Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 10, 2022

Adulting, alone.

Today I bought a car. I bought it. Only me. By myself. (Well, Lily accompanied me, and her company was a balm, but she didn’t pay for it or do any of the research, financial planning, test driving, or decision-making.)

This probably seems unremarkable, but as I sit here in the wake of making this purchase, I’m unable to evade some overwhelming feelings that are coming up.

I have never bought a car before. I’m 50 years old and this is the very first car I’ve purchased myself. I feel exhausted by the process, and I’m trying to understand why it’s bringing up such heavy feelings of grief, even as I’m feeling relieved to have a much newer and more reliable vehicle than the one I just traded in.

I think the grief is about adulting, alone.

Granted, I asked for help with this process, and I did have a number of friends offer to accompany me to look at cars or to give advice. And I did receive some good advice from a number of people. But in the end, I made all the key decisions myself, paid for the car myself, went to the car dealer myself. I think (I hope?) I made some decent decisions today.

The grief, though. Is that what it is? That’s what it feels like, a heaviness in my chest, and hot tears threatening to leak out of me if I would only sit still and quietly for a few minutes.

I’m reminding myself that buying a car is a major purchase, and as such, especially in this culture, it carries not only practical but symbolic weight. It’s not quite as weighty as buying a home, but it’s still significant.

I don’t think I ever wanted to be making such purchases and decisions entirely by myself. It’s a reminder, in one fell swoop, that I’m no longer financially entwined with a partner, nor am I young and receiving assistance and guidance from my parents. I don’t expect such arrangements, at this point. It’s painful, though, to think I am not close enough to anybody to share such things. Have I internalized some notion that this, then, is further proof of my aloneness? At the very least, it puts it right in my face that I don’t have another adult in my household or my immediate orbit with whom I share certain kinds of resources or responsibilities. And I am exhausted from shouldering more than is reasonable by most measures.

I will always grieve the vision of interdependent community that I was never able to bring to fruition, despite various efforts over the past 20 years or so.

And it seems I’m primed for grief these days especially, in the wake of the dissolution of a relationship I’ve held dear for many years. It cuts me to the bone.

My new car is a Kia Forte. Forte, as in strong. I want to call her Forte e Coraggiosa, strong and courageous. I hope she will carry me exactly where I need to go, to those I need and who need me.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | September 7, 2021


On Sunday morning, I got out of bed and went to check my email. There was a flurry of messages from Facebook, saying my password had been changed and other things at 3:00am while I had been sleeping and informing me that due to inappropriate content being posted, my account was being locked. I think I successfully changed my password back, as well as confirmed my identity? but I am still locked out of Facebook. I feel violated by whomever hacked my account and posted things in my name; I have no idea what they posted.

Meanwhile, I am noticing some ricocheting echoes of exile in the midst of this experience. Through no fault of my own, I’ve been sidelined from an important tool that I’ve used to feel connected to people. Abruptly, bam, I am effectively cut off from communicating with a whole slew of people with whom I otherwise don’t have much of a way to contact. And they probably don’t even realize that I’m gone.

I find myself talking to the hacker in my mind. Did you stop to think that maybe some people rely on Facebook for some crucial social needs? I mean, I’ll survive this, even if I never use Facebook again, but it wasn’t exactly part of my plan to change my connection/communication methods on a dime. What if you have been targeting people in a far more fragile position right now? What if you are responsible for plummeting someone into despair and confusion, unsure how to reach out other than through a tried-and-true method, particularly during a pandemic that accentuates isolation?

I’m sure the hacker doesn’t care, and that Facebook doesn’t care, and a large majority of people I know don’t care.

This incident highlights to me all the ways I find myself in exile, and not just from Facebook. Why would I rely on Facebook so much in the first place, if I wasn’t already in exile?

It’s not lost on me that I’m choosing to write a blog post right now, precisely because I do not have the outlet of reaching out on Facebook (which I’ve often used as a sort of micro-blogging platform to a more limited audience). I am not all that keen on blogging in a public fashion; my trust in various others is pretty damaged. Still, the need to be witnessed is acute and apparently outweighs the need to feel protected through silence.

