12.1.16

As grief seasons go, this one has been simultaneously rough and easy–oddly.  The rough part has little to do with my actual grief and more to do with my worry for my country.  I was nervous when October showed up–mostly because I had no idea how it would be not living in Denver during this time of year.

On one hand, I really really really miss Denver.  The election showed that home was actually a small area of sanity in a whole country of insanity.  I was reminded of the good people who live there.  So many people I knew from back home went up to North Dakota, for example, whereas–here?  I don’t think people even talked about the water protectors.  It reminded me of the Denver I used to know–the one I was incubated in and the one that was slowly disappearing.  Leaving has made me appreciate Denver much more than I ever thought possible, and I realize that–even gentrified–that place is a 1000% better than almost anywhere.  But things lately really have given me hope that it will still be home when I finally return–and I am definitely returning.  Not soon, but eventually.  I just wish I could find the opportunities I need there, but I can’t–so elsewhere it must be.  But I will live there again–one day.  The best part is that I’ll get to choose exactly where instead of inheriting something.

The holidays in California are not holidays.  At least, they don’t feel like holidays to me.  It has gotten colder here–since we’re in the Bay–but I am always sweaty–even when I’m cold.  I kind of hate it.  I still have not adjusted to the humidity.  In an odd way–that’s good.  Because Christmas hasn’t been in my face.  It feels like any other month.  I can forget it’s coming.

I had a good Thanksgiving.  I chose quiet while observing in a good way for me.  It was about as perfect as it could be–though I am not a fan of the current situation with the kitchen and would have preferred cooking more.  It was actually good, though, because it didn’t require days of recovery.

So, it’s been less about missing my parents this year and more about adjusting and missing home.  More about self-care because self-care is far more possible out here than it was out there.

I’ve been keenly aware of December’s arrival this week, though, mostly because work has been kinda rough lately and December 1st was my deadline to meet goal.  Last week, I was 50% there and certain it wasn’t happening.  As of 4 pm, I made 140% of goal.  It would have been more, but ya know how that goes.  Most of that happened on the very last day.  So, it was an okay Wednesday.  I doubt December will slow us down much–until our client shuts down mid-month.  But that just means I’ll have 2 weeks to do a whole month’s work.  So, no rest for the truly weary.  And man, am I that.

###

A friend of mine posted this on FB.  Basically, it’s adult daughters writing about their Mamas.  And I enjoyed reading hers–realized that–over a decade after losing my mother–I still know her by heart.  Just because she’s gone doesn’t mean I can’t share.  So, on this first day of the last month of the year–the last month of grief season…when she both began and ended–I give you my mother.  Her name was Ruth.

  • She is sitting in front of the TV, what is she watching?
    A movie on Lifetime (something involving a woman in trouble), Little House on the Prairie, or 7th Heaven.  She would be very sad there are no longer soap operas, really.
  • Usually, what dressing does she eat on her salad?
    Wishbone Bleu Cheese
  • Name something she hates.
    Waiting.  Oh, my God, she hated waiting.  And heat.  Anything above 60 was Hell to her.  
  • You go out to eat, what does she order to drink?
    Depends.  If it was breakfast or brunch, plain black coffee–nothing too strong.  Just a house blend.  She might add water to it.  At lunch or dinner, probably a 7Up or a Coke.  Or a milkshake.  Vanilla.  That lady had a sweet tooth.
  • Favorite music to listen to?
    Old country.  Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr.  She also enjoyed her Elvis (aka Honey Lamb).
  • What is her nickname for you?
    As a kid, Pouder (but not after I started answering to it).  If I was in trouble, Irene (my middle name).  Sometimes, she referred to me as “my girl.”
  • What is something she collects?
    Figurines–the kind they sold in those gift shops of various animals.  They were ceramic, usually.  I used to buy her one every time I got paid.  Every single card or letter anyone ever sent her.  Bar napkins.  She had a little black book where she wrote down all numbers and appointments.  Old photos.  Glassware.  Christmas plates.
  • What would she eat every day if she could?
    Swiss cake rolls. Weak, black coffee.  Her daughter’s lasagna.  Salad.  Ice cream. Braunschweiger.  Summer sausage and cheese. Broccoli soup. 
  • What is her favorite color?
    Green.  She also liked red a lot, too.
  • What would she NEVER wear?
    Makeup.  Except for red lipstick.  High heels.
  • What are her favorite sports teams?
    She loathed sports!
  • What is something that you do that she wishes you wouldn’t?
    Work too much. Be so hard on myself. Ignore men.  Haha. She wanted some grandbabies!
  • You bake her a cake for her birthday. What kind of cake is it?
    In our family, buying a cake was a special thing.  We only made cakes if we were dead broke, and I was not a cake baker anyway.  (My Mama was and could outbake me any day.  I’m better now, but she could still kick my ass at baking).  I usually got her an ice cream cake from DQ.  If I got a normal cake, it was white cake with white icing and flowers. The colors varied.
    14. Favorite animal?
    She loved all animals.  Cows, geese, sparrows.  But most especially cats. Like all the cats.  All the time.
    15. What could she spend all day doing?
    Watching her shows while cleaning.  The woman never stopped moving.  Taking care of me.  Or whoever else was lucky enough to be loved by her.  Sitting outside with her coffee and her 1/8 of a cigarette, talking to little kids. Cutting up vegetables.  She was the best damn sous chef ever.  Reading her romance and mystery novels (though it was difficult after her eyesight got so bad).  She would have been astounded by ebooks.

