45 days past

times som

So over six weeks ago, I took a long break from social media. I was really busy with work and needed to focus on it. But also, I wanted to avoid all the holiday hubbub that had absolutely nothing to do with me, even with a Christmas birthday.

Bah humbug, basically. It does make me wonder if Scrooge was a Capricorn.

Ultimately, this has been something I’ve been wrestling with for years–what is social media’s use to me, besides making me feel like I’m not enough and too much?

I’ve reckoned with the looming fact that as much as I have been online for my entire adult life, I don’t really understand social media anymore. And maybe I never did.

It makes me feel competitive and jealous over appeared differences, and that makes me feel ill–mainly the humblebrag that isn’t humble, just bragging. I imagine if I was in a face-to-face conversation with someone, telling me about great their life is…well, no one wants to hang with that person, and very rarely do people talk like that. But on social media, it’s totally OK!

Recently, I was reading posts like this on Instagram and Facebook and it made me punchy. It’s not that I begrudge anyone of their successes, nor their celebration of them–even if for me, 2018’s only true success was that I SURVIVED. It’s just…I don’t know how this discourse became so braggadocious.

And maybe posts like that inspires or heartens others. And sure, I’m definitely in a place in my life that could use some inspiration and uplift. But somehow, when it’s said on social media, it doesn’t feel inclusive. It feels very impersonal, and like we’re competing for some unattainable prize of most awesome.

If you have even one modicum of dissatisfaction in your life, social media will exploit it. 


Anyway, it’s nothing new, right? We’ve all felt less than after reading someone’s post about how fucking amazing their lives are. And then the winter holidays make those albeit natural but very weighty feelings even more heavy. I felt both like Scrooge and Tiny Tim at the same time, even before Thanksgiving.

So, I mercifully logged off, because no one needs to feel even more alone during the holidays while watching people celebrate with friends and family (as they edit out all the tough conversations and heartache and grief), and you are a party of one–which there should be no shame in. 

So while I was away, I finally decided not to be ashamed of my life, which goes beyond the holidays. It’s not easy to not compare your life to someone else’s when you’re online, even when you know that so much of this fake or at least not the whole story. So logging off solved that. It may be something I do every year, no matter how awesome or awful my life is, because it really fucks with your head and your sense of worth, even if everything is OK.

What if life could be better? Why aren’t you having people around that love you? Why aren’t you financially successful? Why are you hashtag blessed? 

Well, the messy and complicated answer to these almost ridiculous questions is–well, there are a lot of reasons–many of them you can’t control, and some of them you will never be able to ascertain or perceive. 

I believe, I hope, I filled all those heart-holes that social media is always trying to widen and fill with resentment. It’s probably going to be a process because part of me is like, whoa, how did I get here? I used to not give a flying fuck about this stuff. And in that way, social media isn’t necessary the root of that problem. That’s just my life sucking. 

But here’s the difference for me–I remember back in the 90s turning to social media when my life was sucking. I found a lot of amazing people to be friends with. There was no competition or bragging or curating or branding or selling. It was just people talking about each other’s lives.

So back then, social media was a savior and a beacon during a long bout of clinical depression. But now, social media has become completely the opposite. And I’m not even talking about harassment. That’s a whole separate topic, which thankfully, for now, I have rarely experienced. 

Whatever deeper connections I was looking for online, like I found in my youth, I don’t really believe they are there like that…anymore, like ripened fruit dropping from trees. Now, I tend to just luck upon them, and even then they don’t last very long.


So one of the biggest things I’ve had to come to peace with is the age that I live in now. It’s not the 90s or the 20th century anymore. We are well within this millennium and century and decade, and for me, it’s too impersonal and transactional for me.

Also, there’s a generational shift. I’m not millennial enough to get this social landscape anymore (although it’s arguable that some Gen Xers created this mess we’re). And although there are probably plenty of Gen Xers killing this game…well, that’s the thing. This has never been some game for me. If social media is just a popularity contest, then I will always lose. I’m fine with that since I understand that is a game. In 1997, it was just me talking to people about stuff. Now it’s commerce and buying fake followers and YouTube views. 

This has been the longest time I haven’t been on social media, and I finally feel like I fell out of step with the emotional tone of this…place. For example, I was lurking a couple of days ago, seeing people I know and love rage-tweet about something that just didn’t seem to be worth the energy. If I had been on there all the time, I may have been more into this, but it just seemed almost like a privilege to sit around and bitch. I could be wrong about the topic, which I will not mention, but it was something that wouldn’t really directly affect me. 

