful we are to children and their health.

I have been meaning to write a five paragraph essay (by, of course, a highschool dropout) re: the use of carcinogenic and non-tested (for all practical purposes, because who knows what the longitudinal impact will be after the exposure of the past 150 years of poison…chemical compounds. I use ’em, I take ’em…
It’s a long story, you know.

I have been momentarily less than mindful of the implications when I have thought about whether a pill really will help my kids make their way in the world.

Might be nice. I don’t know, we’ve never tried it. It’s an experiment I am not willing to condone my children’s participation in. At least not at this point.

It is interesting to me how the corporatization of mental health and the increase in life dis-abling mental illness converge. It is so obvious…

I have gone on too long. Nothing is getting done. A lot of words. Things that are important to me – if noone else. A story, a thread to try to stitch up the simulacrum. Keep a bit of a grip. Then again…there is a procession as well…a map which preceeds a territory.

Snares and snags and brambles all around.

The raspberries are amazing this year. Possibly a hybrid of some sort, as they have the taut skin of a blackberry, as well as a bit more tartness than one associates with raspberries. They are remarkably delicious. I am glad we dug up some canes before they were all razed by the county bulldozers.

7:45 AM (7 hours ago)

The thing is, even if a crisis of universal simulacrum is my issue…

I mean – jeez, who cares? Poor Faith: the line between art and reality seems to have gotten a bit thin lately.

Hahahaha.

The thing is, and it is this fact that carves this crisis different from a decade ago…is that I am not struggling to try to get back to sense.
The other side of this week’s crushing suck of confidence is that I am, in the end, sort of okay with the line between art and reality becoming so wavery.

I don’t know what art is. I don’t know why people work so hard to be miserable and grudging: reality. I don’t get it. I tried to get it, but I never really understood what we are all working so damn hard for.

I do know that I have been set free in a way. There is, at the end of the week, a great relief in knowing that I can sink my lowest and most writhing trying to scramble my way back to sense

And, well…

nobody is casting out nets to haul me back to the person I have been trying to be…

I was always scared to be an artist, because I knew that if I let myself indulge in considering all the
ways a single branch can become a forest…well, I knew I’d be lost.

Delightedly lost.

And, yes, this is the free and easy way. However, any freedom has it’s costs and my choice to drop the line and stand right where I am at has left me standing alone.

The beauty of it is that…the thing I most feared being – the ‘A’ word…well, it’s a myth.

Humans are but one species.

This is my friend, praying mantis.

Maybe my job as a parent isn’t to teach my kids how to be human…perhaps it is to teach them that the human realm – with it’s noise and it’s tears and it’s bright plastic factories and baffling customs…well…

We will never make sense. We are small and we are fleeting.

…but, it’s got to be about something? If it’s not, well – it really ought to be as fun as we can make it.

It is funny to me to think of the utter seriousness we assign to our means and ends. We exhaust ourselves trying to do the things we imagine will make us feel righteous in our way of being.

There is no rest for the wearily righteous that allow the matrices of their value be drawn by others.

My children are eager to please and the world, well: The world eats people like us for breakfast.

Humans are the only species that ritually inflicts non-biologically motivated harm on other members of the same species. Biologically – motivated meaning involving life-death hormonal drives like hunger and reproduction.

(my children got these in Cherokee, where they learned not-so-much about Native Americans in WNC.)

(They were not ‘mightily glad’ to see me. In fact…ah, well. I’ve ordered pizza. A storm is coming. It will be fine. A trip to Cherokee to buy bamboo tomahawks can wear a child out.)

We hurt each other. We scorn each other. We can’t stand each other.

We pay one another for the right to brutalize or be humiliated. We have turned our sexuality into a place of violence and shame and guilt. We have taught our children to laugh at pain and be drawn to violence like flies, to fly toward false light like moths.

Why does it seem so strange that I am not really buying into it anymore?

Really? The first issue that knee-jerk flies into the mind is…money. How will she live? How does she live?

I am in between jobs right now. I am supposedly drawing unemployment, but seem to be having a hard time looking for work.

I’ll apply some more this morning. Because it needs to be done.

My housing is – at the moment, quite secure. We live on about 800.00 per month. Financially, we are pretty much up shit creek – though not really at all. I spent seventy dollars on plants last week. Yup.

However, if the housing is secure and the food is secure and the lights are secure and…sheesh…the technology is secure. Though I suppose I could actually do without that. The thing is: It gives me a chance…a scrappy scattered prolific chance to leave a trail. A public proclamation that I AM HERE — to all of you.

Well, if all those necessities are taken care of…the small amount left over can be spent on plants…which I need to finish planting right now. Before it gets hot again.

And yes – perhaps there is some pathology in all of this, but only if I believe the criteria and the people who establish it and the ultimate goal in identifying one as pathological.

I showed you the math. It is the path. It is logical.

The funny thing is that we were up this financial shit creek a long time ago…even working forty hours a week, we were up this creek.

And so, I must say that the thought of going back out there is quite horrifyingly artless to me. Really.

What may have happened is this:

Significant Emotional Trauma + Creative Outlet + Intellectual Stimulation + Denial of Consumerist Ritual (due to) + Physical Exhaustion + Singular Experience of True Unfettered Ease and Sanity = Crisis of Universal Simulacrum in The Life of Faith Rachel Rhyne.

I wouldn’t follow this formula if you are looking for a way out. It only works if your brain is just like my brain…and, chances are, it’s not. Besides, most people would’ve given up a long time ago. Really. I am scrappy as hell when it comes to looking after the small light inside. Why – I have driven myself near insane, throwing up walls and drawing lines of fire and filling moats with falls of tears

Lachrymose – prone to crying unexpectly…

And it will probably get hard again.

It always seems to.

I am a work in progress –

we all are artists…

I am clarifying the perceptual underpinnings.

I am going to plant flowers.

If this seems disjointed it is because I go back and add to thoughts and get off track and then loop the cursor back again.

I am no good at editing, because I end up writing more.

Going to plant flowers. Now.

show details 11:03 AM (4 hours ago)

Just getting out and cutting away the growth of the Spring makes me feel like all of this simulacrum may be manageable after all. I am excited that the three eastern maple trees that came up as volunteers a few years ago have finally grown large enough for my intent to be evident. It is remarkable how quickly a tree grows once it’s roots find a suitable home. The maple that was a wind blown seed, likely from the yard of Ms. Mary Miller (not of the Mary Miller Doll Museum, Brunswick, Ga.) But just as proper an old woman. Though she is deeply fearful of cats. I have five. Nay, four. One – the most wayward and odd of them all, Little – has opted to live between the field and the green house. He has gone near feral in old age, though still very much appreciates petting, his approval a plaintive meyowling…hello! where? hello? where!

He is, I suspect – quite senile.

Anyway, this little seed from the cat fearing Mrs. Miller’s big old maple tree…it drifted here and was swept from steps and up against the bricks at the very edge of the walk.

And it grew and I tried to pull it up. I did. I didn’t need a maple tree! I still don’t. But, it wouldn’t come up – so lodged it was – even at the very beginning. And then there were two more.

They got big fast once I decided they would just have to stay.

And every year, for the past four or so, I have callously twisted them and clipped them and bound them. The heavy snowfall of early February bent this one sheer sideways. Perfect. I wouldn’t have had the heart to do it, such a sap staunching bend…but, it was done for me and, really: it’s perfect.

This living sculpture, unintended as such, but how else to describe the willful twisting of trees that you never wanted, into something rare and strong and patiently becoming the form that we agree on…a compromise between the maples, myself, the wind and snow…

What a tangle I’ve made.

(isn’t it pretty?)

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