profiling

I’d like to think I know myself.  Hell, I *know* I know myself.  My old therapist (who I start seeing again in about a month…squee!) told me I was the most self-aware person she had ever met.  She took it as a sign of my commitment to therapy.  But, really, it’s been a daily battle for most of my adult life.  Because, for most of my childhood and teen years–all the way to early adult years–I had no effing clue who I was.  I knew I was a good person, sure–but I didn’t know what good meant.  I knew I was probably like my parents in horrifying ways–but never the extent to which I now know I am.  I didn’t even know what I felt most of the time.  I ran from emotion–stuffed them down and numbed out without even blinking.  All without any substances.

But eventually, life breaks you down.  The things you run from?  Well, they come for you.  You can only tell yourself one version of the truth for so long.  Karma exists.  Big time.  I was reminded of that this week when I found out some sad news.  And while I was definitely sad for this person I used to love–the coincidences in this news were not lost on me.  And I wondered–is he thinking about how he treated me back then?

I’ve lost faith in this person as being the person I used to love–so I doubt very much that he even went there.  But that’s what I thought.  And I couldn’t help but think his journey with what I’ve lived with for the last several years is going to be much harder than my own because of it.

Mostly because there’s a big difference between him and me.  And there’s no right or wrong about it.  But it does reflect why we never worked out and the different paths we took to get here.  For me–hiding was something forced on me–something I learned to survive and slowly removed from my life–something I commit to every day.  Even when it hurts like Hell.  I’m grateful for the pain.  Him?  Hiding is something he embraced just because that’s who he is.  I didn’t know this when I loved him, but then I didn’t know who I loved.  Mostly because I barely knew who I was myself.

Anyway–while I was sad for this news–I did have one hope…perhaps he’ll find his way to a more authentic way of living on his journey out of the dark.  I only wish him well.  I only wish he could be the amazing person I always believed he was.

###

There are many things cooking for me lately–things requiring biographies and profiles and blurbs about me.  I know who I am in my bones.  I am comfortable in my skin.  I can show you who I am in an instant.  But writing about it?  Oh, Lord.  I stare at the screen.  I write, delete, write too much, overedit, and then end up with something that says nothing or perhaps everything.

I’m like this when writing up candidates too.  So, usually, I stick to the facts.  Education, experience, and a few blurbs about personality or interests.  Short, sweet, hollow.

I’m writing these things for work, for a new creative project, future grad school apps, and a a dating profile.  Which I’ve done a million times before and probably failed.  I often wish I had my old profile back from my LavaLife days.  Somehow, I’m guessing that was more authentic than anything I could write now.

