A few weeks ago I had the misfortune (or fortune depending upon one’s POV) to experience life without a device. The two week old iPhone I had purchased for this specific trip, died en route to a conference.
As most can imagine, I went into withdrawals and shock almost immediately. Incredulous that I would be forced to walk amongst mortals without my electronic pacifier! Once we had settled into our hotel rooms, I hurriedly took a cab to the closest provider. Only to quickly have my hopes dashed- I would have to find an Apple store if I wanted any type of resolution for the dead device.
Back at the hotel, bitter and wiser from wasting cash to take a cab, I resigned myself to being incommunicado for the duration of my stay. Luckily, I had packed a laptop, so I wasn’t completely in the dark ages.
Not going to lie, the first 24 hours were the worst! Not only was my coworker unable to reach me immediately, I was also not in constant contact with my child. But by the second night, I was doing much better. In fact, I had started to take note of my surroundings more.
Oddly, everywhere we went, all I saw were people with their faces in devices. We were staying at a beachfront resort, with amazing scenery, and yet no one seemed to care. They sat at dinner tables, silent, entertained and occupied, eyes averted down to their hands. And it was eerily quiet. The strains of live music drifted through the air, but the chatter of conversation was absent. They sat next to eachother on the boardwalk, faces buried in devices, silent.
I was without a device for a total of four days, an entire 96 hours. When I returned home, I went to the retailer the next day, and was quickly given a new device. As this was over the weekend, I immediately went about my duties. One of which is to make bread for the coming week.
I have been making bread for approximately six months now. Prompted mostly by the realization that what I was paying for a loaf of somewhat healthy bread was still processed and shipped to market. Bread has been a staple in the human diet for much longer than most of us realize. The act of making bread can be quite satisfactory, if you view it as a labor of love.
As I was kneading the dough, feeling the gluten bonds form, and thereby altering the texture in my hands, I was struck by silly thought. We have become so disconnected from ourselves that we pay complete strangers to feed us shitty food products so we can ignore others around the dinner table.
The weekly loaf of bread started as my way of reclaiming my family’s food supply. But it’s turned into more of an internal movement. We collectively decided to prepare our own meals and stop paying strangers. Weekly meal plans are now a team effort. School lunches are not an option.
We have decided to rail against the machines and their silence. We are not going to go quietly. We are going to fight this corporate-induced complacency. And it all started with a simple loaf of bread.
13 months ago I accepted a new position within the large corporation I have worked for since 2008. I specifically did this to force myself out of my comfort zone, and initiate my departure from Corporate America.
In the past 13 months I believe that my creativity has severely atrophied, as evidenced by the lack of content written. I did manage to submit a screenplay to a college-sponsored contest, but even that was back in August.
I have channeled my creativity into other areas, such as beekeeping. That has been a very rewarding and time-consuming endeavor. But the nagging feeling that the right side of my brain was slowing dying persisted.
It’s been a year-and-a-half since I graduated from college. Nothing fancy, just a plain, old undergraduate degree. But I have been adrift since then, not really sure what direction I wanted to go in. A good friend shared that it took him about the same amount of time to decide where he wanted to go after graduation. Recently I happened upon a job posting in another state and randomly decided to submit my resume.
The moment I read the ad, something just clicked. I knew that I was uniquely qualified for the job, and it would be a great, career-advancing job title and opportunity for me. But it’s in another state, one that I have never even seen. And yet I continued to pursue the job. Followed up to see if my resume had been received, which it had not, so I resent it. Sent follow-up thank you emails and notes via snail mail for the opportunity to interview via FaceTime. Everything I have read about nailing an interview, I did. And you know what? That shit worked.
Now that I have been offered the job, I don’t know what I want to do. I would be escaping the desperate hell that is Corporate America, but also abandoning the security it provides. Granted, it is a false sense of security because layoffs are constant, but it lulls a lot of people into complacency.
The new job would throw me back into a creative environment, but in a high-level management role. Some fancy shit that has me spooked. But I know I must take whatever drastic actions are needed to save the part of me that has always been the part that saved me.
It has been 565 days since I first put on my protective gear and stepped into the world of bees. 177 days since I was blessed with two colonies to manage all by myself. I lost one colony, which is the norm when dealing with package bees that come off of the almonds in California. A 50-percent survival rate is also what most commercial beekeepers experience yearly.