And maybe that’s something I should digger deeper in, too. Maybe I get caught up in rage storms just because I’m there, like I’m a piece of driftwood. It’s not like what matters to me is rage tweeted by others, either.

That speaks to the cult of personality that I have never been into or never will be. My personality doesn’t really invoke a following, but that’s how you make it in the world today–which, whatever, I’m opting out.

So I suck at this, hardcore. And yet, I didn’t used to. The landscape has changed. And I’m tired of being frustrated about it because that’s what social media now is designed to do. It’s like one long commercial provoking you to hate yourself and other people. It feels dirty and gross.

I mean, clearly–it’s not the only way social media works. At least one of you reading this right now found me through social media. So I’m not completely terrible at it. But in a numbers game? After 10 years, there should be more to show for it. Allegedly. And I don’t even need to invoke quantity vs. quality here. Twitter, for example, is a very transient place. Lots of people I knew who were on more regularly have gone.

Still, being myself, being “authentic” doesn’t work in the way I’ve “marketed” myself as a brand. What “value” am I adding? Who the fuck knows?

All those truisms work for some people, but not everyone. Yet everyone gets on this mindless treadmill to get to this unreachable place of popularity because that’s what all those stupid likes and retweets force us to do to be allegedly relevant.

To that end, if you haven’t watched the holiday special Aggretsuko: We Wish You a Metal Christmas on Netflix, you should (here’s a review from io9). 


My “game” has always been to connect and I saw the internet as a way to connect to people I otherwise wouldn’t AND as a way to keep in touch with people I rarely saw. But, at least on a metric level, I just can’t do this here. I can barely stand that it’s OK to tweet to someone and not reply–and this person can be your friend. I still find that to be rude because there’s no way that would fly offline (although it’s happened to me offline, too). Yet somehow, if we’re online, it’s OK to (pretend to) be distracted.

It makes me just ask: so…why are you actually here? 

It’s not to say that I still don’t have some good people in my life from the internet. And the internet IS IRL. More and more, our lives are being reliant to being online. I couldn’t work without the internet. But it’s more that my offline life isn’t being augmented by my online life–like it used to be.

So maybe if I made connecting offline more of a priority in all ways, I can find what I used to find back in the happy, shiny 90s. Even connecting with myself more these past six weeks has been great, dare I say a necessity. I loved this story from over the holidays where this woman logged off for a week and tried to read 30 books in this time. She read 12, but good for her.

And, while I was away, I’d be remiss to not mention all the ridiculous news re: Facebook and how it handed our data on a silver platter to companies. Social media is a gotdamn shitshow.

Oh, one last rant about online life and then I’ll update you on my offline activities–people suck at email. For example, I’ve been trying to write a few stories and talk to my sources. I know it’s still kind of the holidays but seriously?! Maybe I should have taken off some more time.

I really don’t feel like I was made for these times. Maybe I was born too late, but that would make me an insufferable Baby Boomer. Ugh.


Anyway, so I’m back online now. And I feel like I’ve changed a lot, which I will write about later. It could be coincidental to having lived a life where I wasn’t curating my thoughts online, but I doubt it.

Here’s the running list of things I had to say while I was away:

  1. The Pet Shop Boys are perfection. I believe I started listening to them in earnest because I was listening to a lot of Robbie Williams, whom I also love and adore. He did a cover of their cover of “We’re the Pet Shop Boys” so I was intrigued. I listened to their whole discography and pretty much liked everything. It was great to listen to while I worked, but then I would get distracted. I really want this book by Neil Tennant One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem which is on my Christmas Birthday Wishlist if you want to get it for me. *wink wink*
  2. Australians have given us a lot of slang. The word “selfie” is an Aussie word. I learned that from this side work I did which took up a lot of the time while I was away from social media.
  3. Motown really is amazing. Another thing I learned from my sidework. I watched In the Shadow of Motown later and learned about the greatest bassist who ever lived, James Jamerson. I wrote about that for my patrons on Patreon if you want to read it. 
  4. I’m from Alabama and had no idea that Muscle Shoals was a thing at all. I watched the music doc Muscle Shoals and had no idea that Helen Keller, Sam Phillips, and W.C. Handy were from there. I also had no idea about the music studios and producers that helped to create iconic albums from the 60s and 70s. I honestly thought it was in southern Alabama, too, not northern Alabama. I once had a friend who lived in Florence, which is a part of that area. So basically, I had no idea where she lived.
  5. I listened to the top 2018 songs on Spotify and it all sounds the same. I decided on New Year’s Eve to listen to Spotify’s playlist and it was just variations of The Hamsterdance Song. I really wasn’t missing out on much except maybe the Black Panther soundtrack. My ears bled otherwise.
  6. OMG, the Chicago Bears are doing well! WTF? I really missed Twitter when the Bears were playing. They freaking beat the Green Bay Packers. And then I watched them play the Minnesota Vikings and win. I cannot believe we’re headed to the playoffs!
  7. The is macabre, but the Catherine wheel should have been one of those times God flood the earth again. I was listening to a Crowded House album, one of the deluxe versions with outtakes and demos, and they had some lovely song about the Catherine wheel, which I never knew what it was. I knew it was some 90s band that I never listened. It was a medieval torture and killing device which I still don’t even understand because it was so ghastly. I’m not even going to write about it, but man–Europeans have some fucking issues, and that is putting it mildly. That would have been an epic tweetstorm, but alas, I was offline. 