I’m probably overthinking it.  And who cares what your profile or bio says?  Except I do care.  And well, I think my inability to voice who I actually am has actually brought less than ideal people into my life.  I’m not going to badmouth any of my exes because I really have nothing bad to say about any of them anymore, really, but my friends are right.  I attract sociopaths and psychopaths.  People who have addiction gray areas.  And I know why.  See…I know myself.  I am most at home in chaos–and those who feel like home are dysfunctional and selfish and usually all those things that go with shitty behavior.  I read recently that such people tend to be super attracted to people just like me.  Why?  We’re loyal to a fault.  We don’t shy away from them.  And we give way too much.  It’s part of a broken cycle.  And I need to start being less damn comfortable.  And more accurately, I need to be able to express who I am now that I’ve grown up a bit.  Now that I know my worth.  Extend some boundaries.  Be the person I am now.  Just not a ball of quirks that can be manipulated and controlled.  My last dating nightmare really showed me that I still attract these bozos.  The married man pretending to not be married thing was what got me offline for what I thought was for good.  But eff that.  I am an accomplished person.  Surely, I can date online.  Surely, if Honey Boo Boo’s mother can find a guy, I can.  I do wonder, though–am I too picky?  Or maybe that’s the insecure part of me settling?

In any event…since I have all these profiles to write…I decided to take some time with it.  Do some self-exploration–real digging around.  So I’m going to complete some exercises and share them here over the next who knows how long–till I feel I’m done and can write.

And yes–I probably shouldn’t share all these things here.  But you know what?  My life is about transparency.  I’m not about to stop now.

29 Questions

  • What activity in your life lights you up with joy?
    Creating, exploring, being alone for vast stretches of the day, being around kids and animals, collaborating with smart people, talking about deep shit, using my camera.
  • What is something you always love doing, even when you are tired or rushed? Why?
    I love doing those little self-care things like washing my face with great products or eating really well.  These things are such treats for me–mostly because I just don’t do them for myself as often as I should.  When I actually remember and see how easy it was, I appreciate them even more.
  • If a relationship or job makes you unhappy, do you choose to stay or leave?
    I used to be someone who would never leave a bad thing.  I would instead stay and convince myself this thing was better than it was–that I was the problem.  That I was just too lazy or unlovable.  That I just needed to try harder or be better.  That it would change if I just worked hard enough.

    There is a real part of me that still lives there.  Only there’s another part of me that gets very angry.  That starts poking at the bear.  That instigates and causes problems.  That says shit to get things to move.  These two parts of me are in this heated battle, and I am often very conflicted about these things because of it.  Both are self-destructive and sabotaging, in different ways.  Eventually, though, if something is bad–I tend to leave it.  Not always in a loving or graceful way.  Often in an explosive and angry way.  I’m working on owning that it’s okay to leave shit that feels bad.  That I don’t have to justify it or feel guilt or be angry.  But that may still be a ways off.

