I’m not talking about organized larger-than-mes out there (the Peace Corps, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army), although they’re perfectly worthy places to serve.
I’m talking about the larger-than-me organism of my marriage.
For instance, when was the last time I warmed some lavender coconut oil and rubbed her feet with it just before bed, instead of watching my own TV show in a different room while she read and eventually fell asleep?
When did I last decorate her placemat with a little sprig of green in a bud vase, instead of scrounging around for myself in the kitchen like a zombie, bored and listless? …
My wife and I loaded up the car with enough water and snacks. We put on our hiking boots and our sunglasses, checked the weather, and off we went, with the happiest puppy in the world looking out the back seat window. We drove forty-five minutes to a new park, chatting about recent family dramas, the election, the weather. When we arrived, we found a place in the shade for the car.
All three of us were ecstatic.
Only one thing. I felt that hint of nausea that tells me a migraine is on the way.
“No problem,” I thought. Since I’ve been suffering with migraines every single day for two and a half years, I never go anywhere without my stash. I pulled out the red zipper bag that holds my little bottle of Excedrin for Migraine. …
Fully half the country is grieving, outraged, maybe not even willing to give up yet. It feels important to generate compassion for those millions of people who are genuinely suffering now, because they believe we’ve just put a Very Bad Man in the presidency.
Remember how mean we said Trump is? How selfish and divisive? Let’s make sure we don’t mirror that now in our moment of victory. Watch your speech. Is it mean or divisive? Are we still making jokes at ‘their’ expense? …
For a couple weeks, I’ve been making the bed by grabbing the top edge of the sheet and the blanket together (up by where the pillows are), and pulling out as many of the wrinkles as possible. I repeat this method on the other side. Because the bedspread is thick, it hides whatever little wrinkles are still there. I pat it smooth, throw the pillows in place, and the bed is made.
Which is truer than I know.
The bed is made. Eventually, I will have to sleep in it.
The method described above is okay if we’re in a hurry and we know our sheets are basically clean. But it can’t last forever. …
The pandemic has taught me so much, not least of which is how rich I am. Ironically, I had to pinch pennies to find that out.
At first, staying home didn’t curb my consumerism. What I would have bought at the mall, I just bought online instead. The cognitive dissonance from my stasis at home while the world around me roiled with chaos — that seemed to jump start a kind of unconsciousness digital activity that resulted in packages arriving almost every day.
I was ashamed of myself — thinking of the resources needed to get these items to my house. The stuff I was ordering wasn’t exactly ‘frivolous’, but neither was it what I would call ‘essential’. …
To sit up straight
in a dark bedroom
and sip the sound
To taste it.
Absorb the silence like
a nutrient for the skin,
for the stricken one inside
who’s starving for stillness,
and nothing happening,
nothing requiring response,
especially correct response.
Just us breathing here.
Me, the bed, the muted outlines
of this room lit only by muffled moonlight
and streetlamp insisting
through the blinds.
This quiet has a sound.
It has a name,
Like being underwater
without the water.
Like feeling the pulse of
pressure against the
ears of the heart.
I cock my ear. My tastebuds reach
in the cave of my mouth for
the deep red wine of this quiet.
And then I begin to feel it —
the secret link
and everything I’ll never know
here in the dark
There are two elements in the photo above. One is the phone, the other is the person holding it. The phone is getting all attention these days. For good and for ill. We’ve been told they were designed to be addictive. And that’s right.
But can we stop blaming everything on our devices? They are not the devil, anymore than tobacco or alcohol or oxy are the devil. The devil is our unconsciousness. Our blind subservience to excess. Our own poor choices.
We have a responsibility to ourselves. It’s the mark of maturity — and very few of us were trained to tackle these responsibilities. We were more likely trained to look like we were tackling them, not to actually tackle them. …
I wish someone would pick the locks
and set me free. But that’s not how it works.
The locks are clicking open all the time.
I can hear them from inside this little cage.
The door even creaks as a hint (hear that?
Look! It’s open!)
I ignore the sound and do my
cage-sized work, my prison-shaped
accomplishments piling up in the corner.
I stare through the bars, yearning, squawking
What I don’t do
is hop up, weightless,
onto the lip of the open door,
push off with my little birdie feet,
and wing my way to the wind that whispers me home. …
As we count the days down to November 3rd, anxiety grows. We feed that anxiety with Doomsday scenarios. We comfort ourselves with the dark camaraderie of misery and outrage, the delicious, toxic elixir of assumed superiority. These things fuel our electoral passions, no matter what party we are affiliated with.
But those passions can only foster more division. More mistrust. More rage.
It’s an unending cycle.
We can break this cycle.
But to do it, we have to give up one of our favorite security blankets: fear.
If you don’t think that fear is a security blanket, I challenge you: drop your fear right now. In your mind, put the guy you’re NOT voting for in office for the coming four years. …
Like many creatives, I’ve got several projects going at once: finalizing a fantasy novel, finishing a quilt, blogging several times a week, writing poetry chapbook, and beginning a memoir that’s been in gestation for a good fifty years.
Memoir is yelling at me the loudest recently, so that’s what’s getting the attention. This work is in the first trimester of its journey through me and into the world. The morning sickness of having to face who I was before I became myself is real. If it’s this hard now, I shudder to think what the labor pains will be like.
Granted I’m tackling a difficult subject. Eighteen years of marriage to Harry Jackson — controversial, internationally known artist, thirty-one years older than me. …