It was as if the ceiling cracked suddenly, and the light danced all around us, defying all fear or obligation.
this is how it’s supposed to be
this is how it’s supposed to be.
life is not meant to be easy
it is not meant to have obvious meaning
or to satisfy some colossal curiosity.
Life was never meant to be simple.
Nature isn’t simple.
Humans aren’t simple.
we are here
even that statement contains
this is how it’s supposed to be.
why would anyone get married, part II
Okay, I’m back to continue yesterday’s post. How did I get from wondering why anyone would get married to actually proposing?
I started to realize something. Something that I didn’t really want to admit before. A healthy romantic partnership is many things. It is a daily practice of love. It is a logistical synthesizing of two lives. It is a romantic escape from the realities of the world. It is a business decision. It is a deep respect for another human. It is a trust exercise. It is an intentional path towards vulnerability. It is a promise. It is the dear knowledge that you can rely on someone else. It is lighthearted play. It is a lofty ideal, and it is an earthly adventure.
I started to realize that the meatiness and magnitude of the partnership I was in could no longer be encapsulated by the words “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” or even “partner.” Our relationship was spilling over of the sides of those words. It demanded more symbolism, more richness, more ritual, to carry the weight of what we were dealing with.
I use the word “weight” here carefully – I do not mean it to describe a heavy burden that I have to carry. Conversely, I’m trying to get at the vibrancy of life that is here in this relationship. The breadth of it. The way it inspires me to be more myself than I’ve ever been.
I never thought I would want more ritual or structure when it came to love. I thought love was this wild force, uninhibited by things like rules, routines, and agreements. It’s strange – the word “marriage” has come to sound completely different to me. It used to sound like white dresses, stuffy ceremonies, stunted growth, and disappointment. Now, it sounds like music, learning, colors, natural evolution, and vitality.
Have I changed? Has my definition of marriage changed? Has my definition of love changed? Has my relationship changed? All of these things are probably true.
Later, I’ll write about all of my anxieties leading up to this, and how it was very difficult to separate those fears from my intuition and Higher Self (some might call this God, some might call this a Higher Power, some might call this the Universe). Whatever you call her, she was there guiding me, and all I needed to do was listen.
why would anyone get married, part I
This is a question I have asked myself many times over the past few years. It truly befuddled me. Why would anyone involve the government in a relationship they were already having, in order to continue to be in the relationship? What was the end goal there? Plus, don’t most marriages end in divorce? Why would you want to be so optimistic?
I already moved in with my partner, bought a house with him, adopted two cats, and shared a bank account. What could we possibly want with a couple of rings and a signed contract? We were already living the life we both wanted. Sometimes, I would be in the midst of falling asleep, curled around my partner, and mumble to him in a sleepy voice, “why would anyone get married?” And he would respond, equally sleepy, “I have no idea. It makes no sense.”
Somehow all that logical kerfuffle culminated in me getting down on one knee and proposing to my partner a month ago. He accepted. I now have a 14K yellow-gold ring on my finger that we ordered from a Chinese jeweler on Etsy, we made the obligatory engagement announcement post on social media, and I am officially engaged to be married.
I’m really tired tonight, my computer is about to die, and I really really really really don’t want to get up off the couch to retrieve the charger, so I will have to leave you on this wildly unsatisfying (and honestly, not very suspenseful) cliff-hanger for now. To be continued. Good night.
when will we just be?
Will we ever stop trying to improve, and just let ourselves be?
nothing is ours at all
there’s something in the way we
catch at words,
gently tucking them away
into the softest parts of ourselves.
it’s not The Truth
(that so quickly dissolves into
chaos, obeying entropy
over our ornery need for absolutes)
it’s not Comfort
(a myth that seems to
out of reach)
it’s more the clinging, quiet
moment in which each of us discovers
how small we are
or, rather, it’s the thousands
of tiny, breathing moments in which
we remember, all of a sudden,
for a fleeting inhalation,
that nothing is ours at all
or, rather, the visceral
stirrings that belong only to us.
we have taken in more than we can bear.
we have held floods.
we have failed to protect ourselves.
we have asked for too much.
this is not a salve, but rather
a snag in the balance,
when the world can’t help
but stop and listen.
No, this is how it is
This is how it is: the morning hour, when, alone, I walk barefoot to the bathroom to face myself again. This is how it is: slipping into the small, eastern room to let the oblivious sun envelop me before it fades.
This is how it is: the heavy head tilting towards the kitchen steam, battling shame.
This is how it is: war, when surrender would make for better company.
This is how it is: the hour when, precious and alone, I am not Woman, or Worker, or Teacher, or Separate.
This is how it is: the hour, when, seemingly alone, all I expect of myself is everything.
This is how it is: an intentional prolonging, stretching the illusion of solitude.
No, this is how it is.
i am not special
i am not special
i race to nowhere
i am not special
i hang sunset flowers to dry
in the west-facing window
i am not special
i eat discount applesauce from the plastic bottle
i am not special
i am always looking for reasons to want
what the world can take
moments of feeling
like I am not enough
that I am too much
for this world
I am astounded by
to know anything
about what the world can take
or what I can
Last Tuesday, I put the endless stacks of sheets into the closet. Finally. I’m resisting editing that sentence, even though I know it’s a bad beginning. It’s really a bad sentence in general. But I’m resisting. I want to try writing this piece all at once, badly, just to get something out.
