If We Were Having Coffee // A Long Way from Normalcy

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I’m up, but I wouldn’t say I’m all that awake. Today is the first day in a while that I haven’t had to get up early or rush off to an event or family gathering. My body seems to know I have nowhere to be and very little to do and is refusing to cooperate.

I’m moving slowly, but I’m not fighting it. I’m not resentful or frustrated. I don’t feel guilty or disappointed. I know I need the rest so I might as well enjoy it. I’ll write what I can, clean what I can, and spend the rest of the day watching TV, listening to some podcasts, reading, and catching up with you.

So, fill up a cup—we’ve got a fresh batch of cold brew that’s been steeping since yesterday and plenty of ice to keep us cool— take a seat on the couch and kick your feet up with me. Let’s talk about last week!

“I’ll read my books and I’ll drink coffee and I’ll listen to music, and I’ll bolt the door.”

J.D. Salinger

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was another that felt far from anything that is normal for me. I only worked two days, Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I was off for the holiday and spent it with my fiance’s family barbecuing, drinking, watching Independence Day, and enjoying an illegal neighborhood fireworks show.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of these nationalist holidays, but lately, I’ve been using them as an opportunity for reflection and remembrance of the true history and reality of our country, and it’s ideals and impact and spreading that truth. I’d rather think, and help others think critically about our country than participate further in the collective delusion of grandeur and rosy retrospection we cling to. Yes, I am a patriot, and yes, I love my country, and that is how I show it.

Thursday was meant to be spent at the funeral service for my mother’s father, but it has been postponed, so we moved the furniture out of his home to get it ready to sell. On Friday, I had CPR and first aid training for work. It was boring and repetitive, but there is a sense of pride that comes from knowing that you are prepared to step in and maybe even save a life in an emergency.

Most evenings my girlfriend and I were out of the house either celebrating birthdays or helping out with moving or errands. It feels like we’ve barely had time at home, or with one another, but we’ve worked hard to make time, usually deciding to stay up late and sacrifice a few hours of sleep just to enjoy a movie and a bowl of ice cream together.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, glancing at my calendar, it seems I’m a long way from anything that looks like my normal schedule. I’ve got more family coming to town, more birthday’s to celebrate, and more summer events to attend. I’m really not complaining. It’s nice to have friends and loved ones to spend time with. I’m just tired, so very tired, but who isn’t, right?

Do you ever wish you could just freeze time for a while so you could gather your thoughts, and rest without the world passing you by? Do you ever wish for everything and everyone would just be still and quiet so that you could be still and quiet for a change?

I’m considering planning a day here and there where I unplug totally. No TV, no phone, no people, just me, alone and silent for a whole day. Maybe I’ll spend it in the woods somewhere, or maybe just locked up in my room with a good book or a set of paints to play with. I’ll pretend it a day that lies outside of time, off the calendar, and away from anything that looks like an appointment or to-do list. Wouldn’t that be nice?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday I got to spend the day at one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people. My fiance, my youngest sister, and I took my 10-year-old nephew to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to nerd out and learn a whole bunch about dinosaurs, the human body, North American birds, and space exploration, and the best part is we got to go for free!

We were lucky enough to be in line for tickets in front of a family that had quite a few free passes left over and offered to let us use them. My faith in humanity was briefly restored, and I’m hoping for an opportunity to pay the kindness forward soon.

My nephew had a great time and since we took him before his birthday party—he was actually born on the 4th but it turns out Independence Day isn’t actually a good day for a birthday party with everyone trying to travel and some people still having to work—we made sure to stop by the gift shop for some birthday present shopping.

The trip reminded how much I missed having a kid around who gets excited about the same things I get excited about. Kids see things in ways we can’t and can make something you’ve done a hundred times seem brand new again. They make it easy to be silly and to have fun. It’s going to be hard when he heads home to Texas at the end of the month.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that healthwise I am feeling physically the same and emotionally much better than I was last week. I feel happier, but my self-esteem is low. I’m working on reasoning through self-depreciating thoughts and not being so hard on myself. Breaking up big tasks into manageable chunks and prioritize the things I enjoy makes me feel good and gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

As usual, my goals for this week include making progress through my current read, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, writing a few blog posts, and finding a publication to pitch. I doubt I’ll make much progress on any of those though. The “creativity room” is a mess so before I can work on some collaging, I have to get in there and clear some workspace. I’m going to get back to journaling, both in my physical notebook and here. I’ve done my best to keep up with my morning jogging ritual, and I try to make time for the things I enjoy when I can.

Besides the Museum trip I watched a movie I’d wanted to see for a long time, Good Timean intense, twisting, heart-wrenching crime film that reminded me of one of my favorite novels, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck—and caught up on the Netflix docuseries, Explained. I took a much-needed break from the news but was happy to see this morning that the boys trapped in the Thailand caves are being rescued.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it looks like the sun has shifted to the west windows and that means it’s time for me to rush around the house in a panic trying to clean and prepare for the work week to begin tomorrow.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you were able to stay cool and to find time to do something just for you. I hope the coming week will be better than the last and that you’ll have the energy, the focus, and the inspiration you’ve been looking for to accomplish that thing you’ve been working toward.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Ronaldo Arthur Vidal on Unsplash

 

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183//365 — Halfway

I saw this morning’s @year_progress tweet, and the news hit me hard. The year, it seems, is already half over. Where did the time go? How could I waste so much of it? Did I waste it?

Sure, there were failures, but there were successes too. With a bit of courage, I’m sure the second half of the year can be even better than the first. I can start again, and all that has happened can happen over again, if I want it to. So, maybe nothing has really ended at all, only begun anew.

Same as any other day.

***

I’m doing something new here. In addition to my regular blog post, I’m adding these journal entries. The goal is to post one every day hence the title of each will be the current day number out of 365. I was inspired to try this by Thord D. Hedengren.

Oh, and, as always, thank you for reading. If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

If We Were Having Coffee // I Feel I’m on the Edge Again

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I’m up and moving at a decent time today despite the protest I feel in my bones.

I haven’t been sleeping well and with the new morning jog routine, and some of the errands and housework, not to mention the evenings out with family and friends, my poor body is just exhausted. Too much activity, plus chronic illness, plus weaning off of medication means an unstable mood and a fragile motivation. We’d better chat while I can.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup—today we’re trying something new, a little coffee and lemonade concoction I read about called the Laura Palmer, or the Thunderbolt, or, simply, Lemon Brew—let’s talk about last week!

Update: the 1:1 cold brew to lemonade ratio most recipes call for is super nasty. Don’t do that. Instead, mix 1 ounce of simple syrup and 4 ounces strong cold brew or espresso. Then, in a tall glass drop four mint leaves in the bottom, add 4 or 5 ice cubes, pour in the coffee syrup mix, and fill with lemonade. Stir and enjoy!

“I hope one day I’m happy enough to hold my coffee with both hands.”

Glenn Rockowitz

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are still playing the waiting game with my health. I’m happy to report that at more than halfway through my last week of steroids I am doing well. My blood work came back looking good, and besides this persistent fatigue, I do feel pretty good, considering.

Mentally I’m not as good. I feel on the edge of depression again. I’ve struggled my whole life with depression—and anxiety—and I’m all too familiar with the signs: moodiness, the blah feeling, the comfort food cravings, the longing for solitude, and the circadian rhythm reversal.  I’m aware of it and fighting it with plenty of fresh air and coffee, but it’s frustrating to feel so powerless against, well, myself.

I’m stressing over my medical bills as well. Anyone who lives in the U.S. and has ever been sick can relate. Our healthcare system sucks. I’m in a program where I am reimbursed for some of my medical costs but while I wait for my claim to be approved and the check to arrive in the mail the bills are stacking up, and my anxiety is rising.

I’m constantly worried that something might go wrong. What if I filled out a form wrong? What if I misunderstood the terms? What if they don’t pay for the medication? How we will live under such a financial burden?

It shouldn’t be this way.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are finally working on fixing up this old crappy house of ours.

I’ve never really liked our house. It’s not a bad house, and it’s certainly not in the worst location, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and I never feel like I have the time, the know-how, or the energy to do it, but we’re trying. We’re starting small and working our way up to the more difficult, more time-consuming, and more expensive projects.

We’ve replaced a few light switches and did a small plumbing project. This morning we put in a new light fixture, and this week we’ll replace some screens and fix the light above the garage. We have a whole list of little things to do and a few big things we can break into smaller steps. We’ve agreed to check off two things from the list every week, and you know what? I don’t feel so overwhelmed anymore. I actually feel kind of excited.

It feels good to learn something new, and put my problem-solving skills to work when something goes wrong. It feels good to accomplish something and to make your home your own.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my best day by far was spent at a small pop up carnival that opens every summer near us. I’d never gone before thinking it’d be boring but my mom, my youngest sister, and my nephew were heading there and wanted to know if I felt up to tagging along.

The place was pretty small, and there weren’t a whole lot of people there. The rides didn’t look terribly exciting at first, but I found myself shocked more than once after getting on one and realizing halfway through that the tame-looking ride was rather wild and terrifying. By the end of the trip my legs were shaking, and I was incredibly nauseous. In other words, I had a fantastic time!

I want to go back soon, this time with all my friends, the rest of my siblings and my girlfriend to experience this rinky-dink little carnival with me all over again.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I don’t even know where to begin with what’s been going on in the news lately. I’ve been watching, paying close attention and feeling heartbroken, confused, and furious right along with you but for some reason, I haven’t been able to write about it.

It’s all so disturbing, disquieting, and disgraceful I cannot find a place to begin. Before I can wrap my head around some new atrocity or outrage, another one is in the headline right behind it, and I’m at another loss for words.

In just the past week, with the supreme court decisions, the upcoming supreme court vacancy, the mass shooting in Annapolis, the separation of families at the border, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war have made it hard to want to stay engaged and informed. I don’t know about you, but all I want to do is bury my head in the sand and pretend everything is okay. I know I can’t, but I’m tired. I’m discouraged and despondent. I’m disappointed beyond words in humanity.

And I’m scared. For someone like me, a queer woman of color, and others like me, it feels like we’re at the mercy of the majority and the majority doesn’t care a whole lot whether we are happy—or even alive.

This country is increasingly devoid of compassion and inclusively and for those of us who are different and who want a different world where everyone feels valid, equal, and safe we can see the tide changing. We can feel the hate from the other side, and we are afraid, but we are also strong.

We’ll fight this like we always have.

What else can we do?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my stomach has begun to grumble and that means lunchtime has snuck up on me. The day is half over, and I still have so much to do. The laundry is piled high, and dirty dishes are spread far and wide throughout the house. I’d better get a move on if I don’t want to be cleaning until bedtime.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you are still hopeful and that you are taking care of yourself. Please, if you have a minute, drop a note in the comments, so I know you are okay.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Lex Sirikiat on Unsplash

 

Currently // June 2018: I Already Have Everything I Need

June did not, by any means, fly by. It began so differently from how it ended and so much happened, so much changed in between, not just for me but for us all, that I feel as if I’ve lived through two of them.

At first, I felt exhausted by it all. A lot of what happened and changed was for the worse, but, on the other hand, it lasted, and who hasn’t wished for more hours in a day, a little more time, a chance to slow things down? Who hasn’t longed for the feeling of permanence summer used to bring to our childhoods? I know I had no more hours than any other human on this planet, but what a gift it was to feel like I had!

Sadly, I made very poor use of all that time. The disappointment I feel in myself for wasting so much freedom is made heavier, sharper, by the realization that I’ve now only just one month left to make something of the season.

I have a month and a little more left to take some big leap and put myself out there and prove that I am not just me, but a being of potential on my way to achieving that success that will retrospectively prove that all this uncertainty, confusion, floundering, and yes, even the incessant procrastinating was all part of a necessary process on my path to greatness.

One month left to stop making excuses and start working toward the future.

But first, here is what I am currently:

Writing pitches and pieces for paying publications. Blogging is great, but the satisfaction waxes and wanes, and working on a side project is nerve-wracking and too easy to abandon in the dark when I’m feeling down. I need a little pressure, a little bit of accountability. I need clear expectations, deadlines, and topics. I need a clear way of doing things and a clear line between success and failure. I’m hoping to delve into the world of current events commentary or pop culture criticism, connecting larger issues down to the personal and day-to-day from my unique perspective. I’m also looking into writing memoir pieces and poetry for a couple of literary magazines it’d be a dream to see my name printed in.

Making some cut and paste goodness with all the random magazines I’ve started getting in the mail recently. It’s been fun but not terribly productive. I’m not sure what I am doing, and a lot of it hasn’t gone into the art journal I made or online the way I had intended. Like everything I do, it doesn’t feel finished, or good enough yet to share. That’s why, my biggest goal for July is to let myself fail, spectacularly and as often as possible so I might finally purge myself of all my half-assed and half complete drafts, pieces, and projects.

Planning some small blog changes. I’m still working on building that ever elusive daily writing/blogging habit and after the failure of the A to Z Challenge posts (a challenge I still intend to finish by the way!) I’m looking for a new strategy. I don’t think fast enough to write anything long-winded or in-depth every day. Unfortunately, the only way I know how to write is long-winded and in-depth, so I need to write about something else entirely.

I’m planning on sharing some short daily personal updates here every day. I was inspired by a few bloggers I’ve come to admire who use their blogs as a place to store inspiration and connect their passion with their day-to-day lives. The problem is wanted to separate these personal updates from the longer, in-depth posts here but WordPress.com lacks the kind of functionality I am looking for to keep things organized and looking just the way I want them too. There may be a need for a theme change and some cosmetic upgrades soon.

Anticipating my family being back together again! Well, most of it anyway. My sister, her husband, and their kids moved to Texas some time ago, and I have missed them terribly ever since. All my other siblings—on my mother’s side—live here in Colorado and with every new milestone or major event in our lives, her presence is sorely missed. Her children were the first grandkids, and she was my first sibling, one of the few in this world who know me best. It hurts to have her so far away but this July, for one precious week, she’ll be here!

Reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn. I started it weeks ago but have only in just the past couple of days decided I actually like reading it. There is an essay at the beginning, not related much to the story that made the book absolute torture until I realized I could simply skip it altogether. Now I’m breezing through the book and loving the simplicity of the writing and the plot. In July I’m thinking of tackling The Iliad by Homer, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, and Hunger by Roxanne Gay.

Watching Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which continues to be the most disturbing and infuriating show I’ve ever seen both because of its subject matter, and often what it chooses not to address. The latest season of Westworld just wrapped up on HBO. I highly recommend it despite the super confusing timelines in the show. At the very least it’s visually amazing.

I’m happy to announce that I finished binge-watching every episode of The Office and have been able to reclaim a significant number of hours each day. For some reason, I have not been able to bring myself to finish the Sense 8 finale on Netflix even though I waited so long for it. I guess it’s just too hard for me to let go. I’ll just watch the new season of Glow instead.

I finally got around to watching Lady Bird. I thought it was good I don’t get the amount of hype and acclaim it received. By far my favorite thing this month was the newest horror jam to come out of A24 studios, Hereditary. It was so scary I wanted to leave the theater, but it was good for a lot of other reasons too, and you really should see it.

Feeling not as great as I was this time last month, but I’m trying my best to be hopeful rather than worrisome. After my first infusion of the new medication to get my ulcerative colitis under control I felt amazing, but now I believe it was mostly the steroids I was taking. I was instructed to go back to a higher dose of the steroids and have my next infusion a week early. That was this past week. Now I’m tapering off of the steroid again and hoping that in the next week or two nothing goes wrong. I feel…okay. Just okay. I want better though.

Fearing for the future of us all. The retirement of Justice Kennedy and the Supreme Court vacancy is a devastating blow. The realities of immigration policy are coming to light, and it’s heartbreaking. The recent setbacks to gay rights and women’s reproductive rights and the very real rise of the religious right are coming at a terrifying speed. I’m scared, but I’m also very angry. I’m angry that hard-won gains are so easily lost. Most of all, I’m angry at those who can’t see that the world could be so much different from what it is now. I’m angry at those saying “that’s just the way it is” or ” they’re going to do what they want anyway.” I’m angry with those who choose not to know to make it easier not to care. I’m afraid they will never change.

Reflecting on the passing of my mother’s father and how his presence affected the trajectory of my entire life. He wasn’t a nice man. He hurt those he loved deeply. He never—out of ignorance and deep hatred of people of color—treated my sibling or myself as good family, and we—in our need to protect ourselves from the lesson of such rejection, never regarded him the same. But after he passed, we had to go through the items in his home and what I found was a man who, underneath that hate and ignorance, I was very much like. It turns out that where we come from can be just as surprising as where we end up. I come from him, and what is left of him and his legacy rests in me. Neither of us saw that coming.

Needing very little. I read an article recently about the fact that people’s idea of the perfect life isn’t actually all that perfect, and I wondered, if I didn’t have the life I had, would I wish I did? I think so. I think I might have all I need right here right now and if anything ever feels amiss, it’s because I haven’t done the work required the have it. Anything I don’t have I haven’t earned. I’m in need of a change in perspective from one of envy to one of gratitude, from one of wishing, longing, and resentment, to one of focus, motivation, and potential. I have what I need, now it’s time to get what I want. [link]

Learning a few home improvement basics. We’ve owned our home for close to 10 years, and in that time we have done very little to improve the place. There is so much that needs to be done we never knew where to begin. We’ve been overwhelmed, and it’s caused us to ignore problems that have only gotten worse. So, we are learning to start small. We fixed a light switch issue in the upstairs bathroom, and then we replaced a very old and very stuck tub faucet cartridge too. Today we are working on replacing an old kitchen light fixture, and every weekend going forward we will pick either two small projects, or make progress on one big project until this place, the whole place, is functional and livable. Until I don’t feel ashamed to have company over again.

Loving my new early morning jog routine. I’m on a mission to start treating my body better, and part of that means getting up and really moving for at least 30 minutes a day. I’ve always enjoyed running but my “crunchy” kneecaps, as my doctor once described them, kept me from such a high impact activity. But treating the ulcerative colitis has resulted in some relief in joint pain, and my body and I have compromised on a two-mile jog/walk every morning, plus 100 squares on the good days. I’m loving being active again, something I never thought I would. I love feeling stronger and the feeling of accomplishment as I’m able to do more and more every week.

Hating the rise in incidents of white people calling the police on black people for minor infractions and annoyances. I do understand that rules are in place for a reason but calling the police for actions that may be in violation of rules but is causing no immediate harm is dehumanizing and risky. The culture police officers think and operate in is a violent one. Their presence exacerbates rather than soothes. Tension rise and people can be hurt, or even die, over minor infractions. I hate that we are so disconnected from each other that working out our problems one on one, with words, no longer feels like an option. I hate that we don’t feel a part of our own neighborhoods, a place where people can compromise and live, and let live too! I. hate that we are so entitled and self-centered that we expect our will to be imposed on others, by force if necessary.

Hoping for a little hope. A sign that everything, the big scary things happening all around me and the little scary things happening every day in my little life. Some days I’m filled with hope. On those days I know everything is going to be okay. Good is going to triumph over evil, and I am going to be happy, surrounded by love and fulfilled. Other days, I’m not so sure. Other days I can’t find hope. I can’t see that any progress has been made and the prospect of progress in the future feels impossible. Fighting is futile. The opposition is too organized, too cruel, and the universe is too silent, too neutral. The truth is there is no guarantee that good will win over evil, and there is no guarantee that anything in my life will turn out the way I dream it will. How does a person hold on in a world like that?

So yeah, all in all, June was a beautiful month, if not terrifying and discouraging. What I mean to say is, the world is ending all around me, but the sun is shining, and the flowers are in full bloom. The big things haven’t taken the little things yet, and I suppose that is a good thing for now. I’m going to go on enjoying my summer and making it last as long as I can, but I’m going to work harder and fight harder too.

But enough about me, how about you? How did June treat you? Are you feeling discouraged or disappointed? Have you done all you’d hoped to by now? How do you plan to work and fight and hold on to hope through the rest of 2018?

Let me know in the comments!

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”

— L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Photo by luke flynt on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // A Profound Thing to Witness

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I am in desperate need of both. My energy levels have been waning for days now. Coffee is the only thing that has kept me going.

I’ve had an exhausting week, and a lot of it still lingers in my mind. It would help to get it out there, organize it, and leave it behind so I can begin again tomorrow with a clearer head. I’m sure you have plenty to share as well.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. The clouds are moving in, threatening rain and seducing us with promises of perfect napping weather, but I have a fresh batch of 10-hour coldbrew ready to help fight back the fatigue. Let’s talk about last week!

“At least there was coffee. Reliable, delicious life-giving coffee. ”

— Mary H. K. Choi, Emergency Contact (via coffeebooksorme)

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I took off of work nearly every day this past week to help my mother begin the arduous task of cleaning out her late father’s home. Him and his wife, my mom’s mother, had lived in the house for over fifty years and when you never move, you never have much of a reason to throw things out. You just collect them and hide them away in nooks and crannies about the place, forgetting about them entirely.

To make matters worse, this man was quite the detailed and meticulous note taker and keeper of records. For example, I found every registration, inspection, and proof of insurance card going back to the purchase of his car in 1985, all of them in the car! He has lists, upon lists, upon lists of everything he has ever done.

I’m more amused than frustrated. I keep picturing my own messy desk and all the shoe boxes and drawers I have filled with my own lists and notes scribbled on scraps of paper. I definitely come from this man.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that of course, the whole process is emotionally exhausting for my mother. Half of what I have been helping her with is staying focused and motivated. The other half is giving her a ready ear whenever she needs to talk. I offer my opinion and act as a second, less stressed out brain for her to process what must be done when she gets overwhelmed.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that by far the most interesting thing I have found is his extensive work on our family history and genealogy. He has boxes and boxes filled with photographs, news stories, and scanned book pages on various family members on every branch of the tree going back as far as the early 1700s. It looks like I had ancestors that actually fought in the revolutionary war!

Before I knew he had done all this, I had been doing my own research on the family tree, and I am delighted to find not just that he had completed so much of it himself, but that we both felt the need to know where we come from.

The more I see of him in his work and his things the more I really wish I had known him. We were a lot alike, I think.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in the midst of all this and more going on this week, I witnessed someone’s life saved in a  restaurant this week.

We’d taken a break from sorting items, papers, and photographs in the house and went for sandwiches and crepes. While waiting for our food, I heard a commotion behind me and someone saying “he’s choking, he’s choking.” I turned around, and there was a tall, skinny kid, not more than 15 years old, I thought, backing away from his table with a look of panic in his eyes. His mouth was open, and he was gasping for air but making no sound.

His mother and another kid, his brother I figured, were trying to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him but it wasn’t working. I’d been trained in both CPR and First Aid and just as I was going to offer to try a large man stepped out from a booth, grabbed the kid around the midsection and started squeezing. It took longer and sounded a lot worse than I imagined it would in real life, but eventually, the soggy wad of bread blocking the teenager’s airway fell from his mouth.

He took a deep breath in and immediately began crying for his mother. He went to her, hugged her hard and sobbed. Tears welled up in my eyes too, and I sat back down across from my own mother to give them a moment to collect themselves. I could hear the kid thanking the stranger, the family asking to exchange phone numbers, the waitresses offering free food to everyone involved and then…it was over.

Everyone went back to eating, except for the kid, he refused to take another bite of food and asked for only water, even turning down a free milkshake. The place was buzzing around him, the stranger and the mother talking, the waitresses fully awake now, and my mother telling the story over the phone to my sister, but the kid said nothing else to anyone.

It was a very scary thing for him to go through and a very profound thing for me to witness. I hope he goes on to live a very long life and I wish him all the best in it.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am going to make a few small blog tweaks this week in hopes of jump-starting my lately lax daily writing habit.

I have been following Austin Kleon’s blog closely, and I love the way he mixes his daily lived experiences with his “niche” of creativity. I’ve recently found a slew of bloggers who blog daily for the love of blogging. They use their blogs to collect inspiration, to work out patterns in their thinking, and to look back on and mine for book ideas. They, like Kleon, do that by sharing what interests them and how that interest impacts their daily life experience.

Yesterday I came across the blog of Thord D. Hedengren who has a section for his more serious blog posts, and for his daily journal entries. I also took a look at Patrick Rhone’s site and found myself inspired by his daily blogging habit and his “Site Notes” page. Tina Roth Eisenberg also posts daily, but she doesn’t always write. Sometimes she just shares an interesting quote or image. I’d like to incorporate a few of these ideas into my own space here.

I actually do write almost every day, little journal entries recapping my day, capturing my thoughts and feelings at the moment, responding to something I saw, or read, or heard, and reminding myself what to be grateful for. I rarely share them, but I want to start because like these other bloggers, what I am interested in—the way it feels to be a human being, alive, in pain, afraid, curious, confused, in love, and all—touches every part of my day. I want to share that with you and in the process get closer to what it is I am trying to say or be myself.

I’m also giving myself permission to fail. No, I’m ordering myself to fail! I haven’t been able to finish any of the drafts I have started in the last month or so because I am terrified of sharing anything that is less than perfect. I’m afraid to be a bad writer, but the truth is, I am a bad writer, and I need to let myself be a bad writer so I can be a good writer one day. I’m going to finish my drafts and then let them go, for good or for bad, it doesn’t matter, they just need to go.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I am enjoying our chat, I have probably unloaded quite enough on you. And anyway, I have family in town to visit and a house in serious need of attention. I think it’s time I get going.

I hope you had a good week. I hope your to-do list is a lot shorter than it was seven days ago and that you found some time for you. I hope you learned something new. I hope you surprised yourself. I hope next week will be even better.

Drop a note in the comments and let me know how you have been.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Mikesh Kaos on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Meeting the Man I Wish I’d Known

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I apologize for the later than usual meeting. I was out celebrating Father’s day with my girlfriend’s family. Initially, the plan was to do a bit of fishing and have a few beers by the water, but the weather has taken a turn toward cooler temperatures and rain moved in. So, we decided to have the beers and do a bit of gaming at the Dave and Buster’s arcade instead. It’s a strange place for her father to have chosen for his celebratory meal. I suspect my girlfriend’s teenaged brother might have had something to do with it.

My own father is busy working, so we’re going to meet up later in the week at our favorite Mongolian grill downtown.

Wait, before I get too far into my update, pull up a chair, let me brew us a warm cup of coffee to go with the pouring rain. There, now let’s talk about last week!

“All I do is drink coffee and say bad words.”

— twinkleofafadingstar

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that something big and sad happened to me, to my family, this weekend and I don’t really know how to begin to explain it.

My mother’s father passed away.

Late Friday night, after I’d gone out for dinner and a movie with my girlfriend, my mother called to say she’d heard from the nursing home her father was at that his health had declined sharply in the last 24 hours. He’d refused his breakfast, his lunch, his medication, water, and his dinner, and then he felt tired, and then he stopped responding to the caregivers.

