welp, it’s a birthday listicle

life begins at 40 SOMI’m writing all this before I go away on vacation (today is 12/12). I’m excited that I can leave here and see people I love and care about, which is usually all I want for my unfortunate 40th birthday, which is, by the way, December 25th.

So here’s a listicle of 40 things I’m grateful for enduring and embracing this year.

  1. My room flooding
  2. Sir Coughs-a-Lot, the incessant coughing housemate
  3. energy vamp, the second incessant coughing housemate
  4. Developing better boundaries, especially energetically
  5. Helping a friend move from Miami to D.C.
  6. Staying at the Omni Hotel in D.C.
  7. Twitter
  8. Losing my car again
  9. Letting go of people who weren’t healthy for me
  10. Sour gummies (I should let these go in 2017)
  11. New noise-canceling headphones
  12. Spell work
  13. Scented candles from Bath and Body Works (as long as I’m not allergic)
  14. Those moments of heartfelt connection, kindness, and knowing
  15. Fall and winter sunsets in Florida
  16. The hawk who comes to visit
  17. Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” episode
  18. Getting unemployment
  19. Having a safe place to be during Hurricane Irma
  20. Annie
  21. Dayna
  22. Jamie
  23. Amaya
  24. Nancy
  25. Zikea
  26. Learning about narcissistic mothers
  27. Losing Tom Petty
  28. The solar eclipse
  29. Winning #NaNoWriMo
  30. Lost frogs
  31. One of my patrons who gave me a monetary gift, just when I needed it
  32. Singing loudly in the car with the windows rolled down and the sunroof open
  33. Full moon insomnia
  34. A deeper knowledge of astrology
  35. All the things that I wanted to work out but didn’t
  36. Being a full-time freelancer (whether I wanted to or not)
  37. The groups I floated in and out of
  38. Any time I spent on the beach
  39. Real, deep healing from past hurts and traumas
  40. Every day when I can wake up and try to do this life thing again.

Good Lordy, I’m 40, and I’m just getting started.

Psst… if you want to slip me a birthday gift, feel free:

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A Christmas lament


Photo credit: Dindo Jimenez

I woke up early this morning, 6ish. I saw a Facebook post from a friend that she had posted 4 hours earlier (she lives on the West Coast) about the Coventry Carol’s meaning. Funny enough, she mentioned Annie Lennox, who is born on Christmas Day like I am. Lennox sings the song on her Christmas album.


And here are the lyrics

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.
Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.


O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we sing,
“Bye bye, lully, lullay”?

Herod the king, in his raging,
Chargèd he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor child, for thee
And ever mourn and may
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
“Bye bye, lully, lullay.”


My friend also just had a son this year, so I can imagine how she felt when she learned that this was a lullaby sung by the mothers to their sons who were to be killed. It’s a song I never really listened to or knew about fully.

Although historically, the Massacre of the Innocents was only found in the book of Matthew, and it’s disputed that Herod ever did such a thing, this carol seems to fit my mood–a lament. It’s a droning dirge over the way over my own life has gone, and over my country, and over the world.

There’s so much to ache over, to mourn, to yearn for, to repair, to bridge, and also to cast away.

I try to imagine how Jesus learned about this story, of him fleeing to Egypt with his parents, fleeing for his life (which is a little ironic since the Israelites had been there many years ago in captivity), all because some mad king wanted him dead. The weight of all those babies and toddlers, of all that grief, of all that death. How did Mary and/or Joseph tell him? How did he react? Did he remember coming back from Egypt? Did he remember Egypt at all?

I can’t imagine that Jesus didn’t think about the events of his birth during his life and ministry, of living under Roman occupation. I wonder if it haunted him, or disgusted him, or motivated him–or all of the above.

When I think about how American Christianity, evangelicalism especially, has made Jesus into an apolitical, cuddly bestie, instead of seeing him for who he was: a person born under distress, an early life in exile, and then a life under occupation; a man who saw his people treated like shit on a daily basis, a man who saw the religious leaders in cahoots with their occupiers…sound familiar?

The Coventry Carol reminds me of the contentious time that Jesus was born into, and the heavy calling that he embraced. Both were bloody. Neither were cuddly.

