I like to rip up paper
I tear and rip and divide and split
Until there’s nothing left to break
I like to rip up paper
I tear and rip and divide and split
Until there’s nothing left to break
“I want the power to slow and speed up time at my will. Going into the past or future is too complicated, too messy. Immortality is too life-changing – what if death is that the thing that makes life worth living and awareness of it is the thing that makes us human? I won’t pretend to know these things. I’m no God, nor do I wish to be one.
But haven’t you ever been in a moment so rich and beautiful you tried to capture it?”
“Like a photo?”
“Yes and no. It’s like you are literally willing the power to stop time into existence. You’re in the middle of something incredibly precious, but at the same time, you’re already looking back at it regretting its loss. And then you actually are looking back it because it’s already gone and now you’ve suffered twice.”
“Well, if that isn’t the most miserable thing I’ve ever heard.”
“And then suddenly it’s not. Instead of feeling it fade in front of your very eyes, you actually extend time. Not stopping, but savoring.”
“Well, what would you wish for?”
“A love worth slowing time.”
I can’t believe the way that it swells and grows
This is love
When you touch me
You turn the key to time
Everything stops except my mind racing to imprint memories of flesh and heat
I want you
Close to me in a number of ways
Only some innocent but all of them intimate
Can I hold on to you
For an extended period
Without apologies, regrets, or woes
I refuse to let you go because
This is love
This poem was written circa December 2008. Unlike the others, I fancied myself reading this one out loud at some open mic somewhere or other.
you don’t need a phone or computer either
cuz you’re right here looking me in my eyes
it’s the perfect opportunity for you to surprise
so why don’t you give it a try
open your mouth
and maybe I’ll open my imagination
but that’s only if you ask the right question
let’s make conversation
but first, maybe we’ll define that word
yes, no, maybe are not in agreement
nor does Webster enjoy jokes about getting my digits
mostly what it requires is…a brain!
but maybe that’s irrelevant
it’s possible that “real talk” is heaven sent…
and you’re not meant
to be in this conversation
yet it’s too early to give
here are the steps:
you say what’s on your mind
i say what’s on mine…
we’ll see what comes next
trust me, it’ll be a blessing
it’s easier than you think
me getting to know you…
you getting to know me…
oh, and if you thought I was cool
you got a lot more to see
but that all depends
let’s see if you can do it
start by adding words to your programmed responses
maybe then we can spark a change
something like renaissances
all in the name of
let’s get to it
just open up
let it flow
here’s your chance
now just use it.
I’m good at burying myself
So deep not even I can see
But lately, I’ve been digging
On my hands and knees
In the dirt
Eyes wild and feverish
But instead of elation, I feel sheer terror every time something shows itself from the grimy, dark coating of time
Things I forgot
Or never expected to see
Suddenly loosed themselves
Go back! I yelp
It’s time, says the voice
Ack! I cry
Hear me roar, says the heart
And even though the mind is frowning
The soul sits back and laughs and laughs with glee
I’ve waited all this time, it thinks.
I’ve slipped back into poetry lately. Writing it, reading it. It’s the best medicine for those times when your brain isn’t really thinking as well as your heart is feeling. But because of that, poetry is extremely vulnerable – especially for those of you that can read between the lines.
So, to ease back into it, I’ve done a slight rewrite of a poem I wrote in December 2008. The writing has changed, but
Where can the words come from
When you need them the most
I hope they spill like rum
Or better yet, a champagne toast
Do the words come smooth and gentle
Do they seal pain like a bandaid
Or will they make the wound bleed
Could they even be the blade
But words are surely like truth
They’re meant to be spoken
Unraveled and revealed
They’re a virtuous token
Then why is it so hard
Why don’t the words come easy
Even though they’re like
Paragraphs have never been breezy
The gust of them lifts you up
Then drops you back down again
I think they hate me a little bit
Words are life
I just can’t decide whether to let them win
I ask myself this question every now and then
People need to stop acting like insecurity is relative. Let’s be honest, Kanye West had it right. We’re all insecure, he’s just the first to admit it. And I’m the second. But you didn’t hear him, though, so I have a few more things to say.
Today, as I sat by my lonesome, watching music videos and practicing this “self-love,” “I enjoy my own company thing,” I started singing. The next few thoughts out my head were, “Oh, shit. What does that sound like? Oh, noooo. My voice is so high-pitched even when I sing. Oh, shiiiiiiiiiit.” And then, I started feeding myself positive thoughts because I’m not new to this, and I’m both emotional and practical.
Then, I logged into Instagram. Last week, I found a poet on there, and yesterday I pre-ordered her book – that’s how awesome she is (@komalesque for the curious). Then, I watched a video on her page that is so relatable it makes my jaw hurt. The very next picture was of her cringing. “Omg what am I even doing..*mini existential crisis*”
I. Get. It.
Dare I even list the stupendous list of things I give myself grief about on a daily basis?
Being a good pet mom.
Being a good daughter.
Not becoming a teenage millionaire.
The way my gums show when I smile.
My long arms.
My long second toes.
Ugh. The outie.
There’s always someone who’s got it better than you. I have a friend whose hair makes men stop and stare. I have a friend who travels to three new countries a month. I have a friend who knows exactly how to turn her head to get the perfect picture.
And while I know that others’ greatness doesn’t dim my shine, it does make me keenly aware of my shortcomings. The things you admire in others (happiness, confidence, talent, beauty) tend to become the things you critique in yourself. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a real thing.