My mom wanted to go see him. She wanted to convince him to let the nurses give him morphine, to calm him and help him breathe better, but she didn’t want to go alone. She was afraid of the condition she would find him in. So, we all went. It was late and when we arrived father was still asleep. She tried to wake him, letting him know she was there, rubbing his chest and speaking to him, telling him that his children loved him, but he wouldn’t wake up.

We left with the intention that my mother would check on him the following day, but within minutes of us getting home, my mom called to let me know the nursing home had just phoned to tell her he had passed away.

My mother was in shock, but we all agreed that it was a good thing that we’d gone to see him. I believe one of the greatest kindnesses we can offer in life is to comfort another when they die. I’m happy that in his final moments on this earth he was able to hear the voice of his daughter telling him she was there and that he was loved.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have mixed emotions about his passing. It’s sad obviously but this man was my grandfather by blood only and in no other sense would I call him that. He has never shown me any affection or let me know that he considered me to be his granddaughter in any sense of the word at all. I barely knew the man and what little I did know wasn’t good.

I know he was often abusive and held deeply racist convictions. He disowned my mother when she became pregnant with me because my father is a black man. I wasn’t welcome in his home and was never acknowledged by him or my mothers extended family until a few years ago when he reached out of what I assume was a sense of guilt after his wife passed. No apologies or explanations were ever offered. My mother never fully forgave him but gave into a sense of obligation the older and more dependant on other others he became. He was her only father after all.

In the last few weeks, his health declined to a point where he could not return to the home he’d lived in for 50+ years and plans were made to sell the place and his belongings to pay for what we all thought would be long-term care.

I spent a day helping my mother go through his home and found he was actually quite intelligent, accomplished, and talented man.

I found rolls of blueprints from his architectural work around the city and oil paintings he’d done in his spare time. I found wooden boxed filled with medals he’d received in the military, including a purple heart! I found cabinets full of files, notes, and correspondences he’d gathered and organized while attempting to document a complete history of our family. I found books on gardening, architecture, and military strategy. I found boxes of photos he’d taken of his own children, stored and cared for with love.

I found a man who I, if he had been able to see me as part of his family, I might have looked up to, might have loved, and who might have helped cultivate interests, passions, and talents in me that I now know we both shared.

Since then I’ve been obsessing over how much was lost because of all the hate in him. We might have been close. He might have liked me, been proud of me, been fulfilled by my existence knowing a bit of him had been passed on. Instead, there are so many unresolved hurts and unanswered questions and a hole in all our lives where he should have been.

I’ve asked to look over his files and notes, the work on our family history and I may get some of his blueprints. I grabbed a few books and even some paints and canvases from the house too. I’m not sure why I need these things of his now. Maybe I hope to finally get to know a version of this man who could have been a real grandfather to me.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I wanted to talk about something else now.

I would tell you that here in Colorado this weekend marks our annual two-day Pridefest celebration. Usually, I try to go downtown on the Sunday of Pride weekend to watch the parade but trying to that and still celebrate and Father’s Day just stresses us out and leaves us feeling guilty. Guilty for cutting into dad’s day and guilty for not being as out and proud and supportive of our community as we should.

This year we did things a little differently, We gathered a couple of friends and went downtown to celebrate our gay selves a day early and even though I missed the parade this year I’m glad we were able to spend all the time we needed to with other gay, lesbian, trans, queer, and non-binaries like ourselves.

It’s important to recognize the history and acknowledge the work left to do in our great revolution of love. So many have been lost along the way. So many have been hurt and abandoned along the way. So many feel so alone, still. Pride means more than just dressing up and hooking up. It’s a time to regain our strength and our redouble our efforts. It’s a time to remember why we are here and why it matters. No one should ever be so afraid or so ashamed of who they are as many of us have been forced to feel.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that healthwise I’m doing okay, but my energy is sorely limited anymore. Frustratingly limited! I’m still jogging two miles every morning—now at the high school track up the street—and doing 100 squats before work but that leaves very little left for anything else, especially for writing.

Not that I haven’t been writing at all, just that I haven’t got the energy finishing, editing, or working up the courage to publish anything. I’m hoping to change that this week.

When I’m not running, working, writing, or napping, I’ve been reading again. I finally finished the book that has plagued me and made me a failure and quitter time and time again, The Odyssey by Homer. I read the whole thing, and to be honest with you, I’m not convinced it was worth the effort. I’ll be sharing all my thoughts on the epic tale with you very soon.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have talked way too much. I can tell the light outside is fading fast, and the clock is counting down to my bedtime. The house is still a mess, but it’s far too late to do anything about it now. All I can do now is emotionally prepare myself for the work week ahead and try to get enough sleep.