It reminds me of the times that we live in now, where people so casually and callously call for the oppression, deportation, and extermination of others, where we have elected a mad king, elected in part by most evangelicals who had their own “pro-life” agenda. They have their thirty pieces of silver.

So, as we wait for Light’s return with the Winter Solstice, and for the Advent of Christ’s birth, I think about how Jesus is probably one of the most misunderstood and underestimated people in human history.The followers and the followed do not resemble each other. It’s also a contemplation of my own relationship to the Church–status: it’s complicated–born of frustration, of bewilderment, of utter disgust, and of exhaustion.

I also think about the Jesus I encountered at age five. He is not convenient, nor moldable to my agendas. His tenderness is undergirded with fire, a fierce, unrelenting, inclusive love. And Herod knew it, and tried, in vain, to extinguish it with genocide.

How dare he come and bring the Kingdom of God to earth and usurp Herod’s throne. What a redemptive dare.

Christmastime is gilded and festooned with ribbons and wrapping paper. It’s dotted by the cheery eyes of children and punctuated with the contented sighs of full bellies. Even my tiny Grinch heart can’t help but expand a little at the pageantry, even without the added celebration of my own birth.

Yet I can feel something squirming underneath the tree, and dancing in the snow, and even pulsing under the crushing weight of stifling societal expectations. It’s humming in the air of the Christmas carols being sung and the prayers being offered up: the faint yet persistent idea that the Divine isn’t anything that can be boxed up or tied up with a big red bow or stuffed into a stocking.

It is costly and weighty. It is disarming, inconvenient, all-encompassing. It is meant to wreck your world. It is meant to right those eternal wrongs, to free you, and to help to see you, and others, in the peerless mirror of grace.

As you make your way through the gauntlet of the holiday season, may you encounter the Divine. May it wreck you. And as you offer up your own laments and prayers, and may you be seen and heard and loved for who you really are.

The ache of waiting…

light-in-the-dark-1425968It’s Advent season.

Even though I was in the Presbyterian church for a little bit as a kid, I didn’t really grow up with the Church calendar. It was only when I moved to Chicago for college, and even after college, that I learned people who were not Catholic observed Lent and Advent. It’s still strange to think about, even as I’ve watched, and also lit, Advent candles.

A vigil for light’s return.

As I’ve probably said, Christmas is my very unfortunate birthday. So in terms of counting down to the big day, the big day is about my birth, which was harrowing (long story short: shady anesthesiologist, epidural going up too far the spine, my mom is knocked out, somehow I arrive, and my mom hates thinking about my birth).

I don’t even have that much time and emotional space to even reflect on the past year, which has been tumultuous, as the past few years have been here in the Sunshine State. With as much sun, there’s been a whole lot of rain. But I have been in a space of waiting for light to return–and it’s not my birthday twin’s either.

It’s the light that turns off the darkness of survival mode.

Just this morning, I got a donation from a friend that will ensure that my phone will stay on for the phone interview I have next Tuesday.

I live a moment-by-moment life, moments that are life-changing and moments where I have to chase away dread like the loathsome cockroach it is.

Oh great, the car loan folks are calling about payment, again. I really hope I can keep THIS car.

I actually don’t miss ramen. Or Pop-Tarts. Thank goodness. I am sick of eating oatmeal, though.

Rent is being split again. I wonder what other bills I can pay this month.

The Universe, in all its abundance is there, in the midst of these little heart palpitations and resignations and helpless feelings and stark aloneness. And that’s more of a statement of faith than of fact. To know that I’m supported when it feels like I’m only a sack of swirling atoms, ready to make an escape.

I want to be comforted by the everything that the Universe is. It takes some getting used to. This is the time for acclimation.

My phone was kept on a couple of Fridays ago when I got an unexpected settlement check that helped me pay half of what I own. I celebrated, sort of. But moments after, I wondered how I would pay the rest of it.

Now I know. And yet I’m still numb and cold, like a machine just churning, gear by gear.

If I was more intrepid and daring and adventurous, I’d embrace this as another adventure. I have enough Sagittarius in me for that. But the creaky old man Capricorn sun and ascendant just want to be in its easy chair, being easy. I’m pretty feeble, pretty fed up, and altogether exasperated at how all my efforts to save myself seem to fail me. The Mentos commercial ingenuity is not here.