  • What do you fear about leaving a bad job or a bad relationship?
    Hurting other people.  Always.  Giving up on someone/thing that isn’t actually bad.  Maybe I’m too hard on them.  Maybe I AM the problem. Having my entire world change and putting myself at risk without any safety net.
  • What do you believe is possible for you?
    I still think anything is possible, but sometimes I wonder if I actually want the things I’m striving for.
  • What have you done in your life that you are most proud of?
    Survived.  And not just in the existing sort of way.  I’ve gotten through some shit and I’m a pretty hopeful, joyful person still.  I really shouldn’t be, after everything, so I guess I’m proud of that.
  • What is the thing that you are second most proud of?
    Getting out of poverty.  Even though I am more uncomfortable than ever and confront it on a daily basis.
  • What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
    Something my parents would be proud of.  I don’t think about legacies much anymore.
  • How does your being here in the universe change humanity for the better?
    I think I have unique things to say about grief and death.  I think I can help people express their experiences and heal.
  • If you could have one single wish granted, what would it be?
    Right now, just that the last year of hate and Donald Trump would be reversed.  I think we’re on a dangerous road.
  • How comfortable are you with your own mortality?
    No–not at all.  I think it may be my one last true fear.
  • What is your highest core value?
    Transparency.  Which to me is about being vulnerable & having integrity.
  • To your best knowledge, how do other people perceive you?
    I’m not sure.  In the past, I’ve been known as a goody goody smartypants perfectionist.  Probably still some version of that.
  • How would you like others to perceive you?
    I don’t know that I actually care.
  • How confident are you in your abilities to make decisions for yourself?
    Pretty confident–though I often find myself talking to others to convince myself of what I know is true.
  • What is your biggest self-limiting belief?
    I’m still working off some guilt–that I deserve bad things–that I am not worthy of being happy. That all things turn to shit eventually for me.
  • Who is the most important person in your life?
    Myself.  I’m not really attached to anyone else at the moment.
  • Who is your greatest role model?
    I don’t really believe in role models anymore.
  • Who is a person that you don’t like yet you spend time with?
    Oh, I’m not going there.
  • What is something that is true for you no matter what?
    I feel like whatever shows up in my life is all part of something I need.  And that, whatever happens, I’ll be okay.
  • What is your moral compass in making difficult decisions?
    That gut feeling is still my best indicator.  Usually, I bounce thoughts off others just to make sure I’m feeling what I’m feeling.
  • What is one failure that you have turned into your greatest lesson?
    Probably TFA.  It was pretty devastating, and I was lost for a long time.  But I think it really made me much more self-aware about how I punish myself and helped me choose better paths for myself.
  • What role does gratitude play in your life?
    I think it’s a very big part of who I am, but I don’t always say things out loud.  I’m a person who does things.  So I come at life with a grateful heart, but I often may forget to say thank you to people.  I’ve learned that some people need that more than others.  I’m not someone who does, usually, and wasn’t raised to be that way.  So, it’s a hard lesson for me and something I try to embrace.
  • How do you feel about your parents?
    They still break my heart.  I forgive them.  I love them.  I miss them.
  • How is your relationship with money?
    Complicated.  I feel like so much of my life has been about overcoming what poverty did to our family and so much of my daily struggles with fear come from that place.
  • How do you feel about growing old someday?
    I really look forward to it.  But I’m never gonna retire.
  • What role has formal education played in your life and how do you feel about it?
    The more educated I become, the more I see through the BS of education.  It’s something they can never take away from you, and I’m beyond grateful for it–but I definitely would do things differently.
  • Do you believe your destiny is pre-determined or in your hands to shape however you wish?
    Maybe a bit of both.  I don’t really know or care much.  I just try to take it a step at a time.
  • What do you believe is the meaning of your life?
    To help other people suffer less.  To suffer less myself.

human frailty: a story of consequences

Yesterday, it rained. Apparently, it rained the day before, too.  But yesterday, it was an insistent, pounding rain.  Like Mother Nature was weeping.  Loud enough that I, initially, mistook it for a soft drum beat.  I’d burned my finger on a screaming hot pan while making eggplant melts.  I had gotten too excited about a can of imported tomatoes and neglected to reach for the potholder–causing one of my fingerprints to sear off.  My roommates decided to go to IHOP as I finished cooking my meal and cleaning up as best as I could without causing myself further injury.  I slid open the big bay window in my room and let out a big sigh.

Maybe my first real exhale since I’ve been here.

###

I came here for oceans.  Which is ironic since the thing I see most lately is other buildings.  Sometimes, I roam down to the big fountain that’s mere steps from my window and pretend I’m somewhere else.

I’ve yet to see the ocean since I’ve been here–or even on the way out here.  We took the fast route–the one you take when you want to just get there and don’t mind running your car through other people’s despair.

That sigh, though, is a familiar one to me.  Reserved for very specific things.  I remember letting out that kind of sigh the day I found Silver Thread–my favorite place on this planet.  I remember walking up to the water’s edge, barefoot–poking a foot in and sighing loud.  I remember doing it in O’Keeffe country as my roommate ran up the boat dock–wind in my hair, overdressed–camera in hand–tracking the ripples.  I remember doing it in my park–late at night–with only the moon and my man keeping me company–straddling some park bench under a tree–listening to ducks flit through the lake.  And I remember doing it when I found my apartment after she died–as the wind and rain came down–sitting on the sofa–talking to my landlord about why I wanted to leave Westwood.

I’ve been waiting for that sigh, and I knew water would bring it.  It always does.

