Sometimes its ok to get your hands dirty.
Sometimes its ok to get your hands dirty.
This one is for the ladies.
slang term for a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.
(chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.
Yes, I know psychopath is already a word but I'm being creative and pretending like I'm mushing these two words together. Work with me and see where I'm going.
Let me clear the name of (probably) most "psychos" and say, by definition, we aren't all violent in ways one might expect. Although violent tendencies can be accurate, it isn't usually a clear-headed, malicious attack toward someone. When I'm violent in mania it is always because I am inside a delusion and I'm just trying to protect myself and what my delusions are telling me are 100% fact.
One example is when I was burning my family photos the morning I was hospitalized for my 3rd manic episode. My friend, Lindsay, was there and she started dousing the pictures with water. I got inches from her face and yelled as loud as I could. I remember the look on her face. She startled. I scared her. Some part deep inside me, very deep inside me, felt bad that I hurt her. My delusional mission was too strong to make any other decisions. What she didn't know was I thought I had to burn the men in the family photos to free all the women in my family. All women in the world. I thought she knew that and that she was trying to stop the process because she was being brainwashed by my male psychiatrist, whom she was on the phone with. I thought he was telling her to put the fires out. Men controlling women and mind control in general are common delusions in Bipolar 1. She hung up and called the cops. Once I felt I had burned everything I needed to, including my Grandfathers funeral pamphlet, I was calm. I held muddy, ashy, paper in my trembling hands and I felt complete serenity. My mission was complete and I could move on.
I used to think the things that happened to me as an empath were signs that I was about to go into mania. On a regular basis, I can see things inside people's eyes. It almost exclusively happens in the dark. This "thing" started when I was about 17 years old but was dormant until about 25. In the past 3 years or so it has built and built and built. A persons whole face will change. It seems like a hallucination. If they say something malicious I see a fire ignite inside them. Sometimes their eyelids close from left to right like a snake. Sometimes I get so scared that I have to not only walk away from conversations, but run away. I've left parties and once I get away I have to convince myself that I'm going to make it through the night. Once that door is open, it won't close for awhile.
I used to think it meant that person was evil. Now I've come to realize I'm seeing the persons pain. I can see when someone is suffering. I can feel that suffering. Sometimes I can even predict what the person is going through.
Mental illness and being an empath play off of each other. If I haven't had good sleep or am already mentally topsy turvy my empath side comes out to play.
But it isn't all gloom and doom.
Sometimes in the light of day or in the peaceful stillness of a special night, I see the beauty unfold in someone's face. When I see someone thriving, I feel someone thriving. I can share their joy. They give that to me.
I've had people tell me they wish they could "take it all away." My dad said if he could take my bipolar he would. But he would be robbing me of my wonderful identity as a human. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is amazing.
As someone with Bipolar 1, I am able to see into other worlds of dark and light because I experience detrimental depressions and mighty, magnificent manias. What I see in myself I can see in you. As an empath, I do the exact same. Don't take this away from me. I am on my path. My psycho path.
There are two realities in our nation. Maybe in all of humanity. We either think we can make a change or we do not. There is great power when you realize your strength. Your ability to make an impact. For awhile after this election, I felt powerless. Yes, because it was Trump. But almost more than that, the way our American comrades started treating one another.
This needs to change.
The truth is. It takes one person. Every time. If every person that marched with Martin Luther King Jr. had the thought, "It's just me. I can't do anything by myself," then he would have marched alone. It isn't even about making this massive global impact. It's about treating one another well. It's about smiling when you pass a stranger who has a furrowed brow. If we look inside and ask ourselves, "How can I make a difference?" The answer is always there. It just takes one minute to find.
Be the one.
Here comes the Phoenix. Here comes the phoenix. And I say it's alright.
What would you do if....
...you were a mom with a boy who has cerebral palsy. It is rainy and cold and you are outside just waiting for the trolley. An able-bodied, strong, young man approaches your sons wheelchair and with a fervor blazing in his eyes says, "Can I take a picture with your son?"