Instead, I’m in a three-legged race with the Universe, who is dragging my ungrateful ass along.

I am waiting for the light to return.

I’m fed and I am clothed. I have shelter. I have transportation. I even have some friends. In this moment, all is well. Some day, like even today, I’m grateful for all of these things and more. But many times, the clouds of fear and dread come over me like the daily summer storms that happen down here. At times, I just have to wait it out, sit in the sullen cloudiness. Other times, I can clear the clouds with hopeful anticipation and fortitude.

As a Capricorn, one of the worst things that I could emotionally experience is helplessness. To know you’re doing all that you can, and the needle from instability to stability barely moves? And now, I don’t even care about asking for help anymore. My pride has been stripped away from this process. But then, many times, those cries for help are met with silence. Maybe it’s better than the “curse God and die” friends of Job. Not sure.

I can’t even ask what’s wrong with me anymore. These circumstances seem a little too orchestrated that I’m the “problem.” It’s the three-legged race. It’s me co-creating with the Universe to have the life that I want and deserve. I must trust, I must trust, I must trust. So, it’s just us–just me and everything that I need.

The expectations of the how and the when and who and the where–they have to be surrendered. I just have to keep hobbling along until we start to get a rhythm that actually looks like walking by faith. Just like the last time I was here, a little afraid and a lot struggling, I’ve been getting just enough to make it to the next obstacle. The problem is never solved all at once. It’s a piecemeal process. As a big picture person, I’ve no patience for this, for anything. The tyranny of urgent is my ruler.

On top of my money life looking like a forest fire, Love, in all its absurd timing, is coming soon–not when I want it. I’m not at all together. I really wanted the money shit to have coalesced, but that’s going to be a longer Capricornian journey up a mountain. So, like many things in life, this will be a both/and situation, not a first, then second situation.

Right now, I look like a dusty firebird that has been flopping around in an ash heap–not that attractive! That confirmation of the big L coming is something I can feel, and it seems rather ridiculous. Just last night, an intuitive told me that, and all my readings have said this for months. The same questions do not apply: how? what? who? where? why now? why not before? This year especially, I keep thinking it had come. I’m waiting for the delivery. But it’s for another house, or I’m just hearing things.

I should be elated. It’s been way too long–like embarrassingly too long. No regrets about it, but it’s one of the things that makes my birthday more and more bitter and unpleasant. Society pressures to be with someone (and I mean like any person), but you get to that age that you can’t be the nth wheel anymore. But do you want to be The Hermit tarot card on your birthday? Maybe some people do–I realize I don’t.

Instead of elation, I feel exhaustion, and a bit of doneness. Done with the searching and the trying and the heart being open. I am rolling my eyes as I type, that’s how done I am. You go so long hoping that your hope loses air. It wears out like an old tire. It’s not worth inflating again. You just lay it down and focus on things you can control–like nothing. OK, like my attitude.

Frankly, I’m too distracted from being broke, so whomever is going to show up like some magical genie in my life, it’ll have to be pretty freaking phenomenal because I really care about my financial stability above all else. Really, really, really.

I find my faithlessness to be sad because I did the National Novel Writing Month–and this should be a whole different post, but I’m going to shoehorn this in here to prove a point about my exhaustion.

Speaking of exhaustion, I did that in 8 days, not 30. Being distracted by my own poverty, and the election, I couldn’t bear to write about any sort of romance, any sort of anything. November was unpleasant.

Something unexpected happened when I was writing my final scene as the 30th day of NaNoWriMo was heading into midday. It was probably the most intense thing I’ve ever written. The couple I had been writing about had just gotten married and the woman’s insecurity was harpooning her doting husband, repeatedly. I got them through that morass of sorrow, although they were facing yet another obstacle–a racist mom that the husband seems to be tied to. Anyway, beautiful scenes, I was impressed by myself, I cried when I was done writing–and that never happens (I’m sure it was because I was physically exhausted, too).