I know I said insecurity isn’t relative, but the more I think about it, it kinda is. Insecurity is relative to what’s around you. I can feel secure as heck in a crowd of people who have it worse than me. Lucky for us, the internet provides 24/7 access to the best of everyone’s lives. Whomp whomp.
We can do this though. We can all be our genuine, self-conscious selves while acknowledging that everything we are is gorgeous as fuck in its own way. That Instagram poet from earlier? I forgot to mention the best of what she shared. After questioning everything she ended with a simple reminder, “Wait. I enjoyed creating it so that’s all that matters.”
I’ll try to remember that.
I don’t tend to start my year with resolutions. Resolutions are too fixed, too inflexible…too cliche. I resist them. Or, occasionally, I say my resolution is “to be happy.”
How that happens between January 1st and December 31st is generally undefined. I’m all for having an end in mind, but growth isn’t a straight line, and goals are just guidelines. If 2019 taught me one thing, it’s that everything is subject to change.
Fortunately, 2019 taught me a bit more than that. Sure, I learned that Mint has an amazing tool for trip budgeting and that Crop Bistro in Cleveland has one of the BEST brunches, but right now I’m talking me-things. Things like what makes me tick, what gives me life, and how not to have a meltdown (that often).
I spent all last year working at being my best self, so it’s probably a good idea for me to pay attention to what worked and what didn’t. Basically, this is my 2018 happiness project, blog-sized.
Earlier this year, I attempted to move out on my own. That is, I thought about it seriously, mentioned it to a few people, and constructed a budget. After comparing my budget to the quality of life I demand for myself and my dog Cleo, I shed frustrated tears. A win-win situation was also lose-lose.
A month later I bought some paint, moved all the furniture in my living room, and turned the walls from beige to grey. If I wasn’t prepared to leave my space, I was at least going to love it. A couple months after that I flew to the Amalfi Coast, a trip made possible by the money I saved sharing space. By the second half of the year, I decided my priorities had changed entirely – right now, traveling is more important to me than living on my own.
It was shortly after the trip that I got introduced to the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It took me weeks longer than usual to finish the audiobook, but I’m glad I paced myself. The concepts were huge, and I found myself highlighting quotes every chapter. It takes time to put stuff like that into practice.
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me…If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to do with it what I like.” Knocked on my ass. That was me reading this. In chapter two. And then every chapter after.
The book mentions a woman being hired to work part-time and being handed a full-time workload. Her boundary was: “Um, you’re paying me to work 20 hours, sir.” Her responsibility was telling him that she wasn’t about to work 40 hours and only get paid to work 20 hours. Raise your hand if you want to be this person!
These types of boundaries made sense right away, but it took me maybe 100 more pages to grasp the concept of emotional boundaries. Boundaries to say, “I love you but I can’t continue this conversation,” but also say “I want to talk things out before I get stuck in a negative thought loop.” Or even to say, “I understand why you need your space or time or own choices because I respect your boundaries.”
“We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside.”
These and other revelations taught me that I get to define my reality. So I had to shed some things. Slowly. Methodically. With difficulty.
Did I mention that 2018 was the first year I realized my mother did not have all the keys to the bank of life? I never thought she was a saint, I just thought her rulebook was the one to follow. Besides, I never wanted to be a saint; I wanted to be like her.
The problem is, I wanted to be more like me, too. Unlike my mother, I love to travel. Her typical trips are either work related or within driving distance. Mine revolve around beaches and flights. I also had to phase out my wardrobe of oversized shirts and unflattering business suits. My new wardrobe is 50% business casual, 50% quirky, and 90% fitted. I dumped the belief that all my clothes should hang loosely on my body, and adopted the mentality that if I dress in a way that makes me feel confident, I’ll always be dressed for success.
I also learned to define strength differently. I’ve always admired my mother’s ability to stay calm, cool, and collected.
Actually, it pisses me off. I swear her heart rate stayed below 80 bpm, even when I totaled my second car and got driven away in an ambulance. But it’s impressive all the same. I thought my stress responses to situations like this were a sign of weakness. But now I embrace how dope it is that I’m emotionally expressive. I conduct pain, I carry stress, but I also give a lot of love. I’m not sure these things could exist without each other.
Despite all this, I spent a lot of the fall months questioning myself. Was I happy with my job and salary? Did I have it in me to travel alone? Why was I still single? Would I marry Logic?
As it turns out, things aren’t always black and white (a fun pun for Logic fans). Answers aren’t always right and wrong, and choices aren’t always life or death. I enjoyed my job, but I also was open to new opportunities. I was fully capable of traveling alone, but it helps to know your destination. And why was I single? It’s complicated.
One of my friends told me I needed to find the equivalent of a unicorn. That was my type. A beautiful, wonderful mythical creature. As in, doesn’t exist.
I was devastated for five minutes before I decided that unicorns are the shit. I love unicorns, I am a unicorn, I deserve a unicorn. I’m single because what I’m waiting for is so special that nothing else will do. Great things take time.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” I thought of this quote a lot in 2018 because I spent a stupid amount of time being unhappy.
More than once, I found myself laying on the floor, sobbing, worrying the hell out of Cleo, and I considered my options.
There’s not an actual world where you just decide to “control your emotions” or “change how you feel.” Unless you’re a child. Children bounce back faster than the coyote in a roadrunner cartoon. But adults? Adults have to figure out what they feel, why they feel it, what they said, what they should say, what they want, what they can do and whether they feel safe doing what makes them happy in a world that raises us to know fear and conformity.
So now we’ve arrived at my most important lesson from 2018, the one I should’ve known all along. If I want to be happy, I have to be me, unapologetically.