You would have done exactly what my friend who happens to be that mom would have done.
Not only "No." But "Hell no." As he walked away like a comet burning down the railroad line you would have talked to others around you. "What a creep. Can you believe the nerve of that guy? Some people are unbelievable. Who does he think he is?"
I knew exactly who he was.
I observed his behaviors. He kept trying to engage with people. He couldn't stop moving. I caught up with him and introduced myself. I got a closer look at him and I just peered into his eyes. They were a raging blue and even though he looked back I could tell he couldn't see me. His face was leathered and his mouth was at a constant tremor. I said, "Are you ok?"
"I'm pretty manic right now."
We then talked about how he use to be on lithium and he had been in the hospital more times than he could count. I asked what his name was and he said, "My street name is Dirt."
Dirt. Just the way I'm sure most people treated him when they saw his reckless behavior. A behavior that any civilized person should be able to keep at bay. Each passing trolley was packed and he felt is mission to help my friend's son on the trolley. As a trolley door opened he hung onto it. I pulled him back and as the trolley sped away he ran along side it and looked like he was tagging it. Like he had a spray can in his hand. But it was just his hand. He said he had tagged a lot of stuff around town.
Sometimes I feel like Dirt too. I've approached little kids and tried to engage with them. Every time I'm hypo/hyper manic I think children have the secrets to the universe. They can see inside my eyes and I see inside theirs. If I hadn't "been there" before I would have reacted the way my friend did.
If you haven't been there, you wouldn't understand. But I think more than that, you wouldn't know what signs to look for, so compassion for his situation wouldn't even register.
The trolleys were so packed because we were on our way to the Women's March. Signs of all sorts sprung up. "Women's rights are human rights" from a woman. "Black lives matter" from a black man and so on and so on.
They fought because they knew what it was like. They have been in the trenches. And I'm sure sometimes they feel like dirt too.
This is a limited edition blog post.
A piece I wrote a few months after my 2nd manic episode.
Oh oh A ohhhh. Oh oh A ohh. Oh oh A ohhhh. The right stuff.
We are all a slave to something. That something can fill us with fear. And most times, that something is fear. Fear of the unknown. Our assumptions of a situation are so strong that we feel we must defend ourselves by any means.
My sister's are actively practicing Catholics. In fact, growing up in the Catholic church, I was a part of marches for pro life. I would yell at people walking into clinics. "Save your baby!" I would cry at the thought of lives lost. Our church leader had us watch a video called "The silent scream." It is a video of a baby in the womb getting injected with saline. The baby is thrashing around until it dies. I even wore a shirt in high school that said in big bold letters: "Abortion is Mean." The top of their list is protecting unborn lives. They voted for Trump, who they feel will protect that right. They are scared that women will terminate a life and in turn, they also may suffer the consequence of eternal damnation. They want to protect all children of God. They do not hate me because I am gay. They are not uneducated Republicans. They are caring, wonderful sisters.
My father doesn't want minorities coming into the country. In fact, my father doesn't really like minorities at all. When he was in elementary and high school growing up in the not-so-great parts of Queens, New York, he was one of the only white kids. He would get the shit kicked out of him day in and day out to which he was told to be strong and defend himself. In his adult life he joined the NYPD and his beat was only a quarter block as crime was so bad. He mainly dealt with minorities in the area. All he ever saw was violence. As a child he had to protect himself and as an adult he believed he needed to protect others from them. He assumes that every minority is inherently evil.
As a lesbian who works at a foster school that is mostly minorities, I am scared that my rights as not only a woman, but a lesbian could be shaken at the foundation. I'm scared that what family is left of my foster kids will now be kicked out of the country. They have their own set of fears. What happens when they become adults? Who will be there for them? How will they afford food?
We all let fear take the driver's seat. And wherever fear goes, we go.
Who am I to say your fear isn't valid?
