Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Things I'll Leave On the Doorstep of the Desert

  • Nine and a half years of my life
  • Hundreds of books
  • A worn out couch and chair
  • The parking lot where I was served divorce papers
  • The raging battle that ensued for the next year
  • Friends who became family
  • The nine homes I've lived in during this time
  • Clothing that no longer matches my soul
  • Memories of the many births I was honored to attend here
  • The battle of our life: Family vs. Eating Disorder
  • The coffee houses that were the settings for some of the biggest turning points of my life
  • The best Pho I've ever had in my life
  • Chicken and waffles compulsions that can only be satiated by one restaurant
  • Relationships that ended when they needed to end
  • Watching my little girls turn into teenagers
  • The proclamation that I would never let myself fall in love again
  • Six wild nights with Kali Ma and moments of reckoning
  • Lightning over the mountains
  • Driving in dust storms
  • The last time in my life I'd ever be truly drunk
  • The first draft
  • The last phone call I ever had with my mother
  • And the one telling me she had died
  • My first spoken word performance
  • A flower that only blooms for one night a year and allowed me to be its guest
  • The sweetness of watching my collection of children, birthed and chosen, ask my fiancee to marry me in front of some of our dearest friends
  • My deepest gratitude for holding me so well for so long
  • A love song

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Shunning Fate

I don't want to look to the stars
unless I'm looking in awe
because we're made of the same stuff
Lineage and roots are fine
things for anchoring
but not so much in creating new stories
I can read my own palms
they say that I know how to work hard
my pen leaks, and I've burned myself
a time or two over the years
Instead of interpreting my dreams
I think I'll go live them
the ghosts can rest easy
I won't be haunting them any time
soon
Soon, soon, soon, my future
will reveal itself
in the form of a present

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Come the Rapture

Come the rapture, I will be unapologetic
I'll put on another pot of coffee
and I won't fuck myself over by using
anything less than pure cream
"Yeah, I did that," I'll grin, remembering
I'll light another cigarette
"Yeah, I did that, too. Do you want
a beer before you go?"
I'll shrug when he gets to the part
about beating up a little boy
outside of a Baptist tent revival
"Cut me some slack, I was only eight"

He'll be bumming a smoke
in no time flat, and I'll think
to myself that he has a kind face
and he looks tired
a twinge of sympathy
and I'll concede that I'm sorry
for the moments of overwhelming arrogance
and a self-righteous chip on the shoulder
I'll slice up some fresh fruit and imported cheese
slide a pitcher of water across the table
and ask, "Would you mind? A deep red."

I'll ask for atonement for the times
I didn't call or didn't show up
the times I didn't try hard enough
or remained silent when I should have
spoken up, and the times I spoke
when I should have remained silent
I'll remain unrepentant about the divorce
the ditched classes and the dropping out
the train jumping and unnecessary risks
I'll smirk when we get to the part about
my sexual proclivities and feign shock
"Jesus! That's a bit forward of you.
We've only just met! You're making me blush.
Next you'll be asking me about my finances."


I"ll show him the door and tell him I've
loved every minute of my life
and will gladly stay behind for eternity
I've got plenty of questions of my own
I'm dying to know if the all-powerful
thing was a slight exaggeration
and if not, what was up with the
holy wars, the Holocaust, famines
slavery, anorexia, schizophrenia
rapists and pedophiles
oh my god, did you really just
question me about my sex life?
but I'll leave them unspoken
he looks tired and he has a kind face









Friday, August 16, 2013

Wear Out the Word

How Vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. - Henry David Thoreau


Have you ever noticed that when you say a word over and over and over again, eventually it loses its power, and then after that it loses its meaning? It's true. Try it. Pick a word. Any word. Say it over and over and over again. Time yourself. Everyone's threshold is different, but eventually it happens.

Thirty seconds?
Two minutes?
Fifteen?

It can be almost frightening; the madness of repetition making you lose your grasp on a common word. After the madness comes clarity. Eventually all of that nonsense leaves you with nothing left to rely on but gut instinct and eye contact. A hand to hold, if you're lucky. The understanding that transcends all of the meaninglessness of words.


One of my daughter's favorite stories about herself as a preschooler involves an incident during that precious window when we learn the power of "bad" words. I don't really believe in bad words. I like them, but I don't believe in them.

So anyway, on this particular occasion I had asked her to stop doing something. It figures that I can't for the life of me remember what that something was, because like most things that preschoolers do that upset us, it couldn't have been that big of a fucking deal.

She didn't like being told to stop doing what she was doing. Who does? She crossed her arms, stared me straight in the eye, jutted out her chin and shouted, "Bitch!"

I set a timer, I think for two minutes, but just like the thing she was supposed to stop doing, I can't really remember. I told her she was welcome to call me a bitch until the timer went off. She couldn't believe her luck. She was in heaven.She gleefully shouted, "Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!"

It seemed like it could go on forever. An endless mantra of praise to the mother of dirty words. Until it slowed down and lost some of its oomph. "Bitch... bitch... um. huh. Bitch. bititch... bischt... I wanna stop saying it now."

I looked at the timer and said, "But you have thirty more seconds! I thought you loved this word."

She burst into tears and said, "Stop making me say bitch! I don't wike dat stupid word!"

And I flipped off the timer and we ate brownies or something, and I told her she could say bad words if she wanted to, but only at home because other people might not want her to play with their kids if she said it around them, and not directed at people. She agreed and faithfully adhered to the agreement for many years. All of the power and meaning was gone. She had worn the word out. The thrill was gone.

I've been wearing out a lot of words. One by one, a transcendental forest seeded with forgotten meaning. I'm just so tired of pretending like things matter that don't. I'd rather take a walk and look at the sky, write and receive bullet lists of what our days have held with one of my best friends, in which we don't pontificate or explain too much, or hold my love's hand just to feel its meaning.

Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.
Free. Ego. Space. Growth. Power. Raw. Me. I. Think. Feel. Sexuality. Permission. Revision. Story. Tell.

Whatever. Fuck that noise.

Be.
Do.
Love.
Live.
Repeat.

No explanation necessary.




Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cusping

Learning as I Go

  1. The less often I am afraid to speak my truth, the less often the words are necessary.
  2. Working for myself really is as fantastic as I thought it would be.
  3. It's hard fucking work to be your own boss. And totally worth it.
  4. A client who is pleasant to work with and respects your time and effort is worth ten times more than whatever they are paying you.
  5. A client who treats you like shit will never pay you enough to make it worthwhile (and they rarely pay you as much as the pleasant clients, anyway).
  6. When my house is not clean, I am a mess.
  7. When I'm getting ready for goodbyes, I circle in tight on the people and moments that matter the most and let the rest fall away.
  8. When you genuinely like people as a whole, nice people will find you everywhere and effortlessly.
  9. I have approximately zero interest in who belongs to the who's who in any given social scene. Therefore, I am typically too clueless to be impressed with name dropping. Are you a nice bajillionaire artist? Great. Let's be friends. Are you a super witty, kind homeless dude? Cool. Let's be friends. If you won't cross social barriers, you're missing out. I promise you.
  10. I think everyone should keep a secret list of their superpowers. I bet you have more than you think.
  11. One of my favorite yoga teachers of all time ever was fond of saying, "If you can't smile while you're doing it, it's usually not worth it. That goes for on the mat and off." It's one of my guiding philosophies.
  12. If you love being alive, you can change everything without changing a thing.
  13. If you find someone you love who loves you back, it's beautiful. But if you find someone who loves you unconditionally and you love them unconditionally, and you bring out the best in each other without ever trying to change the other? Say thank you a hundred times a day, make it your religion, and treat it like the holiness that it is.
  14. As my children approach adulthood, I tend to shy away from parenting advice or dogma more and more, beyond, "Love them. Love them. Love them."
  15. One of the only things I will offer up in that arena these days is to beg you to reconsider age segregated friendships. Their lives will be infinitely richer if they are comfortable socializing with people who are much older and much younger. Plus, it's really heartwarming to watch a teenager happily choose to spend their day going to a movie with one of your friends, or coloring with a three year old.
  16. If it matters, don't wait. If it doesn't matter, don't waste your time.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Prayers to an Understanding Woman


 Just this...

