amsterdam confessions

confession: i spent last week in amsterdam without enough sleep and not due to drugs, alcohol, or prostitutes but because sometimes sleep leaves me behind which doesn’t mean i’m not tired but when the days and nights of awakeness sleeplessly blend together, the sleeplessness becomes an altered state and i feel like i’m low-grade hallucinating through continuous hours. i overhear people’s conversations on the street and my mind mishears their words, transmuting their mundane chit-chat into extraordinary science fiction tales.

confession: every time i’m in europe i’m reminded that the most challenging aspect of european travel is finding a public restroom (or having the exact change to pay for its use).

confession: i didn’t buy enough postcards. i thought 20 would be enough. i send snail mail to more people than i realized. also, sleep deprivation inspired me to send the poetess two of the same postcard, written twelve hours apart.

confession: dutch sounds like german wearing a taller person’s costume.

confession: according to an icelandic airline’s in-flight magazine, dutch people are the tallest people in the world–women average 5’8” and men average 6’1”. i encountered several women over 6’ and several men over 7’. the tallest dude i passed on the street was taller than me even while he bent over to scratch his knee.

confession: i wrote very little this week in amsterdam. i worked even less. i walked much. i visited galleries, museums, and churches to fill my senses with art. i spent hours in libraries gathering information about the community’s ethos and saying hello to my book friends patiently waiting on shelves. i ate delicious cheese and bread and cannabis-infused baked goods. i experienced every moment of aliveness. i absorbed the energizing intensity of rain, wind, and windmills. i bought flowers. i drank coffee. i sucked in the second-hand smoke of every grungy 20-something toking on the streets to activate a contact high. i lived a good week.

confession: i flirted with the working girls standing in their cubicle windows in the red light district, especially with the ones who looked bored or in need of cheering up from their 20-minute sessions with british businessmen.

confession: i’m home again. i still haven’t slept but i’ve written and worked between flashbacks from amsterdam. in the first half-hour after my return i remembered that one of the best part of traveling is coming home.

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confessions while high on candy corn

confession: when you ask for my input, advice, or suggestion regarding your situation, please keep in mind that i’m answering from my accumulated experience that has contributed to my me-specific filter. meaning, i don’t expect you to do what i’d do. i’m sharing what i’d do because you asked. sometimes i share what i’d do when you don’t ask, but i try not to…i prefer to participate by listening and creating space for you to talk your way around to your own answers, solutions, and conclusions. i confess this topic because i’ve heard others complain that people ask for advice and then don’t take it. i’d rather not give advice, but when you ask and i respond, please know that i don’t have any attachment to you doing what i’d do if i were in your situation, because i am not you. you are you. you’ve got you. you know best what is best for you. and if you don’t know what is best for you, that’s okay. it’s okay not to know. it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. it’s okay to keep fucking up in the same ways or in new ways and defer learning until you’re ready to learn, too.

confession: i may have fucked up yesterday. the necessary feedback to evaluate whether i fucked up or not may never become available to me. it’s okay to fuck up. it’s extra okay to fuck up when executed as a sincere open-hearted experiment.

confession: i wish we’d all be more forthcoming about our fuck ups so that we could learn from each other’s fuck ups without having to make all of them ourselves.

confession: i most regret the fuck ups that hurt others when i didn’t mean to but i wasn’t thinking of them and unintentional self-centrism is wholly selfish even though unintended.

confession: what if i’m a narcissist and don’t know it? she wonders this question about herself, too. she’s not. i assure her that she’s not, but what if i am? i don’t ask this question outloud to her (although i’ve asked it to him) and i hope that if i’m concerned with whether or not i’m a narcissist then i’m probably not because narcissists aren’t inclined to self-reflect or concern themselves with whether they make everything about them.

confession: confessional blog postings feel narcissistic.

confession: i don’t worry about much anymore (if you ignore the question from two confessions above that contradicts this confession). i used to worry more. the mellowing of middle age slides me into easy surrender. thanks, 40’s decade.

confession: i sent her a package yesterday that’ll arrive tomorrow or the next day because tomorrow and the next day are anniversaries that gut her every year. as someone who experiences anniversary syndrome, i relate to that pain. anniversary pain is intensely personal and private. nobody can help alleviate that pain. what i can do is send love in the form of a care package filled with a collection of gifts i gathered to symbolize my love and heart-holding for her. i can breathe with her. i can text, email, and call her. i can sit in the pain with her. please, when you have the opportunity, breathe with someone in pain. be willing to actively love someone by being present for the pain. don’t try to take away the pain that isn’t yours to take. please don’t ask them to hide or suppress their pain for your benefit because you feel uncomfortable with pain. please learn to feel your own pain so that other people’s pain is something your heart is large enough to hold.