Anyway, that’s just a few of the things I almost wish I was online to talk about.


I tend to want to come to complete answers and solutions quickly, but my relationship with social media is more of an ongoing conversation. The conversation has changed over the past decade. So while I was offline, I mourned that this virtual place has become a place of longing and not lasting connection. It’s an early adopter issue, for sure.

So basically, I don’t know how to be a healthy, connected human on here like I’m used to. I can only do that by being on here less. I put way too much of my heart and emotions into something that has given my diminishing returns. That insanity ended last year. 

I just can’t take this place as seriously anymore, even though there are clearly serious ramifications from being online.

So when it comes to disseminating my own thoughts and feelings about anything online, I realized I was mainly speaking in a cold, dark room with very little light. Or, like a few years ago in grad school through a Facebook and blogging mishap, I was speaking to people who were insecure (just like I was). So at the very least, I’ll speak to people who want to listen.

If social media had helped me with my immediate needs, with poverty and loneliness, I’d be a lot more grateful. But really, a big lesson from this sabbatical was that I had to learn to deal with this stuff myself–at least this time, that’s what was required. And I’m really proud that I dug myself out of this hole. I feel less anxious, abandoned, and ashamed. I feel more like myself, more expansive, more like a real person with real emotional needs.

Social media isn’t really about my relationship to the rest of the world or American society, though–it just pretends to be that conduit. Yet it can be a very powerful distortion that unfortunately starts to affect society and the people in it. The past few weeks, I had to remind myself I had more control of how I feel and how I communicate with others–if at all.

This isn’t a zero-sum game. And it’s not even a game I have to play at all.

So my hope is that my life will look a lot more like it was in the early aughts than it does now–more balanced, more with people I love and who love me, and less concerned about people I may never meet offline.

This may be real life, being online, but it doesn’t have to be my whole life any longer.


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Thanks for your support! Happy Holidays! 💘

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(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

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Photo by Graham Hunt on Unsplash

After six weeks of hard hustling and work, I’m taking ten days off of work. That’s one way to start #CapricornSeason! 😉 But sometimes all that free time freaks me out, especially after working so much for so long.

It reminds me that I don’t really have anyone to spend that time with.

It’s two days before my birthday, what the rest of you call Christmas, and all I have planned is to read a romance novel and eating chocolate cake…and possibly listening to Christmas music.

This year, it hurts a lot to listen to Christmas music. I have a lot of it. But I don’t feel very merry, even though it’s finally gotten cold in the Sunshine State, and…I’m not broke, for once. I’m deeply grateful for both of those things.

But I will be here, in my room, alone. And, I feel like I’ve let myself down–and not just for Christmas. But with everything. And sure, I’m entirely too hard on myself, but maybe it’s a reckoning of how much I don’t have in my control while discovering what I actually do have in my control.

Things, things in my life, should look better and brighter than they do.

And, somehow, by committing to being a writer instead of…I don’t know what else, really besides being a doctor…I’ve dug myself into this hole that I can’t seem to get myself out of. It’s a bit of a miserable, dingy hole, but it is my hole. At least I can be honest with myself in this hole.

So this week, I won’t be painting on smiles and hanging out with people I can’t stand. And most of my adult life, I’ve spent Christmases with other people. As I get older, I’m spending more Christmases by myself. I was doing this before it was cool to do–and it’s still apparently not cool to do, as I read about people dealing with relatives they can’t stand.

All it took was one bad Christmas at home after I came back from my first quarter at college to make sure I wouldn’t come back often.

