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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and the answer is…

i’m a crier. i make no secret of my tears. when i try to hide them, i fail and in those doomed efforts i make ugly faces. the world has enough ugliness; i attempt to lessen ugliness by letting my tears fall without restrictions.

i cry to stream pain from the inside to the outside. i cry from the exquisite pain of beauty and grace and kindness; equally or more frequently moved to tears by the “good” stuff than the hurt-sad-scared stuff . the pain is simply the pain of being alive, and i’ve been practicing for decades to feel the pain without suffering. tears help me flow through pain, because the sweetness that inspires tears breaks my heart open and that breaking hurts, too.

i don’t mind the pain. not really. pain means i’m alive.

sure, sometimes i weary of the pain. sometimes the weariness from pain engenders a longing for a relief imagined on the other side of dying. but as long as i’m here, i might as well breathe through the pain, open my heart wider, and love more.

i woke up scared and resistant on sunday. i stepped through montreal with my brand new short haircut and tried to out-pace pain, tried to leave it in the footsteps behind me. it didn’t work. i returned to the hotel and wrote an email that acknowledged my fear. the fear hung around. i called someone who knows these fears of mine and listed them again. he listened. he reassured. he said everything was going to be okay. (because everything is always okay even when it isn’t.) i felt the same fears but less afraid of those fears after talking with him. i ignored my fears and spent an hour doing sudoku puzzles (focus the mind on a task to circumvent the irrational fear circuit) and then took a nap. after my nap i remembered my objective to live courageously, to love courageously, to love more when fear threatens to close my heart.

days later, i’m sitting with those same fears, investigating this pain, and crying all the tears that surface without suffering. it’s okay to hurt like this. it’s safe to love this much and safer to love more. here we go, y’all. it’s time to love more. (like always.)

 

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cruising days

every morning i wake as this giant ship docks in a new port. for breakfast i slurp two large shot glasses of sweet creamed oats with thinly shredded coconut and a mysterious island fruit i can’t name. this delicious elixir gets me sugar-rush hiiiiiiiiiiiigh to begin my day.

in every port, my first mission is to find the public library. i vibe a new city by the feel of its library. is it a serious city with a large reference section? is it an arty city displaying art on its walls? is it a kid-focused city with an extensive children’s section and posted weekly kids’ activities? i honor each city’s library as i gather insights about its population and values. i pass through the aisles reading spines of books, opening books about unknown subjects to learn something, pausing to flip pages of books i’ve read and loved, feeling at home in every library all over the world.

i spend my afternoons walking along each port town’s boardwalk and parks. every eastern canadian port town has a stunning city park with acres of blooming gardens, green spaces, and trails. i discover trees and flowers new to my eyes. i am delighted by rodents and birds i can’t identify.

last call for all aboard is 5:30pm. i step onto the gangway at 5:28pm with a few postcards in hand. i move directly to the poolside ice cream station and invite my inner six-year-old to indulge in the unlimited toppings bar.

i walk laps around the ship’s outdoor track as we return to sea. i walk for hours and miles admiring the sunset’s colors shift to night. last night after sunset i watched the red sliver of leo’s new moon setting into the sea at precisely my birthday minute. (month=hour:minute=day)

later i lie in bed, gently rocked to sleep by waves against the boat carrying me toward tomorrow’s next adventure.

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your tender heart

hi. i love you.

that’s how i begin the letters i write in my head to my ex.

when i quit writing paper or electronic letters to the ex (doesn’t matter which ex, it happens with all of them), i needed (needed or wanted? a common hyperbole, we over-report our wants as needs)…ahem, i wanted to stay heart-connected with the person i loved while honoring our time and space apart from one another to heal separately.

there are exes i write to in my head for years after they’ve gone.

hi. i love you.

those four words are often the entirety of the letter i write in my head to the ex because then i pick up a pen or put my hands on a keyboard and write “hi. i love you” to someone presently in my life, someone i can love in action (outside my head), someone i can reach out and connect with and ask questions and receive answers, someone who wants to receive what i want to give.

hi. i love you.

how is your tender heart today?

my heart has been stretching everyday for as many days as i can remember. i practice growing my heart large enough to hold all the world’s pain and all the world’s joy and let the joy and the pain flow in and out with my breath, let the joy and the pain stay as long as they stay and let them go whenever they go. my heart tires of practicing. i practice again each day anyway. i practice because i’ve given up the fantasy that i can escape pain. i practice because my middle name is joy. i practice because i want to love you better. most of all, i practice because i want to love you more, deeper, fuller, bigger, truer, realer.

hi. i love you more today.

please be kind and gentle with your tender heart today. i love your tender heart.

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