confession: i tried collecting red, orange, and yellow leaves to send to you because i live somewhere that displays autumn exceptionally well but some leaves dried and crumpled and the cat chewed on the others. nature looks more majestic in nature than on the kitchen counter, unless you’re a cat.

confession: eight days post-halloween, i am the person who buys cough syrup, pain relievers, sugar-free fudge pops, bananas, and the last bag of clearance candy corn from the grocery store at 10pm. candy corn gets me higher than crack. not kidding. i’ve done crack. candy corn is better (or worse, depending on your predilection for addiction).

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the meeting

confession: the ex-wife texted 26 hours in advance to cancel our scheduled meeting and asked for understanding. i immediately responded to her text with understanding and then texted my fellow tree-hugging friend to see if she was available to meet during my newly opened calendar space the next night. she texted yes.

confession: i felt relieved to be sitting across from my tree-hugging friend instead of my ex-wife the next night.

confession: if you aren’t a tree hugger, try it. if you don’t have a tree-hugging friend, i recommend you get one. while hugging a tree with your heart pressed against the tree’s trunk (or its limb if you’ve climbed high), a tree hugs back with the stability of its roots deep underground, the strength of its core that grows another ring of sturdy thickness each year, and the grace of its leaves that converse with the wisdom of wind, sun, rain, moon, and the entire sky. a tree-hugging friend knows how to hug a person the way a tree hugs a person. the night i was scheduled to meet my ex-wife and was instead hugged by my tree-hugging friend filled my heart with more strength, grace, and courage.

confession: the day after the canceled meeting with my ex-wife i reread the text message she had sent to cancel. she hadn’t written “cancel.” she had texted “postpone.” expecting one of us to cancel, my cognition had read “postpone” as “cancel.” since she asked for a postponement, i texted an offer to reschedule for the following monday evening. she agreed.

confession: on monday evening i arrived to our meeting spot early to sit in my parked rental car to write, cry, and breathe. not recognizing the rental car, my ex-wife also arrived early and parked directly in front of me.

confession: she drives a minivan now. she loves her minivan because when either of her boys opens the van’s door, the door slides sideways against the van to open without banging into other cars—which is a legitimate concern with kinetic young boys and car doors.

confession: we hugged hello. we both held onto each other for a longer-than-hug moment, trying to find ourselves and each other and where we are now relative to the past. while hugging we both opened our hearts halfway. we kept the other half closed, protected, the illusion of half-safe from the potential of more hurt and pain from the other.

confession: we look like we always have except more tired with more lines across our faces, especially around our eyes. except i have short hair and larger tattoos and these details surprised her. plus, i have a different name. she was entirely familiar to me. everything she said, every gesture, every breath and pause and smile and hesitation were familiar to me. she presents the same. i do not. my gestures and breathing patterns and pauses and hesitations are calmer, slower, fuller. she noticed these differences and they were disorienting for her. i watched her spend two hours trying to learn who i am now.

confession: the day before i saw her i understood why i had to wait six years before i spoke to her. i waited until i could trust myself to be present with her without speaking the hurtful things i avoided saying by leaving when we abruptly split. i never wanted to communicate those thoughts and feelings because they would hurt her in ways neither of us could undo. i didn’t understand how much my leaving her would hurt us both. i still don’t because the pain exceeds comprehension of multi-directional consequences.

confession: i don’t know if i’ll see her again. i don’t know if she’ll want to see me in the future. we made no follow-up plans. i don’t know if either of us will want anything with one another at any point from here. maybe we can be complete within our incompletions and failings and absences.

confession: we fumbled and stalled saying goodbye. we hugged three times (with our hearts only halfway open) while lingering and finally backing away from each other. once we were standing at our own cars she asked if she could do something “bizarre.” excitement pumped into my chest because bizarre intrigues me. we walked toward one another, she reached out her hands to take mine, we stood looking into each other’s eyes. after a  few suspense-building moments, she said, “hi, angel.” i said “hi,” waiting for the bizarre. that was it. nothing bizarre for me in her calling me by my name, but it was bizarre for her because she had never called me by that name. an hour later i realized that angel was never married to her. the me i inhabited inside that other name was married to her. renaming myself set me free.