My roommate isn't pro-gun. She isn't pro-violence. Recently, a man came up to her on the street and said, "Now that is some pussy." He continued to heckle her as she scurried by. We talked on the phone later and she said, "I'm getting a taser."
I am scared of where our country is going. I am scared of how divided and fractioned we have become. Fear is contagious. And the very first sniffling, coughing, germ-spreading monster that seemed to start it all? The media. It shows our men and boys how they can act. It shows our girls and women how they should look. It shows only the bad parts of our politics. It shows us that we need them. We need to hold tight. We can't let go of fear because what will catch us?
I see a man with a gun and a shirt that says, "Don't tread on me." I think he is a violent, scary person who I want to be far away from. What I don't see is a man that feels the need to hold that gun and a reason to believe that someone might tread on him. What I don't see is a man that might go to some radical church (which is not every church) that tells him every Sunday if he doesn't follow every move, God will show no mercy on him.
I see a woman with a shirt that says, "Girls marry girls. Get over it." What this man might see is a woman who is trying to obliterate the sanctity of marriage. A man who knows the lines in the bible in Leviticus that says a man should not lay with another man. A man who feels his manhood is being stolen by the weaker sex. Who believes she is the weaker sex because that is what he has been told by magazines, TV, his own father, since day one. What he doesn't see is a women who fell in love with another woman. Who wanted nothing more but to have the same rights as anyone to be with her in the same way a man is with a woman.
What can break us of this fear? What is breaking me from this fear? My willingness to put myself in other's shoes. Even if I don't get it. What you might see is a muscle-bound dude with a rifle. What you may not see is that his fingers is nervously shaking on the trigger.
We need to open our arms. Be vulnerable. Be safe. Show compassion. Find moments to share our love. Speak up when something doesn't sit right with us. Have constructive conversations. We can heal ourselves if we try. This is our beautiful nation. America. Land of the free. With purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain.
Let's let go of fear and hold on to one another.
Jesus and I go way back. I grew up catholic and attended Our Lady of The Plains Catholic Church. I loved it. I even had a tiny altar area in my room where I would get down on my knees every night and pray the rosary. At the age of 16 I asked my mom if we could visit a convent. I planned on becoming a nun right out of high school.
My mom told me to first get my education. I went to college and became a lesbian.
I always had a prayer through college and into my early adult hood. "Jesus, always lead me back to you. If you are the son of God, I trust that you'll take care of me."
And then I became Jesus.
In May of 2007 it came crashing down. My first manic episode. Diagosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder. In the 3 episodes I've had, I feel his presence. Then the scale tips and I think I'm actually Jesus. I flip between all parts of the trinity. I've thought I was Michael Jackson. Even Elsa from frozen. But the one constant is the man of the hour.
It wasn't until after this last episode that the thought that I'm Jesus just seemed to linger. On a random day I have the thought. Am I Jesus? At church, a favorite song of mine had the line, "We are one body of Christ." It makes me think that I really am Jesus. That maybe we all really are. That we are all God because we are part of God. That we are all All.
Historically, Jesus is real. Which kind of blows my mind. In that way I think we all have the ability to follow in his steps. To show compassion. To Love. To create harmony. And in that way, I'm like him. I see myself in his actions. I feel real agony when I see the pain in someones eyes. I feel my heart grow when good comes of the world.
Just don't pray to me. I'll get confused.
I'm the person that does not like any type of conflict. So much so that when I watched the movie Mean Girls I had to walk away several times when things were in disarray. The friction circulated around high school drama. I'm a sucker for the resolve. I attribute this to the fact that I am a highly sensitive person. I have yet to meet anyone else who can't watch pretty much anything at all without leaving the room to collect and settle thoughts and feelings. I asked my friends if they would ever watch a movie that was just good all the way through to which they said, "What is the point?"
Then I had a great idea (at least I think it is a good idea). A news station that only reports good news. Because it is out there. The media hides it. I know I forget there is a lot of good happening in the world. In a time where when our country seems to be more divided than ever, we need to see the good in our country. In ourselves. In one another.
