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

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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

If We Were Having Coffee // A Quick Catch Up

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and conversation. I’ve been up for a while now, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures to get my morning walk in before rushing through a bit of cleaning and a bit of writing. I have just enough time now to sit down and quickly catch up before I’m off to help my mom. So pull up a chair, excuse the mess, fill up a cup, and let’s talk about last week.

“She sips her coffee, sets it down, stretches her arms. This is one of the most singular experiences, waking on what feels like a good day, preparing to work but not yet actually embarked. At this moment there are infinite possibilities, whole hours ahead.She sips her coffee, sets it down, stretches her arms. This is one of the most singular experiences, waking on what feels like a good day, preparing to work but not yet actually embarked. At this moment there are infinite possibilities, whole hours ahead.”

— Michael Cunningham, The Hours 

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I took off of work all of last week and of course I have very little to show for all that free time. I did try to write, and I did try to read, I just didn’t do as much of either as I’d hoped. I did a whole lot of everything else I could think of though. My house has never been cleaner.

In my defense, it’s hard to concentrate with this oppressive summer heat hanging around. We still haven’t replaced our evaporative cooler, and that means I have only a few hours every morning before my brain and body begin to shut down and seek less intensive activities. The need for ice cream, for a bit of social media, and, eventually, a nap become overpowering and next thing I know I’m on the couch and out for the count.

And now it’s over, and I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to go back to work. I mean, I know I’ll get up and get ready and go to that place, but I doubt I will have any good feelings about being there. I’m returning to a completely different schedule and two new team members. I expect it will all take some getting used to and to be honest I already feel like I want to be somewhere, anywhere else besides there. I don’t hate it there, but all this freedom is hard to let go of, you know?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that one thing I did do, one thing I am proud of and hope to continue, is getting up early every morning, even on the weekends, and jogging 2 miles. I know that it doesn’t sound like a lot, but for someone who hates getting up early and who hasn’t been able to even walk around the block regularly due to joint pain and fatigue, it’s quite an accomplishment.

I continue to be amazed by how well I am doing since my infusion less than two weeks ago. The new medication is working like a miracle.

My next one is this coming Tuesday, and I’m a little anxious even though I pretty much know what to expect now. Last time my girlfriend stayed with me the whole time, but this time I will be on my own since her workload is so heavy right now. It’s a strange place to be, and a strange thing to have to do, and it’s comforting when someone you know comes along to watch out for you and keep your spirits up.

Then again, it might be a good thing for me to go it alone. It might turn out to be a good time to get a little more reading in and finally finish this godforsaken book!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we spent this weekend getting back into our wedding planning groove. We went back to a venue we toured and fell in love with and brought my mother-in-law-to-be along to offer opinions and advice. Unfortunately, we walked away just as unsure as we’d come. The venue is gorgeous, a historical mansion right in the middle of the city, but it may be too much venue for us. It’s a statement, and I’m not sure it’s saying what we want to say.

We made an appointment to tour another venue the week after this, a facility owned by the state. This place is a little simpler, a little more like us, but it’ll require more work on our end to make it wedding-ready. We also decided that all the “preferred caterers” were a bit fancy for us. Other people might want to eat steak for their wedding dinner, but I want something fun. I found a cute pizza truck with some interesting offerings worthy of a wedding.

Next, we’re going working on finalizing our guest list. We’re torn between throwing a huge event, or keep it personal, intimate, and, honestly, a lot cheaper. We can have 25 people, just our closest family members? We could have 40-50 and include friends who might as well be family? Or we could invite 80-90 people we’d just feel bad for not inviting. It’s hard to decide when so many people have feelings about it.

Sometimes I wonder if can’t we could just bring each other, hike up a mountain to meet an officiant, and do it alone?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my goals for the coming week are to finish reading The Odyssey, make a post one or two pieces of cut and paste collage work on Instagram, write two blog posts, and keep on running every day. I will try not to do anything too strenuous or stressful. I’m still healing and working on getting back to being the old me. The point is to work on focus and discipline and be more aware of when I get distracted or discouraged.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that this week there isn’t much to say and much more I have to do than usual, so I have to cut out chat a bit short. I hope that you had a productive week and that the weekend was relaxing enough to make you feel blissfully far away from anything that felt like work or worry.

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 Ryan Riggins on Unsplash

Currently // May 2018: Lost and Found

May is a month for anxious anticipation, a time of preparation for the season to come. It exists in a space to warm to be called true spring, but too unpredictable to be summer, yet.

Throughout the month we packed up our winter wear, broke out the shorts, and got out to work in the yard. We watched pools be cleaned and waited for the parks to open. We cleaned up our grills and stocked up on meat and beer. And then, all of a sudden, it was here. School is out. The pools are open. Grills are being fired up nightly, and we’re all looking forward to the freedom of the next few months. It’s finally summertime!

Personally, this May has been hard on me. Last month, I was getting sicker, but things were still good, and I felt happy. I was celebrating my birthday, seeing friends and family, and enjoying being the very center of my known universe. By the start of May, my health took a sharp dive downward, and I fell into bouts of moodiness and depression waiting to find answers. I felt lost.

In this last week though, I’ve seen a shift. I started a new medication, and almost immediately, I felt like myself again. I’m watching myself improve with cautious optimism, but deep down I am daring to dream that I’ll get to enjoy this summer without pain, fear, or shame.

But first, here is what I am currently:

Writing my remaining Blogging A to Z Challenge posts, still. I’m hoping you’ll cut me a little slack here, I’ve been having a hard time. I’m taking some time to myself this week to catch up or at least get back into a daily writing habit, even if I don’t always post here. IT’s going well, but I’ll be honest, this series of posts weighs heavy on me. I’m beginning to overthink it and starting to get bored. I think I’ll start changing things up a little bit. I miss doing my book reviews and my Monday motivational things. I’m also very ready to begin a new series, something about love, or poetry, or maybe a series of dialogues?

Making some very bad cut out poetry. I love blackout poetry but I recently found the work of Kelsey Landsgaard on Instagram, and I immediately wanted to make my own sad girl cut and paste poems too. It’s easier and certainly more satisfying, but I still suck so I haven’t shared much yet. Just because you can paste a few found lines together doesn’t make you a poet. You have to find the right lines that say the right thing in a new way. Landsgaard is very good at what she does, and I need a lot of practice.

Planning a vacation or two in the next few to six months. We want to camp for a few nights before school starts again, then we’ll spend a long weekend around Labor Day somewhere where I can smell the sea and fill up on crab and oysters cheap. Before Halloween, I want to head to the West Coast and see my nephews-in-law that are growing up there. I want to start seeing the world while I still can, and this year we’re getting our traveling feet wet.

Anticipating my summer work schedule and the next school year’s bid. The end of this one hit me a little hard. My route was easy. I got to know some wonderful kids, and I had a driver I really got along with. I’m hoping to do the same next year, but there are people higher than me in seniority looking for the same. In the meantime, I am lucky to have a summer schedule that is as flexible as a job can get. I can come and go as I please with no attendance policy to adhere to as long as the work gets done. It might sound great but it also means I have to be self-motivated and self-starting and I’ve never been very good at that

Reading The Odyssey, still. It’s a pain, but I have passed the halfway point by promising myself I only have to read two chapters a day. The limit helps me stay focused on what is happening in the story without getting too bored or discouraged by all the repetition and description. I think next month I will tackle The Iliad. It sounds like a more exciting read than this.

I also read The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey, (A heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and eerie read well worth your time!, proper review coming soon!), and I started The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn yesterday. I plan to finish it, The Odyssey, and at least one Shakespeare play, probably Romeo and Juliet, by the end of the June.

Watching Westworld on HBO, but it’s confusing the crap out of me, it’s still the coolest thing on TV right now though. I finished season 2 of Atlanta on FX, and no words I could cobble together here could adequately convey how unique and groundbreaking this show is. I’ve also been keeping up with Vox’s new Netflix show, Explained, and binge-watching old episodes of The Office with my girlfriend. As for movies, I saw A Quiet Place, which was amazing, and watched an HBO original called The Tale, an unflinching look at the reality of coming to terms with childhood sexual abuse. A must watch.