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confessions of an impending rendezvous

confession:  i usually delete the first confession i write to you. i can’t tell if the deleted first confessions are the most confession-est of confessions, the darkest or thickest or truest…or the least of these. i’ve considered collecting the deleted first confessions and posting them as a set at the end of every season, but i’d delete the lot of them again, so i’ll save us the second draft censorship.

confession: i tell you everything except for everything i keep to myself.

confession: all writing is a confession. every poem, story, song, and book ever written is a confession if read as such (metaphorically not literally). every body’s health, wellness,  or illnesses  are confessions if interpreted astutely–some are genetic confessions, some are lifestyle confessions. every choice we make reflects who we think we are and what we believe we deserve…but inside and underneath (not on the surface where most people look). go deeper. take the long view. use your psychic superpower vision.

confession: when you lose your burner phone with all your contacts, i recommend one memorize the area codes of phone calls from people whose calls you’d normally screen. i almost accidentally picked up a call from my mother but the area code looked suspiciously avoidable.

confession: my mother knows i never answer her calls. she also knows that when circumstances dictate the necessity, i will email a response to her voicemails.

confession: i’m probably* meeting my ex-wife for non-alcoholic drinks on thursday evening at 8pm. probably* includes the possibility that either of us might last-minute cancel, which is possible, likely, and understandable since we haven’t seen each other in six years and have a life-altering ending’s worth of unaddressed messy feelings we’ve never shared or discussed.

confession: the only reason i agreed to meet my wife is that my liver leveraged me with accelerated healing if i see her. also, my mind contributes the realistic (but hopefully unlikely) potential that this current illness might be pancreatic cancer and i might not have more time to put off clearing what i created when i left her.

confession: my uncle told me a riddle on sunday that may have been intentional or contextually oblivious. (both are feasible for my favorite uncle.) here goes…
what is the difference between a vacuum and a harley?
location of the dirtbag.
context (whether intentional or oblivious)—my father rode harleys.

confession: i’m not good at remembering or retelling jokes, but i won’t forget that one.

confession: the first confession i wrote and deleted today was about cutting and bleeding as an indication of self-punishing stressing. i confessed that if one were sleuthing to deduce my stress level, one would tally the scabbing cuticles on my fingers and toes. i’m sporting several bandaids. i’ll keep my hands folded in my lap if i sit across from my ex-wife on thursday night. when she and i were together, i bit my nails. i stopped biting my nails when i left her and graduated to ripping my cuticles til they bleed.

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confessions of vengeance

confession: in meditation this morning, i asked my body-heart-mind for patterns ready to be released. i asked any pattern available for release to reveal itself. vengeance stepped forward.

confession: i internally flinched at vengeance’s bold claim. i’m aware of the occasional vengeful fantasy that i enjoy indulging as fantasies because i never intend to act on them. i was unaware of actual vengeance i have a pattern of undertaking.

confession: i asked vengeance to show me its pattern in my life. vengeance immediately presented a  habitual withdrawal from people who have hurt me.

confession: i was quick to defend my pattern of withdrawal as self-care and pragmatic self-protection. vengeance showed me my mother. i defended again. vengeance said, “your mother can’t hurt you anymore. you’re punishing your mother for not protecting you as a child. you aren’t a child anymore. you don’t need protecting. p.s. dad is dead.”

confession: vengeance then disclosed a twenty-five-years-long list of people from whom i’ve withdrawn my physical presence and loving actions as payback for hurting me or behaving in ways counter to my needs or desires. usually i withdrew without communicating or explaining my hurt, needs, or desires.

confession: i don’t want to confess this pattern of vengeance to you because it exposes the ugly mean streak i have hidden even from myself.

confession: but…

confession: the only reason i’m admitting my pattern of vengeance to you is that i’m affirming my active release of vengeful withdrawing.

confession: to all those from whom i’ve withdrawn in my adult life without risking the vulnerability of explaining my hurt, wants, or needs, i’m sorry.

confession: i still don’t want to relate with my mother. maybe i don’t have to if i find a clear-hearted way to avoid her without an undercurrent of wishing to punish her by my absence. or maybe i’m rationalizing what i don’t want to do.

confession: according to traditional chinese medicine, ayurvedic medicine, and western metaphysical systems of healing, liver is the seat of anger. my liver is the source of my current ill health and physical discomfort. my liver is the origin of my mystery illness. my liver and i converse several times a day, mostly me asking my liver questions and waiting for my liver to answer. my liver has instructed me to release my pattern of vengeful withdrawing from people i love. i hear ya, liver. i trust my liver’s guidance. i’m on team liver healing myself to wholeness, oneness, and enlightenment.

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confessions for you, dude

confession: i’ve spent hours in waiting rooms at doctors’ offices and labs in the past few weeks. i write waiting poems in waiting rooms. i write character sketch poems of others sharing the wait and the room with me. i write love poems to you that i’ll never send out for publication.

confession part two from above: i don’t send any poems out for publication. not yet, anyway. not since i won a contest fifteen years ago.

confession: i have other writer friends, published writer friends, poet friends, published poet friends, a couple externally validated successful published writer friends. they’re all motivated to publish (or send their work out for publication) for different individual-specific reasons. i’m not motivated to publish. i’m only in the baby-bird-chirping-weeks-away-from-flying motivation stage to edit my work. but the editing impulse might grow feathers on wings that belong to a hawk. the publishing impulse to glide high and dive into the world might follow. y’all will be the first to know.

confession: those who have known me a long time know the dark hole that is my birthday. my birthday is an abuse anniversary and decades of therapy have yet to clear the ugh-ness around that day. wizard’s birthday is the day before mine and often the best day of our year. last june i requested of him that we skip our birthdays this year. the weekend before our birthdays i was hospitalized in austin and he was in bed with a feverish flu in philadelphia. the upside of that arrangement was that my compromised immune system would have been a dangerous combination with his flu. this past weekend (during our actual birthdays) we prioritized napping over celebrating. now that our birthdays are days past, we’ve revised our plans this year as a postponed celebration this coming weekend with a family trip (including papi) to see the fall colors in the poconos mountains. austin has beautiful spring. philadelphia has gorgeous autumn. i honor the seasons in both of my homes. (p.s. philadelphia has given me a new respect for the upcoming winter.)

confession: dude, big-time-no-brainer-but-i-had-forgotten first aid tipàuse antibiotic ointment and a bandage on all open sores to cut healing time in half. (this tip will be obvious to some.  i’m not talking to the ones who already ointment and bandage their wounds; i’m talking to the rest of y’all.)

confession: conversation overhead in my house…
“you call your wife ‘dude’?”
“yeah, what else would i call her?”

confession: i used to call my wife “dude.”

confession: to all the people who know and use “dude” as a gender neutral term, i thank you.

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confessions of scary diagnoses

confession: last weekend i planned to attend a women’s retreat at my friend’s ranch. as i packed my bag on friday evening, my body refused to let me walk out the front door. within a couple hours, the whites of my eyes and my skin had turned yellow. jaundice had settled all over and inside me. saturday morning progressed from a visit to the urgent care clinic that directed me to the emergency room that admitted me to the hospital for a restless stay filled with tests and scans to identify the cause of my jaundice. after days of tests and scans, some of the scariest causes were eliminated but no answer was found. i was released to fly back to philadelphia and follow-up with my doctors here. it ain’t no fun being a medical mystery, y’all.

confession: while contemplating all the possible causes for jaundice, the always helpful internet lists the scariest and most deadly. my coping strategy for stress is to imagine the worst case scenario and figure out how to deal with it. the worst case scenario cause of jaundice is pancreatic cancer which has a 75% mortality rate within the first year of diagnosis. okay, i thought to myself, what if i have pancreatic cancer and less than a year to live? the only way i know how to assess my readiness to die is to evaluate my life lived to this point. i reviewed my life backward from the moment before last to my birth. in the past year, i would repeat every choice made. overall, i’m living exactly the life i desire which has little to do with the external and environmental aspects of my daily life and much to do with my choice to perceive every moment as an opportunity for growth, kindness, and compassion. my heart eased when i realized that i’m living my life well and therefore i can peacefully accept if my death comes decades sooner than anticipated.

confession: i probably don’t have pancreatic cancer. i probably won’t die in the next year and if i do, my death will likely result from a car accident or some other random accident or act of violence the same as anyone’s might. but if i die for any reason, i’m grateful to know that i’m living in accordance with my own values, vision, and singular goal of enlightenment.

confession: if i got a year-to-live diagnosis, i would grieve for the loss of more time. but i know that no matter how much time we have, we always want more time. i’m determined to use whatever time i have as wisely as i can. please don’t waste your time. please don’t waste your time on grudge-holding or resentment or jealousy or insecurity or worry. none of that shit helps you feel better, kiddo. i think we all strive to feel better, be better, do better. decide to love more, accept yourself more, accept others as they are, and go make more love. have more fun doing everything and do more of the things that are most fun for you. please live today in a way that is worth exchanging a day of your life for. all of our days are numbered. please make your days matter in ways that fill your heart. i am.


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