Am I just proving I exist by typing something on the internet? Truly, I would rather experience my existence through a hug from a loved one, or a cat on my lap, or some other sort of tangible proof. Lily and I did adopt two kittens a few days ago, but they are still adjusting to being here and are definitely not interested in any lap-sitting or being touched. (Our beloved, elderly cat Ophelia, whom I relied on for much physical contact and affection, died in June 2021.) Lily herself is engaging with something online, in another room; I hear her laugh occasionally. It’s too late in the evening for me to be making phone calls, and in any case, I still have a bit of a problem in reaching out to people by phone. And clearly I often have a problem in reaching out to people at all. The broadcast method, posting on Facebook rather than addressing any single individual, handily lessens the anxiety of not being responded to.

Not being responded to: that is the exile that I most dread and experience far too often. It would probably build character or something for me to face into it and keep diving into my loneliness, my sense that nobody really has my back, my feelings of isolation and abandonment. Wouldn’t that be the brave and pragmatic thing to do? To build up some sort of scar tissue? Or would I just be leading myself to desolation? I would like to think that there’s a liberation of some kind, an escape route, some ultimate achievement of crone-hood in no longer caring if anyone is near, if anyone responds, only a sure reliance on my inner compass and being present with whatever is.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | June 20, 2020


Greetings, o long neglected blog of mine.  You have quietly been holding this virtual space for me all this time, haven’t you.  I turned away from you, overwhelmed by what life was demanding from me, unable and unwilling to commit words to my experience.  Here I find that your memory is long and your patience is longer.

I was reminded of you, blog, because I received an email from a woman in Canada, saying she had just discovered my blog through a friend of hers, and that she thought we probably had some things in common.  Sure enough.  It touches me that my words still inspire connection.  Thank you, D., for your willingness to connect with me, which moves me more than you can know.

There has been a great deal of change in my life since I was last writing in this space.  I have now been a worker and co-owner for the past year and a half with Milkweed Connections, a small business based in small-town western Wisconsin, where we provide support to people facing challenges with mental health and substance use.  Another big change is that in August 2019, my husband informed me that he wanted a divorce; our divorce hearing is scheduled for two and a half weeks from now.

Of course, I don’t need to tell you all of other big changes that have been afoot for us collectively.  Like, oh, a bit of a pandemic.  And collective outrage over racism, oppression, and brutality.  And the national and global economy standing on very shaky ground.  For starters.

But I want to mention a few things that haven’t changed at all.

I am still so completely myself, despite my lack of desire to stick my neck out and write vulnerably in any sort of public fashion for a long time.  I’m willing to bet most of you are so completely yourselves, too, throughout all sorts of changes.

Lily and I are still living in our chosen community of Menomonie, Wisconsin.  We are still anchored by our homeschool co-op at the Family Learning Center, even though we have not been able to go there for months.

My family, blood and chosen, remains as important to me as ever.

Although I have written precious little in a long while, I have not and will not ever surrender my voice or my commitment to continue writing.  It’s clear to me that I can’t make promises about production and output right now.  But I have been deeply contemplating the idea of starting a new blog as a means of writing my way forward on my long-term book project.  I don’t know what it will look like just yet.

Thanks for your patience, readers.  (Or perhaps you’re thinking, “Ha, what patience?  I forgot this blog even existed.”  That’s fine, and maybe even better than patience.)

Inner Wise Woman says to me: How about thanking yourself for your own patience?  Because you were profoundly unhappy with yourself for not writing, not being “productive”.  You were judging yourself a whole lot for huge piles of stuff that weren’t actually under your control.  As if you’re supposed to have a perfect and tidy life, with no conflict, no drama, no rugs that suddenly disappear from under your feet, no shattered expectations, no scrambling to take care of your and your daughter’s basic needs, day after day after day.  So how’s this:  Thanks for your patience, Jen.  Thanks for understanding that you are a speck of a human and can’t do more than any other ordinary human.  Thanks for prioritizing basic needs.  Thanks for working so extremely hard.  Thanks for binding up your broken parts and trudging forward.  Thanks for being such a tough cookie even though you’re also a soggy cookie from all the tears.