So. Veronica May, reporting live from Influx Coffee House in the sweet neighborhood of North Park in San Diego, CA:
1. Congress in Unanimous Vote Passes Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Victims 2. 7 major cities in the US have a double digit drop in burglary rates 3.87K acres were donated for a new national park in New England 4. California breaks the solar record and generates enough electricity for 6 million homes 5. Generosity hit a record high for the second year in a row, with charitable donations by Americans topping $373.25 billion.
The list goes on a long way. So let's take a moment away from the news we see and find the good. Because it is everywhere.
Ok. You can go watch Mean Girls now. I know you want to.
I give talks on mental illness. I stress the importance of staying balanced, taking meds, getting sleep. I'd like to think I set a good example. I'm on the road to righteousness.
1. I couldn't find my meds but knew they were in my suitcase. Decided to wait until the next day. One day isn't gonna kill me.
2. Woke up too late to take my morning meds.
3. Went out the following night, had a scotch. Stayed out late.
4. Decided I felt a bit tipsy in the high altitude of Denver. Thought it wouldn't be a good idea to take my meds again.
5. Walked around Denver while I smoked a joint.
6. Called my partner in a frenzy as I was by myself.
7. Told her I needed to hang up and call 911.
8. A ringing in my ears and my hearing went away for about 10 seconds.
9. Dropped to my knees on the sidewalk and waited.
10. Told myself, "I don't wanna go out like this."
11. Sat down in the ambulance and looked down at my shoes. Tried to convince the man asking me questions that I wasn't really like this. That I took care of myself. Tried to convince myself.
12. Sat on the edge of the hospital bed with my hands covering my face, trying to zone out the man yelling down the hallway.
13. I'm back to being me, but I'm not above this.
I decided to spend a month in Colorado. It has been less than a week and my heart is already rooting. I know when I drive back to San Diego my home will welcome me with open arms and happy doggies.
I have a really fortunate problem here.
Should I stay or should I go now? If I stay there will be trouble. If I go there will be double.
I try and weigh the pros and cons but there are just a ton of pros. I compare the two.
1. Both have awesome friends
2. Both have wonderful people
3. Both have creativity in the air
4. Both have so much love for me
4. Both have lots to do
Only one has this:
Rather than spin my wheels I think I'm going to take a moment to be grateful for the overflow of goodness in my life.
"You need a reality check. You suck as a singer. Get a job you HOMO. If you have a kid you have no business raising a child. You are going to mess up his life. Just like you messed up yours. Jesus Christ loves you. Repent from your sins and be normal."
10 years ago, had a complete stranger messaged me on Facebook like this I would have been pissed. I would have allowed him to hurt my feelings. I probably would have vented about it to anyone who would listen, which really would just perpetuate awful feelings.
When I discovered this message I ended up laughing out loud in disbelief. People like this exist. Then I was sad. Sad that this man clearly has a lot going on. I decided to screenshot the message and post it on instagram and fb to help remind myself and others that we still have a long way to go when it comes to hate and ignorance.
What I didn't expect were over 110 comments. What I didn't expect was to have people fight fire with fire. Some people, out of love for me, messaged him awful things and some even commented on how awful he looked and how stupid he must be. I ended up deleting the entire post.
Hate, meet hate.
I appreciated the gesture very much. But in what way can this help? I think that is an important question to ask right before a blow. My sweet cousin asked me if she could give him hell. I said, "He's already in it." The only thing that ends up happening is we remain in the state of hate for even longer. As humans, our emotions take over sometimes. When we bond with other humans we want to show our love and allegiance. But what if we could take one step back and look through another persons persepective?
If I try and do this I see a man who is probably struggling with his own sexuality. I see a man raised by fear. I see a man who genuinely believes his brothers and sisters need to find the Savior. In his eyes, he may be trying to protect me from eternal damnation. His words do not mince me because I already know my worth. He clearly does not see his.
