Friday, August 14, 2015


I had  a conversation with a friend the other night about my deep, dismal sadness and why it seem so overwhelmingly untouchable.  As I cried to him, I said " I don't have an identity" Then I said it again.  "I don't have an identity anymore."  My friend asked when the last time I had an identity was.  This is the story I told him:

I showed up in Bellingham, WA on August 8th, 1998.  I got there after ten days of travel.  It was ten days that should have been four.  I flew from Philadelphia to LAX.  There was a layover in Phoenix. When I got to LA, I  took a shuttle from LAX to my dad's home in Ventura.  Slept until 6:AM for the first time in eight weeks.  Walked to the corner, picked up 5 bacon, egg, cheese and potato burritos from Gutierrez Drive In on the Avenue. When Rosie saw me, she came outside the window.  She rarely did that.  She was very comfortable on the other side of the screen, taking orders and making the salsa.  But that morning, she came out.   I kissed her as she congratulated me for "growing up"and offered the burritos for free.  "Take these for the road," she said.  I smiled and left $20 dollars on the counter.  I heard her yelling at me as I crossed the Avenue and made my way up Warner Street.  "Angie!!! VEN AQUI!  COME BACK HERE!!!"  I just kept walking.  And I laughed as I felt her smile piercing my the back of my head.

Rosie was a part of my growing up.  She always knew when I was sad and would always make sure that there was more cheese and guacamole on my burritos.  She would wink at me, with a knowing grin, when I was happy, and give me extra salsa.  If she hadn't seen me in months, she would say "I have been asking David, pido tu padre, how you are.  He says you are OK,   Como estava, Mija?  You are OK?"  She had been feeding me since I was seven years old, so she always knew what was on my mind when  I showed up at her window.  I was on a schedule, but I had to stop and see her.  I wanted Rosie to see that I was OK.  I also had to get some breakfast burritos.    Got in the Karmann Ghia and made my way north.   

I keep thinking about how strange it is that the last time I really felt like I had an identity was the last time I walked away from Rosie.  I have spent years building community.  But I haven't built an identity.  The last time I had an identity, I was walking away with breakfast burritos.  

-Inner Peas

Saturday, August 8, 2015


I had a really long, really lonely week.  I've been in an overwhelmingly isolationist mindset.  I've been sad and scared and nauseous.  I've been in the place I go to when I don't have any other place to go.  It's what I do when I can't find hope or purpose.  It's the journey I make to the darkest recesses in my soul when I don't think that I deserve light.  It's a place that I hate being, but have a really hard time escaping.

I only left the house twice between Monday and Friday.  Tuesday I paid the rent.  It was horrible.  I had to go to the post office to buy stamps, too.  So, I did that first.  Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 is the best time to go to the post office.  There are very few people in the post office on Tuesday afternoon. Radley loves the post office.  It's beautifully adorned with marble columns outside and stone tiles on the inside.  He likes to cruise around and check out everything that is going on.  The old ladies who still use the post office as their primary means of communication love this kid.  LOVE HIM!

But for me, the post office means I have to stand in line next to other people who don't understand the concepts of personal space, patience and hygiene.  And, in addition to strangers in my space, I have to watch out for a child who is, relatively, well behaved, but still a child.  So, while people step on my feet and push their way into my space, I have to wonder if my child is doing that to someone else.  Anyway, the long and short of it is that the post office is never a very relaxing experience for me.  And after that, I still had to go pay my rent.  Also an anxiety inducing evolution for me.

So, we left the post office.  Paid the rent.  My landlord said "You don't look good."  Well, thank you. It's because I got laid off, and you keep raising the rent and I don't have a dishwasher.  That's what I thought, not what I said.  What I said was "I'm so sorry I didn't make it in yesterday, I've been so sick the last few days.  Oh, and Happy Anniversary!"  Please like me  because I'm trying really hard to be a good tenant!  And I really like having a home!  "Thank you."

That same day I also had to return the movies to Redbox and since I was already at Lucky, I decided I should put some food in the fridge.  After milk, grapes and cereal, I was pretty much at the end of my tolerance for the real world.  So, I went back home and closed the doors and the curtains and prayed for solace.  I prayed so hard I must have sounded like a beggar on the universe's deaf ears.  After I dropped Radley off for his play date, I screamed into my hands, hoping my fingers would hold the tears inside my eyes.

