If We Were Having Coffee // Half of My Life and One Week Down

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

I’m sorry it’s so late. I was so tired today, and when I wasn’t, I couldn’t bring myself to pull up a screen and type. I just wanted to be here, in my home, in my life. It was nice to unplug for the day, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. I missed this chat and I felt I couldn’t end the weekend without a quick cup of coffee with you.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. Let’s talk about last week.

“I let myself go, and made myself some coffee.”

— Anton Chekhov, from a letter to his sister written c. May 1890

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that this weekend marked the 16th anniversary of my girlfriend’s decision to become begin a life together, us against the world. This year marks the halfway point between the years I have been with her, and the years I lived before she came into my life. Half of my life!

I hope by the time we are celebrating our 17th we’ll be working our way into our first year of marriage, but to be honest, this will always be the anniversary that means more to me. I think spending most of your relationship unable to legally get married changes the way you look at the institution of marriage and what it means to be a couple.  We are more than married already. We’ve cobbled together a happy home despite everything against us and we fought hard to stay together.

The day I knew I wanted to be married to this woman is more important to me than the day we will finally become so on paper. With that being said, I still can’t wait to call this beautiful woman my wife and to hear her call me the same.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that we spent our anniversary just outside of town on a gorgeous day hike through Deer Creek Canyon. We both have always loved hiking but there never seemed to be enough time for it. From here to the mountains is a couple of hours and then to hike and then to get back requires half the weekend if you include planning and packing too. I forgot I live in Colorado and this state is all about keeping the great outdoors close enough matter how far into the city you are.

I found out there are quite a few places to hike within half an hour of me, and many that are easy enough that I can keep all the gear at home. Deer Creek was about a 40-minute drive and once we were there and on the trail, I forgot how close were to the city. The trail is nestled just far enough inside the canyon that all you can see is sunshine, green trees, and the red earth.

We arrived just after sunrise and planned to only hike the easy trails and be back the way we came in within a couple of hours but along the way we felt so good we decided to buck up and brave the tougher route to what was marked on the map the “scenic view trail” and I’m so glad we did.

After the hike, we came back home to take long showers and soak our tired feet. We made pot stickers for lunch and drank too many beers before napping the rest of the afternoon away on the couch. When we woke up the sun was on its way down and we decided to dress up and Uber to our favorite out-of-the-way seafood place. We had too much wine and not nearly as many oysters or crab as we should have. Next time we’ll order differently.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that last week was the first week back to school for the kids was just as stressful as I feared it would be. I felt for a while there that it might never end and feared I wouldn’t make it but I’m proud of myself and all my coworkers for getting through it. It isn’t at all easy to get all these kids to school, through school, and back home physically and emotionally sound. If you don’t work for a school district you can’t fathom how chaotic and confusing it can be.

Every department has to work with all the others and more often than not they work against each other instead. Each has its own goals, policies, budget, and needs from the others to keep it working smoothly, and they never seem to agree on the best way to get the job done.

One week down, 39 more to go.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that after yesterday’s hike I’m hurting bad and if I want to have any hope of making into work tomorrow, I need to go soak these sore muscles, slather myself in soothing salves, and take something that will allow me to sleep.

I hope that your week was less stressful than mine and that your weekend was just as relaxing. I hope you found time to get outside and into nature, or that you at least found time to unplug and escape the pressure, the obligation, and the anxiety of your everyday life.

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 Goran Ivos on Unsplash

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198//365 — Home is Where Growth Happens

It’s nice to have friends who think on the same wavelengths we do. That is what friends are for after all. They’re versions of ourselves that we enjoy being around before going home to what you really need, to be with someone very different from us.

Because that is where the real growth happens, not with people who think like you but with people who don’t. It happens at home where it might not always feel nice. It might look more like arguing than compromise, or more like sulking, resentment, and defensiveness. Home is where you work out who you are with someone who’s working out who they are too. It’s messy, it’s beautiful, it’s life, and it just can’t happen when two people are too much alike.

To the woman I love, thank you for having the same life goals as me and very different ideas about how to get there. Thank you for your almost alien perspective. Thank you for your outside interests. Thank you for your baggage and your bias. If not for you, sure, I might still be able to think and sympathize outside of my own experience but I would never have been capable of taking the leap to living outside of my comfort zone.

***

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.

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Love Better and You Will Be Better by the Act Alone

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 

Humans are social creatures, and we need to feel connected, understood, cared about, and loved, and we need it like we need food, water, and air. We’ll do anything to get it, and when we get it, we’ll do amazing and ugly things to keep it. Sure, being loved makes you want to be better, it’ll make you want to do the right thing, be the hero, be the bigger person, but when you can’t, it only makes you better at hiding who you are.

When we love someone we want to give them our very best. It’s normal and completely understandable. We do it because they deserve it, and, if we’re being honest, we do it because we are afraid to lose them. We hide the truth of who we really are and give them a storybook version we long to believe in ourselves, but the truth is you are not made only of giving and grace. You are also selfish, needy, angry, frustrated, sad, scared, and stupid, but none of that is very loveable is it? So it has to go away. We cut it out and pack it away, and we believe it’s gone forever.

Love has made us better, right?

Sadly, no. What happens when we cut ourselves in two like that, banishing one half to the crawl space, is that all that ugly only festers. When there is no one to check its size and power it grows, and it learns there are other ways out. Emotional baggage, childhood trauma, and all that fucking fear twists itself up into unrecognizable shapes and re-emerges in strange, troubling, abusive, and suffocating ways and the more of you it takes over, the more of yourself you hide, and humans will tend to be the worst versions of themselves in secret.

When you care for someone, you have to face your truth and learn to be your whole self, and you have to do it continuously if you want to have any hope of being your best self for them.

The truth is you are not perfect, and your loved ones should know that. Not just because honesty is always the best policy, or even because by hiding so much of yourself in dark and damp corners you allow the worst parts of yourself to fester, but because you cannot really love someone if you are faking who you are. It is through wanting to love someone well, rather than wanting to be loved that we strive to become better versions of ourselves.

Here “striving” means failure and fucking up out in the open for all to see but learning from it and trying again and again to do the right thing and “better” means a more whole, healthy, and authentic you. Real, healthy, fulfilling and freeing love comes out of growth. It’s a process, and it can’t happen in the dark. Love can’t happen in the dark.

But we’ve been doing it all backward. We’re trying to be better for love rather than allowing the act of loving to make us better. We are trying to be worthy of receiving love rather than becoming the biggest and best source of love we can be. My God we are doing it all wrong.

I hate to say it so plainly, but getting someone to love you is among the easiest things to do in this life. It’s as easy as a few well-placed lies and a bit of clever manipulation. No human has ever proven themselves above using such tactics. Hell, I would go so far as to say such shady strategies have been encouraged. Society has turned love and friendship into games people play, and in our need and greed, we’ve forgotten the whole point.

Being loved is no confirmation of how good, beautiful, smart, funny, or valuable you are. The truth of who a person is always shown in how they love. And when we combine honesty with all that love we have to give, we give the kind of love that is real and right and finally become that person we have been pretending to be all along.

But you can only do that by being your whole self first. Bring all your ugliness into the light and love the best you can, with all you have, right now, then growing as you become wise, confident, secure, and happy.

Strive to love better, and you will become better by the act alone.

***

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 coffee.

Featured photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Life is Stressful, Life is Good

Hello dear readers. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine ad catching up. I wasn’t sure we were going to meet today. I have a lot on my mind, and so much I should be doing but it’s all a little overwhelming and when I am overwhelmed I shut down. So, I thought, maybe what I need a cup of strong coffee, a little conversation, and a chance to put my mind to other things before I can try again.

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;”

— T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell that like the rest of the country my TV is tuned to the news of Hurricane Harvey and the devastation in Texas. The images I see coming out of the city are shocking. It’s horrifying the amount of damage that has been inflicted along their coastal cities in the course of only a weekend.

Years ago we dealt with flooding here in Denver. It had rained here for days on end and once the ground had become saturated the water began to seep into our homes. Only 13 inches of fell rain over the course of many days here, and only an inch or so of water found its way into my basement, but even that felt devastating. I cannot imagine that amount and more over just one night, or the 50″ forecasted for Houston by the end of this storm. I can’t imagine how those people are feeling or how scared they might be.

I have family living in Houston—my sister, her kids and husband, and his family—and so far they are faring well, but that may not last as the waters are predicted to continue to rise through the middle of the week. I was happy to hear though that they have plenty of food and water, they have a plan should the water start to flood their apartment, and their satellite signal held out long enough to watch the Mayweather/Mcgregor fight last night.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the last couple of weeks have been more than a little crazy around here. The school year started and not only are we dealing with a severe driver shortage there is also new management and district wide problems ranging from students with lice to teachers and coaches charged with sexually assaulting students. We’re only two weeks in and this already feels like the worst year we’ve ever had.

Personally, though I’m doing better than most. My route is a good one, and I like the driver I’m riding with too. My girlfriend isn’t doing so well though. She’s still working up to 14 hours a day but she’s agreed not to work on Sunday’s and even when she goes in on Saturday’s she at least sleeps in a little and comes home in the early afternoon. I’m still worried about her stress levels and her health, but she is trying.

She’s agreed not to work more than 6 days out of the week, and when she goes in on the weekends, I am going to start going in along with her. I can write from there, and we can bring the dog too. It’s better than me sitting at home sad or making her feel bad for something that’s out of her control. When she isn’t working, we do our best go out, to keep off our phones, and keep our attention on each other. This weekend we saw friends for drinks and enjoyed a few movies at the drive-in.

By the way, Dunkirk was boring. Annabelle was creepy, but the plot was kind of dumb, and The Dark Tower was beyond disappointing. We had fun despite the movies.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it hasn’t been all bad though. I believe the last time we chatted was the week before our 15th anniversary. We kept it simple. Fifteen years together is quite a milestone but for us and we just wanted to enjoy it without any stress of planning or the pressure to make it perfect. That’s how we are though, the more important the milestone in our lives, the simpler we choose to celebrate it. This year it was a seafood dinner at our new favorite restaurant complete with plenty of wine and oysters. That was all.

It may sound boring, but it’s honestly all I ever want. Just to be with her in a place that has memories of us where we can spend a few hours getting to know each other again. The longer you are with someone, the more you realize that having someone listen to you, to laugh at your jokes, to offer advice and reassurance, and tell you all the good things you do and how much you mean to their world means more than any material gift or fancy destination. So that is what we give to each other, these little gifts for anniversaries, for birthdays, or sometimes just on a regular old Friday night after a hard week.

That’s love. That is what 15 years feels like to me.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are only 7 months into Trump’s term and I have already come to a point where I have to stop letting him, and his administration take up so much of my time and mental energy. I have to limit how often I read the news, and I will no longer allow myself to watch his speeches, his press releases, or his rallies live. I will watch when I am in a good place, not before bed, not when I am already having a bad day, and not on my bad anxiety days.

I am still committed to resisting his harmful, destructive, and chaotic agenda and I will still work hard to educate those around me and stay informed, but I will do it in my own time and in my own way. I’m tired of starting the day yelling at the TV and fuming on social media over his latest tweets and lies.

This past weekend is when I really began to cut myself off. The last straw, the moment I decided he will never be someone I consider a leader and when I lost the last scrap of hope I had that he might one day become a president I at least won’t be embarrassed by, came when I heard the news that while the entire country was sending thoughts and prayers to the people of Texas as Harvey slammed into the coast he quietly pardoned a racist and banned transgendered people from serving in the military.

He’s a snake and a coward, and he’ll never be my President.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is getting late and I really have to get going. There is just too much I have left to do before the weekend is over.

I have been working like hell for the past two weeks to get my application in for the Bitch Media Fellowship for Writers, and I am so close to finishing my cover letter, CV, and gathering my writing samples. I’m going to try to spend the rest of the day working on it. I had hoped to submit it all tonight, but with all the house work I have to do before the big Game of Thrones finale it may have to wait until early tomorrow morning.

I hope you had a wonderful week, and that your weekend was a relaxing one. If you are in Texas or have family near any of the destruction, my thoughts are with you. Please, stay safe.

Until next time.

***

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 cup of coffee.

Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted by Part-Time Monster

Featured image by Paul on Unsplash

Relationships Take Two, and That Includes You

“It always takes two. For relationships to work, for them to break apart, for them to be fixed.”

— Emily Giffin, Heart of the Matter: A Novel

I’m a terrible friend.

I don’t text back. I don’t answer calls. I don’t send snaps or reply to Facebook comments. I don’t call to check in, and I don’t know what to say when my loved ones are going through hard times, so I say nothing. I’m a terrible friend. But not because I don’t care, but because I’m scared. I’m afraid I have nothing to offer, and I’m sure no one wants to be bothered with me. It’s selfish, even if I tell myself it isn’t and it’s wrong even if I tell myself it isn’t malicious. The truth is I’m not doing the work, and it isn’t fair.

The truth is I’m not doing the work, and it isn’t fair.

I’m lucky to have friends that understand, but lately, I’ve started to feel guilty. I shouldn’t let them pick up the slack just because I’m too afraid to try. We all deserve to have people reach out toward us everyone in a while to remind that they care and that we are too important to lose.

We all want to feel like we matter. We all want to be wanted. We all want the people we love to let us know with their actions not just with their words that we are important, liked, and desired. When our friends call us or send us funny videos to cheer us up, we feel good. When someone we love cooks our favorite dinner, buys us flowers or offers a back rub at the end of a hard day, we feel good. When family, co-workers, and spouses forgive us for our outbursts or let us know it’s okay after having made a mistake, we feel good.

We do deserve those things, but I’ve seen too many people who demand to be loved, understood, appreciated but make no effort to show anyone else the same. They see themselves as worthy of near worship and see humbling themselves and giving of themselves as degrading.

Relationships, whether they are romantic or not, familial or not, new or old, platonic, professional, or passionate, no matter what they are, they all take two people to make them work and grow. If just one gets forgets the boundaries, loses interest, or puts themselves at the center the whole thing fails. I’ve seen it, and lived it myself, time and time again.

This week I celebrate 15 years with my girlfriend, and people are always asking me how we got this far. They want to know the secret, and I tell them it all boils down to seeing another person as worthy of all the same caring and effort you know that you deserve and then setting your pride aside to do it.

We see ourselves as the main character of a story in which everyone around us only serves to move our own plot forward, but the truth is we are also playing the supporting role in everyone else’s story too. In this world, there is no center. We are all connected to one another and we all push and pull one another in all directions all at once.

If enough people decide to take more than they give all connections weaken and the world becomes a place where loneliness, struggling, and suffering becomes unnecessarily prevalent.

I’ve watched people let their relationships fall apart saying “Well if so-and-so wanted to talk to me they would” or “If so-and-so wanted to see me they’d make the time”, all the while they never reach out or make the time either. They say these things and never see how much they expect and how little their effort is in return. I’ve watched them condemn others for the exact same ways they are failing too.

I don’t think anyone means to be hurtful. It’s just the society we live in now. There is so much bad advice floating around about how we should treat each other and how to stay together or strengthen our bonds.

Everyone says that people who love you will just come to you. They say that anyone who wants to be a part of your life should have to earn it first. You shouldn’t have to chase anyone, you have already done enough. You shouldn’t have to do anything more. If people want you they will do whatever it takes. You aren’t being mean. You are only protecting yourself, respecting yourself, getting what you deserve.

But all that is only half the story. They never tell you how much you have to give of yourself and they never tell you that you should! We should be vulnerable, giving, and forgiving. We should be doing so much more to earn the love of the people we want in our lives. We should be giving second chances and calling even when we didn’t get a callback and inviting them again even when they didn’t show up last time. We should say good morning even if they didn’t say it back and we should do something nice even though they snapped at us yesterday. We should reach out even if they didn’t reply last time and we should let them know we still want to be friends.

You have to let go of your own needs and just be there for someone else for a while. Not all of the time, but, yes, some of the time. You have to take turns being the center of the universe.

Do it because we are all people and we all make mistakes. Do it because none of us come out of our childhood knowing how to have healthy relationships or how to keep those relationships together.

Do it because you care and because you know deep down that every relationship takes work from both parties. It requires vulnerability and a willingness to humble yourself. It requires that you occasionally stop thinking about yourself, give up, and give a little more than you might be getting in return. It requires leading by example and making room for our flaws and forgetfulness. If enough of us make compassion, humility, and understanding part of our relationships we can change the narrative and make giving the goal of every relationship rather than receiving.

Do it so that when it’s you not doing enough because you were busy, too stressed out, or too self-centered, the understanding and love will be there when you return.

***

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

Featured image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

You are What You Cook for Me

I’m easily lured by food
bad for the body
but good for the soul
You are what you cook for me

I’ve never had the self-control
To choose what is good
Over what feels good

Sweet, and savory
Spicy, and so soul comforting
You really are what you cook for me
And I will ever over-indulge

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or share a cup of coffee perhaps? :)

Written in response to The Daily Post Prompt: Fry

Featured image via Unsplash

Five Minute Friday // In the Slow Time

Nothing feels slow anymore. I’m rushing to work, rushing through the day, rushing to get home, rushing to clean up, walk the dog, eat dinner, watch tv, and go to bed where I rush to sleep, to rush back to work the next day. Going, going, going, but getting nowhere I guess.

There are some slow times in there, and I savor them. They mean the world to me and when I guard it fiercely. So often it feels like that is all I have.

My favorite is every evening when the time comes for me to stretch out on my side of the couch, and the lovely woman who loves me back sits close by. We might not be paying much attention to each other, we may be looking at tv screens, iPad screens, laptop screens, or phones but it’s ok. We are together. The world is outside of these shitty, shabby walls and none of it can get it. This is our slow time.

There are pillows are piled up, and more blankets than we need. There are snacks, and drinks, Netflix, and chargers for every device. The dog joins on the far end and the cat squeezes in wherever she can. There is everything we need right there.

I stretch my feet out to rest on the lovely woman next to me, and she asks me what we ought to watch. We chew our dinner and enjoy it, not like the breakfast that comes in liquid form or the lunches that may not come at all. We talk about the day and finally find our feelings for it. At work, with others, there is no time to decide what you should have done or felt, but it all comes out in the slow time.

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter on life, love, and suffering (:

Written in response to Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt: Slow

Featured image via Unsplash