I swear this ties into the love coming attractions stuff–bear with me! So, I’m not a novelist, I’m a memoirist and personal essayist. But there was something about writing about these two people, and reading about them, and getting emotionally invested in their happiness and wellbeing, that moved some emotional blocks out of the way for me–mainly blocks of disbelief. Not that I was writing my own life, but I was able to create a realm of possibility for me that I don’t know if I’ve ever had. The love they shared rubbed off on me. I wanted the intimacy they had, and just by experiencing through them, I felt whole. I felt like I walked around in loving warmth that whole week.

The whole process was really transformative. I fell in love with creative writing again, which I didn’t think was possible. Especially just accomplishing basically the impossible–it gave me some hope, even for my financial situation. If I can write over 50,000 words in 8 days, then what else can I do?

I’m over that high now, but at least I can reference that big personal win as a turning point in this stint of unemployment. It was when I desperately needed to believe in something bigger than myself–and it was my novel; and, in the idea that other possibilities, other worlds, other people, other experiences are available to me, right now.

By the way, this novel has a lot of emotional importance for me. It got shitcanned in grad school. This Taurus classmate basically was the catalyst for my current metaphysical journey. He was so concerned that I had a bad workshop (and I did. He also may have been just concerned about not looking like a dick). And then I somehow started to connect to him psychically, which kinda drove me into anxious fits because  I could hear and feel that he really loved me, or so I intuited, and he wasn’t conscious of what he was emitting to me.That story is a whole other blog post, for sure. I still can barely understand it, but if it wasn’t for that guy, I would not be here, chronicling my wild and wacky life.

So. I’m 100% sure love–real, curl my toes love–will come before money. And that’s fucking wild to me. Not my idea, not my plan. Clearly, I need it. Clearly, or it would come in my more “logical” order.

Adding those two Venusian elements together, money and love, and I have never been more bewildered and confused about what’s going on in my life. Capricorns don’t live in confusion. They create plans in order to prevent confusion, or they plan their ways out of confusion. I can’t plan my way out of this, or work my way out of this. I can’t even beg my way out of this.

So yeah, man–I’m in the fucking three-legged race, bound up with the Universe. All I can do is keep asking is for divine help. I throw shit up to angels all the time now. There’s not much else to do besides that and apply for jobs and watch my applications go into black holes and keep fucking trying even when I’m wondering how Sisyphean my life has become. Is this just the life of the brainstem now? Just…existing?

Who am I outside of a job and all the trappings of adulthood? Who am I becoming as I am being stripped again?

I am not going through this for nothing. I am not going through this for nothing. I am not going through this for nothing. I am not going through this for nothing. I am not going through this for nothing.

So, the ache of waiting–it’s destroying me to the point that I can’t even pay attention to it anymore. I try to lean into the pain, if it doesn’t lay me out first. Sometimes it does. I go about my day. I try not to let me think that I’m existentially doomed, that nothing will change, that I will die in this rented room. I have to believe in the constancy of change, like I believe in gravity. I have to tell despair to fuck off so many times. It’s like a barracuda that keeps coming at me and I beat it off of me as if my life depended on it–and it does.

I have to keep redefining myself by not the things or people I’m scared to lose. I am something else outside of these people, places, and things that I am discovering, that I am re-discovering, like how NaNoWriMo helped me to see.

I’m waiting to be normal again, to be self-sufficient again, to be in a community of 2 or 12 or 20 or 200 again, to be more than a brainstem that’s just existing again.

I’m waiting for restoration.

I don’t know when my proverbial Winter Solstice or Christmas will come, when I’m eased back into the light, seconds at a time. My own soul’s Advent calendar looks like I’ve had it for years. It’s so beat up and falling apart. It’s being propped up by books and CDs and my own sheer will. I have no idea how many doors left until it’s done. I just open a new door every day and find the treat inside.

And sure, I’ll probably lose my shit when Gabriel comes down in some glittery glory and announces some good news. I will be caught off guard, just minding my own business, falling asleep as I’m tending to the herd of my own dreams.

Still. As I wait for light’s return, it all comes down to the surrendering of what is–past due bills, isolation, ramen for lunch, another job application, the rolling of eyes, the sighing, the crying, the not crying…

And more waiting.

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