In November I did my one-blog-post-a-day challenge, and it was so fucking hard but it was so fruitful! By the end of the month, there were thirty pieces, all about different things, all written at varying levels of honesty. Almost all of them had something good hidden in them, a little gem, that I will use later. So that challenge was a success. But the problem with challenges is that when they’re over, you can let yourself off the hook. You can say “alright cool beans. I’m tired now. I’m gonna watch Netflix at night instead of forcing myself to pump out yet another blog post. Yay! Celebration! Sigh of relief!” And then you can lie to yourself and say “I’ll write one blog post a week, instead of once a day…but after I take a little break.”
So five months later, here I am! Back at it. Not doing a daily challenge this time, just writing regularly and putting stuff out there.
Just for the record – and fyi, “the record” is pretty much just my overactive need for approval and recognition, things that I mostly need from myself, that I almost never give myself, yay for therapy – I have been writing almost daily in my journal. The first evidence of journaling I have is from 2001 (I was six). My family went to visit my 20-something aunt in California. I remember feeling a strong urge to write in this sparkly purple journal she gifted me. It was so beautiful, so empty. It was waiting. At least I felt like it was. I wrote about seeing the elephant seals sunning themselves on the rocks by the ocean, my handwriting was big and loopy, and I felt this weird satisfaction from being able to write something down in a little book all my own. I liked that nobody but me would ever see it, so I could write whatever I wanted.
I wrote a year later in that journal that I thought my best friend’s father, Les, was “brainwashing my dad.” I think I had never seen my dad agree with anyone before, and the fact that he was nodding along to what Les was saying was shocking to me. I was genuinely angry and afraid for my dad, and I wrote about those feelings in my journal. A “boiling hot feeling” spread through my body. I thought my dad would lose himself completely if he acknowledged any more of Les’ opinions. It wasn’t that Les’ opinions were scary or wrong. It was that I was terrified seeing my dad accept anyone else’s perspective as valid. It wasn’t normal.
To be fair, I had also just watched the Scooby Doo live action movie where most of the characters get possessed and lose control of their bodies, so the fear of being brainwashed was pretty present in my mind.
Then there was my fourth grade teacher. Mr. Baker saw the writer in me immediately, and made it his mission to nurture that identity. He was a writer, and actually encouraged all of his fourth grade students to keep their own journals, and read pieces to the class. Pretty much all I remember of fourth grade was writing writing writing. Every single day, my best friend Sophia and I would be the last to leave the classroom. We were either the most disorganized, or the least concerned about getting out, or the most chatty, or a combination of all three, and Mr. Baker would ALWAYS send us off with a hearty “don’t forget to write!” Every singled afternoon. It stuck. I’ve kept a consistent journal since fourth grade, without fail. So. Much. Material. So. Many. Ridiculous. Stories. So. Much. Processing. I fucking love it.
And since this was originally supposed to be about clutter, I’ll just quickly describe the clutter around me in my office. I did finally put the linens away in my closet. About 8 months ago, I took them out of the closet to organize them into piles – this piles is the towels, this pile is the winter sheets, this pile is the summer sheets, etc. Very exciting. The problem was, once I organized them, I didn’t have shelves to put them on. There are not shelves in the closet, because my partner and I just haven’t had time yet to build them. So I just put the individual piles on this big white IKEA chair that we got from my parents, and left it at that. It was easy to find each thing, at least, but it was terrible because my office was basically one big linen closet all winter.
Last week I decided enough was enough. I was putting the linens back in the closet, organized, shelves or no shelves.
There’s still clutter, though. In the right corner I have all of our house documents, including our deed and other important things, in a folder waiting to be filed, along with piles of music books, a broom for cleaning the upstairs bathroom, CDs that Chris and I have no intention of listening to, paintbrushes, paints, empty photo albums, empty binders, empty journals, and a collection of old calendars from my middle school years.
In the left corner of my office sits a desk that I found on the side of the road in Vermont and toted back to Rochester. Chris and I painted it this awesome eggplant color, and now it’s covered with art magazines that are “weighing down” a collage I made a couple years ago that got a bit curled from our move. There’s also a huge prickly pear cactus that we repotted recently, thinking it would do it some good to have space, only to find that repotting it was a huge mistake. So now it’s in rehab on the purple desk. Then there’s my little blue paper organizer that holds folders of receipts and checks. It’s kind of teetering on a pile of art magazines, just barely staying up. Then there’s piles of envelopes and stamps, also perched on top of the art magazines, that I use to send poetry to my patrons. Then there’s a pile of paper of various thicknesses and colors that I use for art and poetry. And to top it all off, I have a pile of piano teaching materials sitting on top of the art paper pile.
It’s all very overwhelming once I start writing it down. But the thing is, I’m doing the best I can. I actually keep our house pretty well organized. I actually look around me with a fond amusement. I think it’s delightful how messy and in-use my office is. Eventually I’ll create zones and more shelves and blah blah blah. But for now, this is what it is. This is where I’m at. And that’s okay.
The most important shelf in my office is my journal shelf. I have all of my journals, from 2001 to the present, lined up on that shelf. My history, my healing, my process, my trauma, my experiences, my family, my friends, my pain and joys, my core and my wanderings, everything is in those journals. Most of them look different. Most of them I received as gifts. All of them I love and cherish.