confessions with the flu

confession: this week i got the flu. the scary kind of flu that kills old people and children. okay, technically that’s every kind of flu and i don’t know if anyone has died yet from this strain of flu that i have, but i felt like i was gonna die when i woke up moaning in a cold sweat with high fever and body aches two nights ago. i was close enough to dying that wizard (who stayed up with me all night trying to make me more comfortable) started thinking about the choices he might make for his life after i die. (he only told me he thought i might die last night after we were both sure i’d survive.)

confession: i got braces for my early birthday present this year. braces cost 300 times more than a new pair of boots, which is my usual gift to myself. there’s significantly more spit involved with braces than boots. more pain, too. my mantra to help me deal with the pain is “this process brings me the results i want” and while repeating my mantra, i’m reinforcing delayed gratification. i’m hoping for increasing enlightenment via invisalign.

confession: autumn has already arrived in philadelphia even though the season doesn’t officially begin until friday afternoon. yellow and red leaves decorate the ground. wind-shook acorns pelt me in the head while i hike the trails in my backyard. i’m considering wearing my snowboarding helmet as acorn protection while hiking for the duration of the season.

confession:  i finally got my first haircut in philadelphia rather than waiting until i return to austin. after calling several salons, i found my stylist. she’s from memphis. figures. i need a southern gal to cut these frizzy waves correctly.

confession: all the things i meant to do this week were put on hold due to the flu…except reading a fantastic book i received in the mail from s. if you’re looking for a book recommendation, here’s mine this week—You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie. when a native american poet writes a memoir after his mom dies and the poet has brain surgery, the reader receives all the gifts. (side note, i read Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven twenty years ago and i recommend it as well.)

confession: if i were to write you a love song, i’d sing about your toes. even if your toes are ugly, i’d sing about them as if they were beautiful to me.

confession: entering the third month of unpainted toenails, my toes continue to look unfamiliar to me, but i like them.

confession: the only thing i’ve been able to eat for the past three days is sugar-free pudding with fat-free reddi-wip. i feel really good about that. it’s my version of celebrating the flu.

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confessions written in the middle of the night

confession: you know when you’re doing your best to clean up your corner of the planet and serve your gifts to the world and no matter what or how much you contribute it feels like never enough but you know that never enough feeling is just your tiny ego spouting self-sabotaging inadequacy inside your silly little mind so you take a nap to shut your mind off and you wake up feeling a little more capable again and you do a few more things and then something happens (for example, you get annoyed with your beloved or you engage in your addiction or you try not to engage in your addiction and the effort required to avoid engaging in your addiction makes you cranky and irritable and then you get annoyed with every other person and situation you encounter) and then you’re back to feeling kinda shitty and so you return to cleaning up your thoughts and practicing gentle communication in your relationships and getting back in bed for another nap because you’re zapped from giving all you can and not feeling good enough? do you know that feeling? yeah, that was my yesterday.

confession: because i took two naps yesterday to escape (shut down? shift?) the thoughts and feelings i was having, i only slept three hours last night because i didn’t need any more sleep. at 3am there are more things i can’t do that i want to do and i want to do them more intensely because i’ve decided i can’t. (two of them require hammering on shared walls of the apartment.) my inner rebelliousness folds in on itself in the middle of the night during middle age.

confession: “don’t be a moron” has been the mantra since saturday. suggested in a humorous tone (directed to self or another good-humored human), it’s effective.

confession: kratom took away my back pain and replaced it with nausea. good job, kratom. puking at the symphony was rather unpretty. when the ushers directed their bitchy bossy attitude at me for leaving partway through the first half, i lied and said i had morning sickness. they immediately softened. i wonder how many more years that lie will be believable?

confession: after puking four times over as many hours after the high of taking kratom had passed, i read the helpful tip via the internet to take a motion sickness tablet half an hour after dosing kratom to avoid nausea. thanks, internet. oh, and next time i take (legal) recreational drugs for the first time, maybe researching in advance would be advisable.

confession: letters arrive in our hands when they’re meant to, whether three years later, sent by certified mail from the executor of the will, after the relationship has ended, before the next big mistake, or in the midst of a depression. all gifts, missives, and guidance arrive in their perfect time.

confession: my friend t reminded me last week that we can humbly assume that we unknowingly trigger other people as frequently as they unknowingly trigger us.

confession: oomph about that last confession. i’m sorry for triggering any of you without knowing, intending, or realizing. you can tell me about it if you want. i’ll listen and do my best to honor any boundaries we need to establish to keep us all feeling safe, loved, and protected.