I hope you had a productive week. I hope that you were able to celebrate the day with your father and if you are one yourself, I wish you a very Happy Father’s Day, and I hope you know how much you mean to the lives of those you helped bring into this world and raise.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Featured image via domestikate

If We Were Having Coffee // A Perfect Day Come True

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and conversation.

So far it’s been an easy Sunday, but not a lazy one. I’ve been up, running, doing squats, and throwing the old medicine ball around. The laundry is started, and the dishwasher is running so I’m heading into the lunch hour feeling pretty proud of myself. My reward is a big cup of cold brew and a little chat with you before I’m off to run some errands.

So, pull up a chair, fill up a mug. I’ve got some new records to play and so much to share. Let’s talk about last week.

“Her coffee is becoming like her heart. She used to have her coffee with a lot of milk and sugar but now it’s pure black and bitter.”

— pluvilis

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have not been feeling the best since our last coffee date. I had my second infusion of the new medication this past week, and by Thursday I started to see my old symptoms returning. My doctor and I are hoping it’s because I’ve been weaning off of the steroids rather than the new medication not working. She’s instructed me to go back to a higher dose, which is the exact thing I didn’t want to do, but it’s better than returning to fatigue and frequent trips to the bathroom, so I’m willing.

Emotionally I am a big ball of anxiety and fear. Ulcerative colitis seems to have taken over my life. Nearly every moment anymore is spent wither dealing with symptoms, worrying about symptoms returning. I know I’m not supposed to be thinking too far into the future but part of me is sure that this journey will end with surgery and I can’t stop thinking about that. Part of me wishes we could skip all the trial and error and just get rid of my colon altogether. Part of me knows that is stupid because this course of action, this medication, or this stress reduction technique might actually work, and I need to give it a chance.

*sigh*

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my return to work after a long week away the week before was actually not as bad as I thought it would be.

There was work to catch up on, of course, but working for a school district during the summer is easy-peasy. If I’m honest, most days my job doesn’t even feel like work. It feels like going to hang out with friends. The hard part is finding work to do. And when I remember how lucky I am to have it so easy—I get to have friends for coworkers, and time to write, and bosses who let us go home early or take long lunches—when I remember to practice gratitude, I actually like my job.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend was amazing!

Friday night I went out for what us and a few of our couple friends—who are also co-workers—have started calling “Margarita Friday.” Once or twice a month we—two straight couples, one gay couple, and us, the lesbians—pick a New Mexican restaurant for dinner, order up a few margaritas and talk about our relationships and work. We always have a great time, and it’s nice to hear that what you and your spouse go through is normal, no matter whether your genders.

Saturday I woke up early to attend a gender reveal party for my brother and his fiance’s second child. It was a little stressful getting the party going as my family runs late to everything and is never fully prepared, but we had a great time together, we always do.

After lunch, and much drama and speculation, it was revealed via a piñata filled with almond joys and crunch bars that the little bump is a baby boy who will be named August. I’m so happy and cannot wait to meet little August in October. I will admit though, just between you and me, I was secretly hoping for another niece. Maybe the next one will be.

After the gender reveal party, we rushed off to the movies to see the newest horror, Hereditary. If you are a fan of the genre, I cannot recommend this film enough. It definitely pushes the boundaries of what is considered horror and adds something new and different to the “psychological thriller” subtype. Plus, it’s just scary as hell! I’ve never wanted to stop a movie because it was scaring me too much but there was definitely a point during this film that I felt an urge to leave the theater and get away from all that tension. That’s how good it is!

Then, we took a spontaneous trip to the mall where I picked up a couple of new records, the soundtrack to the film Moonlight and SZA’s latest album, Control, plus some new shorts and a Starbucks treat. We left just in time to catch a gorgeous sunset and on the way home—with the wind blowing through my hair and my fingers intertwined with those of my wife-to-be—I felt happy and very much alive.

It was the best day I’ve had in a while, maybe ever. I kept thinking, the next time someone asks me what my “perfect day” would look like, I’ll have an answer to pull from memory.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun seems to have moved on to the westerly windows. It’s getting late in the afternoon, which means it’s almost evening, which means it’s almost bedtime, and that means it’s nearly Monday already!

I have so much left to do, and I’ve suddenly realized I have very little weekend left to do it in. I’d suppose I’d better be off.

I hope you had a productive week. I hope that you found time to do something just for you and that you can start the coming work week in a place of peace and focus.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of virtual coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash