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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confession of the mysterious me

confession: i can’t predict my behavior in new situations. i’d like to think i know myself well enough to know what i would do in an imaginary situation, but most of the new situations i’ve wandered into, tripped over, or co-created in the past decade i hadn’t imagined. i’d like to predict that regardless of the situation, i’ll respond openly and compassionately. usually i do. usually contains exceptions of being unexpectedly ptsd triggered. in general, i know my ptsd triggers and do my best to avoid them, but the longer i live, the more triggers emerge because new triggers are repressed along with memories that haven’t yet surfaced. independent of ptsd triggers, i don’t universally respond with openness and compassion. sometimes my fierce inner tigress overreacts when somebody vibes me. it is possible they aren’t vibing me, maybe i just don’t like them. i can’t predict how i’ll respond to new people, places, and stimuli and the inability to predict my behavior confuses me.

for example: every few years i find myself engaging in relationships that will end badly but i can’t accurately predict the ones that will end well or end badly or persist without ending. about half of these badly ending relationships end badly by my choices and half by the other person, but each of these relationships surprises me, no matter whether ending well, persisting, or ending badly.

another example: random people ask me each week what i do for a living. i never know what i’ll answer before the question is asked. i have several practiced true responses to choose from. none of the most correct answers are easy to understand or fit squarely in somebody else’s box. (confession: i hate the “what do you do?” question more than any other i regularly encounter. i particularly hate the labeling, status-seeking, and classism implied in the question.)

next example: i usually hate parties and socializing and any event involving mingling. except when i’m feeling sociable. i can never predict when i’ll feel like talking to people and when i won’t (although safer to assume i won’t than i will) and even if i’m enjoying talking with others, my enjoyment can instantly evaporate without warning or external stimuli.

also: my eating disorder is unpredictable. one would think (meaning, i would think) after 33 years of experience with all the variations of my eating disorder and my relatively successful healthy-ish management of those patterns that i could predict them. i can’t. some days it is okay for me to eat a harmless appearing piece of cornbread without bingeing. some days it isn’t. i don’t know which day is which until i’ve safely ingested a single piece and continued peacefully into the next post-food activity or i’ve psycho-slid into the back pastures of the cornbread ranch of shame.

confession: i understand and accept that life is a mystery. i have internal mousetraps snapping my understanding of the unsolvable mysteries of me. because i can’t predict my behavior, i can increase my unconditional self-acceptance and enhance my witnessing process with curiosity.

today’s commitment: i seek to respond openly and compassionately as often as possible…and to curiously witness all other reactions with gentle acceptance.

i wish the same for you.

 

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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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