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a birthday tribute

i’m a numbers person, a word person, a unicorn-loving magic person because numbers, words, and unicorns are magical to me. i’m putting down some numbers and words in honor of his six squared birthday which is two cubed years younger than the age i turn thirty-two days later. we’re three years and two months plus eleven days into rising in love and we keep getting better together, easier with each other, gentler in our communication. we’re both difficult people with code words identifying our most challenging traits. for example, when either of us is bossing the other around we refer to that behavior as “being instructive.” we are mightily instructive folks because we both believe we know best about most things (because we do, mostly). we’re also expert self-mockers and mockers of each other and there are only two things that are off-limits for us to make fun of but neither of us can remember what either of those things are until we’ve trespassed beyond posted territory which works out okay since at least one of us thought it was funny enough to go there.

we fight (of course we do, we’re bullheaded know-it-alls) but not lately (meaning our last fight was seven weeks ago, which is almost two full menstrual cycles ago which is significant since hormones factor into approximately seventeen percent of our fights). when we fight we’ve learned to practice fighting together toward solutions rather than against one another. we grow closer, wiser, and more understanding as we fight together solving problems.

we formed a band because he’s a songwriter and i’m a writer who loves rewriting his songs from a female point of view and we both love singly badly. (although he sings heart-tweaking beautifully when he wants to, he joins me in singly badly to save my feelings about my bad singing.) we make up songs with dramatic chord changes (to cover my pitchiness) that narrate our everyday lives, transforming mundane moments or catchy phrasing we’re inclined to repeat into “art.” our band’s name is supertexas. he’s super. i’m texas. our band travels internationally but only performs in the car, plane, train, hotel rooms, walking down the sidewalk, or sitting in restaurants.

the first night we had a real conversation (after months of casual mutual-friend-related encounters), he approached me with an awkward question sampling my input about the appropriateness of his behavior toward his ex-girlfriend at a wedding we both attended months prior. i answered his awkward question and purposely enhanced our awkwardness by asking his thoughts about megalodon’s present-day survival. he probably thought i was kidding. i wasn’t. i accepted his faked enthusiasm as sincere. throughout that night we sought each other out as soon as either of us thought of a more awkward offering. after quipping back and forth about the triumvirate of taboos (sex, money, and poop), we exchanged contact info and agreed to a lunch date the following week.

this year is the third birthday i’m celebrating with him. i’m immodestly black belt at giving birthday presents. i bought his favorite pair of boots the first year we celebrated together. last year i gave him a trip to london and barcelona. this year i facilitated a pathway to make his deepest passion more gratifying. three years, two months, and eleven days have offered us enough opportunities to trust that we can surmount and thrive past obstacles that trigger our hurt and fear. my hope for your significant relationships is that you choose to invest your time, effort, and presence with people who bring out all versions of your better, because we’re all doing our best each day and we’re working toward a best that is better.

 

 

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continuing the conversation

last night the school across the street that is older than our nation with a bell that tolls every hour rang twelve times while i ran. i saw a fox. the fox ran faster than me, away from me. i’ll never run as fast as a fox; i run slower every year. i started watching a movie on the plane last week about a girl hunter breaking patriarchal tradition using an eagle to catch a fox. i closed my eyes when the eagle grabbed a fox. i quit watching that movie. sometimes the circle of life hurts my heart even while my head understands and accepts predators and their prey.

i found a new favorite blanket when i took out the recyclables. one of the many upsides of apartment living is that people leave their no-longer-needed offerings next to the recycling bins for others to claim for use. blankets are almost a fetish of mine. this one is quilted and heavy and makes me feel like i’m inside a bright white fantastically warm snow cave. (yes, i washed it first.)

yesterday i had a mental conversation with some wiser version of myself on my way to a doctor’s appointment  lamenting my unpainted toes. i’ve painted my toes for decades but suddenly stopped two months ago. i know there’s a reason i quit but i don’t know what that reason is.

i’ve overplucked my eyebrows since college. a week ago i decided to grow them out. the overplucked hairs are growing in the wrong directions. i have to avoid looking in the mirror if i want to let them keep growing. not looking in the mirror isn’t a problem since i prefer not to and the main reason i used to look in the mirror was to pluck my eyebrows.

years ago i had a friend who hated plucking her eyebrows. she’d sporadically get them waxed but mostly let them grow thick and foresty and i gave them the voice of an eldery vodka-drunk russian. of course i never told her that. although if i had, she probably would’ve thought it was funny because two of my favorite things about her were her smarts and her humor.

two of my favorite things about any of my friends are their smarts and their humor. i’m not gonna choose dumb humorless friends.

thank you for being smart and funny. i love that about you.