Feeling a little lost, but that isn’t anything new. I’ve suddenly got so much time and energy on my hands, and I’m not sure how to spend it. I do things that feel like they mean something but at the end of the day my hands are empty, and I have nothing useful to show for the privilege. I feel guilty wasting what I have this way, but I’m not sure how to do better. How do you mix time, plus energy, and all that you have in you, and form it into something beautiful and comprehensible to the world? The artists and writers I follow make it seem so easy, and the secrets they share don’t seem to be the real secret at all. Or maybe I’m just being a coward and doing everything but what I need to be doing because doing everything else feels a lot easier and a lot less humiliating than creating.

Fearing, for the first time, what the future will bring for someone else entirely. My fiance is in a strange position with a big opportunity that she may not be ready for, and that she may not even want. I’m doing my best to hear out her fears and her own wants, but I’m wary of offering advice or steering her in one direction or another. It’s her life after all. The choice isn’t easy to make though, and it’s causing her a lot of stress. On the one hand, this opportunity may not come around again, but on the other, if she decides to move forward and finds she isn’t happy she won’t be allowed to move back again. I just hope the choice is made soon and whatever she decides she can live with.

Reflecting on the loss of The Daily Post as a source of inspiration and motivation for what I have always tried to do here. It was because of The Daily Post, and their Blogging University courses that I first began to experiment and work out what kind of blogger I am. It was where many of you first found me after my post Growing Up and Kissing Girls, a response to a Blogging University assignment on vignettes, was featured on the old Freshly Pressed. It was shocking to hear they were shutting down but it was quite the wake-up call too. I have fallen far from those first days of blogging, and things have not turned out the way I first imagined them, and I realize that I want to get back a little of what I got out of The Daily Post, permission to get personal. To be more than just a creator of content, but to be a human being. I’m grateful for the lesson, and the reminder, and hope that future bloggers will find something, somewhere, a little like what The Daily Post was for me.

Needing a clearer head and a clearer path. I need to know what I want, and I need the courage and the focus to just do it without worry. I need passion. I need a project to sweat about, worry over, to obsess over in the most unhealthy way. I need something to do that doesn’t necessarily make me happy, but satisfies some very specific, and possibly quite dark, need in me, and then I need it to be made into a tangible, relatable, and marketable product. Is that too much to ask?

Learning how to be active again. I’ve actually started running! I used to tell people I hated running, that I hated any kind of exercise, but that isn’t true. I just never know how to start or what I should do, and it’s hard to keep the habit up if it isn’t your thing. Now that I am feeling better I want to start doing better by my body, and that means waking up an hour early every morning to get out and sweat it out around the neighborhood. Next month I might break out one of the Pennyboards that fell into my possession and start learning how to skateboard too.

Loving waking up to warmth, birds chirping, and the scent of cut grass and flowers wafting through my open windows every morning. I love knowing there will be long hours of sunshine and warmth well into the night. That heat can be exhausting during the day though, but most afternoons, and more and more regularly as the summer wears on, we’ll get severe thunderstorm like clockwork. They can be scary, but a little exciting too. A drama to live through every afternoon.

Hating the revelations over what ICE has been doing down at the US-Mexico border. I’ve been hearing about children being separated from their parents, and being forced to appear in court alone even as young as 3 and 4! The US has a long and ugly history of threatening the families of brown people as a tool to subdue them, and this country should be very sensitive to that histroy. We have to think long and hard about what kind of people we are and start sooner rather than generations from now, out of shame, to rectify this evil.

Hoping that what happened in Ireland is a sign and a motivation for nations and their people around the world to consider access to abortion not just good health care policy, but a fundamental right of women everywhere. Here in the US, the laws surrounding abortion access have quietly become stricter and stricter, and many states have made it so difficult to keep clinics open that they have effectively banned abortion within their borders. I hope to see a reversal on the trend soon. Restricting access to abortions doesn’t prevent abortions, it only prevents safe abortions. These laws kill women. We need to write fair abortion access rules into our federal law and get rid of this cruel “gag rule” that keeps women from making safe choices about their bodies abroad.

