Sunday, June 19, 2016

No Stilled Life: Seeds on the Last Day of Spring

Image attribution: Left, cover art,
Anna Burdette; right, unknown.

Stilled lives, stilled life, still life . . . life stilled?

What do you do when your world comes to screeching, grinding halt, and yet it still expects you to keep moving?

I've been there. It's a singularity of sorts, one in which you feel yourself being sucked into a black hole while the weight of the universe camps out on your chest. It's a succubus, draining your own life force to animate its own void. In my language, we have a different word for that succubus, but its insatiable greed is the same.

A friend of mine (and of some of you who are reading this right now) has that weight camped out on her chest right now. It's an invasive, colonizing thing, one you never invite but it crashes through the door anyway and makes itself at home, taking the fat, using up all your resources, then badgering you for more even as it demands to know why you don't have anything left.

Here's the thing: We can help her get rid of it. We can help her keep moving forward and free, in spite and defiance of that colonizing succubus. On this last day of spring, we can provide a little seed money to keep her life growing and going strong.

First, though, I want to introduce you to my friend, want you to get to know her as I do. Then I want you to join us in giving her a hand.

For those of you who frequent the Great Orange Satan, you already know her as gchaucer2. She diaries only occasionally, but when she does, it's usually brilliant. She's a prolific commenter and builder of community, but she's also a woman after my own heart: smart and shrewd and incredibly salty, one who neither suffers fools nor misses an opportunity to skewer bigotries petty and grand alike. Her love of grand irony burns bright, and she has an acid wit as sharp as a scalpel, and as deadly, too. She's one of the few people I know whose language is as . . . umm, publicly colorful as mine — well, okay, not really, because it's hard to beat my own mouth on that score, but we're kindred spirits in our love of a good soul-cleansing epithet — and we share a certain similarity of background. I come from a thoroughly assimilated fundamentalist environment; she is the beautiful woman Wings refers to as "that hot ex-nun."

I'm going to tell you more about this woman whose spirit I love so dearly, but before we make the jump, I'm going to post two ways to help her out right here:
Donate via PayPal at stilledlives2 [at] gmail [dot] com.
Buy her book, Stilled Lives: The T-Town Murders, here
A note for those donating via PayPal: Please be sure to select the "Send money to friends or family" option, so that she does not lose a percentage of your donation to servicing fees.

Now, over the jump:

Some folks, having seen the book, now call my friend Anna; others think of her as gchaucer2. Privately, I call her by another name, but publicly, I have always thought of her as either "chauc," "or "Geoff," for the name she chose for her user ID at the GOS. I think for today's purposes, I'll just use Geoff (not least because I, accident that I was, was supposed to be a boy named Geoffrey, apparently; oh, what a disappointment I proved to be).

So, Geoff has run up on some tough times, or, more accurately, they have run up on her with a vengeance. It's difficult enough in this world to make it even when you have a lot of side benefits and deep community support networks. When you're trying to do it mostly alone? Well, that complicates the whole process by several orders of magnitude. When you get to be a woman of a certain age, you also get schooled very rapidly in how the world is not set up for you. I know that particular lesson well.

Now, thanks to circumstances out of her control, Geoff needs to find new living arrangements. That's easier said than done in this economy, especially when your income derives from your own small solo practice (which is not, despite what the world will tell you, a profitable enterprise), and when you have four-legged creatures who depend upon you for the roof over their heads, as well. And I'm sorry, but I refuse to let anyone who is willing to risk feline wrath by outing her cat's real identity as Bitch-Face Emily lose the ability to keep that creature safe and fed and housed if I can help it.

About that income stream: Solo practice of law is too often a mug's game. That's especially true if you're one of those lawyers who actually has, you know, a conscience, and that's one thing Geoff has in abundance. I don't know if it's the habit and hangover of a religious youth, but people like us tend to feel guilt very deeply, even when it's not precisely our own, and that tends to affect our life choices in ways that inhibit the accumulation of wealth. In a better world, the kinds of choices Geoff has made would, per the cosmically arcane rules of karma, set her for life. 

We don't live in that world.

Neither do you.

What that means is that, when life pulls the rug out from under you even as the roof is caving in around you, you need friends to help you get to safer ground. That's what Geoff needs right now: safe ground, shelter for herself and her cats, and a supplement to her income that will also keep the lights on and food on the table. It doesn't sound like much, but when your entire world has been snatched away? It's everything.

At the GOS, they'll be doing a series of diaries for Geoff under the banner of the Community Fundraisers group that Nurse Kelley founded. But she needs practical help from as many quarters as possible, and so Wings and I needed to step up and do our part. yes, we have a lot on our own plate right now, including the expense of trying to build a house after nearly six years without a real one. But we can always squeeze out a little for a friend facing tough times. And yesterday, we were spared a planned expense when the guys Wings hired to help get the hay in showed up so late that he sent them home; we got it in ourselves (as we do, most years). We're taking some of what we saved and sending it to Geoff. It's not much — fifty bucks — but if one person matches it, that's $100. If 19 people match it, that $1,000. And if 99 people match it, that's five grand. Even where she lives, that would go a long way toward securing housing and getting her moved in. Here's that PayPal address again:  stilledlives2 [at] gmail [dot] com.

I realize that a lot of folks won't be able to give that much. But the reality is that even a few bucks helps. If you can forego tomorrow's Starbucks latte, or that pack of smokes, or a McDonald's run, that's another sizeable drop in the bucket for Geoff. Enough drops pooled together fill the bucket. Enough drops create a storm.

And if you want something for your donations, consider going to Amazon and buying her book. I haven't read it yet, but I have an Amazon gift card from a friend, and I'm planning on using it today. If she writes fiction anything like she writes diaries, it's bound to be brilliant. The reviews bear that assessment out, too.

You know, none of us likes putting it all out there when everything goes to hell. I know that Geoff is no exception. It's brutal, it's painful, it puts already-vulnerable spirits in a place of even greater vulnerability. The risks are real. It's a cruel world, and too much of it finds sport in kicking people when they've already been shoved down forcibly. That's why it's our job to extend a hand, grab hard and hold on tight, help lift them up and give them a shoulder to lean on while they find their footing again. 

So on this last day of spring, on Father's Day, I'm asking you to join us in honoring whatever spirits speak to you: those of your parents; those of the seasons of warmth and abundance; those of recognition and humanity and grace. Can you match our $50? If so, please do; if you can give more, please do that, too. If you can't, can you give a fraction of that? Will you spread the link to this post around, send it to your networks, Tweet it and share it on Facebook and otherwise disseminate it so that those people you know who  might be moved to help have the opportunity to do so?

If so, you have the personal thanks of Wings and me . . . and probably a little more on the credit side of your own karmic ledger.

All content, except as otherwise indicated, is copyright Aji, 2016; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owner.

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