Next time I see hate on social media I can make the choice. Stoke the fire and watch it blaze or walk away knowing it will eventually die.
Mel Grove and Sandy Haasis recently afforded me the opportunity to do the most special thing: Empower young girls at Rock n' Roll camp for girls-San Diego. What I did not expect was that I myself would be empowered by the campers and staff. I like to keep my blogs short and readable so I'll just say a few things.
1. Women working in groups is a sacred wonderful thing.
2. The willingness of a young child is brave.
3. Mel Grove has the heart and strength of an angel and a mountain.
4. I'll be back next year. Pass the word. Volunteer. Teach a child to play an instrument. Feed your soul.
If we want empowered women we have to start from the ground up. We must start with our wild, free, impressionable girls.
I've been putting together a talk on women in the media and the types of images out there depicting women. It has my wheels turning. This blog is meant to make you think. To make me think. As a woman, I've gotten comments like, "You're a great female guitarist." Instead of saying, "Am I not just a good guitarist?" I say, " Thank you so much!" Yes. It is a compliment. But as women, it is time we set the record straight. We need to educate, because men, even the good ones, are unaware of what they are saying and how it effects women.
I decided to interview some female musician friends of mine. I didn't realize that EVERY woman I would interview would have several stories of how they were treated different because they were women. In the moment we don't know how to react. It's important to have some stock answers in our pockets.
Steph Johnson is a badass person. She write her own lyrics, chords, grooves and the list goes on. During a practice with hired musicians, one male musician looked over her and made a comment to another male musician on how great the groove was. He assumed it was another male musician that had written it. When Steph set the record straight he said, "Well it sounds like him." What could she have said?
Tori Roze is a force to be reckoned with. Her voice is like a siren and her melodic lines set the stage on fire. She admits that some men will make comments before her show and back pedal after the shows once she "proves herself." What could you say to a man that compliments your physical appearance after watching your show? As women we are raised to appease. We learn to just smile.
How can you dissect this comment? Not only was this man objectifying, he was throwing Lindsay a bone by "supporting her." He also needed to make note that her music wasn't good enough for him. What could she have said? How could she have said it in a way that he would have heard it and learned from it?
As women, our image seems to be our worth. How can we make a change?
But Veronica, look at the gains women have made. You can wear masculine clothing on the street and not get stoned to death. Sure, you are still not making the same amount of money for the same amount of work. Sure, you get dismissed in meetings when you have an opinion. Sure, when you google "girl rocker" you see images of women in no clothing with a guitar between their legs. Sure, you are considered bitches when you assert yourselves. But remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. You are making strides. No. That is not enough for me. It's time we level the playing field. I will no longer bow in gratitude for bread crumbs. I'm a woman and I deserve it.
I've decided to write an article on aging. I'm at my friend Allegra's house and she told me that she's gotten mistaken as the mother of her same-age friends more than once. This happened to me twice when I was with my girlfriend Lindsay. I am only six months older than she is. My saving grace: The foster kids I work with. All of them have thought I was much younger than I am. This is probably because I act like a goofball.
I'll never forget a moment I had at the age of 24. I was in my first apartment in San Diego. I had a facial mask on. I washed it off and went about my night. When I looked in the mirror later that night I noticed some gray hairs. I felt like it was some rite of passage. I beamed with pride.
And then I realized it was just some of the mask stuck in my hair.
And then I felt sheepish.
I'm pretty sure all the girls in my family dye their hair. A lot of women tend to do that. I thought my Grammie was a brunette until the day she died. Or should I say the day she dyed? I decided to take a harsh stance on not dyeing my hair. I remember when I saw my first WHITE (not gray) hair. I pulled it out immediately. One has turned into about 29 not that I've counted. I pull them out from time to time which makes since because I have trichotillomania. It works out in my favor. I enjoy trying to defy age.
