Friday, November 6, 2009

Searching for our song

You terrify me.
(Please don't break my heart.)

There is so much more I could show you; that I could give you.
(Please don't break my heart.)

But ...
... I am afraid.

Afraid of showing that much to you. Of giving that much to you. I want to. I do.
(And if I do? Please, don't break my heart.)

When I roll over and show you my most vulnerable parts, will you embrace them, or eviscerate them?
(Please don't break my heart.)

But ...
... I am afraid.


I wrote the above because I am feeling raw, and vulnerable. And that vulnerability draws me to write really bad poetry. (If you need an example, please read the above.)

Tonight I curled up on my bed with So You Think You Can Dance, Chinese food delivery, and IM conversations. Any one of the preceding would make me do a wigglesome dance of joy normally, but tonight? Even the combination of all three made me feel unsated. So … the show is over, food has been consumed, and conversations shut down. I still feel restless. What to do?

Oh, I know! Break out the notebook of a dead woman! Let’s see what she has to say …

So … here I sit, in a house that you helped buy, flipping through yellowed paper that was written on before the concept of this house was even realized, reading words that smell of thirty-year old smoke, written by a woman I can only hope to know. But never will.

Even though I am part her, and she is part me, I can only guess to her meaning.

All I have left are these faded words tossed on slips of paper (maybe haphazard, maybe intentional), saved in a chocolate covered, purse-sized notebook.

All I know is that those words, these words held in my hand, written a generation ago, and maybe written before I was even a thought, or a spark, speak to me.

“Though I must fight some battles alone,
I cannot live alone –
I am no longer a separate entity –

For I have come to know the joy of another.”

And …

“The most valuable gift we have to give is ourself. [sic]
And it is within the constant giving of ourself [sic] that happiness

as we desire it

evolves and becomes real.”


These are words, written down by a (now) dead woman. I think they are her own, but I cannot be sure. All I do know is that they touch me, deeply and movingly. And it makes me want her all the more, if just to vent to her. To babble at her. To reach out and touch her; to touch her arm or face or even hand. To grab that hand and bring her in to hug her to myself. To ask her what she meant, and what she was feeling, when she wrote those words down.

Since I can’t do that, I can only imagine, and construct, make-believe conversations. Conversations where I re-create puberty and do the whole, “but Moooooooooom! He said, and then I said, and then he said, and then SHE said, and then THEY said, and … *sob sob* … what does it mean?” (Insert the teenage angsty-voice of your choice here.)

And, since this is my fantasy, I pick up that chocolate notebook, brush off that asshole pubescent girl, and flip through the pages to figure out which question I am asking.

And then she answers with,

“As we listen to the music,
we learn and grow wiser
while searching for our own song
and the message it will sing.”

And then my (now no longer teenaged self) says, “Huh? What the hell are you talking about?” As I throw myself across that twin bed and beat my feet against that horrible flowered comforter, I will scream out, “you just don’t get it! You don’t understand!”

(My unknown question is still unknown. It’s just a feeling. And I still kinda hate that pubescent girl that I once was, once upon a time.)

As my teenaged self yells that invective, “you DON’T UNDERSTAND!” my adult self goes, “oh, shut it! I get it now.”

My adult self says, over the screaming meemies of my teenaged self, to my Mom, “oh, okay. I understand. I get it. You are telling me to listen to the music. Take what I hear and make it my own. March to the beat of my own drummer, right?”

The ghost mom tells the alive me, “yes, exactly.”

The ghost of the teenaged me says, “what the fuck are you talking about?”

But then ghost mom says, “if you see yourself as a rock, no one will touch you.”

The adult me just nods and grins, leaving the teenaged me rolling her eyes. And still kicking her heels in frustration. (Mom and I just giggle. I still kick my heels though.)

At some point Mom wrote down in that chocolate notebook,

“We feel, therefore we are.”

And to that? I say yes.

Nothing more than “yes” can I say in response.


It took me a long time to acknowledge feeling. And to even accept feeling. And to believe that feeling is … okay.

So. If we feel? (That is okay.)

If we feel, we are. (And that acceptance I’m still learning to embrace.)


“We are where love has come to live.”

Mom and Dad are both gone. When I grieve either one, without the other – when I miss Mom, without missing Dad; when I miss Dad, without missing Mom … – I feel guilt. I feel guilt that, at that moment; I am placing one above the other. But I’m not. Only now am I learning that I am grieving the passing of them both. The passing of them as Mom, as Dad. As a couple. And as my parents. And as individuals.

And through this weird fucked up process we call grief am I learning love. Learning love of family. Love of others. Love of this weird thing we call life. Most mostly?

I love Mom. I love Dad. Through them love has found a home within me; their love of each other, their love of me, and their love of … love.

Love lives within me, and therefore?

I love myself.

Otherwise known as “Love of self”.

The very first part that I wrote of, of terror … well, it could apply to friendships. Or to love. Or to my parents. Or yours. Or to yourself.

Actually, it applies to all. And to none.

Love can be terror.

“Reflection is the insight of tomorrow.”

When we reflect, mostly upon ourselves, we view the past. We fear the tomorrow. I say tear down the fear. Tear down the terror. Embrace the tomorrow, and all the weird reflection that comes of it.

As Mom would say …

“Life beats on”

“Live in the happiness with the knowledge that the world will grow a little better with you there.”


I say, “You terrify me.”

I think, “There is so much more I could show you; that I could give you.”

I say, think, and live, “But ... ... I am afraid.”

Taking a page from Mom and Dad, I say to myself, “deal”.

I answer, “But ... ... I am afraid.”


I embody not just Mom and Dad, but also Me, and I say this, and question this …

“What shall I do to love?

What shall I do to belive?

For once in my life I will listen to my parents. I will believe. And I will love.

I hope you can do the same.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A snapshot. Full of pee. Signifying nothing.

So …

I love my boys. I really do. Just over 2 years ago (has it really been that long?) a friend of mine calls me up saying that there were some youngins that were found behind a dumpster, starving and close to death.

She knew I was itching to fill the void that Ms. Liza left when she was unceremoniously a) attacked by a raccoon, b) fought a coyote, or c) lost a fight to a Toyota. (The jury is still pending on cause of death.) I mean, there I was – in my childhood home, sans cat, with only my (soon-to-be-ex, heretofore known as STBE), his dog, and another stray dog. The “guy” level was overwhelming, and the estrogen, after Liza left, was decidedly lacking.

I was a cat, living in a dog world. That shit had to change.

The call …

“Hey, I know this may be a bit too soon, since it’s only been a few months, but this lady at my shop found some kittens … ”

“Ohhhh, I’m not sure. I mean, so much is going on right now, I mean with the house, and the dogs, and the STBE … ”

“But they are SO cute! Here, listen.” (She holds the phone up to some really pathetic meows. My redheaded Virgo partner in crime? She fights dirty.)

“*sigh*. Fine. Let me put on my bra. And some pants. I’ll be there in an hour.”

The meeting …

After fighting Southern California heat, and traffic, in a roller-skate of a car with no air conditioning, I arrive in Riverside. Even if I didn’t bring home an orphan today, I was thankful to finally be out of my car, with some blessedly cool air drying the gallons of sweat dripping off my body.

“Finally! Come here, come here, come here! Just lookit doze cute widdle faces!”

Before I really had a chance to savor not being stuck on the 91, and before I could really grok that it wasn’t eleventy-thousand degrees, I was face to face with this:

Asmo. He's a pisser!

And then? This:

Argus? He's a pisser too!

I was helpless. HELPLESS! How could I say no? (God, I'm a sucker.)

Needless to say, these two little shitheads came home with me that day.

The ride …

These two little no-longer-orphans were now tucked away in a cat carrier on my passenger seat. I had both windows rolled down in my roller-skate, but it was still eleventy-billion degrees out. Their plaintive mews kept cutting into my heart.

“Oh, I know babies. It’s hot out. And you’re scared and trapped in a little box. I’m so sorry. Soon we’ll be home, where you’ll feel the ocean breeze. Kind of. So … tell me … what are your names?”

The bastards played coy with me, and didn’t tell me their names for a full week and a half.

They mewed, and I responded. Even though we bonded during that hellacious drive, they still refused to tell me their names. The whitish one? Just kept staring – he had these huge eyes, that took in everything. The grey one? Well, he stared as well, but it looked like he was plotting at the same time.

Ah, home …

We arrived home and the poor dogs were beside themselves. Kasha was just so excited to have new additions to the home that she just wanted to play. Her form of playing, though, was sniffing the little fuzzballs, bouncing their butts on her nose, and then rolling them around the house. And Teddy? Oh, poor guy … he took one sniff and hid. I guess he remembered some past experience with cats where his nose was decimated. (Can’t really say I blame the guy.)

So, after a week and a half, they deigned to tell me their names.

Argus and Asmo (short for Asmoedus).

They really do live up to their namesakes.

And then the fun began …

Apparently we bonded TOO well on the drive. By this time the STBE was taking turns sleeping on the couch, and in the bed. Soon, the couch was a better option. Why was this? Because the two teensy-tiny hellions were jealous. When he would sleep in bed, they would invariably pee on his head. And on his pillow. Pretty much anything that he touched while in bed? Yep. They peed on it.

One night? They even peed on my hair. (Hand to god. They PEED. ON. MY. HAIR.)

Payback …

They have never really understood the concept that only one thing can occupy one location at one time. Many times, I have gone to sit in “my” place on the couch, only to find it filled with a cat. And though I do lower myself slowly, in the hopes that they will realize their impending doom, they never move.

(I guess my ass isn’t as terrifying as I thought it was.)

Tonight, again, I almost sat on one of the cats.

This time it was different. It may have been the fact that I was really distracted. It may have been the fact that I didn’t pay attention to my surroundings. Or it may have been the fact that I really had to pee.

It wasn't until I felt fur on my rear that I realized one of the cats was drinking out of the toilet.

Thankfully, I was able to reverse course. But if I had peed on Argus' head? I probably would have felt bad.

Just a little. But it did give a whole new meaning to “wet pussy”.

Hmm, maybe I should have. I mean, turn about is fair play, no?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Apart from? Or a part of?

I’ve been in, but not of, life.

Too much time spent on the hamster wheel …

… spinning …

… spinning …

spinning … but never moving forward.



I’ve been dreaming.

Wanting to shake up my dream tree. I've been shaking it, but nothing falls.

Dreaming of murderous mafia-zombies.

But sadly not dreaming of being an architect


I am in the world …


… apart from it, but not a part of it.


Too much time spent behind a book, or a lens. Experiencing life only through words on a screen or via second-hand phone conversations. Never first hand, except for momentary grasps. And stolen kisses.

Hiding behind closed doors, because my house is no longer my home. No longer my safe haven.

Living, but only through another’s view.



Maybe what I am trying to say to myself is this …

Self? Stop being a passive observer, and become an active participant in your own damn life.

Self? Stop doing a Phoenix impersonation and use that tinder to build something, instead of burning it down

Self? Remember. Remember that it really isn’t so bad. There is joy in the ordinary. 

Self? Don’t be so afraid of just reaching out and grabbing that hand. Screw your own internal censor.


(I mean, seriously? Self? Get off the wheel. It could be worse – you could have bifurcated paws.)


Get out there. And live.

(And here's a video. Just because it's been in my head for a few days. This song turned me onto the Buena Vista Social Club. The documentary is fantastic too ... rent it. Buy the CD.)



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fathers Day - 2009

As a woman I was always made to feel that Mother’s Day should be my focus. It wasn’t.

Allow me to amend that. It WAS … until I was 5.

Mom and me

After that, though?

It was Father’s Day. THAT was my focus.

Dad wearing tutu From then on, it was just you and me kid.

When I was 7, I gave you your first Mother’s Day card. It was one of the few, very few, times that my grandmother never second-guessed me. There are times that I wish(ed) she would have been that open in other instances …

At first you were confused. But the confusion turned to a smile once you saw what my second grade handwriting said. And then that smile turned to a grimace, a happy grimace nonetheless, as you tried to hide the tears.

Every year thereafter not only did I celebrate you on Father’s Day, you were also lauded on the day reserved for Mother’s. Because that’s what you were to me. Most people didn’t understand … “Uhm, yeah, okay … why are you getting a Mother’s Day card for your Dad?”

Because.” And really?

That’s all I could say.


You either got it, or you didn’t.

Many years after Mom died, I realized that not only were you “Dad”, you also had to fill the role of “Mom”. A small part of me understood that when I first unintentionally got you that first Mother’s Day card. I didn’t know what I was doing then, but later I did. And once I realized that? My heart opened, and then broke. And then? You kept receiving cards. It was no longer “Mother’s” cards, or “Father’s” cards … you got cards. Just because. Because, yes, you were my Father. But you were also my Mother. But most of all? You were my parent.

You were Pops.


There you were, a young, handsome, and virile man. Left floating, seemingly alone, by the death of your “one”. Adrift, with a small child clinging to you. A needy, artistic, and needy child clinging to you for dear life, when all YOU wanted was to be left to do that … float adrift. Drift away.

Thinking back upon that now, as an adult, I must admit this …

I honestly don’t know how you did it.

You started off as this carefree surfer.

Dad after surfing

And then Vietnam …


You admitted that there was another love before Mom. You told me that when you felt I could actually hear it. And I did. Yes, I was hurt. That hurt came from a child’s understanding, a child’s outlook. (“What do you mean? There was ANOTHER woman before Mom?) The child hurt, but the adult understood. The adult felt.

However, the child (and adult) still twinges a bit when she looks upon this photo …

(Am I a horrible person to say that I am so glad that she ISN'T my mom?)

But this adult (and child) is ecstatically happy to realize that she broke your heart. (No, shush. I am NOT happy she broke your heart. But I AM happy to realize that she broke you just enough so that you could meet Mom. And so that you and Mom could meet as partners.)



Your side of the family (my family), says that there are two of you – the pre-Vietnam Chris, and the after-Vietnam Chris.

As much as I would have loved to have known you pre, you wouldn’t be “Dad” to me if you weren’t also the after. I mean … that’s all I knew.

The “pre-Chris” loved his family, and looked after his sister. Yes, he was a bit free, and a bit naive. Always searching for the next wave.

The “after-Chris” was mostly the same but with harder, and sharper, edges. (Still searching for that ever elusive wave, though.) The pre would have tried to talk sense into his brother-in-law, for being too hard on his sister. The after was the one who went searching for the same brother-in-law, gun in hand, for abusing his baby sister. (Thankfully, the after never found him. Otherwise, I would never be here.)

You know what though? I kinda like the “after” …



I saw the sadness, and desperation, in your eyes. Not only was it seen, it was felt.

From you I have learned how to love. I’m not talking about loving family just because they are blood, or loving friends just because they are there… yes, you taught me that. You also showed me what it was to open yourself up fully. To splay yourself, your emotions, your core. To open yourself up to the unknown. You have shown me that you CAN do that.

And you showed me that you can reap those benefits. The benefits being that you reap what you sow ...

... Mom loved you so much ...

... So did I. So do I ...

You have also shown me that when you do that, you leave yourself open to heartache. It’s a heartache I never want to experience. Ever. At least, not in the way that you did.


Until I became headstrong in my teenage years, we were tight. Tight.

Once we gained some space, some distance, only then could we become friends again. For me being an asshole teenager … I apologize. I know you understood, but still. I am sorry. I KNOW you did much worse than I ever did (hell, you even told me of some of your exploits!) But still?

I am sorry.

If there ever comes a day when I do have kids (a day which I hope for, but feel will never happen), I can only hope to be like you. Yes, I do want to be like Mom, juts a little. But mostly?

If I had to choose the parent to emulate, it would be you.


After Mom died, I know you were lost. And I understood that you would have gone away as well … if it wasn’t for me. (And, no, that’s not ego speaking – maybe I was just a responsibility at first, because of grief. But later? After the initial heartbreak? “It was just you and me, kid”.)

But still? Helllloooooooooooo Catholic Guilt ™!

After though… you morphed from Dad into Pops. And I turned from “god damnit! Ann Marie!” into “Bubba”. Or “Bub”.

When you were alive, I never actually liked, or understood, The Beatles. But after you went? I really did try to understand why you loved them so. It took me a while, though. And now?

Now I get it. (Strawberry Fields still flips me the fuck out. I doubt that will ever change. I still sit at that same table, in the same kitchen, and Strawberry Fields still strikes in that same visceral way. Yes, I “get” it now. It still makes me uneasy. And now? Okay … *shrug*)

You and I … we do share genetics. But now, we also share a love of the Fab Four.

When someone says yesterday … I understand it on my level. But I also understand it on yours. And I really do think that is the legacy you left to me. There ARE shadows …

And if you were still here? I would say this to you: the shadows are really the dark parts. Know them. Appreciate them. Roll in them. But please, don’t live in them. Instead, allow them to serve as contrast. As a foil, to the light that you lived.

A light you had so much of.

A light that burned too bright. And too fast. A light that was extinguished too soon.


I can believe in yesterday … and now? I CAN move on to tomorrow.

But only because of you.

I love you, Dad. Granted, I may be away this weekend following my own passion, but I think that you may, just may, understand that. You will never be far from my mind.

This Sunday I will raise my camera, and a glass, and wish you nothing but a slipper tail lobster, some 7&7, and know (hope) that Mom is by your side to share it with you. (And then? In my mind she will make fun of you. With some inside joke that only the two of you know the punchline to.) When the two of you are laughing ... I hope I catch just the faintest whiff of scent ... Shalomar and Cinnamon for her, with just a touch of Old Spice for you. Even though I know you hated it.

And then? Then I will smile. And laugh. And then I will cry through my own inside joke. Damn the rest!

Happy Fathers Day Pops ... wherever you may be.

I chase the light

I chase the light.

The sun through the window shows her face in a way only I know; full of joy, love, and the weight of a world only she knows. And I want to capture it. Gather it to me for always. And then, show that understanding back to the world.

I chase the light.

The music is captured on his face, with eyes half closed, and the beginning of a grin. His toes tap and fingers drum on the almost empty pint of cider, half forgotten. I can see the beginning of a story there.

I chase the light.

A tear leaks from her eye, and it races to catch the smile now unleashed. We all cry, laugh, and scream as they say, “I do”.

I chase the light.

The first time your fingers met mine, I could barely breathe.

I chase the light.

How can you capture a scent?


My friends, my family, my lovers … they aren’t seen as just (or only) human in my eye. They are bits of experience – a scent, a touch, a feeling, a tune, an image.

All fleeting – amorphous moments in time.

But together?





But overwhelmingly?



I wish I had embraced photography and writing sooner than I did. Maybe some of the moments of my life could be tangibly touched or read again. And shared.

But now? Instead of dwelling on “if only”, I will work towards “and then”.

And then? After this photo? After this paragraph? What happened?


Well … you will just have to stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chicken Piccata

Each time I make this, it turns out a bit different. Sometimes the sauce is thinner and other times, like tonight, it turns out thick. What can ya do? The prep time seems to take longer than the actual cook time. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken (The “real” recipe says 4 skinless/boneless breast halves. I prefer to pick up a pack of chicken tenders – already thin, and easier to control the portion that way.)
  • Butter (About 3 tablespoons, give or take. Make sure it’s room temperature – don’t try to shortcut this by softening it in the microwave. Just my preference.)
  • Flour (Measurements to come.)
  • Olive oil (2-4 tablespoons.)
  • Lemon juice, fresh squeezed. Use that crap that comes in the plastic faux lemon and I will never speak to you again. (Now, I’m all for lemon – during the summer I would eat one, or maybe 3, lemons per day. Loves me some lemon! That being said, the recipe calls for 1/4 cup but I would cut down on this and use more wine, or more broth.)
  • Chicken broth. (Approximately 1/4 cup, depending on if you use this to cut the lemon with.)
  • WINE! Dry and white. (About 1/3 cup, but I always wind up using more. My preference is sauvignon blanc. Use your favourite, just make sure it’s dry.) Buy two bottles – one for cooking, and one for drinking.
  • Capers (drained) and parsley (1/4 of each. Typically I’ll use mostly fresh parsley and some dried, but use what you have.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste. (I prefer kosher or sea salt. And some white pepper mixed with the black.)

Typically this is served over angel hair pasta, but tonight I used jasmine rice. Choose whatever side you prefer.

1) In a small bowl, take 1 tablespoon of the (room temperature!) butter and mix it with 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour. Mix together until it’s smooth. Set aside.

2) Flour the chicken. (Dump some flour in a deep plate or shallow pan.) If you use breast halves, you’ll want to pound them down. I hate to beat my meat (no comments, Peanut Gallery!) which is why I use the already semi-thin tenders. You can either dust the chicken with salt and pepper before drenching in the flour, or you can do what I do – mix the salt and pepper in with the flour. Set aside. Wash the caked flour off your hands. (This is the part I hate – icky chicken and flour under my nails. Bleh.)

3) Take a drink. You may drink the wine, I’ll stick with beer.

4) Start with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Dump into the pan and heat (hot, but not smoking.)

5) Add chicken and cook until golden-ish. About 3-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Salmonella is BAD! Depending on your pan size, and amount of chicken, this may have to happen in two batches. If you have to cook the chicken in more than one fell swoop, this is when the extra oil comes in. Add a touch more to the pan, and cook away. Set cooked chicken on a plate and tent with foil.

6) In the same pan, add the wine, broth, and lemon to boil. (Heat is about medium-high, to medium.)

7) After the wine/broth/lemon is boiling, stir in the butter/flour mixture from earlier. Boil. (This may take a bit of whisking to get it to blend together. Be patient. It will come.)

8) Once the butter/flour is introduced, throw in the capers, parsley, and last 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir. Take a taste. If you want to add more salt or pepper, do so. If you want to add more wine, broth, or lemon juice, now is the time to do so (if the sauce is too thick, definitely add more liquid).

9) Place pasta or rice on a plate. Put chicken over that. Over THAT, spoon some sauce. Viola!

10) Crack open the wine (or beer, or water, or what-have-you) and enjoy over some candlelight. Or pop in a movie and curl up on the couch. Or … open up some Scottish Sock Puppet youtube clips and enjoy.

This one is a hit at my house. Unfortunately, these guys get nothing. NOTHING! (Okay, they get some kibble. And love. Lots of love. But that’s it.)

Whaddya mean I don't get the leftovers?!

This is my patented stink-eye. When asked why he was giving the stink-eye, Senor BooBoo was quoted as saying, "You get this because you are not sharing the chicky-chicky with me. I might just eat your head."

Teddy says, "Phbtphbt!"

I think Argus is contemplating peeing on my head. It was later found out that he did, indeed, say, "If I don't get some chicken love, I will pee on your pillow. Don't push me, woman!"

Asmo was unavailable for comment at this time, but his agent said that he would get back to me. Riiiiiiiight.

And then I said, "Blah blah. Wah wah, wah-wah-wah-what?"

“You just don’t flirt with members of the opposite sex when you’re in a relationship.”

Okay, you know what? That may be true for you. But for me? I flirt. I love it. Does it mean anything?

No. describes in part “flirt” as: “to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions”.

Without serious intentions. Do you see how I highlighted that?

Without serious intentions.

Maybe, just maybe, your life experience has taught you that flirting is more serious. My experience has shown me that this is not so. That flirting is NOT serious.

We have just gone round and round about this. And yet you persist in the unyielding view that flirting equals intent. For you? Maybe it’s true. For me? It is not.

Honestly, the men I actively flirt with are the ones whom I have no ulterior motives about; the ones that I have absolutely no interest in. This is because they are safe. They know this, and I know this. Apparently, you don’t.

When I say I’m going out to dinner with a friend I mean just that – a friend. We have known each other for neigh on 17 years. I am sorry that you may feel that we are “on a date”, when in reality we met for pot stickers so that he could talk about his ex moving to some god forsaken state to live with her producer. And how that affected him.

If that is a “date”, then I’m dating every single person that I know who needs some time to just vent. To just talk.


You asked me to give specifics of when you put words in my mouth. I wish I could give them to you right now. I wish I could say that every time you accused me in surreptitious ways of still being in love with my ex, that I could shake you by the shoulders and say, “no. I am NOT in love with him. Yes, I did I spend my years between 16 and 29 either wanting, or being with, him. However, he cheated on me. He literally destroyed my childhood home, and then sold items of my fathers that were never his to sell! How does this not parse with you?”

How does me saying, “we were done months ago, but I just couldn’t tell you that because I wanted to make sure it was true, and not just fear speaking” … how does that say I was lying to you? Does this not show you that I wanted to MAKE SURE that I was making the right, and hard, decision about us? How does me, trying to work through some feelings so that I know that they are real, equate a lie? Yes, it IS true that I didn’t bring up these thoughts and fears to you. For that, I apologize. I fucked up, and I am sorry.

It is also true that I didn’t bring them up because I was afraid, yes, afraid, that you would take them very much to heart and then squash everything that you were feeling.

Those feelings? Those emotions? Those are what made me fall in love with you in the first place. And, you know what? Those feelings are still there. I loved you then, and I love you now. But …

… but …

But now I realize that, even though I DO love you, you aren’t “the one” for me. And I’m sorry I cannot give you some pat answer that will make it all be okay.

We are human.

We are fallible.

 I am fallible.

And as fallible humans, we fuck up. We fuck up because of fear. Because of fear we don’t communicate in the moment, when we should. And for that, I am truly sorry. Mentally, I am groveling on my knees. (Physically, I am embracing my outer Ice Queen.)

I wish I could have verbalized my uncertainty about us earlier. But … but … I was terrified. TERR-I-FIED. Terrified that I would come home to find you gone. Not just gone, as in your stuff is no longer where I thought it would be, but gone as in, “I keep shaking him but he’s not waking up. No, I SWEAR I can see him breathing. I don’t care that his body is cold, he really isn’t gone” …

And yet you say that if I had only just talked to you, we could have worked things out. That you could have, or would have, changed.

And I don’t want that.

I want someone who I can love, withOUT the change. Someone that I can honestly embrace and welcome, warts and all. Your “warts” were also mine. And because of that, I realized that yes, there can be someone who accepts me. But at the same time … no … no, I cannot have your warts mix with mine. Because if they did? I would take too many steps backwards.

Did you understand and accept that? Yes. Yes you did. And for that? I love(d) you.

But now? Now it is not okay.

Because of the acceptance you showed me, I have truly realized that there honestly IS beauty in the flaws. And because of that, I have learned that my flaws cannot also be yours. Because if that is the case, my (and our) flaws create cracks. And those cracks create chasms. And those chasms create the deep dark places that I have already lived through, and cannot visit again. CAN-NOT.

You said you would be willing to change.

I don’t want that.


I want to love someone, warts and all, and be okay with it. And I want them to love me for the same reason. Down to my soul, down to his soul.

I want their crevices to balance out my peaks. And vice versa.

What I don’t want is for them to change solely for me. If they want to change for themselves, sure. Have at. If they want to change because it is something they want, and because of that, they know I will support them, please … knock yourself out.

But to say you would change because it makes *me* uncomfortable? Because by changing it would make things easier? No. No, no, no.

He was, and IS, a wonderful, kind, and caring man. Sadly, he wasn’t the wonderful, kind, and caring man for ME.

Could I have been more communicative about that? Yes. Of course. Did fear constrict my throat? Of course it did. Did I learn what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, in the future? You bet your ass I did.

If you read this, please know that I DO love you. But please realize that no matter how much you say that you aren’t my ex, that you aren’t the people in my past … please realize that those people still colour my present. And no matter how vehement your protestations are, those experiences I will still bring to the table. Is it fair to you, or to me? No, not really.

But it is all I know.

Am I running away?

Maybe I am.

But, if I stopped running, would I be settling?

Survey says … yes.

I am learning that sticking up for myself is hard. Damn hard.

And that when sticking up for yourself, you will never have the cut and dry answers that the other person wants.


Oh jeez. Fuck it.

To live a cliché, “It’s not you, it’s me. I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”


Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Asking Too Much - Ani DiFranco

Maybe I am asking too much. But I don't think so.

Joyful Girl - Ani DiFranco

      'cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
      and the woman who lives there can tell
      the truth from the stuff that they say
      and she looks me in the eye
      and says would you prefer the easy way?
      no, well o.k. then
      don't cry

It’s taken a while to look in the mirror. And now? Finally, I can look myself in the eye. The easy way really isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

And I won’t cry.


So ... how're you? ;)


Sunday, May 31, 2009

I may be rough, but I am still precious

I will never apologize about my past. No, nay, never.

No, nay, never. NO MORE.

Even if it makes you feel better.

Everything I have ever done, every mistake I have ever made, every encounter I have lived through ...

... all of those occurrences have made me the person that I am, today. This moment. This here and now.

This person that you have loved? This person that you still love? This person standing in front of you?

I AM the sum of my parts. Ain't nothin' will change that. And no longer will I apologize for my past. Instead ...


I will revel in it. I will bathe in it. I will let my fingers rummage through each experience, each jewel, and I will let them slide through my fingers. I will grab handfuls of them, great big fistfuls, and I will bring them to my face, let my lips taste and kiss every one of them, and then... ?

... then I will inhale each and every one. I will smile at the remembrance. I will throw myself down in the plunder of my past. And I will roll in it. I will laugh in it. I will be positively GIDDY in it.

These gems make my mosaic. This one here, this blue one? It shows learning.This crack here, this red facet? It shows experience. This scar, the green one that catches the light just so? It shows a lesson. This one here, the amber one with all of its flecks? The one that seems like it will break with the slightest breath? This one is my cornerstone. The one I hold most dear.

Individually the tiles, the gems and jewels - they may be marred, they may be scarred, they may be broken, but on the whole?

They are beautiful.

And you know what? So am I.

Sometimes all you can see is the whole. And you forget that it's the small details, the small cracks, that make the whole gorgeous.

Don't you dare forget that. Because? Because even if you do? Even if YOU forget?

I won't.


Some of my imperfections, some of my flaws, some of my light that is reflected out, you may not like. Well, you know what? Too bad for you. I like them. I may not love them, but I like them just fine. And if you don't? If you can't handle them? If you can't embrace them? Well ...

... that's your loss. Not mine. I have fought too long and too hard to hate myself because of them. I have earned each and every one of these oddities.

THIS ... this is my face. Suck it.

(And this stone? This one right here, that you can't seem to look away from? That one is a diamond. And that diamond is me.)


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hooray for boobies! And by boobies, I mean words.

Words and perception – the definition of “hell” to one person, that same word can mean something completely different to another.

Growing up there were some words I wouldn’t say. Not that I couldn’t, I just wouldn’t. Take the word “just” – it was something I would steer away from in spoken conversation. I would write it, just like I wrote jam, shit, Shannon, and chicken – all of those words were verbally verboten to me.

No, it wasn’t that I wasn’t allowed to say them, but somehow between my brain and my tongue, the ch, sh, and juh sounds come out somewhat jumbly and slurry. It gets tiring to write out my spoken words, when I was trying to say something innocuous as “Jim ate jelly”. Beginning then, I learned a work-around in my spoken vocabulary. It’s why I don’t say “shit” out loud a lot, even though it was my first word.


Raised in Orange County, I always thought that all women wanted big boobs and blonde hair – it’s what my friends and peers talked about when we reached puberty. “D’ya think they’re real, or does she stuff?” “I dunno. Do you want me to go ask her for a tissue and see where she reaches for it?” When I finally did get my own set of boobs, I wanted them to be bigger, better, faster.

Well, that’s not really true …

For a long time, I didn’t want boobs. Did not want them. No, no, no. It meant I would be a woman. It meant that I could no longer go and hide in trees, or at the bottom of the pool. It meant that I would be noticed. Being noticed was tantamount to my own personal second circle of hell.

Driving home from school one afternoon, my grandmother said that it was time for me to get a training bra. Of course, anything my grandmother said I needed, or what she thought I wanted, I did everything within my power to do the exact opposite. I really didn’t need a training bra at the time, but apparently I had reached some magical, mystical age that meant, to her, that I did. From that day forward, I slouched. No amount of love taps on my back from the ruler-wielding nuns would make me sit up straight.

Well, that’s not really true either…

In dance class I always had perfect posture. (Is it odd that I was more afraid of my jazz teacher than the nuns?)

The uniform blouses that we were forced to wear at school aided and abetted in trying to hide my growing buds, but the leotards? Every flaw, real or perceived, was there for all to see, much to my shame. (Did I mention that I really didn’t want boobs?)

It was only when my dance teacher said that I might need some support that I finally caved and let my grandmother get me a training bra. I’m still traumatized from that shopping experience. Did she not realize that clutching a bra, then holding it to my chest, and exclaiming for the entire store to hear, “No, this one is too big!” would scar me for years?

The summer between 8th grade and my freshman year, the beige satin trainer began to pinch and I had to resort to stealing my grandmother’s C-cup bra. That, too, pinched in time.

“I don’t know where your bra went – maybe it has gone to play with the socks in the Dryer In The Sky?” After that one and only shopping trip, I was still too emotionally raw to experience another one and so I lied. That was the time that I realized that some small white lies are good. So, I lied about stealing her bra and I hid it under my mattress.

Again I found myself slouching.


Once I realized that my boobs garnered attention from the cute surfer boys (Sal Belmonte? I’m looking at you), I started to embrace my boobs. To see them not as a hindrance, but as something to be used; used so that I could get what I want. If I wore a low cut top, leaned against the counter, and placed my arms just so, I created cleavage and the attendant at the Arco would sell me cigarettes – at age 14. Since his eyes didn’t get much further up than my clavicle, I was never carded.

Fast forward to age 21. Tanya was complaining about herself, saying she felt fat, that she looked fat. I, of course, told her, “You aren’t fat, you’ve just got huge tits.”

That went over like a lead balloon.

Actually, a lead balloon would have gone over better.

I’ve learned a lot since then.


Words are a cozy blanket on a rainy day – I roll in them, they cover me, and give me warmth. Sometimes how others perceive my words? It is more like a big bucket of ice water splashed in their face.

Actions speak louder than words at times – I think Tanya saw that. My actions belied the stupid words I had said.

When I saw the look on her face after I made that comment about her boobs, I realized that I really stepped in it. Another case of foot-in-mouth-itis. After a long conversation, I realized the hurt that my words caused, and she saw that I was trying to compliment her. (That whole concept of “big tits = beauty” was what my Orange County and raised by a male experience taught me. It’s all perspective, no?)


Almost 12 years later, that moment is what comes to mind when someone asks my opinion. That moment, and her face. “Are my words being filtered through my own life, my own perspective? How will the asker receive my words? Will they understand what I am saying at the core, or will the words cut?”

I have learned to love my boobs, just as they are. They, like my words, are me, I am them, I embrace them, but they no longer define me (nor do they make me slouch). Sometimes, like my words, I use them. But more often than not, I let them be. If others want to judge me by them, that is their perogative; their perception.

Yes, I still speak honestly, but not quite off the cuff any more. I allow myself pauses, and deep breaths, before I speak. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes I still slouch. But always, it is heartfelt.

Sometimes, it is all I can do.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Oh Dave. Goodbye, my friend. Goodbye.

I hate this. My nose is so plugged up I can’t breathe, my eyes are so teary I can’t see. My heart is so sore, that I can’t feel. (Or I feel too much.)

Oh, Dave. Dave, Dave, Dave! (For the “Dead Like Me” fans out there, the intonation is the same as when George says, “Mason, Mason, Mason”.)


Where to start?

You are a storyteller.

A rescuer of stuffed animals.

A kind man. And I DO mean that – there aren’t many people that I describe as “kind”.

Nice? Yes. Caring? Yes. Sweet? Yes.

But kind? To me, that word sums up all that is good, and right. Not many people can embody both of those words. Some live one word, some the other. But both? Only you.

You work with developmentally disabled and abused kids. You act as an advocate; a counselor; a teacher; a safe port.

A friend.

Throughout my life I have been blessed (not just blessed, but lucky, lucky) to know many people who work with the downtrodden, the so-called less desirable, the broken, the “unfixable”. Granted, they all work and embody caring, embody love, and embody aplomb. But you?

You …

YOU are KIND. Down to your marrow, you are kind.


Before I officially met you, we played. Without ever knowing the other persons name, we saw each other on an early Saturday morning – you seeing me, me seeing you, and we both made eye contact.

Blue to green-hazel.

Green-hazel, to deep blue.

Our eyes met. 

Of course, I was confused. But I went with it. You? You were going out on a limb.

(At the time I was 16, and you were close to 30. But then, as now, I couldn’t, I can not, resist a game. I think you sensed that in me. Then, as now, you always saw to the core of a person.)

Blue to green-hazel.

Green-hazel to blue – our eyes told the story before any word was ever spoken.

You ducked behind a tree. After a second of confusion, I see your eye, then the rest of your face, and that sly, joking smile, emerge from behind that tree; seeing me standing there, very confused. Just as quickly as you popped out, you popped back in again. And then? Then I knew what you were about. I joined in, my lip curled in understanding. My head ducked in a quick nod. A nod that said, “yes, I see what you are about. I see your ante, and raise it”.

The game was afoot.

I, too, found a nearby tree, and for a few moments, we played a game of peek-a-boo, much to the amusement of the various passersby. Once our trees tired of us, and shook us off like tired leaves, we moved on.

A slow, yet fast moving, game of statues followed. A visual Marco Polo, a game of “red-light, green-light” if you will, wherein each of us pretended to not see the other. Again, the passersby were confused, yet they still walked away with a smile. I?

I walked away with a song in my heart.

I think it was at the end of that weekend when we actually, and officially, met. (As soon as you hid behind that tree, and I followed suit, we “truly” met. Everything else was just semantics.)

“Hi, I’m Dave. Thank you for playing with me yesterday.”

“Hey Dave. I’m Anni. Thank you for allowing me to play with you.”

“Thank you for joining in. It’s not really about you and me, is it? It’s about the world.”

“True ‘dat. See you next Saturday?”

“I’ll be behind the tree. See you then.”

After a few years of talking, we became friends. We each saw through the others wall, but neither said so. It worked for us.

Goddamnit! You were supposed to marry my cousin, and show her that not all men are self-centered jerks. You and I knew that, though it was never spoken aloud. It was always danced around, and winked over, on your part and hers.

“Hey, how’s Dave? Have you talked to him recently?”

“Yes. I have. He says hello.”

“Hey there redhead. How’s your gorgeous cousin?”

“She’s fine. She says hello.”

All the unspoken subtext between the two of you was never verbalized, but it was felt. Always was it felt.

If there was ever a match made in heaven and all of the afterlife’s, you two embodied it. Sadly, you were both circling the same tree, but never met on the same side. It was a game of tag, with no one being “it”.

Circles. Both of you searching for the same end, but both …

Running in circles.

Circles … around each other.


Thinking back to that first of many games of hide and pseudo-seek, and peek-a-boo, what I see most, what I remember most, are your eyes. God. Your eyes!

They are so, so, SO incredibly blue. Paul Newman had nothing (nothing) on your peepers.

You know that blue of the
Caribbean ocean? Where the really light part meets the really dark part? That small sliver of colour in between the dark, and the light? With a touch, just a touch, of the setting sun indigo? THAT is the colour I remember.

That is the colour, and the smile, that looked out at me that very first time.

That shade embodied everything in and of you. It was deep. It was light. It was fun. It was sad. It was a fan-fucking-tastic mix. A mix of this, that, the other, and everything in between.

Your eyes? They are open. And loving. And, yes, mischievous. There is that gleam. Always that chuckling gleam. God, how I miss that look. The concept of the eyes being the window to the soul? In your case, there was never any doubt.

Your panes were never smeary, or smudged. Clear. Open. Clean.

I envy that, yanno?


One of the first honest, and no holds-barred conversations we had revolved around the developmentally disabled, and abused, kids. Somehow the conversation was hijacked from the light and fluffy into something more real, and tangible. And felt. How we got there, I don’t remember. Somehow …

 … I spoke of creating theatre on a semester time-frame with these kids; you spoke of creating a connection with them, on a day-to-day basis.

We both taught each other during that conversation.

You admitted that many of their stories, their life trials, their experiences, made you want to quit, you knew you had to stick with it. “Who else is willing to just sit and LISTEN to them? And then get up and play with them?”

And then you did. You sat. You listened. And then? Then you played.

Then … then I spoke of volunteering at a certain facility in San Francisco … you responded with the fact that you worked, day in and day out, with those same kids at that same location. The heartache and love you expressed, not just through your words, but through your body language, spoke volumes.  

Although I loved you the moment you started to teach me to play years before, behind that tree, THAT moment solidified that feeling. And then some.

You make me want to volunteer again.


Your smile and humour – it is open. It is wide. At times, it is guarded. Subtle. VERY subtle.

Only those who knew you could see that subtlety. And the walls you hid behind, calling them “subtlety”.

Not a mean, vicious, or even snarky, bone resides in your body.

Sarcastic? Yes.

Biting? Wellllll, at times.

But overall? So damn joyful; life affirming.

Joie de vivre? You should have been the spokesman for that concept.


You know, I have never realized until THIS moment … this exact, very moment … that you, YOU, were an underlying component in my new-found optimism.

It’s all so clear now.


The difference between child-like, and childish? You taught me that.

For the longest time, I gave up the fun, because I thought it was “childish”. Until you, I never realized that childlike does not equal childish.

There is a difference. Truly.

And you taught me that. You did.

Thank you. Thank you for teaching me to love the swings again, without feeling self conscious.

Thank you. Thank you for showing me that to play inane games with a toddler doesn’t equate to me being “an idiot”.

Thank you. Thank you for showing me the joy of living, and experiencing, through another’s eyes, and lens.

Thank you. Thank you for teaching me that stopping to smell the roses doesn’t slow you down from your walk through life.

Thank you. Thank you for teaching me to embrace. Embrace life. Embrace friends. Embrace children. And? Embrace the moment. Embrace “the now”.

The now only happens once.

When the hell is the now? Well … it is … NOW. The now turns into “the then” and also “the future”.

“The then” can only be appreciated if you experience the now.

“The future” is only, truly, lived if you embrace the now … now.

Future and past … the cannot be measured without “the now”.

As much as I loathe to say this … thank you. Thank YOU for showing me what an uptight ass I was; thank you for opening the door, again, to child-like (but not childish) wonder.

And joy.

On Saturday, when I am able to visit my friends’ kids, I will play with them until they fall down from exhaustion. Until they fall asleep on their feet. Until they pee from laughter.


I can’t call or text the cousin to tell her – it’s too late, and she needs her rest. After Dad died, she became the caretaker, and warden, of Nana. If I tell her right now, this will kill her.

It’s better to wait until daylight.

It amazes me that after 9 years, each of you still asks about the other. That is telling, no?

You, Mr. Dave, have touched people. Some of them you KNEW you touched. For others, others like me who prefer to keep their emotions and feelings locked up, you touched, without you knowing.

You never knew that touched people, though I suspect that you had an inkling.Your fingerprint lies on them (and me, and us), all the same.


Another storyteller I met at 16 was Mykie Dave. Larger than life, he was; literally and figuratively. (He was also a redhead, so he got untold bonus points for that fuck-up in genetics. What can I say? Like attracts like. And you and he were friends, not just with me, but with each other, so … )

He was the first person that I thought of to officiate my wedding. (Though you were a close, a very close, second.)

Your storytelling, and his, were very similar: both of you told tales of love thought lost, but then found … and realized.

The only difference between your stories was this: Mykie Dave always said that, “funny doesn’t have to be nice” – he sometimes beat you over the head. Whereas you … you were always nice. (Mykie Dave used a 2x4, and you used a ruler – both were tools to beat people over the head. The difference was in the bruises left the next day.)


I should have called. I FELT it. I FELT that I should have called.

But I didn’t.

For me, time doesn’t hold a lot of sway. (I think you knew that.)

Sadly, for the last two years, I think you not only heard, but felt, each moment count down.

Tonight … that clock ticked its final second.

Tick, tick, tick, tick, BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

(GodDAMN those egg timers!)


That friend or that family member that you have, for no known reason, been thinking about lately?

Call them.

Send them an e-mail.

Give them a hug.

Reach out.

If only "just because".

Before I completely lost my shit tonight, my old roommate Ken randomly IMed me. He offered me a much needed break from my own head, and emotions. When I was on the verge of a breakdown, on the verge of an “ugly cry”, he brought me some laughter.

So did some of the goofy and off the wall blog posts tonight.

If you can’t laugh through your tears, what else can you do?


Shit. Say it ain’t so. Please.

Say it isn’t so.

This news is still just a few hours old. I wish I could plug my ears with my fingers, close my eyes, rock back and forth and repeat, “la la la la la, waterfalls, waterfalls” over and over, and over again, and when I opened my eyes, the world would still have you in it.


Although you were not my safe harbor, you were still part of the shoal, and you played that role (of safe harbor) for many kids.

What the fuck are they (and I? and us?) going to do without you?

I have lived through this before – I have lost someone, some people, I love too soon. However, *I* had a support system in place.

Many of the kids you touched don’t have that. They never experienced the haven of acceptance and peace until you came along.


I hope I can do you justice.

Each day, I try to find my own tree with which I can hide behind and invite others to come play hide-and-seek. Although I do live the mischievous, I am still trying to find those who will get, and play with, me.

It’s a long road, but such a fulfilling one. (Thank you for showing me the alternate route.)

And although I am pretty much over the concept of praying … I PRAY that this weekend, when I am playing with the bazillion kids of my friends, that I can channel you.

That I can offer them some hope. Some laughter. Some mystical twinkle. Some safe bubble.


Death is what gives this thing we call life a frame. To quote Rumi,

            Dance when you're broken open.
            Dance if you've torn the bandage off.
            Dance in the middle of the fighting.
            Dance in your blood.
            Dance when you're perfectly free.


Goddamnit Dave! We weren’t done telling stories. (YOU weren’t done telling stories. I was just learning how.)

Why did you have to up and die tonight?

You may be gone, from this physical plane, but I will dance. I will dance in my blood.

I will dance for me, for you, and for YOU, YOU who are reading this incoherent babble.

I will dance to embrace life: mine, yours, yours, and YOURS, and ours.


I have heard, and experienced, better storytelling. However, here is a link to a story that Dave recorded just 8 short months ago.

Dave? You know that you can do better than this, I have seen, heard, and experienced you do better than this … you KNOW this. However, I will embrace what is below, and remember all of our conversations to the best of my ability.

I will miss you. It's only been a few hours, but already I miss you. (You hated to make me cry, but damn … you are doing it now. But you are doing it in such a happy, yet sad way … you can’t yell at me for this. DON'T YELL AT ME! Stop smiling at me, and laughing with me, whilst I cry. It defeats the entire purpose.)

The beauty that was, that IS you, I will try to pass along. I will try to live.

No. Scratch that. I WILL live. And love.

My friend? I love you. And I wish you nothing but peace, love, happiness, and a pain-free, cancer-free, existence.


David is a graduate of the Dominican University Storytelling Credential Program and holds a Bachelor's Degree in theater. He is a member of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum Storytelling Corps, and has served as a member of the Board of directors for the Storytelling Association of Alta California for six years. David is the recipient of three Marin Arts Council grants. His Storytelling CD, Anything Can Happen, is the winner of a Parents' Choice award.


David Ponkey serves as a storytelling therapist for Sunny Hills/Children's Garden group homes, and is a member of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum Storytelling Corps. David served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Storytelling Association of Alta California for six years, and is the recipient of three Marin Arts Council grants for storytelling with special needs students. His storytelling tape, Anything Can Happen is the winner of a Parents Choice award.



Monday, March 9, 2009

I love you.

I stopped saying “I love you” when I was 5, shortly after she died. I thought that those three simple, monosyllabic, words could kill someone. That I had that kind of power.

“I love you Mom” ...

BOOM! Gone.

Brrrring! Brrrrring! The telephone was sqealing, screaming, yelling.

"Uhh, hello? Oh, god, no. No. No. NO! Ann!!! Ann!!! Katie is dead. SHE'S DEAD! Katie is gone."

Does it matter that Katie's daughter, YOUR granddaughter, was sleeping next to you in your bed (because of nightmares), and could hear your voice? The voice that was yelling out to Katie's mom, my grandmother, she (I) could also hear?

You were gripping the bedroom doorframe, gathering strength for yourself. Was there any compassion for Ga, for me? Were you grabbing that wooden frame for yourself, or for us?

All that little girl (your granddaughter) knew, at that moment, was that the last person she said "I love you" to was gone. Forever.

And there you were ... bellowing that she was dead. Tsk, tsk.

No compassion.

I guess that is what they describe as a wake up call ... literally.


It took a decade and a half for me to say those same words out loud again. When I first said them, I cringed; I thought that a lightening bolt from on high would come down and smite him; my first boyfriend, the one to whom I said them. The feeling of love? I was full of it. The words? I meant. Never the twain shall meet. At the time, I was terrified to combine the two – the addition of feeling and words I just couldn’t do. Couldn’t handle. It was too terrifying. My soul felt like it was going to be torn. When I said them out loud to him, I thought quietly to myself, “I hate you”. It was akin to not stepping on a crack to keep mother’s back intact. I was trying to balance the feelings. The words. The intent. It was to save your life (or so I thought).

My aching heart? It would bleed.


Almost 3 decades later, I still have a hard time saying those three simple syllables. Instead of light and happiness, there is still fear, darkness, and loss tied into those words; more specifically the order in which they are said.

Many times (too many to count) I wished I had said those these words:




Say them with me.


Just saying them out loud – separately – it’s not so hard, right? Said separately, they are easy – like reading off a grocery list. They are words that we use every day, in many different contexts.

Stating, saying, and feeling those simple words, in that SPECIFIC order … that can, and is, terrifying.

Still ...


Why the fuck are we so scared of how our love will be taken. Perceived?

Why can we not tell someone we love someone, without fearing how THEY will take it? Are our emotions only true, dependent, and worth something on how the other person sees feels those emotions?

Can I/you/we not love someone? Whether or not they love me/you/us back? Does it HAVE to be a two-way street?

It is comfortable when the one way turns into two-way; in fact … it’s easier. That pent up breath that you didn’t know you were holding? It finally comes bursting out. "I love you."

"I love you too." PHEW! Why the hell are we so afraid to voice what we feel? Why can’t we allow our heart to speak the truth? Damn the consequences!


Thinking back, I remember a couple (maybe two, maybe six, maybe four) times that I actually told Dad (out loud) that I loved him. Out loud. There were only a couple of times that the words “love”, “I”, and “you” came out in the correct, and in the right, order.

The correct order. That was felt. All at once. That small handful … said out loud … well, the amount of times I said it? It makes me feel like a shithead.

The terror I felt, from trying to voice those three words, would always tie up my throat. (I mean, I told Mom numerous times that I loved her. And Dad. And a random assortment of family. But then? Then she died. Were my words enough to kill? I didn’t want to take chances, so those simple words were stricken from my spoken lexicon. Nobody heard those words for a long, long time.)

I know, know down to my heart and marrow, that Dad knew that I loved him. But there are times …

... there are times that I wish I could have overcome my own self-imposed fear. Not only for him, but also for me.

They are just words, right? Just sounds that are made – starting at the lungs with an inhale, exhale. Let it out. Let it go through the vocal chords and zenith over the tongue and through the mouth. How hard is that?






Three syllables. Three breaths. Three short sounds to make.


Just saying “I love you” was hard enough. Words can be insubstantial. The wind can catch, and take away, anything said. The words out of your mouth are ever changing – a dust mote caught in the sunlight. Never permanent. It twists, and can be twisted. It can be carried away.

Written down though? Said AND felt?

Those words can haunt you.

They are palpable.


Tanya, one of my nearest and dearest friends, taught me the power and sanctuary of saying, and feeling, those three words. Those words said, and felt, in the correct order. Many times she said them to me. I kept pushing her away. She didn’t care – she was saying her own truth. Finally, finally, I accepted them. She taught me how to love myself. Not in any perceptible way. There was no “a-ha!” moment; her words, and feelings, wriggled themselves into my psyche. She created a chink in my emotional wall that went both ways. I opened myself up to love from the outside, and it penetrated my own inside workings.

She loved and accepted me – warts and all. By doing that, by feeling that, and by stating that vocally … she allowed me to open up just enough to love myself.

Many friends and family did the same thing, and they all created the cracks. Each and every one of them had a hand in breaking down my walls. But Tanya was the one who was the most persistent and adamant in her feelings. And one of the most vocal.


There was a time that I was used to, but not yet comfortable with, saying “I love you”; the next step was actually writing down those words.

It was easier to stop cutting my wrists than it was to actually put pen to paper and permanently etch those feelings. The act of writing was more permanent – it was not as ethereal as just saying something What if the object of my love died? Or didn’t reciprocate those feelings? Did that mean that my words, and heart, killed them?

That was my experience – my words killed.

It wasn’t until later that I finally realized that my words, my feelings, were just a victim of circumstance. That by saying “I love you” – it didn’t mean an automatic death sentence. It actually meant growth. And life.

Withholding my true feelings not only hurt(s) friends and family, it also hurt(s) myself. I know that Dad would have liked to hear me actually tell him that I loved him more often than I actually did.

But I also know that he just knew I did.


“I love you Bubba.”

“You too.”

Even though I couldn’t say it, he still felt it.

He, however, was able to say (and feel) it.

Learning ... I'm learning.


Superglue is one of the greatest inventions – it allows you to put back together pieces to where it’s almost whole again ...

In that vein, I’m mostly put back together.

The breaks, the chinks, the cracks, they are all still visible. But by showing them, I’m also showing that I have been used, and loved. I am not perfect, but I am still adored.

“I love you” is no longer something to fear. It is no longer an invective. They are now words that I embrace. They are words that I live. They are words that I feel.

They are words I now say.

And feel.

Now? Down to my marrow, my soul, I feel and live them.


I wish I could have said those words aloud in life, instead of waiting until we were both broken: me, grasping the flag to my chest – he, being lowered into the ground.

At that moment, he was complete – laid to rest with Mom. His pain finally subsided.

I was the one still broken.


To those who are reading these black words on a white page? I say this to YOU, without fear …without reprisal ...

I love you.