Even if I may sound tough and hardened, it still feels pathetic and awful, especially since it’s my birthday. Society compounds those feelings.

But this is my choice. I just haven’t found anything else worth choosing more than solitude.


And this spills out more from just the holidays, although the holidays make it more acute and painful (unless you decide that Tuesday is just another day that you get to be alive).

It’s time to crank out the old refrain again: this year has been one of grief and loss, one that I can scarcely believe that I lived. Some crazy ass highs and some fathomless lows.

At the beginning of the year, I said mainly to myself, but also to others, that I wanted to be more aligned this year. But I had no idea how misaligned I was when I said it. And how much it would take to become more aligned.

And aligned to what? Well, to what’s best for me.

My constant refrain has been about all the people I’ve lost, people I thought would be around for a long time…I’m frankly still in shock about it.

So when I think about trying to meet new people next year, I feel incredibly gunshy–for once. I’m scared there will be more leaving and abandonment, more rejection, more misunderstanding. And that’s really tiresome, even though that’s a big part of life. In this moment, I don’t feel up for the risk.

I recently joined another community of people who are more like me, and I just couldn’t bear to write some introductory post. 

I was catching up with the TV show “A Million Little Things” and I burst into sobs as one character, who is so beautifully open with his feelings, was celebrating his first year of remission from breast cancer. But his friend had committed suicide a few weeks before (kind of the premise of the whole show) and he was livid that he wasn’t alive. It was so raw and real, the anger and sorrow. I understood it so well. And it felt good to cry over similar losses.

My unending shock about people taking a hike from my life is not about this year alone–I think it’s about 40 years of living, loving, and losing. It’s all caught up with me, and it feels heavy and unbearable.

Last night, I had a dream about a former friend. We hugged so tightly, it hurt. I don’t think I’ve ever hugged someone that hard in my life.

And as I was letting go, they held onto me. So I hugged back longer. That’s never happened to me, either. I always hold on too long…

It felt so normal and then when I woke up, it took a while for me to realize that was a dream and not a memory…and that I had dreamed about that person, again.

Grief is weird.


I had written a friend this amazing email this month and it hasn’t been responded to. I seriously doubt it will be. I am so tempted to publish it because it was so good.

I did feel afraid, after the fact, that I was being so honest about how I felt about myself, about how I saw life, that I had said so much so passionately. Maybe it was a premonition. And then I felt so much shame, like I wasn’t taking care of myself, like I was open to someone who maybe hadn’t earned it. Maybe I misread…

But it felt so good to be really, unabashedly me, yet I was afraid I wouldn’t get a response–and then, my fears were realized.

And hey, I could be wrong. It’s the holidays now. But as soon as I sent it, it felt like too much–even if it was right for me. But I have no regrets in what I wrote.

What was unexpected was what happened next. This brought up old (self-inflicted) wounds from high school, where I wrote a lot of letters. Although I don’t think about this a lot, I’m still ashamed of this part of me, how epistolary I was.

There was one guy I had a crush on that I wrote and he never wrote back. I quite stupidly pestered him and he just kept blowing me off. Wow, this actually happened with two guys. I couldn’t even tell you what I felt so impo

I keep wondering…this part of me hasn’t changed in over 20 years. Is being this open and honest a good thing for me or not? Should I be choosier? Are these people all swine, and are my words pearls?

I keep hearing about how being yourself really pays off. But it feels like I haven’t hit paydirt yet.

Boy, this sounds snobby, but remember…or, um, let me let you in on a little secret: I’m the weirdo here–the levels of honesty and candor that I have are higher than most and most people are just not cut out for that level of transparency. For me, this came from living in a house where people weren’t honest or open with each other. My life has been an outright rebellion against silence and hiding.

And yet, I still have many levels of opacity, too. I’m not as clear as a newly-washed window. None of us are.

I admit that sometimes I’ve used the transparency as a way to blind people and push them away. But I don’t do that anymore.

Also, I keep repeating the parental dynamics I grew up with (spoiler alert–we all do). That dude from high school might as well be my mother.

My parents weren’t very cuddly or hands-on with me, and so I developed a talent of drawing in people who were on the outside. I thought it was because I felt on the outside, too. And I’m sure that was a part of it.

But it just seems to be me that I have been trying to connect with people who aren’t actually that interested in me (like my parents). Because it’s a challenge to convert the unconvertible. And then, when you do succeed, you get extra special gold stars. Or something like your parents’ love and affection. 

(Pssst. You don’t get anything close to that.)

And that’s just a part of it. The other part is my expansiveness. It’s like a flood of information and feelings, and it can come without warning. I’ve seen it perplex people into silence and laughter.

And that’s when I don’t really feel like I get how to be human, here and now. I know it can be a turn-off to most, because most people like hiding. That includes me sometimes. 

But I realize, as I sit in the alleged ash heap of my allegedly ruined life, I can’t stop being me. I refuse to retool this part of me any longer, especially since I’ve spent most of my life trying to bundle this up and keep it hidden. If (I think that) this is the worst thing about me, then I know that there are so many worse things to be.

This isn’t the worst thing to be.

It’s a bit of a vicious feedback loop, though–the buds of rejection from others can bloom into self-rejection.


Earlier this year, in one of the last times I talked to this rather dreamy person, I remember them encouraging me to keep talking and how I could barely handle that encouragement. And it was so genuine…*inwardly swoons*

I was so used to not hearing any encouragement like that, I just kept going with the same song and dance that I was terrible and annoying for being so talkative and opinionated. And interestingly, my encouragement of them was somewhat rebuffed in the same way (which is actually why I stopped talking to them–because there was way too much ghosting).

And this is just a sidenote, but one worth mentioning: handling each other’s wounds, even if you’re a gentle as a dove, it can still feel like a serpent’s bite. It helps to have some self-compassion and compassion for others if the grace you offer to extend doesn’t get received well. Most of the time, it’s not about the giver, but the receiver. The pain can be too overwhelming to see that relief is near and available.


Being myself is so costly. There are no parades or parties being thrown in my honor.

Congratulations, you’re a loquacious person with big, scary feelings that you express with aplomb and with extra vigor, and that overwhelms most people! You’re so open about how you feel, people are scared to fall into the abyss of you! You make space for other people’s feelings but it’s not being well reciprocated! Well done with this being a human thing! You are killing it.

So this is me, embracing the suck of being me.

But instead of being neurotic about how I am with other people, I can be more comfortable with my uncomfortableness, with my awkwardness, with my loneliness, with my big scary, feelings, with all the lack–and then find my inherent value in my essence, and not in any of these things that I or society deem to be terrible.

I can embrace that I try really hard to make people comfortable, that I’m super effusive over people I really like, that I overshare because I see my life and my feelings as gifts and lessons to share. And when people do the same, I feel like I’m being gifted with something really precious and wonderful.

I can maybe even start to laugh when people predictably react to who I am. Oh boy, we have another runner! Buh bye, buddy, buh bye!

And actually, I used to be a lot more laugh at my calamity type when I was in my 20s. But I think it was because 1) I was less serious and 2) I felt like eventually things would work out, that I had time for things to work out. But turning 40 was like an uh-oh moment…I haven’t gotten to “eventually.” I don’t like these “things” and I’m still not sure they will work out.

Of course, if I tell this to someone who was 70, they’d maybe say I have a lot more time than I think…

Look. I know that I’m not for everyone, and I’m ultimately glad that people who have left have left–but it’s hard not to have this erode one’s sense of self or self-esteem, because I don’t live in a vacuum (unfortunately). And then you read stuff like this and think…well, I could have written this.

If people keep leaving, there’s something wrong with me…right?

I have to stop seeing myself as some problem to solve. I have to stop seeing people as challenges to win (hello, I’m a double Capricorn). 

I must start appreciating my fearlessness about love, even if it has yet to be appreciated by anyone else for very long.


Something I said in that long and glorious unanswered email to my friend was how I couldn’t understand how two men in my life this year were so afraid of whatever we were creating (and me) that they both imploded in a fit of self-sabotage. And yes one of them was the dreamy person I was writing about earlier.

I don’t really understand how you can be afraid of love.

And maybe that’s because growing up without it for so long, when you really experience it, there’s no way you can take it for granted. There’s no way you’d be willing to settle for anything else.

So knowing what life and love that I could have, I’m deeply sad and disappointed that I don’t really have that love in my life right now. I feel like I’m at least a decade late in receiving it and being able to give it without thinking I’m the unlovable weirdo. It’s very bizarre to me, to be living this life, instead of the one I envisioned when I was 17.

So as the holidays are great at magnifying, I’m sad and actually disturbed that I don’t have a family of my own, that I can’t seem to find my step or stride here in Florida, that I had take some job I didn’t want to take to stop being poor, that I feel washed up and yet completely unused and unseen at almost 41 and I haven’t accomplished anything of worth to me except survival.

At the same time, I’m supremely proud of myself that I have survived, that I didn’t succumb to the darkness that was swirling around me, that I even banished darkness and evil from this house, that I do have money in the bank, that I have work to do, that I still have a chance to get all the things I still want.

I know this year was taking the harder road (which feels like it chose me more than I chose it) the more-worthwhile-in-the-end road, the one that’s beyond goals and even self-fulfillment.

I can see how I’ve reached to the core of me, to that part of me that is indestructible…


It’s interesting how when you lose so much, you start to realize what you really want. You don’t get the luxury of being cute or coy or arch about it. The desperation and the desolation are ungraceful but true.

I want to belong to someone who can match or exceed my fearlessness. I want to pass down that fearlessness to my children. I want to be a part of a loving community that works to create a better world for everyone. I want to work with people that value me, my work, and my time. I want to see more of the world, as much of it as I can. I want to create music that I’m proud of. I want to write for people who like what I write.

And I have to be OK with not getting any of this, because none of it is guaranteed. But I have to keep working towards it anyway, even if every day that passes and my arms remain empty, it seems to strongly suggest that I don’t deserve it.

Even if I choose to be alone during the holidays, I don’t deserve to be lonely. But I also don’t deserve to be with the wrong people for the sake of temporarily shoving aside my loneliness. That has been my Christmas credo since I was 19, and I’m glad I’ve stuck to it pretty mercilessly.


One last thing, because I plan on not talking about this year of disappointment and grief here anymore–not because I’m done grieving, but I’m just bored with the topic and have been for months…

When you’re just stuck with just yourself (as we always are), there’s an open invitation to learn how you treat yourself and how to treat yourself better. Long periods of solitude and aloneness make this invitation almost impossible to pass up.

There’s still so much more room for self-love here, which again…this is a little impossible without some help from others (I just downloaded a worksheet on this).

This year, I really have had to lean more on my spiritual side than I’m used to. And yet, there’s still so much more I could be doing that doesn’t involve nitpicking myself to death.

So yeah, I did fail my 17-year-old self, but she had no idea that she wasn’t going to be this evangelical, myopic, Bible thumper anymore, which usually means you’d partner with the same kind of person. She got something far better than the societal inevitability of domestic “bliss” and a secure job.

What she instead was a truer, more expansive version of herself–a lot more than what she bargained for. It’s not as glamorous or cuddly or polished as I’d like for me to be, but this version of me is real–wrapped up in big, scary feelings, loquaciousness, and unyielding intensity.

I am worth the continued search for people that can support me in reaching the things I want as I support them in doing the same. It’s exhausting, scary, and sometimes humiliating, but just like it is with love, it is always worth going full tilt, balls to the wall (which is a term from the United States Air Force about flying and nothing about testicles, I might add), unbridled.

So a lot of people bailed this year. OK. But that isn’t who I am. It’s just things that have happened to me. What’s more important is that I never bailed on me. And there are still people around, even if they aren’t close by or people I talk to often.

There are close to eight billion people, and I won’t even meet most of them. But I’ve met some wonderful people in the past and I can meet great ones again–especially now, since I’ve grown so much and I’m much more aligned than I was a year ago.

You and I, we live in this neverending tension, between being true to ourselves and doing what’s good for the group. It really comes up during the holidays, and it can be quite painful. But I hope that we both learn that by choosing ourselves first every time, we end up doing what’s best for the group, too.

I’ve been so afraid I have a terrible people picker–and that may be true. But I haven’t been choosing myself enough. My hope is that by choosing myself more, that I will choose better people to be in my life and not just reaching out to anyone because I’m blind with desperation.

So. This feels like the end, and that’s because it is.

It’s the end of feel ashamed of how my life is and isn’t. It’s the end of trying to contort myself into something that can be packaged. It’s the end of being self-identified by my unfulfilled desires and dreams.

It’s the beginning of embracing the suck as well as the the not-so-sucky. That includes my frustrations, my impatience, my envy, my disgust…as well as my gratitude, my resilience, my wisdom, my fortitude, my creativity, and my self-love.

There’s room for it all.


If you’re celebrating my birthday also known as Christmas this week, I hope that you’re with people you love–and that includes yourself if you’re not around loved ones.

The great thing about Capricorn season is that it marks the slow march back into the light. The Winter Solstice may be the shortest day of the year, but every day after that, we gain back a little more light.

This holiday season, I hope you’re able to gain some new light, whether it’s from within or without.


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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.

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A Christmas lament

mother-son-1546365

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.

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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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