Thankfully, I was also blessed to meet a local biologist who specializes in bees. A year after this fateful meeting, he was kind enough to give a nuc to replace my lost package. What is a nuc, you might ask? Well, package bees are bees shaken into a screened cage that includes a foreign queen in a separate cage. This usually occurs right after the almonds are done. A nuc, or nucleus colony, is a queen who comes with several frames of brood (growing baby bees, or bee larva) and worker bees. A nuc is essentially a baby bee-making factory. A package is a long shot at best.
Bees are a lot of work. A LOT OF FUCKING WORK! I want to clarify that for any hipsters who helped to Kickstart the fucking Flow Hive- whose motto is “Less labour, more love.” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Bees are not a fucking ant farm to be kept for your amusement. I hope every person who receives one of these abominations gets their asses handed to them with a series of bee venom injections.
But I digress. This is about me, and I took bee ecology seriously from the onset. I sort got the fact that it’s kinda essential for human survival I apprenticed before I purchased my own gear. I conducted extensive research and scouted safe and secure locations for the bees before I ever pulled the pin. See, part of having bees is you have to be ready to move them at any moment, and have a location ready. Most hipsters will fail this essential rule of beekeeping, but I again digress.
During my 565 days, I have watched the hive I apprenticed with be mismanaged. So concerned with harvesting honey were they that they failed to notice the state of the colony. Several times I mentioned that it needed room to grow and we should add boxes. All they did was take and take. Finally, the colony left, and the boxes were overcome with wax worm moths. Which look like something out of a fucking Alien movie, as you can see from the pictures I took.
Given the time I had spent restoring boxes for the cooperative beekeeping project, I sort of shrugged my shoulder and resigned myself to a lesser role, the role of Cassandra, so to speak. Since this time, the shared project has floundered, but I still do my part.
In my journey for education, I have sought out the teachings of those who are long since gone. In particular, I have read much from Rudolf Steiner. Who was this? “Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner (February 1861– 30 March 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, author, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.” You can read the rest here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Steiner
Anyway, he wrote a book almost a one hundred years ago on beekeeping that predicted many of the problems experience by modern beekeeping; Most all of it due to human interventions into the natural process. Interventions that sought to maximize profits, regardless of the impact on nature. Sound familiar?
Somewhere in my research I read of the myth that human female attended colonies were more severely impacted by the death of their beekeeper than male. Given the cycles of bees, their mostly female structure, this made perfect sense to me. And I have embraced a pagan-based management style ever since. I tend to my colonies based more on the phases of the lunar cycle than anything else.
It has been exactly three weeks since I last went to check on the colonies. During this time we have experienced a Blood Moon and a Harvest Moon. Last night I dreamt of my bees, which was odd, mostly because I rarely remember dreams. But today my desire to have nothing to do was overridden by the nagging feeling that I had dreamt that my bees were endangered therefore I must go and attend to them.
So my son and I went out to the farm where our bees are housed. And after inspecting the nuc, I found nothing out of the ordinary. But upon inspecting my first original colony, I discovered something quite alarming. There was no brood. Brood are larval or various stages of baby bees. There were A LOT of baby bees in the hive, but absolutely no brood. Which was alarming and not what I had observed three weeks ago. These signs can only mean one thing: there is no queen.
Now, given my knowledge of bee development, I realize that I had decided to intervene on the very last week that bees would have emerged from their larva form three weeks prior. So I am now left with the decision of letting the bees do their thing and supersede the old queen or I can intervene and install a hygienic and well-mated queen.
In Arizona this a two part problem because allowing a hive to naturally supersede a queen means that a virgin queen will take flight and mate with likely Africanized drones. Drones are the only male bees and their only purpose is to mate with queens. Which is why once this mating takes place, drones die. However, my other colony can become a factor when it comes to producing drones, so the virgin queen may mate with mellow, but different bees.
Arizona bees, or Africanized bees are impressive honey producers and rarely succumb to many of the ailments that European honeybees do, but their hive defensiveness can be hard to deal with for those who are unfamiliar with it. Aggressive bees are the ones I learned with, so I am okay with their nasty disposition. Imagine having rocks thrown at your face. That is exactly what Arizona bees do when their hive is disturbed.
But I started all of this because I believe that my Pagan Beekeeping practices have seeped into my dreams, and these uniquely female cycles makes me dangerous. From a historical standpoint, of course.
Anyway, it is late, as you were, droogs.
I have a lot of beekeeping shit coming your way. Consider yourselves warned.
Tonight I took my son to a birthday party. It was the birthday party of a coworker’s daughter who was turning seven. I should state that I am always apprehensive whenever I introduce my child to other children. Mostly because he is the polar opposite of a public school child. I pride myself on this fact. His magic bubble is spectacular and almost fully intact.