It was the very first time I’ve felt at home anywhere, in a long damn time.

###

My heart is on my sleeves often these days.  Like the ducks in the lake, I flit easily between the sea of emotions coursing through my veins.  All the things that are obvious about now–that I’m choosing not to mention further here mostly because I could talk about it till the end of time, and it would mean relatively nothing.  There is no other way to cope except to get through it.  Fight in the ways you choose.  But realize, you’ve already lost a lot of your innocence.  And what exists now is not about one man.  It’s a whole shit stream that is exactly how it sounds.

I’ve been finding comfort in my favorite movie lately.  For the reason I always loved it.  It reminds me to find hope inside myself–to seek that resilience that is holy–that those bastards can’t touch.  To change my world and realize I have something to share.

But–yes–I am weeping and scared and all the emotions all at once.  Oh, and yes–it’s my first holiday away from everything I’ve ever known–and no–it does not feel like November here. And no–nothing is what I thought.  But maybe, that’s what I needed to learn.

I’ve had lots of plans and then rethinking of plans.  About The Future.  And then–as is always the case–the practicality of it all got in the way.  The actual doing became problematic.  Namely, basically, that I have lots of dues to pay–and man–am I ever impatient.  And all of these things I could’ve done sometime in the past–and man–I wish I had known better and done better.  But you don’t know what you don’t know until you do it.

Basically, I have to take classes.  Do volunteer work.  Maybe take more tests.  Even though I’ve done them all before.  But where to do it–how and when?  And then I think–maybe–while I’m doing all this crap–I should do what doesn’t require pre-reqs and just makes me happy.  Maybe I should do that silly MFA I always wondered about that I absolutely don’t need.  Or maybe I’ll just take some classes while I take those extra psych credits.

And God–everything is so far away here.  So annoying to get to.  Why am I whining?  Oh, yea–because I hate car culture.  It’s why I lived in the city for my entire adult life–why I escaped as soon as she died.  So I could walk everywhere if I wanted, even though I usually didn’t want to.  But I could.

That was the point.  My impatience is getting to me.  I need to talk to Emily.

(People are protesting outside.  I can hear them yelling.  Cell phone ring tones as theme songs.  Angry, bitter voices.  They go by every so often and have about every other day since the election.  A mile away, several days ago–a Muslim woman was attacked.  And probably some of those same people protesting today said shitty things about people just like her in some Lyft I was in a month ago.  And no one thought anything of it. Well, except me).

((I’m not sure who is right or wrong.  Just that maybe we are all some degree of both.  And maybe I am ashamed to be part of the chorus.  And maybe that’s why I’m impatient)).

(((I didn’t intend to write any of this.  It just came out.  So, now, let’s resume the intended course of action.  Sorry for the detour))).

###

When I woke up this morning, I cringed and thought about calling in–but I have no sick days left.  I knew it was going to be another day of too much and that people would be hounding me.  That people would be disappointed.  And normally I care.

But today, I just didn’t really feel like comforting them.  There are disappointing things in life that happen.  And considering what is going on, well–this disappointing thing is just something you’ll need to wear big boy panties to deal with.

Sometimes, choosing self-care is a simple act of not giving a fuck who is disappointed because you are so beyond the edge of disappointed that there is no other choice except loving yourself.

My mantra today was–it’ll be done when it needs to be done.  And I basically accepted that I would not make goal this month–for the first time maybe since the year began–and that I was alright with that…though my bank account maybe wouldn’t agree.

And yet, somehow, the miracle I said it would take somehow showed up.  And now I’m just one small step away with 10 days to go.

Life shows up for you when you let it pass through you.

I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately, though my television is still not set-up.  I watch on my laptop.  (Xfinity can suck a rotten lemon).  So, I often end up re-watching things since my connection is so unreliable and annoying.  I don’t watch new shows that often right now because of it.  It’s not worth the commitment if it’s going to suck.

I’ve been kind of disillusioned with a few of my favorite shows lately (ahem, Walking Dead and Masters of Sex).  But there are a few new shows that caught my eye and one old show I’m absolutely loving.  And I realized they have a lot in common.  Namely, they illuminate human frailty while also sort of dissecting it in ways that are pretty vulnerable and honest.  And often very uncomfortable.