Thank you
for her
beautiful
heart
and her
spacious soul

Thank you
for the
knowing
that
transcends
time and space

Thank you
for
the islands
of
freckles
in her green
eyes
where I
am
seen
and
sheltered

Thank you
for the
way her
laugh
fits inside
of mine
with the same
symmetry
as our
entwined
legs
and
interlocking
fingers

Thank you
for this
coexisting
passion
and peace
with
a side
of clarity
and
depth

Thank you
for
the way
she loves
her
children
and
mine
and me

Thank you
for this
Love
that brings
holiness
out
of hiding

Thank you
for
the hollow
bones
of longing
now
filled
with
contentment

Thank you
for
entrusting
me
entrusting
us
to be
us
together

Thank you
for
knowing
I
would rise
to
the occasion
when
I
had sworn
off
love forever

Trust me
to
never
take her
for granted
to
remember
thirty
years from
now
just
how damn
lucky
I am
to have her
and
I will

Take me
home
to her

Take me
home
to her

and
I'll
take care
of
the rest

Promise




Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Raging Storm of Calm

Authentic. It's so overused that it has all but lost its meaning. What does being authentic mean to you? Is it being fully seen by another? Complete honesty? Is it letting it all hang out, no matter what?

I'm all about the honesty factor. Since my children were old enough to comprehend language they've known that they would never, ever get in as much trouble for something they did as they would for lying to me about it. Lying by omission? Same thing. Make it a habit, and unless you came out of my body, you're out of my life.

Being fully seen by another person is a beautiful thing. It's the most reassuring feeling in the world to know that someone's love does not hinge on false perceptions of perfection; that you can be human, and weak, and have annoying habits and still have a soft place to land is a kind of safety and gift that defies words.

And that's where the authenticity line is drawn for me. Because sometimes being fully authentic is a piss poor choice. Honesty is important, but saying what you're thinking is different than acting out your every emotion. Acting them all out is infantile at best and can be dangerous and destructive at its worst.

The last time I had a physical altercation with someone, I was fifteen years old. My children have never been beaten. When they were little and my authentic reaction would have been to spank the shit out of them, I put myself in timeout and told them honestly why I was doing it. They got it. They knew what it felt like to have an out of control temper. My oldest daughter has lived with me, day in and day out, for eighteen full years and claims that I have the patience of a saint. I don't call them names or throw things, and I think I've yelled approximately three times in the past year or two. Had my behaviors always been true to my emotions, this would not be the case.

I don't have the patience of a saint. Not even close. Somewhere along the line, I just realized that feeling something and doing something are two different things and while I had zero say in the things that brought that rage to life, I damn well had the ability and responsibility to learn how to deal with keeping it at bay.

Therapists can be a handy thing for a time, but in the end it boils down to you. And honestly, how many times can you talk about your mother or what happened when you were six before it starts making you more crazy instead of less? For goodness sake. Do it or don't do it. Let it all hang out or act like a decent human being. When it comes to anger and rage, my opinions are strong. Fuck authenticity. Keep that shit on a leash.

When I was younger, I had a lot of people warn me that not allowing my rage to come up and out would eventually cause it to grow and grow until it would come out in some sort of violent explosion or eat me alive. Know what? It didn't. The wildest thing happened. Not feeding it made it weaker. Learning to work with it without pulling other people into my internal shitstorm made me stronger.

I have kids who have zero fear of their mother, and a lot of strong, healthy relationships. When a relationship isn't healthy and shows no sign of changing dramatically any time soon, I let go of it, both for myself and for the other person. And while there was a time twenty plus years ago when the smallest thing could send me into a tailspin of fury, now the feeling of anger, let alone rage, is a rare event. When it does pop up, I know what to do with it, and it's anything but authentic.

I still put myself in timeout. I just call it meditation now. I'll take the calm of practice and self-control over the raging storm of my authenticity any day. I'd rather keep it under control than keep it real.