These are some of the "age" things I've noticed in the past 3 years:
1. I woke up one day and took a good look in the mirror. This is something I only try to do on rare occasion. And what did I discover? A gigantic sun spot right in the middle of my forehead that kind of looks like Tennessee. I have no idea how I didn't see it or how long it has been a resident of my forehead.
2. I was headbanging at a show and for the next two weeks I felt it.
3. I talk about property tax too much.
4. Random face whiskers, am I right, ladies?
5. I'm the oldest I've ever been. Fact.
When all is said and done, I turn to my Grandfather's take on aging:
"It beats the alternative."
Ok, stop wasting time reading random blogs. You aren't getting any younger.
I set my alarm. No. I set 3 alarms. 3 alerts to get up. 3 reminders that it is time to start doing things. I find myself writing lists. Trying to do as much as I can in a day. Sometimes I have a hard time getting up in the morning and the longer I lie awake the louder the "do" voice becomes. The bigger the mound of guilt and shame bubbles.
In those rare moments where i've done all that needs to be done I ask myself, "What else can I do right now?" For me, if it's not running an errand, it's writing a song, practicing, drawing, arranging parts for vocals, starting a new illustration book. It made me realize that doing doesn't end.
I come from a line of doers. My parents own and run the farm I grew up on. May Farms (go to mayfarms.com for more info) It isn't just a farm. It's an event space. I could call my parents any day of the week and they will have at least 3 new events to talk about. The 5k that will take place on the farm, the pumpkin patch and corn maze, weddings, hot air balloon race. You name it. My mom always reminds me that they are lucky to be so busy. That she is lucky to have the use of her body to work. In a lot of ways she is right.
What I've discovered is it's in the time of being where I actually find what is worth doing. It takes two seconds for me to actually commit to meditation. Those can be the hardest 2 seconds sometimes. If I convince myself that I could be doing something better I will. Sometimes the meditations last 10 minutes. Once my eyes close and the ringing of my ears becomes evident I'm tuned in. The worries of my life surface in a different way. My non-judgmental and compassionate mind is able to navigate without the chaos of the day and the constant input getting in the way. I'm just here and here is enough. Right now, I'm alive. Right now, I'm safe. Right now is all I have so in reality, everything is good.
It's in the silence of existing in which answers surface. Like a rubber ducky in the bathtub. The more I practice being, the easier it is to do my day to day. But the more I do, the less time I have to sit in vigilance. To observe what is truly going on. So instead of asking myself what I'm going to do today, I'll try and be content with the fact that I'm just here. And that is more than enough.
It all started at the age of 23. I went to an Old Navy with my friend Paige. It was like any other day. We naturally traveled to the women's section. Something changed inside me. "I'm going to the men's section real quick," was paired with, "Very funny, V. Come on." I picked out what any respectable, newly-discovered lesbian would pick out: Cargo shorts. I went to the dressing room, put them on, looked in the mirror, and started to cry. This was the piece I was missing.
I had slowly weeded out the high heels and actual bras. Big thanks to whoever invented sports bras. It wasn't until the age of 30 or 31 when I finally said goodbye to my last dress. It was a long purple summer dress. I remember dropping it off at the thrift store. On a small scale, it must be what it might feel like for a woman to have a hysterectomy or mastectomy. Had I lost being a woman forever?
Now, when I get ready for work at my day job or at night for a show I open my closet and what do I see? A collection of men's shirts, pants, ties, belts, blazers, and shoes. When I go out into the community this is truly who I am. It's not about getting looks or making any type of statement. It's just about being true to me.
Many people have innocently or not so innocently asked me why I dress like a man. Do I want to be a man? My answer now is, "I don't dress like a man. I dress masculine." Somewhere along the line it was put in our minds that men and women should dress differently. Women and men should wear specific colors. I still find myself slipping up by saying, "men's clothes." So to all the ladies who feel dapper--lace up your shoes, cinch up your tie, be who you are. Be proud to be a woman.