Tuesday, March 02, 2021


"No te olivdes nunca, que eres poderosa," Natalia Lafourcade. I started stitching this line from Mexicana Hermosa, on my handkerchief, the one with blue flowers, vines and leaves, then I made a terrible snag, tangling the floss and pulling up a thread of the cloth. I had all of the dread convictions and conclusions, about this complication, in the periphery of my thoughts, but if I have learned anything in sewing, and life, it is... go slow, even stop if you can, and come back to it later. Fires have to be put out immediately, but tangles, can wait. Many problems, real or perceived, in an exchange of words, or between me and a needle and thread, will be easier to understand, less difficult to resolve, when I am calm, when I am not driven by those dread convictions in my head, when I am not tired, nor anxious. I put the handkerchief down. Somehow, sooner or later, I would figure out a way to fix the mess, but not now.
Then I started something new. Inspired by wreaths, and cycles, things that are round, and go around, by diatoms, and the patterns in nature. Again, not much of a plan, but taking inspiration, in the moment.
Do not ever forget, that you are powerful. I forget all the time, that I am powerful, and what it means to be powerful. I have had an aching to be powerful in justice, powerful in coming out of trauma with grace and some kind of vindication. That is not going to happen. In every moment since what happened to me on December 6, 2018, I have felt trapped, injured, scared, dissociated, helpless, like a victim, not only from the collision but by the justice system, by insurance companies, by my injuries, and slow recovery. No one outside, no one with authority or the legal means, is going to right what was wrong, or fulfill the obligations I was promised. There will be no justice, nothing fair, no balancing of the forces between right and wrong, no healing compensation. It is down to me. It always was down to me, but I fell victim, not only because of the choices of a drunk driver, but to a system that lead me to believe that by spending 27 months in bureacratic, legal, and emotional negotiations, hearings, and testimony that there would be a conclusion, an untangling, restitution. In all this time, when I might have focused my attention on therapy, on looking ahead, on coping with my new normal, I have been pulled back into the very moment of impact. They make me restate what happened, and what has happened since, over and over, again. Describe, explain it, show pictures, send a statement, give us documents, call this number, go to this office, you're subpoenaed, again, again, again, another hearing, another, another, another, then start from the beginning... What happened? And how do you feel? Are you still in pain? Send us your records. Like this, for 27 months. It will be for little to nothing. Nothing compared with my time, with the pain and suffering caused by the collision, with the pain and suffering caused by trying to do what was demanded of me, then required, then encouraged... and one by one everyone that either demanded something of me, or promised me something, has disappeared, and I am alone, and left to be over it. The State of Calfornia did not follow through, did not complete their stated committment to me. My insurance, SF, will not complete their stated committment to me. It's almost over. But it's not concluded, and I almost completely forgot what it means to be powerful.

While I was deciding how to stitch one of the rings, William came to my room. He had pictures on his phone he wanted to share with me, like this one, of our falling fence, looking down the rail, on the neighbor's side. He showed me others, including some looking through the buckle in our sidewalk, where a tree root has pushed up two slabs and you can peer through. Inside are tiny sprouts, damp earth, sunlight, the otherside. Those images were the inspiration for the last, unfinished ring. Instead of continuing filling the little circle with satin stitches, I left a broken, open space, where I can look inside and see small things are sprouting, and peer through to the otherside, and see light come in.

When I finished the rings, I picked up the handkerchief, with the tangled mess. I gently tugged at the floss, looked carefully at the threads in front and on the back. I measured my options, and salvaged what I could, even cutting floss that was too destroyed to salvage. And then I wove in new floss, wrapped up loose ends, secured them, and smoothed things out as best I could. And I finished each letter, that spells out the message, "No te olivdes nunca, que eres poderosa." It's only now dawning on me that those are good words to put on a handkerchief, a piece of cloth made to dry tears. I've been crying all morning, dealing with insurance calls, and trying to reach the D.A., and awaiting a call from my attorney, when I am supposed to resign myself to more "meaningful" negotiating, by demonstrating my "good faith." Take less than you were promised, in other words. I feel kicked, and powerless. But I won't let it end this way, even if it hurts, if I come out broken... I will come out.
"I'll tell you what freedom is to me: No fear," Nina Simone said. I think about that, and I think about what my power is, what it should be, what I will make my power be. My power will be moving forward and taking joy with me... if the joy is tangled in pain, tainted by hurts, scarred, fragile, imperfect, so be it. I will take my joy, and make more, and I will share it. I will sing aloud, figuratively, at least, and reclaim my freedom, again, and again, and again.


Laura Bray said...

I just stumbled onto you via Posie Gets Cozy. What a lovely blog and so nice to "meet" a fellow embroidery enthusiast. I love the circle embroidery piece you work on and the beautiful bird you stitched in a previous post. I'm all about birds now too.

Teresa Kasner said...

I'm sorry that you're having to go to war with all those bureaucrats.. what a pain. I hope you win out and get what you want from them all. It's good to see that you're not letting it devour you but that you're continuing to create and live well despite it all. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Hello Laura!
Thank you for visiting, and for sharing your sweet comment. I dabble in so many crafts, and right now you caught me in an embroidery season... I am loving it! You're loving embroidery, too, I see. I keep wondering if I am going to be brave and attempt more birds. The first one was intimidating, and while I figure it taught me a lot, I am not sure if I am ready to apply the lessons yet! Although! I did make a very teeny owl.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you, Teresa. It really has been a pain, and I appreciate you for hearing me out, bearing with me. I always feel embarrassed, apologetic, for going on about it, but blogging is almost my only outlet, and putting the hard stuff to words gives me some relief... it's like a safety valve.

gretchenjoanna said...

I first saw this post when I was on my phone from which it is so hard to comment, so I am coming back late. I don't know what to say about your ordeal, except that I admire your perseverance and courage.

About that green color of thread, I also don't know what to say. It seems expressive of something serene and elegant. Indescribable. And lovely to see so close up! Keep on stitchin'!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

GretchenJoanna, thank you for coming back over and chatting with me. And thank you for seeing me in such a kind light. I suppose, after I have cried, wallowed, and felt terribly frustrated, then tried to sort my thoughts and feelings out, here, I manage to muster some resolve. I don't feel courageous... I feel stuck, and ashamed of how it gets to me, how it seeps into seemingly everything. But, when I write, when I can admit how I am challenged, or sad, or... it takes some of the weight and angst off of my shoulders, helps me step back from it, dissipate the intensity of it all. And I don't expect to get feedback or have the issues solved, so I think it's really considerate of people to share their empathy, express support, and I appreciate anything as simple as 'I see you.'
Now, let's talk about green thread! Having a box, or three, of flosses, all wound around little cards, is genuine treasure! I have had some of these since I was ten years old, living in Guatemala for a brief time... I could take my pocket money to the open air market and find the stall where they sold sewing notions, and each DMC skein was 10 cents! Corn tortillas were a penny a piece, and I would buy some of those, too! I can happily work in one color, but the real joy is in choosing the one color from many, many, many colors! It's such a wonderful thing to feel satisfied, and pleased with just the right shade of pale green, or forest green, or a bright spring green.

gretchenjoanna said...

Do you have a name, formal or nickname, for that particular green?

gretchenjoanna said...

I thought I would tell you about something that may just be a setting you could change: Every time I comment, I check the box that says "Email follow-up comments to ___ (my email address). But they never are emailed to me. It's been like this for at least the last year, I'm pretty sure.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

GretchenJoanna, I just saw that box about emailing follow-up comments, and I am sorry it isn't doing what it states. In fact there are a few things I wish Google/Blogger would address. I regularly go through all of my publishing settings, trying my best to simplify and update all of the options and tools, but I have long suspected that there is more than one dead-end in their system. It makes me all the more appreciative of the people that stick with me and this clunky blog of mine; I know even leaving comments in the first place is a challenge.
As soon as I leave my desk, I am going to see if that green has a DMC number. Something tells me it's one that I got second hand, and may not be labeled. In that case, we should name it.

Janece said...

I'm sorry that the external structures have let you down. Loveliest of Natalies, you deserve all the healing, peace, justice, wholeness, restitution, and personal power. I love you and you know I would bring it to you if I could. I'm sorry that it down to you, but if there is anyone I trust to bring what you deserve to you... at least where it concerns your heart, mind, and soul... it's you.

"My power will be moving forward and taking joy with me... if the joy is tangled in pain, tainted by hurts, scarred, fragile, imperfect, so be it. I will take my joy, and make more, and I will share it. I will sing aloud, figuratively, at least, and reclaim my freedom, again, and again, and again."

This is already your power and it will, day by day, only grow! Sending you all my love and deepest belief in who you are in this world.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Janece... I had to re-read this post, so I could be sure of what you were commenting on. It does make me glad I am writing, that I am at least trying to pin down thoughts, feelings, reactions, events. It's surprising how much comes into mind, then slips away. I am glad that I clarified my intentions, and it's good to revisit my goals, because I have been knocked down, again, a few times, since I wrote this. It is (almost) comical just how absurd and twisted all of this collision event has been, how many times Geoff and I have looked at each other, incredulously begging, "Seriously??" Even this morning, I had to bite my tongue to keep from screaming or gagging over something my attorney said... so dumb, so clueless, just "ugh."
I wrote strong words about power and joy... and, well, somedays those words feel emblazoned in me, like part of the fabric of my being, and somedays they feel like a distant finish line, or a battered flag, high atop a mountain I am trying to summit.
Thank you, Janece. Thank you.

Janece said...

We all get knocked down from our goals -- I feel like 3/4ths of the work of moving towards our goals is remembering and reinforcing our intentions.

I just wrote your strong words about power and joy into my journal - to remember and reinforce. <3