This evening was nothing out of the ordinary, there were little girls running about and little boys doing their thing, which is the polar opposite of whatever the fuck it is that little girls do. From what I could tell the incite drama and hysteria, but I digress.
As the evening progressed, the girls all went to bed and the boys continued to play in the bouncy house that included a water slide. The other parents and I were inside, bullshitting away when suddenly there was a ruckus outside. Now I would like to point out that drama with boys usually involves broken bones or blood, but nothing seemed to be that dire. Until the mother of one of the boys came in and announced that her child had been choked.
I walked outside, fully expecting to find my boy innocent of all nefarious actions; however, tonight it was different. My son was the youngest, but biggest boy in attendance, and unfortunately not a public school student. What that means is that I have taken every precaution that I can to protect my child from the dangers of the public school system, but I cannot always protect him from the danger lurking in the children of others.
Turns out my friend’s son had talked my son into playing a game called Dead Man. This game is basically a choke out game and I was completely disgusted that my son had been exposed to such vulgarity. More so, I was disgusted that this game was commonplace amongst the public school kids. Sadly, they did not consider the fact that my son was bigger than all of them. So when they convinced him to play their game, they did not factor in his size. My boy’s size makes him a force to reckon with on the basketball court and in the hockey rink. The coaches love him because the boy is a beast, but he can fuck up a kid who is several years older than he is, in the blink of an eye.
Which is exactly what happened this evening. Needless to say, we made a quick exit from the festivities, as I apologized to the mother of the child mine had choked out. But mostly I was disgusted by the fact my child now knew about a game called Dead Man. I felt like his innocence had been compromised. Regardless of the fact that he damn near killed another child
Whatever, I also thought of this song. And fuck the people who don’t value their children’s innocence more.
I believe it was mid-1991 when I completely withdrew from mainstream, heterosexual life. I had gone through a bad breakup. And by bad I mean that my fiancé had dumped me over the phone- a pay phone no less- and proceeded to immediately hook up with a girl I was close to. And by hook up I mean no sooner had I moved out of the apartment we had just moved into, and was around the corner from the salon I worked at, than her car started showing up outside on the street. I would like to note that she was a Too Live Crew groupie because to this day it makes me giggle and makes him cringe*.
As I mentioned, I worked in a hair salon, which was on Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hills. Having been enrolled in beauty school since the age of 15, I had easy access to gay boys. And gay boys had always loved me. Perhaps my bawdy sense of humor had something to do with it, but whatever the reason was, gay boys and me have always just gelled.
Post break up I was immediately taken under the wing of a boy who had numerous ties to the entertainment industry. We quickly began a routine of hitting up the leather bars on Santa Monica Boulevard and crawling back to his apartment, which was an alleyway away. Or ‘stumbling distance’ as I liked to say. I still have a deep appreciation for leatherboys and all their accouterments and eventually worked as a body piercer. Go figure.
Quickly I became immersed in the WeHo life. I hung out with a lot of female impersonators, or drag queens as we called them back in the day. Some of who gave me the best makeup tips I have ever received. I was completely removed from the world where my sexuality mattered. I was invisible; I was totally free, in a sense. I was introduced to people who worked on major television shows, and I fell into the world of the indulgences that can accompany that lifestyle. And I loved every minute of it.
I bring this up because I have always struggled with heteronormativity, particularly as it pertains to females. I have never appreciated the rules that were pushed upon me because I was born with two X chromosomes and therefore possessed a vagina. There are numerous environmental factors that also contributed to my rebellion, but the expectations of being female have always pissed me off. And thusly, I have never really “acted like a girl”.
To this day my most favorite smell in the world is when I first walk into a leatherboy store. I have a very dear friend who can attest to this, and it makes her smile whenever I show up and say ‘I love the smell of leather and lube in the morning’!
There is no real point to this, other than I felt like writing.
As you were, fuckers.
*told you I’d forever and publicly mock you for that one, douchebag.
I had a conflicted relationship with my grandmother. Growing up the dark-eyed, dark-haired one in a family of Germanic blondes was somewhat difficult. Add to this the fact that she was a hardcore nuclear housewife and believed all women were destined for lives of domestic servitude; it can be easy to understand where the friction came from. Since I did not fit the California Blonde ideal that my cousins did, I would have to learn other skills to find and keep a man. And grandma felt it was her duty to reinforce this into my thick skull.
Grandmother was also of diminished capacity from several “head injuries”, or so the adults in my life told me. There had been a nasty interaction between my maternal family and the father of cousin. One of their California Blondes had gotten knocked up at 17 and been forced to marry the guy, which was common in the late-60s. Within a few years this shotgun union had soured and he attempted to kidnap the kid. During commission of this crime, he ran both of my grandparents down with his car in the street in front of their suburban home. And thus began the lifelong story of not taking what either grandparent said to heart because they were both physically damaged. Funny what stories adults will tell to make sense of their dysfunction to children, but I digress.
Oddly it was my mother and I who always ended up caring for grandma whenever she needed it. The California Blonde, Orange County relations were always too busy to assist, in spite of their positions as grandma’s favorites. After her aneurysm in the late-80s, I was the one who moved into the guesthouse in Burbank and cared for her. In her later years she moved in with my mother, who served as her primary caregiver until her death. She spent more time around my son than any of the other great-grands. The other side of the family had been completely unable to deal with the stress and proved to be utterly useless. Occasional phone calls, rare visits and gifts in the mail were all grandma got in the end from her favorites. And she was mean and batshit crazy until the very end. And I was there until that end, still able to perform feats no one else could.
One morning when I walked into their house to drop off my young son with my mother, I was struck by the realization that I was going to find my grandmother dead on the floor someday. It was a profoundly creepy feeling, but I left and went on my way to work. Later in the day my mother informed me that my grandmother had been admitted into the hospital during the early morning hours. Having been found unresponsive in bed by mother just after midnight. My mother indicated that grandma was somewhat out of it, but able to communicate. I was filled with a sense of knowing that my grandmother had already left and that was what I had felt when I entered the house that morning.
Things did not improve; in fact, the prognosis became dire within the first day of the hospital stay. Grandma had suffered a major brain hemorrhage and would likely never recover. My grandmother had been very aware of her health in her latter years and had refused dialysis for at least two years prior to this catastrophic event. My mother had discussed with her the implications of her decision to forego medical intervention. “Eventually something will quit working, you will likely fall into a coma and then be placed in hospice until you die.” Grandma was totally cool with this, ever the progressive Californian she had signed all the right documents to prevent heroic measures.
When they transferred grandma to hospice I decided to make a visit. I had not seen my aunt or cousin in several years at this point because as an adult I did not have to interact with toxic people. It was a hardcore move, but one that my mother respected because there was no denying the dysfunction that had always existed within her family. To have a reunion of three generations of women in a hospice room was poetic. My cousin had traveled from her east coast life where she is essentially a housewife having married well. My aunt is a bitter, toxic person having been traded-in by her successful husband for a younger, newer model before she was 40-years-old. The first words my aunt said to me were regarding my body. Always the one for noting appearances, I guess it astounded her to compare me side-by-side to her trophy daughter, who had acquired the middle-age spread that can accompany the housewife lifestyle.
There was tense small talk between the others and myself. All of which was conducted over the death rattle coming from my grandmother. I had been in this situation several times before this, but it was all new to my cousin and aunt, who are control freaks. My cousin was most visibly affected by how my grandmother looked. Gone was the dyed hair and well-kept appearance. “Yeah, she didn’t want to go to the hairdresser anymore,” I had quipped. The cousin had not visited in several years, and grandma’s decline during this time had been drastic. Dying is not always a quick process. I had been at the side of several of my ex-husband’s relatives during their deaths. It’s not an easy cycle to watch, but you do get accustomed to the stages of it. Grandma was said to suffer from dementia during her last years. I believe her true, ugly self was showing thru the façade, but that’s just my opinion. And the sound of grandma’s death rattle was unnerving me because my cousin kept asking what was wrong, why was she making that sound. My mother and I were the only ones aware that grandma was dying.
The hospice grandma was in was a nice facility. Thankfully she had not been admitted to the location with a children’s ward because who-the-fuck wants to see the ugly reality of dying children. In fact I had never considered that this type of service was necessary before. I spoke briefly with my cousin, who was obviously shaken by this entire situation. She had kept an image of her grandmother in her head and had not had to face the reality for quite a few years now. The grandmother in her head could not be reconciled with the one that now lay dying in the other room. When we went back into the room, our mothers were silently staring at their mother and the sound of the death rattle was deafening. I requested a radio, which a nurse quickly provided. I tuned it to a 40’s swing music station because I knew this was grandma’s favorite. Grandma’s hands were now very claw-like and my cousin was attempting to put lotion on them, but it upset her too much. As we four congregated in a corner and discussed the inevitable in hushed tones, grandma started to choke.
The panic in the room was palpable. Especially with my aunt and cousin. They were still coming to terms with the fact that no one was feeding grandma or giving her water. They had provided sponges that we could use to moisten her lips and tongue, but that was it. Everyone rushed to the bedside and the chatter revolved around what to do, should they do anything because it simply delayed the end and why was no one coming to assist. My mother reminded them that there was a medical directive to deny intervention. But my aunt and cousin looked sickened by this realization, so I stepped up and asked them to hand me one of the sponges on a stick. I opened my grandmother’s mouth, stuck the sponge deep into the back of her throat and swabbed out the contents. As I removed the sponge every other person in the room reacted with revulsion. My aunt gagged and had to turn away. My cousin did the same, except she turned green and walked away. My mom was able to hand me a plastic cup before she too had to leave the room. So it was just my grandma and I and a cup full of sickly phlegm and I had just given her a bit more life to appease others.
Afterward all women present joked with me about how they had reacted to my actions. The also lauded by ability to stay calm and intervene when they had all choked and been unable to act. I mostly thought about how this would now be added to our family lore. I would forever be known as the only one who helped the grandmother I had never been very fond of. I left shortly after this event and grandmother passed away peacefully the next morning. I visited with my cousin once before she left. She seemed disgusted that there would be no memorial service, but we are all California natives and have no relations in our current states. Grandma had a few siblings who were alive, but none had indicated any desire to travel for a funeral or memorial. So this was all there would ever be to commemorate her passing. The cousin stated she would likely never return once she left, which made sense to me. Not like I’d miss her.
Several months later my mother and I delivered grandma’s ashes back to Southern California. We visited her mother’s grave at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills and placed some of her ashes there. A graveside, I might add, that had not been visited in probably two decades or more. I broke the law, but fuck it, my grandparents were pioneers in the area. We also placed some of her ashes behind the family home, which has been torn down and replaced with a McMansion. I had gathered up a carload of my friends and we went on a covert mission down the alleyways of Burbank. Due to the overbuilding in the area, we were initially unable to find the family home and placed the ashes along the wrong fence. But we went back and made it right an hour later after realizing our mistake. We then took some of the ashes to the beach and tossed them off a pier. Once again breaking a law or some city ordinance. But we’ve a saying that has always applied, cop didn’t see it, I didn’t do it.
In the end I am left with the only legacy my grandmother left me and it is this: we are not women who outsource the end-of-life tasks to others. She tended to her mother until her death, my mother tended to her mother until her death, and I am set to tend to my mother until her end. This is simply what the women in my family do and I am no different. I have included the scan that clearly shows the hemorrhage that finally killed my grandmother. I keep it as reminder that life can be over in an instant and the bitches in my family are prone to bursting blood vessels in their brains.🙂
It was recently brought to my attention that I have not published anything since February. The reasons for this lag are mostly due to the amount of extracurricular activities that I have undertaken in the past year. And thanks to the person who reminded me some people do still read.
Those of you who follow me perhaps know that one year ago I graduated with a business degree and got into beekeeping. After five years of school, and the constant academic writing that it required, I guess I was just plum out of shit to write about. But I need to pick up the writing pace again, in spite of the fact that the bees have been keeping me busy as, well, a bee.
Back in the day there was a 7-11 near the intersection of Yucca Street and Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood. A Google map search confirmed that it still exists as of December 2014. This was back in the 1990, when Lalaland was a-flutter with raves and underground parties. I believe that the group I was with had just left Bourgeois Pig when we stopped at the convenience store. We were en route to a party and had stopped off at the coffee shop to score drugs. Not sure if it’s still a big drug haven, but designer drugs were everywhere back then. So were coffee shops.
As I walked inside to purchase something, probably cigarettes, I somehow managed to drop several ecstasy tablets on the ground by the front counter. What’s a gal to do when she loses drugs that are not hers? Well, I can tell you what I did next. I threw my hands in the air and shouted, “Nobody move! I dropped drugs!” Not sure what would happen in modern day Los Angeles, but back then my fellow customers stopped what they were doing and joined me on my hands and knees and helped me locate the missing drugs.
Safely back in the car, my group had no idea that I had just caused a completely illegal scene in a convenience store. I did not have the heart to tell anyone that the drugs had just been on the gross floors of downtown 7-11. Not like the shit hadn’t been stepped on before we ever saw it anyway, right?