In the words of the illustrious Monty Python: “I’m not dead yet.”


Posted by: scintillatingspeck | February 3, 2019

Writing a path to walk on.

I am on a writing retreat in Cameron, Wisconsin with a group of writing friends.  Yesterday I did some writing and felt mightily dissatisfied with it.  I wrestled with some feelings about it and went to bed, but had to get up at 1AM in order to write the following, a bit of advice to myself on how to keep going.  It felt important to offer it to other as well, as soon as possible.


Write it the way you used to write blog posts, with a burning need, and a bit speedy and bumpy, and not bothering too much with the niceties, since the niceties (propriety, “behaving”) are what have caused you so much trouble in the first place.

Write because you have something to say, not because you will obsequiously provide what you think people want to hear.

Write for the people who have been stricken with the conviction that they are weird, broken, unworthy, and alone.

Write for all the times you were unable to write, too despairing to move, too fearful of being misunderstood, too overwhelmed with constant change and major upheavals. You are still sitting with those feelings, of course. Understand that they are your allies, your messengers, part of your story.

Write for your own healing, even if you risk seeming unintelligible to others. You are your own primary audience. You are your own witness. Everyone else is just along for the ride. If you were trying to write only useful things for others, you could have chosen to write technical manuals or something. You chose otherwise, or perhaps were chosen.

Write because the act of writing breathes life into you. Write as an act of self-love. Write because you are a creature of language and relationship. It won’t always be the right words full of nuance and showing evidence of “craft.” The crafty writers can go hone their craft into the sharpest of pencils and possibly stab themselves and each other with them. Your task is only to let your voice exist and not silence it preemptively.

Write a path through the shame. You have written large, billowing clouds of words that will settle as dust, the necessary precursor to the words that will come galloping as wild horses, announcing your freedom.

Cameron, Wisconsin

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | October 2, 2018

Lost and found.

As I emerge from the food co-op, Lily is pointing to a CD case in our car: “What’s this?”

“Here.”  I hand her the album Wherever You Go, by the band Sweet Wednesday.

“Can we play it now?”


The first song comes on as I start the car and head toward home.

this is my day to find your note
in the pocket of my coat
that you wrote
a year ago
I never saw it

telling me I should not fret
and that everything it happens for the best
as long as you can see the sky

“When did you get this, Mama?”

“Five years ago.”  The lump of sadness in my throat is impossible to conceal.

“Why haven’t I heard it before now?”

Read More…

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | September 29, 2018

Let me feel the grief.

I don’t want to write anything sensible.

I only want to write what I need to see before my eyes, what I need to learn, what I need to wrestle or love into verbiage.  In my chest is a heavy clog of heart-soreness.  In my mind is a tangle of images, plans, cut-up ribbons of concentration, fretful crying, a determined holder-together of things.  I’m less willing than I used to be to showcase untidy, vulnerable thoughts and feelings, but there they are, and I won’t deny them.  They need my tenderness.  They need my words like little anchors of acknowledgment.

I’ve been sitting with the ache of unpartneredness.  I realize this is bundled tightly with my, our, heavy conditioning around cultural ideals of romantic love and what it means to have a “successful” life.  It’s not like I haven’t thought about this, a lot, already.  It’s not like I haven’t already rejected the standard narratives about marriage and happiness and belonging.  It’s just in my face, all the time, lately.  I try to remind myself that this feeling of being unaccompanied, uncompanioned, is an illusion, despite the surface facts of my lack of a Partner.  I don’t even know what a Partner is supposed to be.  I’m possibly more confused than ever about that.  I do think that, in keeping with the principles of relationship anarchy, each interpersonal connection needs to be negotiated on its own terms and allowed to grow or fade as it will.  I have plenty of conviction in principles but not a lot of bedrock faith in my own lovability.  Especially when I feel withdrawn and alone.  My friends do tell me they love me and that helps and I hope they don’t stop.

There is much I have been distraught about and unable to share for a variety of reasons.  That corked feeling builds up pressure.  I don’t like it.  What good is it to mention without specificity?  Is there any relief?  Not really.

Meanwhile I am still Handling Things.  You know, taking care of my child, feeding us, tending the home, tending to homeschool group stuff, tending and tending.  I wish someone would tend to me.  I wish I knew that someone would be there.  I’m trying to be grateful, trying to take in every moment of kindness, trying to BE THERE myself for my people.  I guess there’s a part of me that wants to say: damn it, let me feel bereft already.  Let me set aside the brave face and the gratitude.  Let me feel the grief.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | September 16, 2018

Inner Wise Woman says…

Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash;

Tonight I developed a sudden fixation on searching for and compiling every reference I’ve ever made to Inner Wise Woman on Facebook.  It appears that she first started speaking to me in late 2014.  (To be clear, Inner Wise Woman is me, and I am her.)  At some point I noted on Facebook that I had made a shift away from an internal voice I called the Crazy Love Lady and instead felt more of a resonance with Inner Wise Woman.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that that happened in 2014.

Re-reading these Facebook posts of mine has felt… intense.  But there you go.  The times I have called upon Inner Wise Woman have usually been intense times.  What would Inner Wise Woman do, or say? I would ask myself in moments of despondency, anger, confusion, self-berating, and insomniac anguish.  I don’t think I needed to call upon her when I was feeling peaceful or elated.

It is strange to see these all compiled in one long list.  I don’t expect that many people will read this all the way through.  But if you are one of those dedicated readers, or if you read any part of this at all, thank you for accompanying me.

“We’re all just walking each other home.” —Ram Dass

Read More…

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | August 27, 2018

Teetering on the edge of Scrivener.

I bought some writing software called Scrivener about three weeks ago, after some careful examination of whether it might be useful to me.  I decided: hey, if it can help me untangle the mess that is my book content, the the thick threads of thought, the blog posts, the Word documents in a folder called “Uncategorized Writings,” the photos, the Facebook flotsam, etc., why not?  Why not?  Am I not experiencing some great momentum towards writing and eventually publishing this tale?  Don’t I want to get serious about this?  Don’t I want me and my book to be going steady?

And I thought, YES, momentum!  YES, Serious Writer-ness!  YES, book—I will marry you!

Have I been able to bring myself to dive into Scrivener since then, to migrate my content, to start sifting through the words in their messy glory?


After some deliberate questioning of myself, I think it scares the crap out of me.

You would think that with all this momentum, I would be embracing the chance to finally crest the hill that I’ve been climbing for four years.  I know this is a tool that will help me.  I can see the outlines of a developing book, like an ultrasound image, a discernable emblem of my own humanity in my own head.  I can almost taste it.  I’m doing this thing! I announce to myself, plastering posters of my imminent debut in the hallways of my consciousness, only to have a fearful janitor tearing them down when I’m not looking.

In the meanwhile, what have I been doing?  I’ve been meditating daily.  I have never had such success with meditation and practicing mindfulness/bodyfulness.  My dear friend Carolyn signed me up for Camp Calm, a 30-day online meditation workshop, and I have been diligently keeping up.

I think it may be time to give myself some credit, as it turns out.  I have been practicing staying with my present experience: good, bad, ugly, scintillating, deadly boring, you name it.  It seems reasonable to assume that this might carry over to patiently tolerating my fear of Scrivener.  Fear of Scrivener is really my fear of succeeding at the task of writing this book.

What happens if I succeed at writing this book and it ends up out there, in the world?

I will be seen and heard.

Some people won’t like it.

Some people might like it a lot.

I will get more attention and I’m not sure I want so much attention.

I might alienate people I really need in my life.

I might be misinterpreted or misunderstood.  I might have sweeping judgments meted out towards me.

I’ll be sticking my neck out.

I want my neck to be treated tenderly.  I can’t count on that.

The world feels like a harsh place, all too often.

AND.  I have committed to this process.  I’m all in.  ALL IN.  No matter how long it takes.  No matter what ferocious demons awaken.  No matter where the journey takes me.  When this book is complete, I will have kept my promise, and that will be a sweet reward to my integrity.

Tonight I will rest.  I will go to bed early.  My sleep has been fractured in a thousand ways.  My head hurts and I’m heart-sore and weary.

Tomorrow morning: Scrivener.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | July 9, 2018

Show the fuck up.

When I traveled around the USA, all the 10,000 miles of driving that I did, there was an insistent voice in the core of me repeating: Show up. Show up NOW. Show the fuck up! The voice has not abated. I want to translate every last ounce of meaning contained within show the fuck up.

“Show the fuck up” means “Be Here Now.”

“Show the fuck up” means “You have people and they need you. Show the fuck up for them. They have stories that need to be witnessed.” Also: “Your people need to be needed. They want to offer you a haven. They want to feed you. Let them.”

“Show the fuck up” means “Your days are numbered. Live now. Be aware now. Take action now. You’re going to die. Don’t die with horrible regret that you didn’t take necessary risks.”

“Show the fuck up” means “Stop disappearing into your recliner, into a laptop screen, into anything mind- and body-numbing. Step away from the Facebook.   Step away from smokescreens and pretending. Be fucking real.”

“Show the fuck up” means “Stop settling for relationships that have little depth, that don’t take risks of vulnerability, that are not mutually nourishing.”

“Show the fuck up” means “Show your daughter the kind of role model you want to be. Show her that you won’t leave her behind, and you won’t leave yourself behind, either. These things are not mutually exclusive. Show her that you will travel the breadth of a continent to seek the sort of community you both most need. Show her that she, and you, are worth pulling out all the stops.”

“Show the fuck up” means “You promised your lover you would see him again. Keep the fucking promise. Keep it even though you have no idea of the longevity of this relationship or what it means or whether the unbearable heartache is worth it. Show up. Look into his eyes and smell him and know the truth of your union or lack thereof. Commit to seeing this through, no matter the end result.”

“Show the fuck up” means “You don’t actually have a clue how this is going to turn out. You don’t know what you don’t know. Keep learning that lesson that control is an illusion. Stick a pin in your own hubris, the clinging to the belief that you know the outcomes here, that you know the landscapes, the hearts, the real story. No. You don’t know. Let yourself be surprised. Find new delights and new devastations. Make new friends. Lose friends you thought might stay in your life. Let love bloom and wither.”

“Show the fuck up” means “Pay attention, know when to shut up, and when to use your voice. Listen. Really listen. Also, stop fucking devaluing your own experience, your writing ability, your worth as a human being. Just stop it. Is that what you want Lily to see and absorb? Be courageous. Keep showing up no matter how hard you tremble and even if your mind goes blank in a desperate attempt to shut it all down. Be the person who is terrified and goes ahead and does scary shit anyway. You have been training for this, crossing threshold after threshold of risk and vulnerability. Keep doing it. Do it for yourself. Do it for Lily. Do it for all those who bear witness and want to be inspired and emboldened. Do it to show how it’s done—that in your ordinariness, you can cross over into doing extraordinary things. You think it’s not extraordinary for one woman to write her own, true story in her own tremulous voice? You are wrong.”

“Show the fuck up” means “Facebook is a piss poor replacement for tangible relating. It has served an important function in your life, allowing you to connect with people over great distances, allowing you to reveal yourself in ways that felt too risky before. However, it is cutting you off from hugs and eye contact and pheromones and laughter and smiling and all the millions of essential, embodied ways of communicating. You NEED this. You need community, and friends whose arms are ready to embrace you, and lovers who entwine their lips and hands and bodies with yours and not just offer beautiful words, and people who will garden and hike and sing and eat meals with you. People who will tuck you into bed when you are sick or sleepy, and vice versa.”

“Show the fuck up” means “Disembodiment can no longer be a way of life for you. Yes, this is terrifying. Still, you need to confront all the reasons you have fled your embodied experience and bring yourself back to the physical world. You need to feel the sun, the rain, the wind, the grass, the sand; you need to hear bird songs and crashing waves; you need to savor the dripping fruit. You are not a brain on a table. You are a human animal, with needs and desires. You need to live in your body in order to have those needs and desires met in any fashion. You must confront the things that have so scared you that it felt safer to flee within and be numb.” It is hard to write this. I have not resolved this. I don’t know if I have made any real progress on this. I think it’s only now that I’m barely beginning to crack through my fear.

“Show the fuck up” is also a plea. Please be there for me, people, landscape, Earth. Please be there for my Lily. Please hold us, love us, give us a home, welcome us in. There have been too many times I have felt alone, unloved, unwelcomed. I don’t want to live like that anymore. I want to be part of a mutual, loving web of connection. Please tell me you want to hear my voice, my stories. Please tell me you haven’t given up on me. Please tell me you cherish my presence, look forward to seeing me. Please do these things without my having to ask constantly, just because you want to reassure me. Please tell me I matter, that you miss me when I’m not with you. Please tell me I belong here, in this place, in this community, with you.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | May 4, 2018

How I long to be known. How I fear to be known.

I have been avoiding this blog.  I have even been avoiding making myself fully aware of how much I’ve been avoiding it.  That’s really the best vanishing act: to believe that no vanishing is happening, because—what blog?  what writing?  Really?  I have a blog?  Who wrote those things?  It could go further, you know.  You know.  Obfuscation rolls in like a comforting blanket of fog, smoothing the jagged edges of reality.  Don’t tell me your brain doesn’t play that same, soothing trick sometimes, in ways both tiny and sweeping.

I once made a commitment to myself never to delete anything from this blog.  I have been steadfast in that commitment.  Most of my commitments, really.  How steadfast I am in both my published truths and my unpublished promises.  I’m so steadfast that I’d sooner let anxiety and dissonance eat away at me like acid rain on a marble statue.

I live in a faraway land now.  I can call it that because I am still arriving and arriving and not quite here.  It will take a long time to fully inhabit this place, this community.  It might take a lifetime that I don’t have.  I have little pieces of familiarity, sweet jolts of discovery, tentative tendrils of connection, a few deeper connections.  I am not rooted in Wisconsin.  I’m not convinced I ever was fully rooted, anywhere.

Still, I carry all my baggage with its sleeping ghosts and mistakes, set it down in this new land, and feel terrified to open the latches.  There are things I haven’t been able to bring myself to do, like set up my new little office/writing space.  I can’t do it.  I can’t unpack in there, literally.  I’m not even writing in there, right now.

I do, still, long to be known.  It never goes away.  I’m not sure how we really know each other.  Funny that now what comes up is the idea of “knowing in the Biblical sense”— that can be a sort of knowing, sure, or it can be a bit of annihilation of awareness, too.  I thought I could be known through writing, I mean really seen, really understood.  It seems wildly improbable to me now, but it didn’t stop me from trying.  I thought I could draw people to me and know them, too.  I thought we could find some profound, resonant, universal beliefs?  feelings?  values? to stand on.  Um, yeah.  We get to stand on question marks, mostly.

I do, still, fear to be known.  I fear judgment, shunning, being “othered,” being stereotyped, being discriminated against, being misunderstood.  Is there such a thing as ever wiping the slate clean and starting anew in a new land?  Could I have believed that that might happen here?  The fact that this blog exists, that it records portions of the past 10 years of my life, that it is intensely personal, that it bears the imprint of tremendous change and anguish—part of me doesn’t want to be associated with it anymore.  I think of all the friends, neighbors, and acquaintances that were lost to me along the way, sometimes in ways that I could trace directly to this blog, or at least the spirit of transparency behind it.  I’m not sure anyone understood that that transparency was as fragile as gossamer, ready to petrify into stony opacity.

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