After that really humbling experience with my reality and the universe, I didn't get off the couch except to make dinner and then breakfast the next morning until 6:PM on Wednesday night.  Jess texted me and asked if I needed anything.  I told her I was hungry but couldn't eat.  She came over.  Instead of going to get something, I said "Let's get delivery."  Instead of calling the Chinese restaurant, I downloaded an app on my phone and spent 30 minutes setting it up and ordering  lemon chicken, broccoli beef and egg rolls.  Just so I didn't have to talk to anyone.  Then I said "Oh, I need a diet coke."  So we walked to the market across the street.

I tried really hard to eat.  I tried really hard to make conversation with my best friend.  Nothing worked.  I still felt sick.  I still couldn't make words come.  I was a fucking mess.  I gave my son a bath and put him to bed and took Xanex.  I laid there in silence, begging the world to quiet itself.  But it just wouldn't.  The noise in my head would not shut the fuck up.  At that point, I had no other option but to get up and make a list of things that needed to get done the next day.  I made a promise to myself that I would do the dishes, make the beds, and shave my legs.

I did all three.  It was a huge accomplishment.  I felt tremendously gratified as I crossed all three of those tasks off my list.  I even made a joke about it on social media.  It seemed like a joke, but it was actually a big fucking deal.  Then, I got a little too excited and did more laundry and the fucking washer broke.  It broke.

It.  Fucking.  Broke.  

Really, washing machine?  I needed one fucking victory, and you break?  Noted.

But what happened while I was trying to solve the broken washing machine conundrum was amazing.  I got offers of assistance.  I got direction on how to deal with the situation.  I got shamed into trying to fix it myself.  I got calls from my best friends, who have their own crises to contend with.  

So, while this has been the loneliest week of my life, I am reminded that I am not alone.  That, in itself, is humbling.

-Inner Peas

Friday, July 31, 2015

Crusaders and Champions

I had a conversation with my little brother this morning about saving the world.  Anyone who knows me.  Or knows Conrad.  Or has read my blog.  Or has pretended to read my blog in order to demonstrate false interest in my egocentric expressions of thoughtful commentary knows that my baby brother is one of the most remarkable men I know.  He is the kind of man whose character I want my son to emulate.  He is the kind of human being I aspire to be.  He is the reason, without question, that I will be an eternal spinster.  First, because no man will ever treat me the way Conrad thinks I should be treated.  And second, because even if a man could find a way to treat me like gold, he would most certainly have a character flaw that my little angel brother would see as a glaring red flag.

If I brought home a man who was the CEO of a fortune 500 company who committed the entirety of his annual earnings to feeding starving children and employing homeless veterans, Conrad would say "Sorry.  Sis.  He obviously has some heinous demons that he's harboring.  And he's giving all that money away.  He'll never be able to give you the lifestyle you deserve."  If I introduced him to a member of Seal Team 6 and said "Little Brother.  I want to introduce you to the man who killed the world's most criminal terrorist!"  My brother would look at me and say "Oh you brought home a hero. I'm glad I got to meet him, but there's a lot of expectation that comes with being the most respected man on the planet.  He won't have enough time to pay you the attention you deserve."   I could put him on a space shuttle and send him to the space station to meet my new boyfriend, who is monitoring the Earth's counterpart deep in another universe, and Conrad would come back and say "Sister.  He's in space.  You don't think that's a little weird?  It's not like he was the first guy to see the heart on Pluto or anything."

And every time something like this happens, I just look at my little brother and sigh and think "I am NEVER getting laid again."  Ever.

But the point isn't that Conrad is obscenely overprotective of me.  He might be.  I know how lucky I am to have someone who loves me so much that he thinks the universe has not yet produced a man worthy of my love.  It's not about his protection of me though.  It's about his crusade.  It's not just because I'm his sister that he protects me.  It's because my little brother is on a crusade; a crusade to protect everything that is precious and vulnerable and persecuted.  I can never fault him for that.  In fact, I love him more than anything because of that.

When I was his age, saving the world was my crusade, too.  I was going to educate the masses about unity and equality.  My college classmates called me a communist.  I wanted to fight big business and corporate sponsorship in government.  My family called me an anarchist.  I spoke out in defense of marginalized demographics, a wistful hippie.  No matter where I turned, no matter what I defended, I became an outcast.  To see my little brother, with all his hopes and ideals, facing an even more impossible truth than I did breaks my heart.

So, today, during our weekly diatribe about how to save the world, I finally told him that the world can't be saved, but we can clean up the piece that's most precious to us.  It occurred to me, that somewhere between where Conrad is now and where I am now, I found a few things to crusade for.  Instead of trying a way to fix it all, I now advocate for mental health awareness and empowering women through unity. I still find myself frustrated and cornered, at times.  But because I don't champion 237 causes anymore, I can regroup from setbacks.

That was my message to my little brother today:  Don't cloud your vision with everyone else's vision; don't be dissuaded by somebody who is fighting a different battle.  There is so much injustice, so much inequality, so much disdain.  So much stupidity out there...Don't fight agaist that.  Fight where you can make a difference.  Don't get mad at the Lion hunting dentist.  Don't get mad at the guy who spits on the homeless guy at the intersection of Washington and McDowell.  Don't get mad at the guy who yells at you because he can't see the difference between you and his father.  We all have our battles to wage.  We can't take on all of them.

On the same note, we cant get mad at people who don't champion for the same battles we fight. Again, my fights are mental health awareness and unifying women.  Those are my battles. And those two things are really fucking hard to fight for.  I can't fight for all of it.  And I can fight for the people I love.   I don't have as much fight in me as my little brother has.  But fight for something.

-Inner Peas

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Island Time

If the last 12 days of my life were navigable waters, the track line I've  been plotting on is a 180, relative, from where I stared on the 30th of June.  12 days ago I was using Polaris, steady and reliable, as my celestial beacon.  Today, I look more to the Southern Cross, drifting slowly and sinking lower through the latitudes, for my direction.  On the last day of June, I woke, with trepidation, to the sound of my alarm at 5:10.  This morning I woke to the roosters singing and the sun rising.  12 days ago, I operated by corporate America's time clock, now I function on island time.  It's extraordinary what 12 days can do when removed from the corporately conditioned psyche.

When I found out that I was losing my job in March, the anxiety became unmanageable.  I was throwing up every morning before work.  Sometimes at work.  I became overcome with panic every time I tried to pursue new career opportunities.  Looking to the future for a new path evoked so much fear that I was barely functional.  For some reason, the idea of leaving an existence of uniformity, compliance and symmetry cast light on the demons of my past.  The demons that I have been engaged in a dysfunctional affair with for the last 20 years.  Looking ahead also brought more demons with it.  Those I have been fabricating for nearly as many years.  And that has been the last four months of my life.  That has been where I found comfort:  in pain and fear.

But today, only 12 days after I left, I sit surrounded by nothing that has previously occupied the inside of my comfort zone.  No blue suits..  No name tapes.  No cutterman pins or collar devices.  No titles.  Almost every face I see and personality I meet comes with a story I know nothing about.  Nobody here is a number in my inbox or an appointment time.  Nobody gets thanked for being on time or reprimanded for being late.  My phone hasn't rang one time with demands for more comprehensive services.  I haven't received any requests or complaints, aside from the quality of a peanut butter and honey sandwich, that need to be rectified IMMEDIATELY.  Here, I don't see the hostile, entitled faces.  Here I only see the faces of people with their own demons who fight them in different ways.  They fight their battles on a different clock; on an island clock.

Two nights ago, I was going to have dinner with a girlfriend.  I asked her "what time should we be over?"  She replied "At dinner time."  That was it.  So we went over at dinnah time.  The next morning, I texted an old friend to let him know we were on the North Shore.  I typed "I know its the weekend and weekends are tough, but I'm here if you have time."  His response:  "Angela.  You forget.  Nothing is tough on Kauai."

All I could think about after that was "Huh."  On the mainland, you have to coordinate by way of 18 different calendars just to find the time for a cup of coffee.  By yourself.  If you want to do that with other people, there needs to be a date set in your Outlook calendar, a calendar request sent to the participating parties, a follow up email stating the purpose for coffee at an hour different than 0650 when you leave your house.  Then, just to make sure there is no confusion about the time and purpose of the coffee meet, there should probably be two instant messages, a text and a Facebook check in that states where you are, what you are doing and who you are doing it with.  I'll use an example from the recent past...Facebook reads "Angela Padgett is at Two Rock Coffee Co. with Shaun Darrall."  Then it displays a little map of where we are at.  Then I get to say something clever like "Finally having coffee and talking shit!"  And don't forget the sassy little smiley face at the end.  Because this is really exciting!!!

In reality though, we have spent the last three years working 500 yards away from each other.  So, did it really require that much planning and fanfare?

Meanwhile, back on the island, people who are new to your life tell you to come ovah when you want.  Friends you haven't seen in 20 years make time for you without calendar invites.  Things happen when they happen and there is no vomiting. Or guilt.  Or fear of retribution for NOT being on time.  Or drinking coffee with a friend.

I only have four days left on this island or rogues, pioneers, misfits and eccentrics.  When I get back to the mainland, I will, again, be plagued by the pressures and expectations that accompany a "normative" lifestyle.  I'll deal with that when I get back.  But the longer I stay here, the more this way of life makes sense.

So, until then, I'm on island time.

-Inner Peas

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Empathy is the ability to connect others on a very emotional and spiritual level.  It seems simple.  It seems very human.  It seems, on many levels, to be very logical.  As human beings, we are all connected, so it makes perfect sense that we should be able to relate to those around us.  We are all sharing the human experience, after all.  But some people do not possess the capabilities to relate with others; some just can't  resonate with other people's experiences.  So while we all possess the ability to empathize, not all of us can identify ourselves as being Empaths.

Being an Empath is much harder to define than, say, being a lawyer or a doctor or even a Sagittarius. Empaths don't need to touch or hear or even talk to feel what the people around them are experiencing.  It might be spiritual, or theological or maybe it's just cognitive.  But Empaths do more than just exhibit empathy.  They can't help but feel the energy around them.  They just do.

I started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago after I lost a dear friend, also an Empath, to the resounding noise in his own mind.  While we were all rallying  together to grieve the loss of our brother, I heard many of my loved ones say things like "I guess we will never understand what happened."  Those words were blood curdling and bone shattering and heart wrenching and every other reaction your body has when you know that something just isn't right.  Still, the only response I had to those comments was "I know what happened."  But I had no way to explain that to those who would never understand.

I was at a loss.  But shortly after I posted "My Brother's Keeper" to the blog, I got a text message from a dear friend, who in ordinary interactions, would never admit his own ability to feel the reverberate echos of what others feel.  That's just too much hippie shit for him.  But, make no mistake, he has it.  Not just empathy, but he is an Empath.  Don't tell him I said that. He'll get mad.   Anyway, after the "My Brother's Keeper" post, I got this text message that read:  "One of your greatest strengths is the ability you have to connect to a person's soul.  You search for a reason to connect instead of a reason not to connect.  This beautiful ability also creates havoc on the connection between your heart and mind."

I generally like to just blame the voices in my head and the energy in my soul to my mental well being on any given day.  But something about that text message resonated with me:  It's my ability, be it voluntary or otherwise, to connect with others that makes all of my interactions so emotional. Being able to see others for what they really are, not who they want to be seen for, is a pretty lofty task.  By no means am I implying that I see everything or know everything or, even, feel everything.  But I absorb the energy that others project.  Some people can control what they take in.  I haven't learned that skill so far.  Because I don't have the ability to prevent over-saturation, I'm more susceptible to love, attachment, and emotion.

On a late balmy July evening, about five years ago now, one of the women closet to me in the entire universe, my soul sister in fact, asked me:  "Angela.  Why do you love so haphazardly?  Why do you always love with more than you have when you know that most people don't have the capacity to love you back?"  For years, I tried to justify that question.  Not just to my soul sister, but to the many people who have had the courage to ask it after she did.  I have revisited that question out loud, and in my own mind, at least a thousand times.  I have wanted to be able to answer that question, not only to the people who posed it, but also for myself.  I haven't ever been able to.  I just like to chalk it up to my own crazy that I have never been able to come to terms with.

But that text message from two Saturday's ago now, explained it all.  I'm an Empath.  I love others because of their energy.  I love them because of their laughter.  I love them because of their pain.  I love them because I can feel what they feel.  It may wreak havoc between my heart and my mind, but I love people who need to be loved the most.  Even when they don't need me to love them anymore.

-Inner Peas

Friday, June 26, 2015

Beautiful World

When I was in college, my best girlfriend and I were very idealistc.  We would sit on my balcony in Fairfax and drink wine.  We would talk about hope and equality, as privilaged young white womenn like to do in the midst of their educational prime.  We would read Mark Morford columns and watch movies like Hotel Rawanda and be horrified by the injustice and inequity in the world.  For that matter, we were horrified at the disparity and discrimination that happened to our neighbors based on status, race, and orientation.

One night, in druken protest, we  picked up a bottle of the finest vintage the 7-11 had to offer and drove to the city.  Backpacks brimming with $3 wine, red solo cups and big bites and jalepeno cream cheese taquitos, We set up shop on the stairs of the Peace Monument, directly adjacent to the east face of the capitol building.  Karen and I sat there for many hours, and many nights after that, looking at the rotunda that symbolized the institution we believed in and the establishment we believed we could change.  It may have been the wine.  It may have been the taquitos.  It may have been the fact that we didn't get arrested for drinking wine out of plastic cups, within feet, of this country's hall of legislation.  But those nights on the steps of the Capitol, Karen and I were certain that we were going to change the world; that we were going to make it a more beautiful place.  To this day, I have no idea how we didn't ever get arrested.  Maybe because we were saving the world and even the secret service can't interfere with that.  

Anyway, Karen and I aren't friends anymore.  Too many drugs.  Too much alcohol.  Too many idealistic thoughts that didn't pay the bills.  But when I think about those nights at the Peace Monument, I always think about how we both wanted to perpetuate a community where Love prevailed and hate wasn't an issue.

Naturally, I think of Karen today.  Not just because I think of two privileged white girls breaking all the rules of national security, drinking wine, looking west at the Capitol building.  I think of Karen because we were supposed to be celebrating these victories together.  Not that they were ours to celebrate.  But we were supposed to be sitting on the marble steps of the Peace Monument...Giving a big middle finger to the assholes we elected.   We were supposed to be sitting there saying "Told you so.  Look!  It's our people who made this a more beautiful world."


To be continued...

Sunday, June 14, 2015


I left Kodiak five years ago today.  Alaska fundamentally changed my being.  Largely, because my son was born that first winter there.  Of course, becoming a parent for the first time changes us all.  But it also changed me because that's where I learned the value of community.  It's where many of the friendships I cherish the most were forged.  Alaska also gave me an understanding of how light and darkness are both equally powerful forces; forces that should be respected and should be regarded for their control and influence.

The end of my time in Kodiak was dark.  Even though it was summer and there was nearly 20 hours of light in every day, it was dismal.  I had finally found my place in a community and I was beginning to understand my role as a mother, friend, advocate.  But I was leaving this place that I had a purpose in.  My marriage was deteriorating very quickly.  I had spent six months being told that I had failed as a wife, which is possible.  I had spent six month trying to be as far away from that conversation as I could get.  I got tired of being told I was going to be left.  It was an infuriating discussion that was on repeat and I couldn't turn down the volume.

So, as so often happens when life is beyond reason, I was drinking a lot.  I was going to seedy bars and talking too much and too loudly.  My marriage segued from emotionally destructive to physically disastrous.  While I had been the victim of the initial emotional threats, I became the physical aggressor.  I was the perpetrator.  I came home from bars drunk, looking for fights.  And I always got what I wanted because the fights ensued.  And not the kind of fights you can take back.  The kind of fights that resulted in being physically restrained in hotel hallways.  It was a dark time.  It was a period that looking at myself in the mirror made me nauseous.  It was a time I didn't ever think I would get out of.  And I had no idea what was coming next.

I had agreed to come back to California to be a family. At the very least, I agreed to come back to be closer to my people. But the uglier things got, the uglier I became, I didn't know if I could maintain the lifestyle.  So, instead of coming here, I went to Texas instead.  I got on a plane with my son and flew to Houston and I didn't know how long I was going to be there.  Or if I would ever leave.  My marriage had turned into a nightmare.  The kind of nightmare that you wake up from, in the middle of the night, scared to go back to sleep because you know it's just going to pick up right where it left off.  I didn't think I could do it.  In fact, I knew I couldn't do it anymore. My life was a fucking cataclysmic tsunami.  I couldn't exist like that anymore.

That was five years ago now.  I was convinced that I was at my absolute worst then.  In hindsight, I can tell you, with all honestly, that was the ugliest I have ever been.  But that was NOT, by far, my absolute worst.  The last five years have brought much more detriment than that June five years ago. And right now, I am absolutely in another one of those really difficult places  I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had never decided to come back from Texas.  I wonder if I could have saved us all more so much uncertainty and heartache.  A lot of tragedy came with me when I flew back to California When I revisit my decision to come here, I wonder about it as if I could rewrite history, as if I could go back and make things different.

But then I think about all of the other shit that has happened over the last five years.  The love.  The friendships.  The people who have enhanced my life whether I wanted them to or not.  The people who have relieved me of my prejudices.  Those who have let me hold them when they were at their most frail.  The people who have insisted that they hold me when I was convinced I was broken.  The beginnings.  The endings.  The reunions.  The human experience that only comes with living life on life's terms.  All the life that has to be lived before you can honestly understand its value.  That's when I see that the hard times that have come and gone aren't the story.  I can't rewrite the stories.

I'm starting to see these two Junes, five years apart, as bookends.  The bookends hold the stories in place so they don't fall down.  Bookends are decorative and dramatic.  And really heavy.  They have to be to keep it all in order.  They scream "LOOK AT ME!  I'm holding all of this together."  But the bookends aren't the actual story.   They aren't the details.  They aren't what's important.

-Inner Peas