So yeah, all in all, May was a crazy emotional rollercoaster. I can’t believe the change I’ve gone through in just these 31 days. I really felt like a shell of myself, and now I’m feeling better than ever. Spring is all about rebirth, and this is the closest I’ve ever felt to that for sure. I won’t say it happened for a reason, but it was meaningful to me.

But enough about me, how about you? How did May treat you? How the weather where you are and have you made any traveling plans for the summer? Do you think this country is losing its place as the moral authority of the world? Did we ever deserve such a title anyway? Let me know in the comments!

***

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 Cédric Dhaenens on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // I Feel Like Myself Again!

Hello dear readers. Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and conversation. I apologize for my late afternoon arrival and the late afternoon heat, but at least I have some cold-brew to offer–more caffeine and no need to water it down with ice—to keep us cool. There is a breeze coming through the windows and clouds that give me hope of a cooler evening than the last.

So, come on in! Don’t mind the dog, she’s a bit nutty, and make yourself at home. Tell me all about your week, and I’ll tell you all about mine too.

“I don’t drink coffee to wake up. I wake up to drink coffee.”

@deathwishcoffee

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last Tuesday I went for my first infusion and I am happy to report not only that it went very well but that it seems to have worked. No, not “seemed,” it has definitely worked! I feel like a miracle has been performed. Like a curse was lifted from me. Like I have come back from something very dark and terrifying to find sunshine and my old self still intact and the promise of happily ever after all around me. I feel like I just lived through a fairy tale.

Just over a week ago I was living on bone broth, Gatorade, and sleep. I was miserable, weak, tired, and terrified. I was missing work and missing out on my life, and now? Less than one week later, I am waking up early, going for runs with the dog, cleaning the house, writing again, and smiling! I am making jokes and feeling optimistic. I haven’t cried in days. I’m eating real food and getting out of the house. I feel like myself again.

That isn’t to say I’m back 100%. For some reason every day since my infusion I have needed a good two-hour nap in the middle of the afternoon. I am assuming my body is healing from all the damage caused by the inflammation and ulcers. I also still have a lot of joint pain and a lot of anxiety.

I’m worried that my symptoms will start coming back before my next infusion two weeks from now. I’m worried that I will start to see some side effects soon too. I’m worried the medicine will stop working at all tomorrow, a month, a year from now and I’ll be back at square one ad miserable. I’m worried I’ll be one of the 25ish% of ulcerative colitis sufferers that will eventually require surgery and all this will have been a waste of time and money.

I am doing my best not to think about any of that. I’m keeping my spirits up by being active, getting back into the things I wanted to be doing all this time, and helping others in need of hope in my support groups. I’m still hanging in there and taking it day by day.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my poor fiancé, after taking care of me for the past month has come down with a very nasty summer cold. That means I get to jump right in returning the favor!

To add to her misery, she’s been super stressed about work too. The workload has always been a bit overwhelming, but nearly every day this week she was hit with gut-wrenching anxiety about her future there.

She’s always been very good at what she does but what she does is not exactly what she would like to be doing. Unfortunately, everyone knows how smart and hardworking she is, and her bosses won’t let her slack. There is a chance that very soon she will be asked to apply for a huge promotion and her stomach has been in knots trying to decide how she will reply.

I’ve been helping her work on her stress levels, but I’ve never been very good at managing that myself. I’m encouraging her to take walks during the day. To work on her creative hobbies and to count her breaths when she feels especially nervous or anxious. I want to look into meditation, for the both of us, but that is all I have.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I’m in need of a little help here. Drop some anti-stress tip in the comments if you have them, please.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I am catching up on all kinds of writing and reading, podcast listening, black-out poetry making, and collage art creativity.

I’ve decided to take all on this coming week off of work to sit in my creativity room and just do things. I have all my screen strategically placed. I have my piles of papers and cutouts, and some new inspiration. I have alarms set to get me up, and places to go if I should need a change of scenery. I have my playlists and my to-do lists at hand, and I have a lot more cold-brew coffee premade and ready to keep me going.

I’m not promising to accomplish anything good accomplished. I’m just pledging that I will treat writing and creativity like a real job. Like a commitment I made and now have to really start following through on. More than that, I want to have fun! I want to take a week to pretend I’m not an “aspiring writer with a day job.” For a week I’m going to pretend I am just a writer who writes every day, and that’s all.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I am enjoying our conversation, I had better be off. The sun has shifted to the west windows, and I hear thunder rolling from far away. Even though this weekend is a long one, I suddenly feel the need to prepare for the week. The house needs work, and my wife-to-be probably needs another dose of medication and a cup of tea.

I hope you had a wonderful week and I hope your weekend is long, sunny, relaxing, and fun. Memorial day is considered the unofficial start of the summer, so be safe, and remember the real meaning of the holiday and all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

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 Goran Ivos on Unsplash

Nakedness

The old apes rose up and began to walk with their heads held high. They wandered far through lush, cool forests and found at its edge an open savannah ripe with meat to hunt and food to forage.

They quickly found their thick fur far too heavy in the glaring heat and sweltering sun of this new land, and survival here became uncertain. But our ancestral line is a blessed one, and nature—through environmental pressure and sexual selection—found a way to keep their large brains, the jewel of our species, cool.

The thick fur receded. The skin beneath became exposed and darkened, and sweat began to pour from their bodies.

These apes became naked, and it was good.

“To be naked is to be oneself.
To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become a nude. ( The sight of it as an object stimulates the use of it as an object.) Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display.
To be naked is to be without disguise.
To be on display is to have the surface of one’s own skin, the hairs of one’s own body, turned into a disguise which, in that situation, can never be discarded. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress.”

― John Berger, Ways of Seeing

We are not alone on this earth in having bare skin, but we are undoubtedly the most aware of it. In nature, no other animal is as preoccupied with how much of the body is shown, and how much must be covered up as we are. We alone experience the shame, the exhilaration, and the outrage over the exposed bodies of others and of our own. We may not be the only ones born so nude, but we alone experience our nakedness.

Among the primates, our closest relatives in nature, we alone lost our fur when—we believe—the genes that determined hairlessness, and the linked genes affecting the number of sweat glands, began to be selected for in warmer climates.

Now, Each of us comes into this world uncovered, and our first sensations are the bonding that occurs when our skin first meets the skin of another. This first skin to skin bonding is critical for our emotional well-being and the way our skin is treated and our nakedness acknowledged during the coming formative years affects us for the rest of our lives.

Depending on your culture, when you were born, and how you were raised you will have a different feeling about your nakedness. You may cover yourself from head to toe, by choice or by law or you may live somewhere where covering is impractical, uncomfortable, and unnecessary. You may live somewhere in which the social norms and laws don’t agree with your own level of inhibition. In those places nakedness can become a protest, a resistance, a revolution.

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”

The Bible, Genesis 3:7

I’m not sure if anyone knows which came first, the need to cover up or the taboo of exposed skin.

As we moved out of Africa and off of the sweltering savannah, we once again needed protection. The fur could not be grown back, but we had our minds. We no longer had to wait on nature, we could compensate and enhance, and we started with clothing. We took the hides and fur of our kills and made simple cloaks and coverings to keep us warm and to keep us hidden.

Our ancestors, the ones who stepped out onto the savannah, while critical to our future existence, they were not us. They would not recognize what they saw if they could look into our eyes. The ones who chose to cover up, they carried the true seed of humanity.

I would argue they made us more us than any form of humanoid to come after. Even the Neanderthals, with their simple cloaks, they knew us too. For what we had in common was the elements and the desire to overcome them, but we had over them was the desire to make more out of our coverings.

“It’s the invention of clothes, not nature, that made “private parts” private.”

— Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Adam and Eve if they existed, may have found they were naked when they ate from the tree of knowledge but what need was there to hide their bodies from each other?

Beyond the need to protect the body and the skin from harm, why is there such a pervasive feeling of shame when it comes to exposure? The story of Adam and Eve’s shameful awakening perpetuates an idea that with the loss of ignorance and innocence must come modesty and that nakedness is an evil. Clothing became a way to control the masses.

As society spread and culture grew more complex clothing became a clue to who you were, where you were from, where you stood in rank and relation to your peers, to the rest of the tribe. The more we spit, came together, mixed, warred, and grew, our clothing changed to reflect who we were becoming.

Your clothing could indicate what beliefs you held, what Gods you worshiped, and to which king you were loyal. Clothing could tell someone if you were married or not. It could tell you if someone was a servant or citizen, and if they were an “us” or a “them,” to let live or to dispatch to their death. Clothing has become a way to place us firmly in a niche and to keep us there. The naked ceased to have a place at all and nakedness became invisibility.

We’ve come a long way since those simple fig leaf coverings and cloaks, haven’t we?

And now what is nakedness to us? In western cultures particularly, after so much indoctrinated objectification and shame, the nakedness of others is no longer seen as a person’s natural or normal state. Seeing the bare skin of another human being elicits strong emotions and reaction. We may feel lust, disgust, shame, or envy. We may feel disturbed and filled with rage. The nude figure is susceptible to lust and objectification now and is often displayed as an art, which is only another kind of decoration and disguise meant to provoke. Nakedness has become a message, just another kind of clothing.

Now the loss of clothing has become a loss of identity, of ego, of self, a specific humiliation. Physical nakedness is both an exposure and a loss of social standing leaving you feeling lost and afraid. Few among us could suffer being so seen in front of our tribe. The skin, the real gateway to the human soul, must be protected.

Our skin, its color, the scars, the calluses, the softness, it’s all part of who we are and where we have been. The skin, the largest and most exposed organ, displays our whole being. Nothing is hidden. So, much like the ego, a facade must be created to cover what is fragile. What is underneath must be protected with layers of illusion and lies a protective “identity” has to be displayed like a shield. So whether through covering up, or by alteration, a new nakedness is placed over the first, and forgotten.

But our attempts to cover only reveal us further, not so much for who we are as individuals, clothing lies the way that language does, but it reveals who we are together. Even in cultures where nakedness is mundane, there is ornamentation, an alteration of the skin in some way with paint, tattoo, scarification, piercing, and more, and more extreme.

“Nakedness has no color: this can come as news only to those who have never covered, or been covered by, another naked human being.”

— James Baldwin, No Name in the Street

To be truly naked even with only ourselves is an exhilarating and titillating experience. To be so naked with another person takes a great leap and a risk. When we lost our fur, we became defenseless against nature. We also became defenseless against one another.

Our fur protected us from all sorts of disease and danger. Our skin has made advances, but no one can deny the trade-off has been only barely in our favor. Parasites and bacteria have an easier time, and we are defenseless against the teeth and claws of our predators. Worse, what protection do we have against the bare touch of another human being? Nothing so weaken us as nakedness pressed against nakedness.

And this is the human experience. We are not alone in our exposure to nature, but we are the only animal brought to such heartache, fear, desire, or rage over the touch or the lack thereof, of another person’s skin. We may cover and alter our skin, we may shame ourselves and others, and we may use, abuse, and objectify the nude, but there is no doubt what we crave to feel our own skin freely and to feel the skin of another with no loss of dignity and no threat of obligation.

We’ve forgotten what we gained when we lost our protective fur. We gained direct contact with our world. There is nothing between us and the sun, the grass, the rain, and the wind. There is nothing at all between us and pure pain and pleasure. There is also nothing between us and one another. We have access to the closest intimacy and with it comes terror and fragility.

With it comes the greatest rewards and the kind of suffering that runs from the epidermis straight to the heart.

***

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 A to Z Blogging Challenge: Letter N under the theme “Bleak Realities of Human Existence.” I am aware that the challenge is over and that I have failed to finish on time, but I am determined not to fail to finish at all. 

Photo by Mubariz Mehdizadeh on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Losing Hope but Hanging in There

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up. The weather this weekend has been gloomy, and by now the gloom has worked its way right into my mood. I’m tired, and all I want to do is crawl back into bed with a good book and a hot cup of tea for the rest of the day. BUT the weekend is only so long, and I know that doing nothing at all won’t make me feel much better, so I’m up, I have my smoothie, a cup of cold brew, and you, to cheer me up.

“The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.”

― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday was World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Awareness Day and I celebrated by staying home, resting, and writing. I posted some thoughts on my fight so far with this disease. I tried to convey some of the things that I go through that go deeper than the symptoms and the medication. I tried to help people understand the way it’s affected how I relate to my own body.

Like most things I write here it was written as a reminder to myself, but like all advise we give ourselves, it’s hard to remember and harder to maintain. Just hours after I wrote all that about acceptance and loving myself I had a breakdown. There is so much guilt I have for not being able to be the best me I can not just for me (e.g., not being able to write, to exercise, or go place and do things I enjoy) but for other people too.

It isn’t even the bowel symptoms that are making life so hard! It’s the fatigue and frustration that are forcing me to become so introverted and irritable. I feel myself crawling back inside and away from people, not out of anger but out of exhaustion. I feel bad that I can’t be the sister, daughter, friend, or fiancé that my loved ones need me to be. Of course, they are understanding, but I can see the sadness there. I know that just because I am sick doesn’t mean they stop having needs to and I have no idea how to get back to them.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as soon as I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it moves. I’m starting to believe the light is an illusion and to fear that the tunnel goes on and on forever.

This week I was feeling a lot worse and was finally forced to contact my doctor. I was trying so hard to hold on and hang in there until I started my new maintenance medication on Tuesday, but what I was getting so bad I was worried about how much damage I was doing to my body by trying to toughing it out instead of trying something else. So, I called the doctor who then put me back on what I’ve learned is referred to as the “devil’s tic-tacs” in the IBD community, Predisone.

Neither of us wanted me back on that crap. It works miracles, at first, and then it wreaks havoc on the whole body and takes months and months to recover from. But okay, it’s what I need to do, so I felt hopeful I would feel better right away, but she put me on such a small dose it’s made only the smallest dent, enough to keep me working. Then I was hopeful that the new maintenance meds would help right away, but that probably won’t happen either. I’ve gotten so bad that it will be another month or two before I know whether this course of action is right or not.

So, I’ve stopped hoping. Now I’m just hanging in there. I’m going from day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour, doing what I can and resting when I must.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing was slow this week. I just couldn’t get my brain to stay on task. It was drawn to scrolling Twitter and commenting on Facebook group posts. I did my best to redirect my attention though by remembering that I had pledged to get back to reading more this week.

My girlfriend surprised me with a bit of spontaneous book shopping this week to cheer me up after all that bad news, and I settled on The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, a creepy, heartwarming, and thought-provoking zombie apocalypse story unlike any other. It was the perfect book to get me back into regular reading. Well written, attention-grabbing, and easy to read and follow. I highly recommend it, and the movie too!

This week coming week I’m going back to The Odyssey. I love this book, but I’ve never been able to actually finish it! Too much detail I suppose. My brain just shuts down, and my eyes start to glaze over and close after only a few pages. I end up having to reread so much of it but I’m determined to finish it this year, so I keep plugging away.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the coming week is the last of the school year and as you might imagine the atmosphere at work has been tense. There is so much to get done. Graduations, field trips, bidding for summer school routes, bus and equipment cleaning, evaluations, and training. It’s a bittersweet time. We’re saying goodbye to the kids and as relieved and excited as we are we’re all a little sad too.

You get close to these kids, preschoolers and high school seniors alike. Some of my kids are graduating, and some will be moving away over the summer. Even if I get the same route next year, I won’t see them again. Next year new kids will be moving into the district, and many will be moving from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school. There will be new schools opening and routes will be rearranged somewhat and the training department I work for in my off time is moving and hiring new people.

Everything is changing and much of next year is up in the air. I have a little over two months to try not to panic about it.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun is trying to peek out through the clouds and if I am going to get to spend any time outside of the house this weekend, I had better get up and get going now. I need to look at something other than these walls, hear something besides all the bad news on TV. I need to move my body and be around people. I need to feel that sun and smell the spring air.

I hope you had a productive week and that your weekend has been a relaxing and revitalizing one. If not I hope next week will be better than the last and that you find time to do something just for you before the weekend is over.

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 Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash