The Improv Adventure

A couple months ago I bought the wrong-sized boxer briefs. These were small, and I’m usually a medium. (I’m glad we can talk about such things.) Anyway, I tried to fit into them, but there was simply no way in hell. I mean, my butt’s really big, and it was like trying to push a bowling ball through a pea shooter. Not cute. At first I thought about trashing the boxer briefs, but I’m not really one to waste things, so then I thought about giving them away. Surely I can find a skinny twink in need of a pair of four-dollar underwear. (Hey–I’m not cheap–they were on sale! Also, look at me, trying to put underwear ON a twink.) But, honestly, giving once-tried-on underwear away is a rather weird thing to do, even for the holidays. I get that. Besides, what would the card say–Thinking of you? Plus, I’d already taken the tags off.

So I just kept them.

The History of my Underpants by Marcus Coker.

Believe it or not, there’s a point here. Last night, in a mad dash to get ready for my first improv comedy show, I realized I didn’t have any clean underwear–except the small boxer briefs! Well, I’ve lost some weight recently, so I thought, What the hell, it can’t hurt to try. So I took a deep breath, and y’all, it’s amazing what a few pounds can do–I actually managed to get the waistband over my hump. Granted, I felt like I was wearing a girdle, but I had clean underwear on, by god. Actually, it was rather pleasant the way they squeezed everything together, pushed one cheek up against the other, and made my assets, well, perkier.

Yes, I said assets.

The improv show last night with The RazorLaughs was a fundraiser for Dwight Mission, somewhere in Oklahoma. I didn’t drive, so I honestly have no idea where it was, but I guess getting people to come to an improv show in the middle of nowhere is about like getting people to attend a rumba lesson in Arkansas. In other words, there weren’t a lot of people there. This made me nervous, like, this could be awkward, but Aaron, Ian, and Summer said they’d performed for small groups before, and sometimes they’re easier than large ones–it just depends on the particular crowd. Fortunately, we lucked out. First of all, we got fed, and the food was great–apple and cranberry stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and make-your-own sugar cookies. (Talk about fancy!) Second, the group was wonderful. We performed for over an hour, and not only did they not leave the room or throw rotten fruit at us, they participated and laughed–a lot.

If you’ve never been to an improv comedy show, it’s intentionally silly and unbelievable. In one of the scenes last night, I was a party host who had to guess what made each attendee special–Ian was a guy who laughed at EVERYTHING, Aaron was a hand model, and Summer was a sloth. It took me FOREVER to guess the sloth thing. Why are you moving so slowly–are you a woman on drugs? I mean, I was only given so much to work with (I knew I was a party host, and that was it), then I had to figure the rest out as I went along. In this sense, it was like an adventure. This is the fun of improv–not knowing where you’re going until you get there. In another scene, Summer was Frosty, and she was fighting with Aaron, who was Santa. Well, before things were over, Santa revealed that Frosty was his son. (Who would have guessed!) Summer said, “Uh, I’m actually your daughter.”

End of scene.

I realize these sketches aren’t that funny to read about it–you’re probably not even laughing out loud–but in the moment, they were hilarious. More than that, at least for me, they were actually interesting. At one point I was watching Summer play Jack Frost and Ian play Santa. They were thinking of stealing Christmas or something ridiculous, but I got so wrapped up in it. I kept thinking, What’s going to happen next?

It seems giving anything our attention is what makes it interesting. Like, I know that no one else cares about the size of my underwear, but it’s fascinating to me when I focus on it. And just like good underwear, even the silliest comedy sketches can be riveting and fun once we manage to get into them. I imagine this is how life is. We think we need a big audience. We walk into a room and say, “Where is everybody?” But last night Summer said a small crowd can be a great crowd if they simply want to be entertained. Ultimately, I guess it’s what we’re looking for, whether or not we’re willing to consider the pieces of our lives and be fascinated by them, whether or not we can take what we’re given and turn it into an adventure.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"Who’s to say that one experience is better than another?"

My Family Soap Opera

Currently my aunt is at the house. She came over to have breakfast, and the plan is for her, my dad, and me to “clean the damn house for once.” Dad’s been talking about it for weeks, and I can’t blame him. We don’t do much deep cleaning around here, and you could write your name in the dust on the coffee table. Last night I started in the kitchen and spent a few hours. There was a sheet of baking soda on the cabinet shelves so thick it looked like a couple of cocaine dealers lived here. If there were any more cobwebs on the light fixtures, we could turn this place into Disney’s Haunted Mansion.

Of course, I’m exaggerating.

Now my dad and aunt have taken a break and are watching their soap opera, Days of Our Lives. (My aunt doesn’t like Chad’s new mustache.) Both of them are quite serious about this show. If one of my dad’s friends calls between one and two, he gets so pissed. “Don’t they know my soap is on?” That’s what my grandma used to call it–my soap. Like she personally had something to do with it. Dorothy Coker, Executive Producer. Anyway, she’d say, “Marcus, I watch this show because it makes my life seem normal.” I guess since this was a benefit she could obtain without getting out of her chair or putting her teeth in, it was a pretty good deal.

The phone just rang. Dad, of course, isn’t happy about it. “Every day, somebody calls during the soap opera!”

Dad’s on a real tare today. Before I could even stumble into the kitchen and get myself vertical this morning, he told me he wanted me and “someone” to go to the hospital where Mom’s been getting chemotherapy and sing and dance–as a thank you for saving my mother’s life. Apparently there’s a board at the hospital where they tack thank-you cards that people send the staff, and Dad wants to stand out. And whereas I appreciate his thinking out of the box, I’m not exactly thrilled about the fact that he wants to pimp his son out in order to show his gratitude. “Couldn’t you just send a cookie cake or some balloons?” I said. He practically rolled his eyes. “Everybody does that.”

Now the soap is over, my aunt’s dusting, and Dad’s got the vacuum cleaner out. My assignment is to clean the bathrooms, so I really need to wrap this up.

Last night was the final improv class, which was a performance. Honestly, I was super impressed with the kids. I guess there’s something about the pressure of an audience that makes everyone rise to the occasion. Anyway, in the thick of the whole affair, my friend Aaron, who teaches the class, introduced me as on of the instructors. Ian and Summer, the other instructors, were there, and people actually clapped for us. I told Summer, “I’m just a student. I feel like a fraud.”

Well, as if that weren’t enough, Aaaon, Ian, and Summer, invited me to join their improv group, The Razorlaughs, this evening for a private Christmas party. Of course, this invitation terrified me, but it also excited me, so I said yes. So this is another reason I need to get on the stick and finish cleaning the house–the show’s in a few hours. Daddy’s got things to do, places to go, people to see. As always, I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, I’ll be giving myself pep talks.

Be funny, Marcus. Be funny.

I guess some things never change. Friends will always call during your soap opera, parents will always volunteer their children for things they don’t want to do, and dust will always be a part of life. But other things do change, thankfully. After months of not cleaning, your family can link arms and spruce the place up. You can spend a semester or your whole life as a student, then in one night you’re a teacher, or at least ready to say goodbye to the classroom and say hello to something new. The hope of something new–this, I think, is what each new day brings.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"Boundaries aren’t something you knock out of the park every time."

This Brief Streak of Light

A few days ago I stopped taking antihistamines in an effort to stop feeling so tired. Well, the good news is I think it worked. I no longer feel like one of those droopy-eyed dogs. The bad news, however, is that my allergies are still acting up, mostly in terms of watery eyes, itchy ears, and drainage. (If it’s not one thing, it’s another.) Well, since hope springs eternal, yesterday afternoon I went to a natural health food store, a different one that I usually go to. After I told the guy behind the counter what was up, he went on about homeopathics, aromatherapy, and herbs. Finally, he recommended an herbal product, so I’m giving that a whirl. (I’ll let you know how it goes.) But here’s what gets me. As I was checking out, the guy said, “A lot of people are having allergy problems lately.” I said, “Oh yeah?” Then he sniffed his nose and said, “Yeah, I certainly have been.”

Well, shit. If this guy’s got all these magic allergy potions, shouldn’t one of them be able to fix his nose full of snot? This close to returning the product, I walked out of the store feeling like I’d just be sold “a really wonderful condom” by a pregnant woman. Like, it didn’t work for me, but maybe it’ll work for you. Oh, and by the way, that’ll be thirty dollars.

Life’s better with a little salt.

Yesterday evening I got sucked into Amazon Prime’s new series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. My friend Marla recommended it, and it’s about a “perfect” Jewish girl in the 1950s who gets into standup comedy after her husband admits to having an affair with his secretary. Oh my gosh, y’all, everything about it is magical–the characters, the costumes, the writing. It’s so witty, or–to borrow a word a friend introduced me to recently–salty. (Life’s better with a little salt.) Anyway, I watched four episodes back to back last night, and as much as I love you, I honestly can’t wait to finish this blog and get back to the show.

It’s that good.

Currently it’s two in the afternoon, and I’m at the library. I had a chiropractor appointment this morning, then met my parents for lunch (like, honest-to-god lunch at noon), since they’d been to the doctor’s also. Now I’m killing time writing the blog, waiting for tonight’s improv class. Truth be told, I’m not looking forward to it. Since tonight is the last class of the year, we’ll be performing for an audience. The flyer for the event calls us The Mediocre Jokers, which–I hate to say–is accurate. I mean, we have our moments. But except for me, it’s a bunch of hormone-filled high schoolers, and they’re really a different species altogether, I’ve come to believe. Anyway, I’m thinking of showing up to the show drunk, which is what Mrs. Maisel did the first time she got on stage. Of course, she also flashed the audience, and whereas my bare chest isn’t anything to be ashamed of, a high school probably isn’t the ideal place to show it off. So all things considered, I guess I’ll stay sober.

Good plan, Marcus. Good plan.

Last night was the Geminid Meteor Shower. It’s tonight too, I believe. I just did some Googling, and apparently meteoroids are pieces or rock or debris that break off from a comet and wander about the universe. Well, when earth passes through these floating rocks as it circles the sun, that’s when we see shooting stars or meteors, since meteors are simply meteoroids that burn up as they enter earth’s atmosphere. (I knew it wasn’t easy to live here.) Anyway, last night I went outside in a heavy blanket, turned my head toward the sky, and waited. In just a couple minutes, I saw three shooting stars back to back. Before I called it quits and went inside, I’d seen close to twenty. Talk about magical. More than once, I actually squealed out loud.

While looking for shooting stars, I mostly faced the south, since that’s what the television told me to do. Still, I saw shooting stars in the east and west, so I realized that for every shooting star I saw, there were plenty more just over my shoulder. This made me think about the fact that there were dozens of shooting stars that continued to fall after I went inside, hundreds of beautiful little moments that went quietly into the night as I lay sleeping, unaware.

A meteor doesn’t require an audience to shine.

So often I worry about the future, what my health, what my career will look like. I think about whether or not I’m doing everything just so, just as I think about who reads these words and wonder if anyone really sees me. But it seems as if a meteor is different than I am. Unafraid to stumble about the universe, it is by definition willing to burn itself up in an effort to get from one world to another. And who cares if it succeeds? Failure is just a lovely. What’s more, a meteor doesn’t require an audience to shine. In this sense, perhaps we could all be more like the meteor, this thing we call beautiful, this brief streak of light.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"Along the way you’ll find yourself, and that’s the main thing, the only thing there really is to find."

Changing Your Socks, Changing Your World

It’s almost officially winter, and my parents’ house is sixty-seven degrees. I’m freezing. In an effort to keep heat in, this morning I put on thick, wool socks and a knitted cap. Granted, I’m wearing a t-shirt, but I really, really hate “bulk.” People talk about their love of sweaters and scarves–and, oh my god, mittens!–but it’s simply not me. I much prefer shorts and a tank top, soaking up the sun on a warm beach. But back to the temperature inside this house–it’s my dad’s fault. He’s always hot, breaks a sweat at the drop of a hat, so he’s constantly inching the thermostat down, gradually turning our home into a seventeen-thousand-foot meat locker.

My mom and I fight for degrees. “Ron, would it be okay to turn the thermostat up to sixty-eight, just until we all go to bed?” my mom will say. Honestly, I don’t even bother. Granted, one degree is one degree, but ten would be better. Even now my toes are crowding against each other, huddled up trying desperately to produce heat. I’ve heard this happens when a person is dying–all the blood rushes away from your extremities and heads straight for your vital organs in an effort to preserve as much life as possible. For me this feels like those movies where sailors throw cargo off a ship to keep it from sinking. Every winter my body says, “Screw the toes, screw the feet–toss ’em overboard–who needs ’em?”

Oh sure, they only take us everywhere we go!

Okay, fine, I give up. I just put on a sweatshirt. I’m holding a cup of hot coffee like it’s a personal hand warmer. Because my butt never gets warm in the winter either, I’m thinking about sitting on a heating pad for the rest of the day. As for my feet, maybe I could put them in the microwave. Shit. Here I am considering nuking my own body, and ten feet away my dad is watching The People’s Court in a t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet, smiling, probably thinking how nice it’d be to have a fan on. I guess we all have our own standards of perfection.

Perfection is ever-elusive.

The last time I saw my therapist, she asked, “Marcus, do you still believe in the idea of perfection?” I said, “Well, it sounds great, but I can’t find any evidence for it.” What I meant is that I’ve yet to discover something that couldn’t be better. No matter what the temperature is, I’d like to adjust the thermostat. No matter how good of a dancer or writer I am, I’d like to improve. Perfection, it seems, is ever-elusive. It’s a fantasy we think about that never materializes. It’s whatever we don’t have until we have it, then it’s something else.

Once I went to a workshop in Austin with Byron Katie. One of her teachings is that when we argue with reality, we lose. For example, if my feet are cold and I think they should be warm in this moment, I’m going to suffer (and write a blog about it). But what’s the truth? (They’re cold.) Anyway, at this workshop, Katie said that if we died and went to heaven with our current way of thinking, we wouldn’t be there any more. In other words, our minds would tell us, “It’s too windy–the gold streets are hard to walk on–I don’t like harp music–I wish John were here.” Or whatever–we all have our list of complaints we take everywhere we go.

I don’t use this line with anyone else, but whenever I leave the house and say goodbye to my parents, I say, “I’m off to change the world.” Mostly I consider this statement cute and ironic, since I spend the average day somewhere between a coffee shop and Walmart, picking my nose at traffic lights. Anyway, a couple days ago I was at my friend Bonnie’s house, and she had a funny napkin that said, “What did you do to change the world today?” Well, the guy on the napkin’s answer was, “I changed my socks! That counts!”

If you want to find a problem, you will.

Believing that you can find wisdom almost anywhere, I’ve been meditating on that napkin since I saw it. For one thing, I think changing the world is easier than we think. Like, I could start wearing wool socks, and that really could make a difference. I could be warmer, happier, easier to get along with. In this sense, it’s the little things. But for another thing, I don’t think we can really change the world. Sure, we can make a difference, and we should. But the world is a mess–it always has been and always will be. It’s too cold for one person, too hot for another. Maybe you think there’s too much violence or too much pollution, but the point is the same–if you want to find a problem, you will. So rather than trying to change the world, perhaps our time is better spent trying to change ourselves, working on the way we see the world, and realizing that life is perfect just the way it is.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"We can rewrite our stories if we want to."

 

 

Me, the Winter, and Stevie Nicks

It’s early afternoon, and the house is quiet. Mom is asleep, and Dad’s out running around. At least for me, this is a treat. I’m at the kitchen table, the trees in the backyard are letting go of their leaves, and Fleetwood Mac is playing beside me on my phone. I guess at some point every gay man has to fall in love with Stevie Nicks, one of the club requirements as it were. For me it happened just over a year ago before I moved out of The Big House and had the estate sale. At that point I had a record player I inherited from a family friend named Faye Marie. She took care of my Dad when he was growing up, she’s where my sister’s middle name (Marie) came from, and she’s all over our family photos. When she died I got the record player, a lamp, and a vintage alarm clock, all of which were later sold in my estate sale. Still, the last thing I did with Faye Marie’s record player was put on Stevie Nicks. Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Listening to Stevie sing on my phone isn’t quite the same as hearing her on vinyl, and sometimes I wonder if I made a mistake getting rid of that phonograph and all my records. For the most part I don’t miss the things I sold, but sometimes I do. There was something comfortable about coming home, falling down on my sofa for the hundredth time, and seeing my books on the bookshelf that used to hold my Legos, the one with the desk where I used to do homework in high school. It was familiar. Ultimately, I’m glad those things are gone (dusting is easier now), and I’m glad I had a choice in the matter. Some friends recently had their house broken into, and many of their cherished things were taken. Unlike me, they were forced to let go. I guess this is what happens when we die. Even if you manage to keep your things with you for a hundred years, sooner or later the two of you have to go separate ways.

There’s nothing you can do to change the seasons or hurry them along.

At some point in human history, people noticed there was a mathematical order to the heavens, that the moon cycled every so many days, that the planets traveled certain paths, and that the seasons consistently changed. As I understand it, the priests were the astrologers, and most the celebrations, rituals, and holidays were centered around heavenly events as an affirmation of what was inevitable. (If you can’t beat it, join it.) As I sit here now, it’s late fall–the sun is shining, but the air is chilly. Personally, I hate the cold. I’m really looking forward to the winter solstice, the day that marks the point when “the sun” is reborn and the days start getting longer. Even more so, I’m looking forward to spring. Warmth! Still, there’s nothing I can do to change the seasons or hurry them along. Things happen when they happen.

Yesterday my therapist said that I’m in a weird period right now, that I had reasonable plans last year, but then a bunch of shit happened. (Shit happens.) So now I’m with Mom and Dad, trying to make this writing thing work. My therapist said, “I really don’t think it’s matter of if, but rather a matter of when.” Of course, I hope she’s right. Regardless, part of me knows that this is just a season, that things will eventually change into something else, but another part of me feels as if this winter will never relent.

Each season has something to offer.

Often it’s easy for me to forget this isn’t my first winter, that I’ve been through the ringer of life more than once. Having let go of most of my worldly possessions, I know I can let go of the idea of spring, at least until she’s ready to return to me. Perhaps this is what hope looks like, trusting that she’ll indeed return one day, that I’ll fall down on my own sofa again soon, that everything under heaven will circle back around. In the meantime, it’s me, the winter, and Stevie Nicks. Personally, I’m trying to remember that each season has something to offer, that every tree has to let go of its leaves before they can grow back again, and that every changing season is one I can handle.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"There’s a power that comes when you meet life’s challenges head-on. Those are the times you breathe the deepest. Those are the times the waters come forth and your heart beats every bit as loud as the thunder claps. Those are the times you know more than ever—no matter what happens next—in this moment, you’re alive."

I’ll Take the Slow Grind

Last night I listened to an interview with Bob Walter, the man who runs the Joseph Campbell Foundation. (You know I’m a big Joseph Campbell fan.) Well, apparently at one point Bob and Joe started a publishing company to get Joe’s message out, and Bob had to be a little pushy. “No one is interested in this stuff,” Joe said.

“You mean you get discouraged?” Bob said.

“Of course I get discouraged,” Joe said. “I’m human.”

This afternoon I saw my therapist, and the collection of stickers on her laptop continues to grow. Since I last saw her, she’s added a “no texting” sticker, as well as one of a skeleton sitting at a computer that says, “The Internet–Please enjoy everybody’s opinion.” Also, she had two new rings on her fingers, both of which were serious bling and could easily anchor a medium-sized boat in the middle of a hurricane. Naturally, I was jealous. To be clear, I’m not talking about diamonds–this was straight up costume jewelry. “Absolutely fabulous,” I said.

“You know, I’m trying some new things,” she said.

Most of our time today was spent talking about personal change, about how it’s not as easy as everyone, all the people who write books, make it out to be. This is one of my pet peeves lately, that self-help material, vitamin shops, and online yoga classes aren’t more up front about the fact that while helpful, they’re not a panacea. Rather–and I get that everyone’s trying to make a dollar–they make it sound like if you buy their product, you’ll be eternally happy, find the perfect sex-hungry partner, and have wrinkle-free skin. I can’t tell you how long I bought into this crap. I still struggle with it. Who doesn’t want a magic bullet?

“You’re not the only one who’s been given that impression,” my therapist said. “But transformation is real fucking hard. It’s the slow grind. There’s no other way.”

The–slow–grind. No kidding. That’s been my experience. I’ve spent more time in the self-help, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality aisles in the bookstore than anyone else I know–I have a rockstar therapist I’ve seen consistently for over three years–these are just facts. And if there’s something I could pass on from all my time and effort, it’d be this–a better life is completely possible, but it’s a long, tough ride to get there. (Saddle up, partner.) I realize this isn’t what people want to hear–I don’t want to hear it–but it’s the truth. “It just takes patience,” my therapist says. “And patience is a bitch.”

After therapy I had lunch with my friend Ray. I haven’t seen him in maybe a month, and it was truly a shot in the arm. We laughed, then laughed some more. For a while Ray and I talked about getting discouraged, the slow grind, and being patient as change occurs. Ray said he thought a big element of success was simply continuing to show up–to therapy, a support group, even a dance class. Again, I guess this is the idea that change and transformation come in little pieces. Rarely is something a “one and done.”

Being authentic isn’t for sissies.

I can’t tell you how much I hate this–little pieces, being patient, all of it. I wish transformation were easier, and, like Joe, I often get discouraged with this path. Being authentic isn’t for sissies. I get on the internet, read everybody’s opinion, and it’s easy to feel as if I’m doing something wrong. People comment online and send me private messages, tell me I’d be better off if I did something different with my hair, wore other clothes, didn’t cuss so much, or smiled more. I mention this because it’s something else most teachers don’t talk about. They tell you to be authentic–wear gaudy jewelry if you want to!–but they don’t tell you that the more true to yourself you are, the more pushback you get, often from people you care about.

I don’t mind saying this sucks.

I realize this take on the long, tough ride of transformation and the challenges of being authentic isn’t exactly encouraging. It wouldn’t sound great on an infomercial. But wait, there’s more–it gets worse before it gets better! But I wouldn’t be sharing these opinions if they weren’t my honest experience and if I didn’t absolutely believe that all the hard work and all the continuing to show up were worth it. Because I do. Sure, there are days when I get discouraged and feel like I’m going nowhere. I’m human too. But I’ll take my worst day now over my best day five years ago because now I’m being real. I’m closer to myself every day. And if the slow grind is what it takes to get me closer to myself, I’ll take the slow grind.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not true."

Some Days You Don’t Dance with Patrick Swayze

Yesterday I drove to Oklahoma to see my friend Marina, who’s ninety-five and an original Rosie the Riveter, in the Tulsa Christmas Parade. She was the grand marshal. As I understand it, grand marshals often lead a parade, but yesterday a giant floating dump truck led the one here. Not exactly the holiday spirit if you ask me, but I guess it was because the waste department sponsored the whole ordeal. So there’s that. Anyway, after the dump truck were a bunch of hot firemen (go tell it on the mountain), then there was Marina. Later Marina told me that growing up she wanted to be a comedian, but her mom said, “You’re going to be a lady.” So at seventeen Marina started working at Boeing, making planes for the war. Talk about a lady! You should have seen Marina yesterday–she was too cute–she wore the actual overalls she used to inspect planes in and had red do-rag tied around her head.

I attended the parade with one of my friends from high school, Kara, as well as my swing dancing friends Gregg and Rita. We all dressed warmly, but I personally wore ski pants and thick wool socks. Y’all, this may need to be my daily outfit until the end of March. My legs and feet are normally constantly cold, but yesterday they were so warm and toasty. Still, it was freezing at the parade, especially when we stepped out of the sun. As soon as Marina passed by, and shortly after we all got hit in our heads with a bunch of hard candy, my crew decided to call it quits. Gregg and Rita went home, and Kara and I went to a new bookstore in town (Magic City Books) because we both love to read. And whereas my willpower has been nonexistent with reference to food this weekend (I’ve eaten a lot–a lot–of carbs), it was intact at the bookstore–I didn’t buy a single thing. (It was a Christmas miracle.)

Last night Gregg and Rita and I attended the weekly swing dance they helped start and continue to help with. Marina showed up, and I can’t tell you what a fun time it was, dancing with people you love and care about, people who love and care about you in return. Plus, all my friends are entertaining. Marina said, “Everyone I wanted to dance with died. I wanted to dance with Fred Astaire–he died. And Patrick Swayze–he died too. I saw Dirty Dancing three times. I couldn’t get over him.”

“Well, who could?” I said.

Later Marina said although she didn’t get to dance with Patrick Swayze, she did see him dancing at a nightclub in Brooklyn once. I said, “That must have been a sight.” Marina said one of her friends that evening commented she didn’t think he was that good of a dancer. Patrick Frickin’ Swayze, and this lady was all I’ve-had-better. Talk about being hard to impress. I thought I had high standards. Anyway, then the conversation turned to the time Marina introduced The Rat Pack before they performed, about how there’s a picture of it–somewhere. I nearly fell out of my chair, just like I nearly fell off the sofa this morning when Rita told me she used to dance with Disney on Parade. Well, that much I knew, but today I found out she apparently performed with Cathy Rigby in a little production called Peter Pan. Y’all, I’m such a Broadway fangirl, I nearly spewed my coffee across the room. Of course, I tried to appear calm.

“Oh yeah, I think I’ve heard of her.”

Most of today has been spent telling stories like these, breaking my food rules, and thinking about how I’m going to tell my therapist tomorrow that I only took four naps this week instead of five. Shit happens, lady. Some days you don’t dance with Patrick Swayze. Still, I’m looking forward to sharing how I’ve moved my blog writing to the afternoons, the way it’s taken a lot of pressure off. I mean, the pressure’s still there, but it’s better.

Currently it’s six in the evening, and I’m in Gregg and Rita’s office. I can see Christmas lights through the window blinds, Tracy Chapman is playing on my phone, and these things make me smile. Rita’s been taking a class through Pepperdine about how the brain works, and she said that this is one of the things necessary for being creative and coming up with ideas–being slightly happy. Just slighty is enough, so long as you’re not miserable. To me this is really good news and means that you don’t have to be perfect in order for life to work. It means that four naps may not be five, but it’s still huge improvement; that any pressure off is good pressure off; that you can get hit in the head with hard candy and still enjoy the parade.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"We can rewrite our stories if we want to."

A Little Disruption, Please

Y’all aren’t going to believe this. It’s 9:30 in the morning, and not only am I awake, I’m blogging. Jesus, keep me close to the cross. I’ve actually been awake and mostly functional for an hour and a half. Yesterday evening I got super tired, maybe because of all the antihistamines I’m taking, maybe because God didn’t intend for us to be awake during winter. Either way, I was in bed by midnight. Still, despite the fact that my body said go to bed, I couldn’t fall asleep. What the frick, body–haven’t you ever heard of the boy who cried wolf?

Anyway, I think I finally drifted off around three.

I’m up early today because I’m going out-of-town to see some friends. I’ll report more later, but I really need to be on the road in a couple hours. Considering I still have to eat breakfast, shower, and pack, this blog really needs to be quick. I love it and everything, but I honestly don’t want to pick it up again until tomorrow. But aside from the pressure of writing–believe it or not–I’m enjoying being up so early. Y’all, the sun is shining. It’s quiet. I can hear myself think–or at least I could if I were awake enough to do so. Earlier I practiced chi kung. My teacher is always saying, “Relax more. Now–relax more.” Well, for someone like me, this is a lot of pressure, but this morning it actually worked. Apparently relaxing is easier to do when your brain is still sleeping.

A couple years ago I had a yoga teacher tell me, “Your new favorite pose is rabbit.” Well, since I hadn’t done rabbit pose before, I pretty much forgot about it. Maybe I tried it once or twice. But for whatever reason, I thought about it this morning. I’ve had this pain in my shoulders that won’t go away, and I thought, Let’s give that a whirl. Oh my gosh–first–it’s the most awkward thing ever. You have to sit on your knees, grab your heels, put the top of you head on the floor, try to keep your forehead by your knees, then lift your hips. (Right.) All that being said–wow–it exactly stretches the muscles that have been a problem for the last six months. Finally.

My therapist told me recently that she thought it was funny that my blog was called Me and My Therapist, since she doesn’t introduce herself as a therapist. “I think of myself as a disrupter,” she said. “I disrupt the untrue. I challenge maladaptive behaviors and people’s erroneous perceptions of the world.” Having gone through this process, I now think of therapy like rabbit pose–it sucks. I mean, at the very least, it’s often uncomfortable as hell. Change is hard for a reason. Of course, whether it’s a pain in your shoulders, a bad relationship, or whatever, that’s uncomfortable too. (Maybe sucks is a better word for your particular situation.) So if a different type of discomfort is the way out of the original problem, then it’s certainly worth the effort. In this sense, perhaps we could all use a little more disruption in our lives.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"It's really good news to find out that the world isn't as scary as you thought it was."

Slow Down, Sweetheart

Currently I’m waiting for my daily selfie to load. My internet is slow, slow, slow. Last night I had a dream that I’d returned to school, only this time for a visit. After parking, I walked into a classroom. My best friend from high school was there, as was a teacher I didn’t care for. As I walked out of the room, I passed a kid who used to beat me up, stepped over a straight girl who fell in love with me a while back. (Bye, Felicia.) Wanting to go to the office, I ended up outside. There was another teacher I didn’t like far away, and a sort of picnic going on in the courtyard. I woke up when I got to the band. (There was a band.) The dream was uncomfortable because the entire time it felt as if I was walking through mud. Like my present internet speed, I was moving in slow motion. (Slow motion for me.)

I can’t tell you how frustrating it was.

Now it’s three-thirty in the afternoon, and I’m rushing, trying to get through this blog so I can meet my family for my lunch, their dinner. (This happens a lot when you live with senior citizens.) For the last twelve weeks Mom has been getting chemotherapy every Friday, and they always go out to eat afterwards. I’ve only met them a couple times, but today is kind of a big deal, since it’s Mom’s LAST chemotherapy. I mean, she gets to ring a bell! (Apparently it’s a thing.) Anyway, I technically just at breakfast, but I want to celebrate this milestone with my mama. Come on, creativity, come on.

Yesterday I wasn’t in the best mood. If nothing else is going on, this is usually a pretty good indication that I’m not feeling well. True to form, I did have more drainage than normal yesterday, and some of it was green-ish. (It’s gross, I know, but this is the place where I get to be honest.) Anyway, I stepped up the antihistamines, vitamins, and teas, and did another kimchi treatment last night. Y’all, I feel so much better today–less drainage, less color. Again, it’s not a miracle, but it’s close enough. The biggest improvement is that I woke up on the right side of the bed. I was dancing while making breakfast! Yesterday it was the blues, and today it’s Motown.

Things are looking up.

I’m still chewing on the dream I had last night, but my gut says it had it do with patience. In one sense, I know I’ve come a long way, slowly walked through the classroom of life and learned a lot of lessons. The bullies and fruitless relationships are behind me. Still, I’m not wherever it is I’m going (the office). As I said earlier, this is frustrating. In this sense, the dream isn’t a mystery. I constantly look ahead at where I’m not. Every day feels as if I’m not moving fast enough.

There’s a lot of magic around you.

Yesterday on Facebook my sister shared a song by Macklemore and Kesha. The song is called Good Old Days and says, “Some day soon your whole life’s gonna change–you’ll miss the magic of these good old days.” Honestly, I often forget to see the blessings of where I am because I want my life to change–I think it will be better, that I will be happier. I forget that there’s a lot of magic around me (a picnic with a band!), that I get to sleep in, let my body heal and find balance. Not everyone can do that. I forget that I can go out to eat with my parents, be close by while my mom is fighting cancer. Last night we both stayed up late and shared some egg rolls while watching our respective television shows. Who knows how many more times that will happen? So today I’m reminding myself that these truly are magic moments, moments not everyone gets to have, moments that even for me won’t last forever. Slow down, Marcus. Slow down, sweetheart. There’s a lot to enjoy here. And don’t worry, you’ll still get there–wherever that is.

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"A friend’s laughter takes us backward and carries us forward simultaneously."

What Hope Says to Me

It’s three in the afternoon, and I’ve been overwhelmed since yesterday. Once I read that was the go-to emotion for Virgos–the feeling of overwhelm. Regardless, I know it’s mine. On the outside I can have things together, but on the inside, it’s like I’m trying to roll a boulder up a mountain, looking at the circumstances of my life like, Well, this is intimidating. For whatever reason, my allergies won’t calm down. It’s as if I have a leaky faucet–in my head. (Does anyone know a good plumber?) Last night I watched a YouTube video by a guy who once had a sinus infection for eight months, so I’m telling myself that 1) I’m not THAT bad off, and 2) I’m not alone. But that doesn’t really help. After all, a boulder on your shoulder is a boulder on your shoulder.

Yesterday I had to choose an insurance plan for next year. That was stressful. What if I picked the wrong one? Also, anything that has to do with money stresses me out, since I’m really not making any right now. This, of course, is mostly my choice. I guess on some level I’ve decided that what I’m learning and doing now are more important than spending the day, I don’t know, making Subway sandwiches and earning a few dollars. Still, I put a lot of pressure on myself. My therapist asked me recently, “How are yo doing with the whole ‘I’m a white man who needs to be productive and earning money constantly’ thing?”

“Yeah, about where I was before,” I said. “So there’s plenty of room for improvement, but look at it this way–that’s job security for you.”

I don’t suppose any one of these problems–allergies, money, what things may come–is that big of a deal in and of itself. Perhaps it’s like picking up a rock and putting it your pocket–one’s not a problem, but if decide to pick up more rocks and start a damn collection, they’re gonna weigh you down. However, now I’m writing, and although some days I think of this blog as a rock in my pocket, I do find that it helps take the weight off, get other things out of my pocket and on to the page. Also, I’m listening to Eva Cassidy, a woman whose voice never fails to make me believe that the world is a possible place to live in. Time is a healer–all hearts that break are put back together again.

Yesterday I got my hair cut–a lot. Honestly, I don’t love short hair in the winter, since I need all the help I can get staying warm. But I dyed my hair a few months ago, and it’s been rather dry and unmanageable lately. My friend and hairdresser, Bekah, said she always knows I’m about to call and schedule a haircut whenever I post a lot of pictures of me wearing a hat. And whereas I hate being so predictable, it is really nice to have people in your life who know you so well. Thinking about all my hair clumped together on Bekah’s floor, I’m reminded that things can change in an instant. One minute you’ve got this problem that’s been driving you crazy forever, and the next it’s being swept away with the flick of a wrist, tossed out with yesterday’s newspapers.

Perhaps this is what hope is, the belief that three months of long hair or even an eight-month sinus infection can quickly come to an end, the belief that your particular allergy can calm down and you’ll breathe easy again one day. To me hope says, “Empty your pockets. Let go of your boulder. Mountains are hard enough to climb without things that overwhelm and weigh you down. Let me overwhelm you instead, let me heal all that is broken inside you, let me so fill you with the belief that life is good that you can’t help but rise to the top.”

Quotes from CoCo (Marcus)

"I don't think anyone came to this planet in order to get it right the first time. What would be the point?"