The King of that has to be the show The Affair. (SPOILERS AHEAD).

cole

Season 3 just kicked off, and it’s pretty magnificent.  Each character has basically been torn to shreds after last season’s finale.  In this season’s opener, Noah has been to jail–but we only see it in flashbacks.  He’s clearly miserable, suffering from PTSD from his stay in the big house, and is in a very precarious position–though, honestly, his path now seems very implausible.  (I mean, very few ex-cons would get an adjunct teaching gig, and no way could he really afford housing on that salary…even student-level housing).

Noah is just trying to get through this part of his life.  Relying way too much on muscle relaxers and saying horrible things to his students–with a very inappropriate vibe going on there–while being charmed by a fellow prof who definitely is more than meets the eye.  We initially see him immediately before his father’s funeral, and it’s just very clear how broken he is–and how the last few years have changed everything.  It’s a terrific performance–especially the eulogy scene.

At the same time, we see Helen–and we see how heavily guilt–even if it’s slightly misplaced guilt–has had on her.  And how this whole thing has affected the children.  We see even more of this in the second episode, which partially tells us Helen’s part of the story.  She is half in and half out of a new relationship with a great guy–and you can tell that her connection to the debt she owes to Noah is so heavy in her heart that it keeps her stuck with Noah.  It’s a really nuanced tragic performance from Maura Tierney.

Tonight’s episode also shows us Allison and Cole’s side of this story.  Allison is a shell of who she once was.  That whole storyline is just so incredibly sad.  Kudos to Joshua Jackson (aka Pacey forever) for nailing someone who is just utterly beleaguered by this situation and just wants to protect his daughter–even if it’s against the woman he is partners with in tragedy.

The second show that really impressed me is Good Behavior.

letty.png

I haven’t watched much Downton Abbey, but holy heck: Michelle Dockery.  The role sorta reminds me of Jennifer Garner’s portrayal of Sydney Bristowe in Alias simply because of all the con artist stuff and the various disguises.  But the show doesn’t open with that.  It opens with Letty working in a bar, cleaning shitty toilets, and getting fired over a customer’s assault.  It’s clear there’s more to this woman, and when the whole back story unfurls, it’s pretty interesting.  Dockery brings a great attitude and spirit to this role–one that could easily be just another cliche.  But despite all her mistakes, we are all rooting for her.  What’s truly great about this show is that the good guys aren’t so good, and the bad guys aren’t exactly bad.  They are full of bad judgments and may be fucking scary, but there’s more to them. And that is pretty fascinating.

Search Party is a dark comedy that is saying some interesting things about what it means to be human and how people become enlightened.

search-party

On the surface, this show is just another comedy about 20 something idiots.  It is so brilliant with its portrayal of our vapid culture that it will make you want to stab yourself.  But that’s part of why it’s so great.  It’s aware of everything the audience hates and the main character acts in all the ways to challenge us and keep us going.  The show itself focuses on a lost young woman who is obsessed with the disappearance of a classmate.  Dory has been a doormat for a long time–to the point that she questions if anyone would notice if she disappeared.  And the sad reality is that they might not.  Beyond that, she has allowed the world to make her choices–keeping her needs on the backseat.  She has a particularly harsh reality check and finally gets angry.  It’s such a great scene because you can see the cracks in the foundation–and you also see how it starts pushing those she knows to question their own inaction.  Search Party is super smart and sometimes pretty funny–but totally relatable especially if you’re a young woman.

in search of comfort

Well, today’s events have landed in my world with a disheartening thud–and I am some mix of stunned, rage-fueled, and darkly optimistic.  My father’s wry, gallows humor has shown up to volley some deathly morbid sarcasm.  And I realized I literally haven’t laughed in a week.  That’s like unheard of.  My sweet kitties seem to be on to the fact that Mama needs their kisses as they’ve been ever closer since I woke up Tuesday morning.  And every day this week has started with me–uncharacteristically–picking up each of them, burying my face in their necks, booping heads, and talking in my kitty voice.  These little balls of love have no idea how much their existence means to me, and I am so grateful for their distraction.

Self-care this week has been an interesting mix of hibernating (which is sort of normal), measured bouts of social media engagement, tech withdrawal, and coming together with the people I call family–though we share no blood.  It has been listening to my friend fret about his aging parents who now may not be safe.  It’s been listening to friends tell me of violence done to them this week because this election has emboldened some assholes.  Mostly, it’s been letting myself have room to breathe–questioning my own feelings of anger–and finding that I am usually able to transcend my fear and my own hate toward those who caused this mess.

I’ve tried to sleep–to varying degrees of success.  I’ve drank far too much Coca Cola.  But that’s nothing new.  I ate moderately well.  But tonight, a friend posted that she needed emergency junk–and man, I could relate.  So, on Tuesday–aka bonus day–I will be revisiting my childhood and giving myself a day to be 12.

It’s funny–when I was 12 or 7 or whatever age you want to pick–these foods were just normal things.  Before I had nutritional knowledge to recognize junk.  Many of these things were awful things I felt I had to endure.  And now, they feel like hugs.

My comfort is probably not your comfort.  But I thought I’d reminisce a bit.

Some Saturdays, my best friend from those days back in Westwood would work alongside her father at the flea market, selling Kirby vacuum cleaners.  He was a salesman and basically only took her with him because her sad face made people pity him and buy his crap.  He was basically the worst father ever.  I bet he voted for Trump, if he’s still alive–which, given his rampant alcoholism, is questionable.

But he paid her–so, on those nights, we would walk to the corner store and buy things.  Jiffy Pop, orange slices, poprocks, soda of all kinds, dixie cups, giant dill pickles, Totinos or Tony’s pepperoni pizza, FunYuns.  Those were the usual suspects.  Other nostalgic foods for me?  Ice cream sandwiches, Big Macs, KFC cole slaw, strawberry shortcake made with angel food, white rice with cinnamon sugar and milk, cinnamon toast, plain hot black tea with lots of sugar, instant coffee with tons of milk and sugar, International Coffees (french vanilla), spaghetti and cheese made with fake Velveeta, lime jello with pineapple, Swiss Cake rolls, queso in a can.  Toasted bread with unmelted Velveeta, Miracle Whip, and sliced dill pickles.  Giant glasses of whole milk, sometimes with Hershey’s syrup drizzled in.  Homemade fudge.  Apple cider.  Limes. Cherry freeze cups (or basically frozen Kool-Aid).  Rocky Road Candy bars.  Caramels in the little wrappers.  Gum tape.  All kinds of gum, actually.  Every candy ever made ever.  Lunchables with the dill sauce.  Giant salads.  Fruit salad.  Stuffing.  Cranberry sauce shaped like a can.  Roasted green chilis.  Lumpia with sweet and sour sauce. Fake crab cheese wontons. Cabbage rolls. A big ole hunk of boiled cabbage with tons of pepper.  White bread baked with butter until toasty and brown.  Cracker cookies. Kraft mac & cheese–only not like most people make it.  Chopped ham slices.  Apples and peanut butter.  Carrot ribbons slathered with peanut butter and dotted with raisins then rolled like sushi.  Cinnamon buns.  Spanish rice.  Potatoes every which way.  My daddy’s cornbread.  The thickest chocolate milk shake ever. Tamales and burritos from that lady.  Palletas.  Cherries.  Watermelon.  Rings of pineapple.  Orange juice with extra pulp.  Saltines with honey and peanut butter.  Underripe bananas.  Farina with extra lumps. Red apples.  Oranges.  Dum Dums. Jolly Rancher sticks (green apple & cherry esp).  Cheeseburger subs with extra pepper relish from All-V’s.  Cheese fries.  Smothered green chile on everything.  Eggs.  Maraschino cherries. Shrimp ramen (haha…no shrimp in there…I’m allergic…I can confirm). Brussel sprouts.  Lasagna. Meatloaf made with mushroom soup and stuffing.  Soup of all persuasions.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something.  On Tuesday, I am going to see what nostalgic comfort I can drum up.  I might make this a weekly thing until this national nightmare is over.  What are you eating these days that feels like hugs to you?

blinding clarity

Before this week, I was questioning a lot of my life choices–things related to my path. Things that had been clear to me for years. Changing your life in big ways? Well, it does that to a person. And I was questioning it–thankfully–because the part of my life that is work has been so incredible lately. I’ve found that I am able to do the work I want to do now–in ways that don’t (usually) deplete me. That the meaning I sought in my professional life IS actually possible. That people see me, and I can actually be myself where I am–while supporting others in a meaningful way. It’s not perfect and, some days, I consider running away to Costa Rica or traveling the country in a VW bus. (I may still do that, btw).
I’ve always been a meaning seeker. Growing up in the depths of poverty, I have also always been ambitious–because getting out of poverty was a feat many never achieved. I have always felt an immense responsibility to do things for other people because I somehow had the drive and the privilege others lacked. It’s possibly why I’ve never been a logical person, in mainstream ways. I just don’t think like other people, and I don’t give up on things usually unless they steal things from my soul. I am stubborn beyond all levels of comprehension, so I am very choosy about what I commit to–especially since my Mama died. Everything I do must survive those pesky gut checks, and if I can’t reconcile it–even if it makes no sense–I tend to release it and focus on other things.
So, for most of my life, I’ve really struggled to find work that lets me live my conscience while allowing me to be someone who isn’t constantly worried and paralyzed by material concerns. And, thankfully, a couple years after my Mama’s death, I bumped into something that made everything pretty clear. I took steps toward that, slowly–frustratingly glacially–and y’all know I am not a patient woman. When I was a kid, I was. Maybe because I was stuck. Maybe because I didn’t know how powerful I was. Maybe because the path was so very clear. There was no ambiguity. It was a singular road to walk.
Now, though, there are so many ways to do the things I want to do. And frustrated me is a woman of restlessness. I am a woman committed, always, to possibility. So, all those other options see really cool and so much better than THIS when THIS is so hard and feels so beside the point.
So, lately, I’ve been weighing options. Considering who I am and what I will accept. Deciding on what makes sense. Living a life devoted to self-care rather than one I inherited when I was a traumatized child, just trying to live.
This week, I realized something–though–this path I chose during the most painful, confusing part of my life is the right one. It is where I belong. And part of being ready for this path is going through this. Because it’s not an easy path, and I need to be stability for other people. I can’t be this chaotic restless person unsure of every moment. I have to learn how to be that woman I so know I can be–for myself and other people. So while it is frustrating, it’s all part of my education and training. And the truth is? Being a wholehearted person dedicated to comprehensive healing is probably the most difficult path you can walk…so of course, this is mine. Haha.
And I am going to do it. But I think I know what’s been frustrating me and why. It’s that impatient part of me that believes how powerful I am. That goddamn ego, yet again. I need to find ways to check it while also feeding it a little bit–because I am not here to punish that girl who wants to save the damn world. I’ve been thinking of these things for a long time–and sputtering to do these things off and on–only to let life steer me to distracted paths. I’ve got to make the meantime mean something, and this week delivered many ways to do that. Namely, walking the talk. Working together. No degree necessary. Just carving out time and showing up. So, that’s what I’m going to do. While–pursuing the other stuff. The formal stuff. The things that end with licenses and offices and quitting my precious stability in favor of service.
And–after all of that–I am now even more convinced that I must not see my art as a hobby–that it is an integral part of this path. Not separate. And that it is the thing that will inspire me and keep me going when I am totally disillusioned and heartbroken–as I’ve been all week (and not just about the specific outcome of the election).
The person I know myself to be is someone who transcends the trauma of her life–who is kind and loving and…yes…a writer. An artist. Someone who speaks from her heart and repairs the broken hearts around her. That’s my new mission.
Long story short: art therapy school for licensure with a focus on addiction and trauma…plus an MFA in photography and playwriting. Therapy first. In the meantime, dedicating myself to a cause that supports children and women using art. Showing up more for friends every single day. Being a crazy person about self-care. I’m going to be exhausted. I know this. But it’s all very clear. This is why I’m here. And in case you were wondering, I love you. No matter who you voted for–even if I disagree. Let’s stop being enemies and heal each other. Because we were all a bit broken long before this week.❤