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confessions without mention of thunder

confession: 365 days ago i wrote a blog post about my dad finally dying. 365 days ago i purposely avoided writing that it was my ex-wife’s birthday. here we are again, a year later, dad is 375 days dead and the ex-wife is 365 days older. because we haven’t spoken, i never told her my father died. she’d probably want to know. she’d probably like a lot of things i can’t do, give, be. same-same from me for her…which is why silence is the kindest choice i can make with her.

confession: my brother and i met in denver last weekend, an annual sibling retreat we initiated last year to spread dad’s ashes. my brother didn’t ask about the ex-wife. i asked about his ex-girlfriend, my favorite one. he didn’t know…or claimed not to while telling me she did her postdoc in italy and now teaches in new york. i suspect, at least for my brother and me, some exes never get shook all the way out. other exes, i struggle to remember their last names.

confession: one of the exes for whom i’ll later struggle to remember his name appeared in my social media feed. one glimpse at his present-day photo confirmed my choice to disconnect from him. if i met him for the first time today, i wouldn’t second-glance him. i don’t miss him even though i spent months thinking i did. my life is better without a friendship (lacking the qualities of honesty, loyalty, and bravery he didn’t display) that he wanted to extend.

confession: i miss his sister, though. i had a crush on his older sister.

confession: in the past year i’ve encountered two new younger sister-friends instead of crushing on them.

confession: i’m holding onto something that hurt my feelings three years ago. i’ve been trying to release the pain since it happened. thus far, that release hasn’t led to a surrendering peace…which i interpret to mean that the wounded part is trying to protect me from repeated pain. maybe that protection is helping me. more likely, holding onto pain only hurts more.

confession: twenty years ago (exactly 7,300 days ago, if we’re counting) i made a mistake in vegas trying to please my mother. presently, i’ve relinquished all responsibility for my mother’s happiness and as a consequence, my happiness increases.

confession: i’m not sleeping this week. alongside bouts of restless sleeplessness, i make art. i write love letters. I write poetry. i read books and magazines and online articles. i discover new songs that move me. i dance into the kitchen for another can of seltzer and a snack. i stand at the kitchen counter, dancing and snacking and scribbling notes to myself. overall, it’s a feel-pretty-alright week.

confession: lightning is nature’s fireworks. i studied lightning for hours last night.

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acknowledging white privilege

a few of you know me well enough to have heard me identify as a black mexican jew trapped in a white woman’s body. i don’t bother to include that i’m bisexual, because being bi is obvious in my perception, presentation, and participation in the world. i’m upfront about my cluelessness of hetero thinking—it doesn’t make sense to me. i know if you were born hetero then you think hetero, but because i was born bi, the hetero perspective of the world is only an imagined stretch of “maybe it’s like this…?” to me.

cue:  here’s where we begin to discuss white privilege and white supremacy.

i grew up hungry poor in a black neighborhood. i was one of three white kids in a classroom that included twenty-seven black kids and one brown kid. i learned about white privilege early. white privilege meant that when my friends (all were black) and i went to the corner store after school, i stole candy for us because the workers at the store followed my black friends down every aisle, expecting them to steal while  assuming a pretty little blue-eyed towheaded white girl wouldn’t steal. shame on me for stealing. shame on them for their racial prejudice that allowed me to get away with it.

fast forward to present day. public restrooms are difficult to find in big cities like new york, paris, and london, but lavish hotels are easy to find in those cities. when i need to use the restroom in nyc, paris, or london, i walk into a four or five star hotel and head toward the restroom that can be found in the lobby, bar, or near their meeting rooms. that strategy works because i’m a white woman. nobody notices a white woman walking into an expensive hotel, acting like she belongs, surreptitiously searching for a bathroom. if i were black, my first step into the same hotel would draw attention.

if you have white skin, you’re benefiting from white privilege in this country (and other western countries), whether you realize it or not. because i grew up in a black neighborhood, i’ve always been aware of the privilege extended to me because of my melanin-challenged skin. you may not have had the asset of growing up in the vibrant company of black people and might be unaware of your privileges. we need to raise consciousness here, we need to talk about privilege, we need to acknowledge that privilege exists and that all white people benefit, knowingly or not.

make it a game if it helps to ease past your defensiveness and shame. to better understand hetero culture, i play the “maybe it feels like this?” game.  all white people can play the “if i were black, how might this situation be, feel, transpire differently?” game.  presently and historically, white privilege exists because white people hold the most power, wealth, and access to resources in this country (and across the western world). white supremacists are afraid of losing that power. fear is at the root of hate.  please do not let your fear impede your exploration of white privilege. please do not let your fear (or guilt or shame) of benefiting from racism prevent you from uncovering the inherent structural racism perpetuating in our communities. study your environment. question your assumptions. please notice the  daily advantages that coincide with having pale skin. in order to achieve actual (rather than presumed) equality in this country, white people must lean into the discomfort of acknowledging our privilege in order to address issues of equal access to opportunities that our country hasn’t yet achieved.

change happens here and now, with you and with me and with everybody whose pale skin brings the privileges that the legacy of white supremacy has granted us. please actively seek to raise your consciousness about the privileges automatically extended to white skin. search your heart, mind, and immediate surroundings to notice where and how white privilege manifests today in your world. we must acknowledge white privilege in order to change what is and has persisted since our country’s origins. the time is now. the task is ours.

 

 

 

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confessions with short hair

confession: i didn’t lose money in the casinos because i didn’t gamble. i didn’t gamble because he made me hand him all my money before we walked into the casino so that i wouldn’t gamble because when i gamble i almost always lose money…and feel inconsolably sad for wasting money that i lost gambling.

confession: my friend s listens to great music. once in a while she posts what she’s playing on facebook. usually i recognize her musical postings as songs i loved on repeat years ago and have forgotten. sometimes she introduces me to something new. she understands about living alongside a self-made mix tape soundtrack. today’s song on repeat in my world is one i associate with her. recently i reassigned a song that i held for an ex to her because she dedicated it to her brand new chosen-not-biological dad. life feels better when songs trip positive associations with people we love. if i could, i’d give you every song you’re holding for that ex you’re still grieving as a reassigned happy place where we dance around the room loving each other safely, wholly, joyfully.

confession: in montreal i got an emergency haircut because i’d been hating my hair for weeks. the salon owner i called was able to squeeze me in that saturday afternoon because he had a cancellation. i close my eyes while i’m getting a haircut. i meditate while the professional cuts my hair. i breathe and trust. he cut my hair several inches shorter than i requested. he was worried i’d be angry. when i opened my eyes, i was thrilled. i’ve wanted short hair for years but hesitated because i hate the growing out phases. some mistakes are wondrous gifts.

confessions: some of us will die the way we lived. some of us that die the way we lived will be considered as having lucky deaths. some of us that die the way we lived will be considered as having tragic deaths. i hope i die the way i’ve lived, whether that turns out lucky or tragic, i’d like to be consistent.

confession: for nearly a month i’ve been writing horribly cliché poems about leaving lovers. the only fun part of writing these poems is making up funny titles for chapbook collections of these bad poems. also, the point is to write, to keep writing when the writing is terrible, to keep writing because writing every day is better than not writing, to keep writing because writing is a good enough reason to stay alive when staying alive is hard, to keep writing because if i can keep writing when the writing sucks then i can write my way into good poems again one day and one day might be today. (or tomorrow, since today’s poem sucked, too.)

confession: send me your letters, the ones you write in your head when you’re awake in the middle of the night. send them telepathically if you don’t want to get out of bed for pen and paper. please send me your letters. i will read each word carefully, intuiting the combinations of feelings that create the mood, finding the frequencies of love and fear in the spaces between the words. i will pause for the punctuation, letting each thought complete itself in the silence following a comma, semicolon, period, question mark, and exclamation point. i will sit patiently as you take your time telling me the stories you want to share. i’m here for you. i’m listening.

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