When I’m In Need Of Hope, I Start Seeds

When I’m In Need Of Hope, I Start Seeds

When I’m in need of hope
I start seeds.
Bell peppers and cherry tomatoes from the grocery store
yielding a greater return on investment
than any Wall Street daydream;
oregano and chamomile from the box in the top of the closet,
powder-fine and weightless in my hand;
my small stash of
precious grape-purple poppies,
illicit only if you know you know.
Black soy beans, and
brussel sprouts, because we like them,
and kale – which we’ll use in soup,
if I can get it to grow. 

When I’m in need of hope,
I start seeds;
this year,
my garden will be full. 

 

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Post-Apologetic [It’s Still Kinda Raw]

Post-Apologetic [It's Still Kinda Raw]

Post-Apologetic [It's Still Kinda Raw]

“I can’t fake it till I make it right now. I’m still really hurt and need time to process that. I’m sorry.”

There’s only so many times you can reach out just to be told that’s the best they can do, sorry you need more, but they don’t feel bad and aren’t sorry for any of it, because they did the best they could.

There’s only so many times you can feel the aubergine and black heartbreak arc underneath your skin before you can’t pretend to overlook it in favor of the cerulean and sunny skies they see – because you show up for them.

There’s only so many times when telling them what you need becomes an argument before apologies won’t hold off the apocalyptic end of something you’d hoped would last.

There’s only so much fighting for it before the scars from the last time are still too fresh that no pretending the next day will make it better.

There’s only so long before it’s too raw the day after what felt like the apocalypse of two that you can’t pretend to feel loved. That no apology will be enough of a salve to soothe the burn of that kind of explosion.

There’s only so long before it’s Post-Apologetic.

24″ x 36″
Acrylic on canvas.

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A poem I wrote while talking to my best friend, and published against wiser advice

A poem I wrote while talking to my best friend, and published against wiser advice

it runs under my skin
like blue green fire runs along the surface
of charcoal logs it has consumed –
silent, wickedly hot, and hungry,
hungry for more of me
even after I placed everything I had
in the offering flames;

say nothing
show nothing
keep going as if it never hurt,
because it won’t make a difference if it did –
consequences don’t exist like that for them;

say nothing because
they’ll use it against you
show nothing for the same reason;
we bear their consequences.

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for the sheer joy of the experience

for the sheer joy of the experience

It feels the same way as when
one friend uses cheesy pick up lines on me –
still
after almost 20 years of friendship 
(and five kids and three marriages between us later)
because they still appreciate me and making me laugh –
even if it’s not ever That Way.
It’s the same as when
an Almost But Not still greets me with
“Good morning, Beautiful!”
because as far as they are concerned
well, I obviously am
so it’s just stating the truth,
and there’s no such thing as
too many compliments if you mean them.
It’s the way my best friend reminds me
of why we are best friends,
and we laugh until 1am
and talk all the heavy things
over gin and ranting
and getting nothing else done.

It’s the way
I made myself lunch today – 
brisket lettuce wraps
with brisket I smoked and seasoned myself
and homemade mayo –
instead of just eating
whatever I could snarf down while walking
between the soap room and the garage studio,
and again at dinner –
something I took time to make for myself
because I deserve that care and consideration too.
I deserve that enjoyment.

It’s the way this afternoon, exhausted from
fighting with a rollercoaster of  hard feelings I said:

look, stop telling yourself no
because you think someone thinks you should 

And I went and got that cheap merlot wine I wanted,
and I got my middle child spicy Doritos
and then came home to write
and talk with friends –
to do something for no other reason
than I wanted to do it
and it made me happy.

How long have I been denying myself
creature comforts
and small pleasures
in the name of propriety 
and accomplishment
and good enough?

//My entire life.

And so I allow
my brisket lettuce wraps 
and red wine
and loud music
and compliments from friends
and maybe not working until 9pm
and the things that
give my physical soul comfort,
like words on this page,
like paint on the canvas;
me showing up for 
the sheer joy of the experience. 

It is important.
It is how you know what love is.

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Tomatoes & Mayonnaise

Tomatoes and mayonnaise. 

I’ll eat that for weeks on end when tomatoes are in season. I’ll even make my own mayo from scratch, with a bit of garlic and hot peppers. It’s so simple, I know – I’ve been asked more than a few times: “Is that all you’re having?”

The answer is always Yes. 

A simple thing done very, very well is sublime. To not be overwhelmed by competing sensory experiences, to focus completely on one thing and experience it fully, truly, and let everything that made it what it is echo through what it is. The savory, salty, slightly spicy mayonnaise giving way to the tang of the earth and sun and rain and warmth of spring and summer coming through the tomatoes. If you let it, it will have you closing your eyes just to sink deeper into the experience. 

Maybe tomatoes and mayonnaise aren’t your thing – maybe you have your own version of this. But if you understand, you know exactly what that thing is. There’s that smile on your face thinking of it. The memory, the sensory memory, is one you can call up at will, no matter how long it’s been. You know.

I’m not a minimalist for what it’s worth – I enjoy art and Art Nouveau and walls filled with photos and frames and bookshelves entirely too much for that – but there is an unparalleled level of satisfaction in having the opportunity to appreciate the nuance of simple things, the joy in discovering their hidden complexity when given your full awareness. 

(And yes, this is a metaphor about much more than just tomatoes and mayonnaise. But it’s also about tomatoes and mayonnaise, which I am having for dinner tonight.)

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Airplane Mode

The airplane mode key on my laptop
reminds me of you, you know.
That little icon flying
left to right
just over halfway through it’s
symbolic and stationary trip
across the expanse of my keyboard;
It feels like time does
when we’re halfway between 
the flights that mark the transitions
between you and I
and us:
I know it’s supposed to be moving
but it doesn’t seem like it. 

I have been in a relationship 
(it’s well past dating, let’s be honest)
for almost 5 months now –
and maybe that sounds…
well to each their own assumptions –
but regardless, it’s both impossibly good
and terrifyingly difficult. 
This person,
they’re Good,
even if they don’t quite seem to acknowledge it;
their humility and self awareness is a credit to them.
They’re kind and brilliant and loving,
and a list of other things
they’d probably face palm at me listing openly,
but regardless, its a long list.
Recognizing that this person
is a Good person,
who has done The Work to heal
and be a good partner
and be compassionate and empathetic,
it’s been a bucket of cold water
on what I expected
after years of
abuse, gaslighting, guilt, games, avoidance, and so on.
The growth it’s asking of me,
to show up and learn how to
ask for what I need
requires confronting just how much
of my own behaviors
have been protective and defensive;
how much I am 
waiting for backlash or stonewalling,
and the unlearning I’m doing.
The tools I’ve been teaching myself
so I can show up honestly.
It’s hard to trust,
and there’s a tremendous amount of reservation
hesitation
and worry 
each time I say
almost anything.
But here I am, trying anyway,
still hopeful.

On the other side of hesitation
I’m realizing how much I don’t hesitate.
I’m realizing just how much
loss and death
changes you. 
I love differently now. 
I make choices differently. 
I know all too well
that you are not guaranteed tomorrow,
and that has me 
caught between
not wanting to give up on possible good things
but also not willing
to waste what time I have. 
I have found a
brutal sort of pruning honesty within me,
and I am not always comforted by it’s existence.
It is also difficult at times for me to remember
that those who haven’t lost that deeply
are more cautious with change,
and do not have quite the same
fragile sense of time. 
At times I might seem
frenetic or kinetic
because I know
I am not guaranteed tomorrow,
not with those I love,
not with the work I want to do,
not with myself. 
I’ve known for
entirely too long
life is a fragile tenuous thing,
silver chain links
easily pulled apart,
sometimes by your own hands.

I have said that
frequent long visits
with death and suicidal ideation
made me realize that
if I am not afraid of death,
what do I have to be afraid of?
If I am not afraid of dying,
the theoretical worst thing that can happen,
what do I have to be afraid of?
Possibly not living as much as I can. 

“The problem is,
you think you have time.”

It was one of the last things 
Steve posted on Facebook before he died,
and he knew, and 
it haunts me a bit
because for years
I tried to live and love
knowing it was going to end
sooner than I could ever be satisfied with.

And then there’s me now,
often trying to find the strength
and the will
to keep going one more day
and also
feeling time flow through and past me
like breath from my lungs;
me, balancing on its silver threads and chains,
me, trying to find a balance
between 
deciding if I can make it through
all the time I have left
and if I will ever have enough left.

I do not yet have
good words
to describe the feeling
of the hope
that maybe there’s love and joy
and arms left for me to call home,
combined with the known 
of how love lost breaks you. 
It takes more courage than I have
more often than not
to let myself love you
when I know
both of those things,
but I keep telling you:
I believe you’re worth it. 

I hope you feel that way too,
you who is hearing these words. 

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