It Takes a Village

Okay, I’m just going to be real. Things aren’t looking good tonight. I got up early today for a checkup with my doctor, and now it’s three-thirty in the morning, and I’m spent. My brain is well-done. I mean, I guess plenty of things happened today, but all I can think about is the zit in my nose. Ugh, the inside kind. Those are the worst. Maybe I should wash my face more. That might help. Why God invented zits in the first place, I’ll never know. As if life weren’t hard enough already. Hell, I probably signed up for this before I incarnated. Yes, that’s correct. I’ll take the advanced course–the gay one with zits in my thirties. Yes, I’m sure.

All right, are we done yet? Can I take a muscle relaxer and go to bed now–start drooling on myself?

Today my doctor and I talked about body odor. I think the last time I blogged about it, it was a lot better. It still is a lot better, but it’s not PERFECT. So I asked, and at first the doctor thought maybe my sense of smell had changed due to my chronic sinus infections and the surgery I had six months ago. (Okay, shit. I’m awake. The house mouse just ran across the living room floor. Dad and I decided if we called it a pet and gave it a name, we wouldn’t have to kill it.) Anyway, back to the odor, the doctor said, “So let me get this straight. You’re THE ONLY ONE who’s smelled it?”

Well, I guess I was a tad defensive, like, yeah, but IT’S REAL. I said, “One friend said she didn’t notice the smell, but she also didn’t have her nose in my crotch.”

After a decent amount of head-scratching, the doctor said he thought it was a bacteria (not a yeast) overgrowth. He said, “I know it’s counterintuitive to think that you can take antibiotics and end up with an overgrowth of bacteria, but antibiotics don’t kill ALL bacteria evenly.” I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this, but he ended up prescribing a cream that cost a hundred and twenty dollars without insurance. So if and when anyone DOES have their nose in my crotch, I sure hope they freaking appreciate all the time, effort, and money spent to make their visit hospitable. (Please go online and fill out this survey in order to receive a discount for the next time you’re here.)

Okay, my mind wandered–by which I mean that I looked at Facebook. And I’d just like to say that therapy has sucked a lot of fun out of life because I saw an ad for a tank top that said, “Touch my butt,” and all I could think was, That’s totally without boundaries, inappropriate, and desperate.

And I wonder if they have it in a medium. (Kidding.)

Today my chiropractor asked me if I thought one of the two massage therapists I see in his office was a better fit for me. Well, this felt like I was being asked to give up peanut butter or chocolate cake. I thought, But I love them both! So I said, “You know, each brings something different to the table (the massage table–ba dum ching!), and I’d really hate to be without either one of them.” (He seemed okay with that. Phew.)

This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, the idea that it takes a village, or, as my friend Sara says, “It takes a village–and a vineyard.” Anyway, maybe it’s because I’ve been seeing so many healthcare people lately–three massage therapists, two chiropractors, one physical therapist (and a partridge in a pear tree). I mean, part of me wishes that I could give one–and only one–of them the credit for my progress, but it really has been a group effort.

Tonight I did an exercise in my creativity workbook where I had to list twenty things I like to do (read, dance, deodorize down south, whatever), and also had to list whether each activity listed was something done alone or with others. Well, I didn’t tally my responses, but I think it was about half and half, which would seem about right. My therapist told me once that of all the different types of extroverts, I’m the most introverted kind. Let’s spend time together! Okay, I’m done now.

Lately it feels as if I’ve been doing a lot of things on my own. I mean, I socialize with others, but I almost always work alone, often eat alone, go to movies alone. And I really am okay with that–I’m not fishing for a pat on the back or a touch on the butt. But as I finished the activity tonight, I was reminded–right there in black and white–that I really do like being social sometimes. Just last night at improv class, I thought, It really does feel great to be part of a group. Tonight I got invited to spend the evening with some former students and friends at their home, and it was a couple hours of simply being real, honestly connecting. Yeah, this feels great too.

My therapist says sometimes that she’s not the be-all, end-all in my story of personal growth, that she’s one of many resources I have. I guess it’s always like that. Whether it’s a doctor, a massage therapist, a regular therapist, or a friend, no one person (including yourself) is the be-all, end-all. Rather, it does seem to take a village, a community of hearts and minds coming together to help each other, each bringing their own piece of the puzzle, each helping the others to heal.

Quotes from CoCo

"If another's perspective, another's story about you is kinder than the one you're telling yourself, surely that's a story worth listening to."

Improvising My Way through Life

Except for the part where I stopped at a car wash and vacuumed my car with a vacuum cleaner that smelled like vomit, today was a great day. First of all, I didn’t get out of bed until three in the afternoon, and second, at the tender age of thirty-six, I went back to school–improv comedy school.

I’ll explain.

Several of my friends are in a local improv comedy group called The Razorlaughs. (They’re super creative and hilarious.) If you don’t know, improv comedy is comedy that is made up on the spot. It’s sort of like eating a box of chocolates while riding a roller coaster blindfolded–you never know what you’re gonna get or what’s gonna happen next. Anyway, The Razorlaughs (Aaron, Ian, Summer, Austin) are teaching an improv class at Future School of Fort Smith, which is the new kid on the block in terms of high schools ’round these parts. (I don’t know why I suddenly started talking like a cowboy.) The cool thing? The class is open to adults as well as high school students. (Come join the fun.)

Tonight the improv class started with introductions, then we did some basic stretches, since apparently it’s not uncommon for actors and actresses to hurt their ankles. (Who knew?) Then we warmed up our voices by making noises like rockets and whiney little children. (It was awesome.) Finally we did some tongue twisters, such as saying “wristwatch” and “toy boat” five times fast.

Go ahead and try it. No one’s watching.

The actual improv part of the evening centered around a game called Freeze, Unfreeze. The idea is that two people start the scene, each with a character and a setting. Like maybe a guy and a girl are on a blind date at a bowling alley. Hopefully each character is all dramatic with lots of gestures, then at some point, maybe while the guy is celebrating with his hands in the air, one of the other actors says, “Freeze,” and steps in to take the place of one of the people on stage, assuming their exact position. But the catch is that when they Unfreeze, the setting and situation change. Maybe now the guy has his hands in the air and is being arrested. So everyone has to adapt and go in a different direction.

When it was my turn to participate, I noticed my heart was beating pretty fast. I told Summer (who’s a pro at this sort of thing), “I’m nervous,” and she said, “It’s all right.” Well, like any typical Thursday evening, I started out on my knees (just kidding), as I was given the assignment to “be someone who plays video games.” My partner for the scene, a girl, was someone riding a bike. The setting was–get this–a disco club. Honestly, I’m not sure what happened next. I just know there was a simulated bike-to-video-gamer crash, some John Travolta moves, and a lot of silliness.

Soon I was tapped out, and others took over the scene. The whole thing was a blur, but somehow or other, Ian ended up on the ground with someone sitting on top of him. Maybe they were wrestling–I don’t know–but I said, “Freeze,” tapped out the person on top, and took their place. Quickly I grabbed Ian’s leg, slowly dragged him along the floor, and sang, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.”

These sorts of shenanigans went on for over an hour. Several times I got so caught up in what the others were doing and creating, that I couldn’t think fast enough to jump in. Seriously, I was really impressed with the high school kids–not just for being half my age, but for all their bravery and good ideas. At one point I started a scene on one leg, which I was thinking of as a yoga pose, but then one of the students stepped up, put my arms above my head, and said, “Now this is how you do a pirouette.” Later, someone else pushed me around the floor after telling me I was a lawnmower.

It was fun, but I wish I’d known to bring my kneepads. (I am almost forty.)

After class Aaron said that one of the principles of good improv is something called “yes and,” which means that if someone tells you that you’re a lawnmower, you say yes and add something to it. In my case, I added the fact that my lawnmower ran out of gas, which gave the next person something to work with. So if each person does this, it moves the scene along. But obviously a scene would die if someone said no–no, I’m not a lawnmower–and just stood there.

Tonight I finished a young-adult fiction novel I’ve been reading, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. The story centers around a teenage Indian who leaves his reservation to attend an all-white school. Toward the end of the story, he joins the basketball team. Before his first game, much like I did with Summer tonight, he tells his coach he’s nervous. In response, his coach says there’s a difference between being nervous and being scared. He says, “Nervous means you want to play. Scared means you don’t want to play.”

I hadn’t thought about this distinction before. I mean, before the class tonight, I was definitely nervous. As I think about what’s to come next in my life and whether or not my dreams will come true, I’m definitely nervous. Perhaps a little scared, but mostly nervous. And I love the idea that maybe my nervousness simply means I want to play–I want to get out there–I want to try something new and see what happens.

I want an adventure.

Honestly, it seems that life is a lot like an improv game where things are constantly changing and new characters are coming in and out of the scene. One minute you’ve got your own business, and the next you’re living with your parents. (I’m just pulling possibilities out of a hat here.) And whereas there are certain things you can’t change, you can always adapt and go in a different direction. You can say “yes and.” Yes, I’m living at home again–and I’m taking the opportunity to write every day. Yes, I don’t have a job–and I’m using my free time to learn something new. Yes, I’m the oldest person in the improv class–and at least I know what disco is.

Yes, I’m nervous–and I still want to play.

[Thanks to the Razorlaughs for a great evening. You guys rock. Thanks to Kate for the pictures of me. You rock too. Lastly, here’s a video of the pros playing Freeze, Unfreeze (3.5 minutes).]

Quotes from CoCo

"Sometimes the best you can do is metaphorically sit you ego down, look it square in the eye, and say, “Would you shut the fuck up already?”"

Dealing with My Bullshit Thoughts

The first day I went to therapy, I told my therapist about everything I could think of that might make a difference–the terrible relationship I was in, our house burning down when I was five, Mom being sick, Dad going to prison–every trauma I was aware of. And then I had to pee. Seriously. I remember standing in the bathroom thinking, Okay, there, I said it. I wonder what she’s going to say. Well, she was super professional, didn’t call me fucked up or anything. Rather, she said, “It sounds like you and your boyfriend have zero boundaries and that you have some family of origin issues [Who doesn’t?].” And that was that, end of session one.

Fast forward three years and about a hundred sessions later, and my therapist has never once said, “Tell me about your father,” or, “Let’s talk about that kid that used to beat you up.” She said once that she believes when the subconscious is ready to deal with something (to heal), the topic will come up on its own. So far, she’s been right. At one point or another, we’ve returned to all those initial traumas, even some other ones. We’ve talked about everything.

Well, almost everything.

Today we talked about–money. There, I said it. The topic came up because I mentioned the dream board I’m working on, and it would appear that dreams cost money (if you want them to come true). As the conversation went on, I shared an exercise I did recently where I listed my knee-jerk thoughts about money. Two things–it wasn’t pretty–and my therapist said knee-jerk thoughts (like my mother-in-law is _________) tell us how we really feel about something. To summarize, most of my thoughts about money are negative.

There’s not enough money. Money causes arguments. Money isn’t spiritual.

After I read the list, my therapist said, “That was intense.” I said, “That was intense to say out loud.” Honestly, it felt like throwing up in the backseat of your friend’s new car, like, I feel better, but now what do we do? Well, once again, my therapist didn’t freak out or say that I had an insurmountable problem. Instead, she started by reminding me where my beliefs came from. We talked about my childhood and all the bullshit that went on, the cars that were repossessed when Dad went to prison, the box from the Baptist church full of charity food that sat in a corner and silently proclaimed, “We can’t afford to eat.”

“It’s completely understandable that you’d have issues with scarcity and abundance. You had some bad programming,” she said.

Then she added, “And ninety percent of that list is BULLSHIT,” at which point she took out a pink highlighter and marked the two thoughts about money that I’m apparently allowed to keep because they’re actually true–1) money is freedom (of choice) and 2) money is fun. But the thought that I’d have more money if I were smarter? That one has to go. She said, “Do you know anyone with a lot of money that’s NOT as smart as you are?”

“Well yeah.”

“Okay then.”

The rest of today, I pretty much felt like shit, which I’m assuming is because we poked the bear, stirred up a bunch of junk that’s been sitting around for a while. On top of that, my initial response whenever I realize there’s serious work to do is to get overwhelmed. Oh my god, how am I going to stop believing all these things I’ve been believing for my entire life? Well, after I taught a dance lesson this evening, I finally had an idea.

Village Inn has free pie on Wednesdays. (As my friend Kara says, “It’s hard not to eat your feelings. They taste so good.”)

Really, I spent a good portion of the evening trying to figure out how I could blog about something else tonight. I swear, this vulnerability and honesty shit is for the birds. I mean, I don’t LOVE talking on the internet about my general fears and insecurities, and I certainly don’t LOVE talking on the internet about my specific fears and insecurities (money, money, my education, my body, my talent, and money–and also money). Part of me would just prefer not to do it. There may be some pride involved. But when I checked out at Village Inn tonight, the lady at the register started talking to me about an employee she’d just got off the phone with. She said, “She hasn’t worked in a month. She’s been on vacation in Spain.”

I thought, Now why do I give a shit?

But I said, “Oh that’s nice.”

Then the manager jumped in and said, “I’d love to go to Spain,” so I said, “Do it!” But then she said, “I don’t have enough money, I can’t afford it,” which is honestly my first thought lately whenever someone suggests seeing a play, going to dinner, or riding the train at Creekmore Park for a quarter. Then I figured if the Village Inn lady and I have this issue around scarcity, that’s at least two of us, and maybe there are others. So–in an effort to be real–I’m talking about it.

Sometimes when I think about the road that lies ahead and turning my scarcity truck into an abundance mobile, it feels impossible. But this evening I’ve reminded myself that I’ve tackled a lot of big issues over the last several years. I’ve come a long way with a lot of excellent help. So I have to trust that this too is an issue that’s come up at the right time, that it’s only rocking my emotional boat now because it’s time for it to heal.

Let’s do this shit.

As always, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Quotes from CoCo

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

Ripped from a Page

This afternoon I went to physical therapy, something I’ve been doing on an almost weekly basis since someone slammed into the back of my car a month and a half ago and turned me into a real-life bobblehead doll. Honestly, physical therapy itself been going great. A couple of weeks ago I got moved from twice a week to once a week, and today I got moved to “almost done,” which means I only need to go back if I feel like it during the next month. That being said, when I walked in today, the therapist said that my posture was “almost perfect,” that my left shoulder was “a bit” high and my head was turned “slightly” to the right.

Well, shit.

Of course, part of me is thrilled with the progress (or whatever), but a bigger part of me is “a bit” stressed out and “slightly” terrified that I’m not–well–perfect. Maybe that’s my perfectionist talking. It’s difficult to say.

Yesterday I started making a dream board, also known as a vision board. It’s one of my 101 creativity assignments, and it involves collecting pictures and phrases from magazines that represent dreams I’d like to come true. (If anyone has a teeny bopper magazine filled with Zac Efron photos, please drop it in the mail to my address.) So this afternoon I went to the library, and while upstairs streaming an episode of Will (the new TV series about young–and hot, let’s not forget hot–William Shakespeare), I searched for dream board additions in some of the free magazines I found downstairs.

When I was in junior high, I worked my ass off on an insect collection–you know the kind where you stick a pin through a dragonfly (that you caught with the lid of your parent’s barbecue grill) and another pin through a tiny piece of paper that says “dragonfly” along with the scientific name. Well, it really was great, since I’ve always been a rule follower and extremely anal retentive. HOWEVER, I got marked off four points (for a total of 96 percent) because the edges of my paper weren’t completely straight, since I’d creased the paper on the side of a table and torn it rather than using scissors. At the time, I was devastated. Looking back, I wish I’d known enough to look my teacher right in the eye and say, “Bitch please.”

Obviously, the event stuck with me. I mean, that was over twenty years ago, and I still can’t help but wonder if my life would have turned out differently if I’d gotten those four extra points. Now that I think about it, I’ve wasted a lot of time on perfectionism, which my therapist says is just another name for fear (fear of not good enough, fear of rejection). This is something I’ve been working on–letting go of being perfect–so when the instructions for the dream board said to tear (literally tear) out whatever I wanted to add to my board, it honestly felt great to rip, rip, rip the magazine pages apart and see all those jagged edges. Fuck you, 100 percent.

After gawking at young–and hot, let’s not forget hot–William Shakespeare and working on the dream board, I ran into one of my former students with whom I always have fabulous conversations. When I talked about the blog (as I tend to do), my friend referred to my daily self-reflection as “encountering yourself,” which I think is the perfect (there’s that word again) phrase and something everyone should make an effort to do before they die.

Encounter yourself.

Before I left the library I signed up for the online course I mentioned yesterday about healing your emotional wounds. I’ll let you know how it goes, but one of the ideas presented in the lesson today was that the two natural responses to having a wound are shielding (for protection) and soothing (for healing). The guy teaching the course, Artie Wu, says that shields can show up as anger, people pleasing, and–get this–perfectionism. Soothing can show up as drugs and alcohol, food, or working or using media too much. (I wonder if binge watching hot Shakespeare counts.) None of these responses are bad in and of themselves, but the question to ask is whether the behavior hurts more than it helps. In my case, if I’m going to get real about it, the idea is that perfectionism is a way to avoid criticism (you’re not good enough) and engender praise (you’re the best boy ever). And whereas there’s nothing wrong with that strategy, it does come with a lot of baggage, like the inability to relax with crooked pictures on the wall or walk out the fucking door without every hair on my head just so.

This evening I went to hear my friend Donny play at Core Brewing Company in Fort Smith. He and some of his friends have a band called The Wren Boys, and they’re currently playing every Tuesday night. (Come join the fun.) Here’s a video from their set tonight.

While the band played, Donny’s wife, Vicki, and I discussed the idea of being playful, and as I’ve thought more about it, being playful–curious–seems to be the opposite of perfectionism. Just watching Donny and his friends, it’s the most laid back thing–off the cuff, unrehearsed–fun. And isn’t that the point–to life? I mean, where does it say that all your edges have to be straight (or even that you do)? Maybe this means that one of my shoulders will always be “a bit” higher than the other, my gaze may always be “slightly” off, but clearly I’m the only one taking points away from myself for having “almost perfect” posture. But that’s changing. Honestly, the more I encounter myself, the more I realize that all my edges are torn–almost as if something bigger than myself had ripped me from a page and dreamed that I’d come true.

[Seriously, if you have any old magazines (with or without Zac Efron) you’d like to get rid of, I’d love to have them.]

Quotes from CoCo

"More often than not, the truth is a monster. It gets in your face and makes you get honest. Sometimes the truth separates you from people you care about, if for no other reason than to bring you closer to yourself."

Nudged Down the Rabbit Hole

Today I’ve felt like Alice chasing the white rabbit down the rabbit hole. When I woke up at three this afternoon–as my friend Andy says, “We’re dancers. If it’s before four in the afternoon, it’s morning.”–the first thing I saw was a text from my friend Vicki. She said she was reading a book called Freedom Seeker by Beth Kempton and that I should check it out, that it was currently available on Kindle for two dollars. (Okay. You had me at two dollars.) So despite the fact that I’m currently in the middle of five or six books, I bought the book and started reading it after breakfast, or, as my grandpa would say, supper.

So far, the book discusses practical ways we can regain our sense or feeling of freedom, and it talks a lot about birds and bird cages, for what I hope are obvious reasons. And as if my life weren’t weird enough already (last week I got invited to eat by two total strangers–and said yes), the book says to be on the lookout for birds and bird feathers because the universe can communicate that way. (This is, in fact, something I believe and have blogged about, but I still roll my eyes a little whenever someone else says it. Like, oh yeah, sure–a bird feather is the new burning bush.)

Anyway, the book also said that one way to recover one’s sense of freedom is to be more adventurous. It said that if you have dreams of spending your time rock climbing, you can start small–go for a hike. If you dream of being more flexible, you don’t have to go crazy–stretch for five minutes. The idea is that we often fantasize about the lives we want and think they’ll “just happen,” but we don’t take steps toward them. I wish I could tell you more, but that’s as far as I got before moving on to other projects.

Now I’ll progress to something far more fascinating.

This evening I went to Walmart.

I went to Walmart for the express purpose of buying a bottle of hemp lotion because I like the smell of it and one of my creativity assignments is to do something small to make myself feel special and luxurious. (Apparently using the little bottles of lotion you get from motels doesn’t qualify.) So I was just going to get one thing–lotion–oh, and a loaf of bread for Mom and Dad. Well, as I was walking in the front door, a couple was coming out, and I was thinking about that whole being more adventurous thing, how the book suggested one way to do that was to talk to strangers. So I smiled–and they smiled back. There, I thought, baby steps.

So get this. Immediately after my small adventure, I looked up and saw the word “adventure” on a display by the self-checkout section. Hum, that’s weird. Then I started thinking about another creativity assignment (there are A LOT of these damn things) I have to do in order to indulge my inner child–eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, finger paint, shit like that. So I thought, what the hell, and bought a box of Legos. I mean, I used to LOVE Legos. I collected Legos, had them ALL OVER MY ROOM. But I haven’t bought or built a set in probably twenty years. So that was it–I bought lotion, a loaf of white bread, and Legos. Because I’m thirty-six.

Notice the box says it’s recommended for ages 7 to 12. Also notice–I swear I didn’t see this when I picked out the set–it says, “Treehouse ADVENTURES.”

When I got home, a box of shoes a friend gave me several months ago caught my eye. The outside said, “Fit for adventure.” Okay, we’ve officially entered the Twilight Zone. Anyway, I stuck the Legos in the closet for later this week, and when I did, I saw a light switch cover another friend gave me last year when I was remodeling the house I used to live in. It’s basically a little machine–it has a lever up top with a knob you move from side to side that–through a series of mechanisms–makes the switch go up and down. It’s the coolest thing ever, and I’ve been telling myself, I’ll use it when I have my own place. But keeping with the theme of adventure, I thought, Why not now? It’s fun. It makes me happy. So I hung it up. (See the picture up top.)

Okay, two more weird things. While looking at Facebook, I saw an advertisement for some self-helpy stuff–an online course of sorts. Well, it’s not unusual to see that typle of thing in my news feed, but the website had a freaking bird on it–front and center. Okay, I’ll think about it. I’m not biting yet. Then I saw a posted article about the benefits of lying on your back with your legs up a wall. (It’s a yoga pose called–get ready–legs up a wall). Again, this sort of thing isn’t out of the ordinary, but most of the day I’ve been focused on a low-level pain in my leg that I don’t want to get worse–and I’ve been telling myself that God and the universe are smart enough to figure this damn problem out. So I tried it.

First I’d like to say that it ain’t easy to get and keep your butt up against a wall while lying on your back. I mean, maybe for you it is. But if you’ve never tried it and want to–just take your time. Also, look out for any doorstops on the baseboard. YOWZA. Anyway, while I had my legs up the wall, I discovered a muscle, tendon, or something attached to my right kneecap that DID NOT feel good. In fact, when I tried to stretch it, it hurt so bad that I nearly jumped out of my skin and immediately started doing Lamaze.

HEE–HEE–WHO (Fuck). HEE–HEE–WHO (Damn).

Part of me thinks that I’m crazy for even considering the idea that God speaks to me through shoe boxes and advertisements on Facebook. That being said, I don’t believe in accidents, and there are plenty of days when I DON’T notice the word adventure, when I DON’T stop scrolling long enough to see a bird, when I DON’T have time to try a new stretch that would make even John Wayne whimper.

Whereas I know that I can blow a lot of smoke up my own ass at times, I have been asking God a lot of questions lately, so I like to think that all of these “coincidences” all just God nudging me in the right direction. Caroline Myss says, “Prayers are answered immediately, but how they are answered is often a mystery that unfolds at the pace that I can handle.” So I’m trying to be open to the idea that answers to prayers–at least clues–can show up anywhere, even at Walmart, even in my Facebook feed. And maybe that makes me feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole, but honestly I’m ready to have my world turned up side because it wasn’t working the other way (when I was in charge). Yes, I’m ready for a little adventure, ready to play with Legos again, ready to see where the nudges of God take me.

Quotes from CoCo

"We can hang on and put everything safely in its place, and then at some point, we’re forced to let go."

Before I Knew How to Believe in Myself

When I started Westark College in 1999, I only had a vague idea about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Twenty years later, it’s just now beginning to come into focus. But at the time I was interested in public speaking. As it turns out, that’s not an actual major. Plus, if you want to speak in public, it helps to have something interesting to say, and–well–I was nineteen and mostly concerned about my hair. So I did the best I could for a major–mass communications–and then signed up for a public speaking class, as well as history, biology, and–almost as an afterthought–something called Publications Staff.

Although I didn’t know it until the first day of class, I’d unwittingly signed up to work on the college yearbook. Incidentally, this is not a good way to get laid. But looking back, it was perhaps one of the best decisions I ever made, if you could even rightly say that I made it. I mean, it just sort of happened.

For the next four years, the room where yearbook met was my home. Of the people I still talk to from college, all of them were on the yearbook staff. Because of yearbook I learned about layout and design–how to make anything from pictures on a wall to text on a page look appealing–which has come in handy more times than I can count. Because of yearbook I learned to take pictures, which later led to my working for a wedding photographer, which later led to my opening the dance studio in the photographer’s building. Because of yearbook I learned to write better and to edit, which later led to my work for a local magazine and obviously plays a huge part in what I’m doing right this very minute.

In short, yearbook changed my entire world.

At the center of the yearbook staff was Lori Norin, our adviser. Life is so funny. I can remember where I was sitting when I met her, and there weren’t any signs–any flashing lights or letters from angels saying, “This is an important moment,” but it was. Lori was the one who taught me everything I know about layout and design, the one who taught me about taking good photos, the one who taught me to write better and to edit. She was the one who made me fall in love with red ink pens.

I think after my first year on staff–maybe my second–Lori asked me to be the yearbook editor. So for the next two or three years, that’s what I was. Each semester the staff would change a little, but it was mostly the same people. We’d come in, stay late, and work in a windowless room under fluorescent lights and the wisdom of a sign on the wall that said, “You’re never done, you’re just out of time.” That was the room where I got the nickname “Pants” because I used to wear vintage plaid pants on the regular. That was the room where I coined the phrase “another opportunity to excel,” which I’d say with sarcasm every time a hard drive would crash or Lori would mark up my work with red ink and say I needed to start over.

Living with your parents? Another opportunity to excel.

I think it’s fair to say that Lori and I became friends. Her office was just across the hall from the yearbook room, and I’d run back and forth with questions, edits. I’d work on the spare computer in her office, lean over her desk with page desgins filled with Lorem ipsum dolor sit, which doesn’t mean anything but is used to indicate where text will go once it’s written. Since both of us had stomach problems, Lori and I would share antacids. You’d walk in the yearbook room or Lori’s office, and next to a pile of ZIP drives and undeveloped rolls of film would be a bottle of Mylanta Ultra Tabs–or two.

In addition to all the work, I’m assuming that Lori and I used to talk about our personal lives. We had to have done that. We ate so much Easy Mac together. What else would we have done? Her daughter Alexis was always around, even on the staff for a while. Lori would show us pictures of their family vacations–they loved Hawaii. It’s funny how the specific conversations have faded away, but the facts and feelings are there. I just remember the Mylanta Ultra Tabs, I remember her guidance, and I remember we used to laugh together.

In 2001 I graduated with an Associate Degree, but I kept taking classes that interested me and stayed on the yearbook staff. In 2002 Westark became University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. In 2003 the journalism department was terminated, and so was the yearbook program. And that was that–all good things must come to an end. When that final book was finished, Lori and the staff and I went out to eat, and they gave me two tickets to see the Broadway musical Swing!, which was about swing dancing and was touring in Fayetteville.

Over the years I saw Lori a few more times. I remember stopping by her office once and talking about how “kids these days” considered their cell phones to be extensions of themselves, which is why they couldn’t put them down during her lectures. Then one year Lori and another instructor wrote a book about funny things that had happened in their classes. So I bought a copy, and guess what? She included the fact that I used to say, “another opportunity to excel.” Of course, she changed “me” into a girl, another editor who used to work on staff, but still.

Four years ago, Lori died of pancreatic cancer. The last time I saw her, she was asleep in a hospital bed. Alexis spoke at the funeral. She said one of the things she remembered about her mom was that anytime someone rushed into her room or office with a crisis, Lori would throw her hands up as if she were being robbed and say, “NOT MY PROBLEM.” I thought, Oh my god. I’d forgotten. She DID do that.

I still can’t help but smile whenever I think about it.

A few days ago I posted that I was in Springfield, and Alexis reminded me that she lives there now and suggested that we have lunch. So for two hours this afternoon (that flew by), we caught up. Mostly we talked about our lives now, our jobs (she happens to have one), her dad, her five-year-old son. But of course we talked about yearbook, talked about Lori. I told Alexis that I thought Lori saw potential in me that I didn’t see in me, that she believed in me long before I knew how to believe in myself.

Alexis said, “She was good at that.”

The drive home today was overcast by a thick, gray sky and a steady drizzle. Just south of Fayetteville I stopped for gas and McDonald’s, switched from listening to a podcast to today’s hit music. Back on the road and driving through the mountains felt like a scene from a movie. The clouds hung low on the horizon just above eye level, kind of a mist, kind of a fog. They seemed to float along like a lost ship at sea–aimless.

None of us is ever really lost. At least we’re never really alone.

When I think about my years in college, when I think about Lori, there are times that it feels as if I too were aimless, a lost ship at sea. I look at pictures of myself in plaid pants with blonde tips and remember a time when I was so far in the closet, so stressed out about–something–that I was chucking tablets of cherry chalk down my throat by the dozen. Still, I know now that none of us is ever really lost. At least we’re never really alone. For always there is someone to help point your ship in the right direction, someone who sees you when you can’t see yourself. And maybe you’re not lucky enough to talk to that person one last time, but there will be days when their memory stands beside you like the tallest mountain and surrounds you like a mist, something you might pass through on your way from one world to another.

Quotes from CoCo

"Better that you're true to yourself and the whole world be disappointed than to change who you are and the whole world be satisfied."

The Bumper Sticker Was Right

Today was really great, and I’d love to tell you about it except for the fact that my brain stopped working approximately three hours ago. That being said, I’ll try. I mean, who needs a brain anyway? Look around–they’re like boyfriends. Plenty of people get by without one.

This afternoon I had a massage from my friend Rod, whom I met last year about the time I was closing the studio and selling all of my worldly possessions. When it comes to bodywork, Rod’s basically a ninja. The man gets more done in an hour than most people get done in ten, and I give him a ton of credit for setting my body on the path of transformation and healing it’s currently on. Plus, he’s just a cool guy. I mean, he’s got a bumper sticker that says, “Something wonderful is about to happen,” and he let me pee in his backyard and wash my hands in a rain barrel afterwards. It all felt so–primal. GRRR.

I haven’t seen Rod since last year, so we spent a few minutes talking about the car accident and what I thought was going on in my body, and I told him that–among other things–I thought my shoulders were rotated forward. He said, “Well maybe they were, but from my perspective, you look great. You’ve come a long way since the last time I saw you, so let’s just do a ‘tune up’ today.” Oh my gosh–best tune up ever. I felt things relax in my legs, back, chest, and neck that have been tight for months–years. I walked in with a heel lift and walked out without it because Rod got my hips and legs almost completely level.

Rod said the issues I have with my right leg and hip were almost certainly “an occupational problem.” This afternoon I taught a Lindy Hop lesson, and I could feel certain muscles “talking to me,” so I was like, “Yep. Shit. I wish I had known this ten years ago.” But what do you do? At least now I can move forward with more awareness, more prevention, more time on a foam roller. And thank God we figured it out now instead of in another ten years.

Before I go any further, I need to say this–I’ve always had a fascination with stand-up comedy. I did a little bit in high school, and I still fantasize about doing more. (Once I shared this dream with one of my oldest friends, and he said, “Are you funny?” Insert eye roll emoji here.) Anyway, it’s been on my mind lately because one of my creativity assignments a couple weeks ago was to write down ten things I wanted to do “if I didn’t have to be perfect” or “if I were allowed to.” I’ll spare you the other nine for now, but stand-up comedy was one of them.

Okay, back to today.

When I left Rod’s, something wonderful happened (besides the massage). I went to Chipotle. (But wait, there’s more.) When I walked in the door, a guy sitting at a table said, “Marcus, what are you doing here?” Well, I’d forgotten his name (Chris), but I recognized him as someone who’d taken a lesson from me several years ago when I was in town. We chatted for a while, and he said–of all things–he’s running a comedy club in town, there’s a show tonight, and I should come–for free. I said, “Sure. Maybe I’ll be there.” Then I remembered the list.

“No wait–I’ll be there.”

“Open mic night is every Sunday,” he said.

HUM. “I’m gone Sunday. I’ll have to give that some more thought.”

So I went to the show tonight and had a swell time. Chris sat me down front with a few strangers, and one of the ladies ended up being a dancer who’s taken some lessons here at the studio my friends own. (Small world and so forth.) All in all, it was a hilarious evening. A few jokes fell flat, but plenty of them soared, and there was even a table of people who got asked to leave for talking too much and causing a scene. (As one of my friends said later, “People–you can’t take them anywhere.”) It was kind of awkward when the comic said, “You’re ruining it for everyone,” but at least it gave me something to write about.

As fate would have it, there was a fresh-cookie company right by the comedy club that stays open until three in the morning. I’m just going to say it–I BOUGHT A DOZEN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (and a glass of milk). So I sat down at a table outside the store, ate two cookies, drank the milk, and thought That bumper sticker was so right–something wonderful IS HAPPENING. (See top photo.)

Y’all. The couple who got married at the ballroom tonight had a cake topper that looked just like them and their two dogs. Did you people know this was a thing? I didn’t know it was a thing, but then again, I don’t go cake topper shopping–well–ever because I’m single AF. (AF stands for “as fuck,” Mom.) Anyway, look at this beauty.

Isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I saw it this afternoon in the ballroom and got all warm inside. Then tonight I met the couple, and I felt like I was meeting celebrities. OMG, I saw you on top of a cake this afternoon! But seriously, look at these two. Whoever made that cake topper did a great job.

Today I’d told Rod that I’d started to notice other people’s posture, that I’ll see someone walking down the street with their head stuck out in front of them or their back rounded and think, “That’s got to hurt.” Rod said one of the ideas with good bodywork is to get the body aligned properly so it’s working with gravity and not against it. (Hold a book out, let it go, and watch it drop to the floor. That’s the force that’s acting on your body at all times, so it makes the most sense to have everything “stacked up” properly.)

Although I’ve had my doubts about abundance for roughly thirty years (give or take a week), my therapist says it’s what life is all about. I mean, if you look around, there’s more than enough for everyone–more than enough air to breathe, ground to walk on, backyards to pee in. Abundance, I guess, is a lot like gravity–it’s everywhere. She says you actually have to work pretty hard to find scarcity. Sure, I guess you can find it. Like, where have all the cowboys gone? But I’m starting to think of scarcity a little bit like that cake topper of the cute couple–it may seem a lot like the real thing, but it’s not even close. Rather, the real thing is that our needs are met and then some, we’ve all come a long way, and something wonderful is always about to happen.

Quotes from CoCo

"Beating yourself up is a far cry from self-respect."

The Way Life Progresses

Okay, I just paid my credit card bills for the month, and my blood pressure is still within normal limits. Phew. Glad that’s over. Now it’s 3:23 in the morning, and I’m in downtown Springfield. The television in the living room is still on. My friends Anne and Andy are asleep. Their three cats are God-knows-where. Most importantly, their books are organized.

I’ll explain.

My job today was to “feng shui” Anne and Andy’s bookshelf. Like me, they love books, and most of them have been piled-up in no particular order, along with several knick knacks and such, on the bookshelf in their hallway–and it’s been that way for years. Anne said, “Please help,” so I said, “Sure.” Here’s what we started with.

Okay, I thought, this might take a while. (I was right.)

The whole project took even longer than expected because I moved books and knick knacks from the living room to use in the hallway, which meant I had to redecorate the living room too. More than once I thought, I don’t know what to do, but I just took it one step at a time. First I found a bunch of colored glass bottles in the desk in the living room, pulled them out, and decided they needed to go on top of the desk so they could be seen. Then I added the glass bottles from the top of the bookshelf, and a theme became apparent–blues, greens, and browns. I didn’t take a before picture, but here’s the after. I just love it–it kind of makes me want to own things again just so I can arrange them.

The furniture in the living room is neutral–grays, wood, glass, and metal–so I kept the color on the shelves to a minimum. A little red, a little green. I placed the heavier objects (books) toward the bottom of the shelves and the “lighter” objects up top, since I didn’t want the shelves to feel like they were going to topple over. Also, I added some larger books to the coffee table because I think every coffee table needs large books. Again, no before picture, but here’s where we ended up. I didn’t put the cat on the couch, but I do think she complements everything quite nicely.

Finally I went back to the bookshelf–the original project. Shit, I thought, I just used up all the good books in the living room. What am I going to do now? So I started digging around in the guest room (my room when I’m here) and found some Raggedy Anne and Andy dolls, which I paired front and center with a Raggedy Anne book I found on the bookshelf. Then I grouped the non-fiction books together (yoga, martial arts, home decor), the fiction books together, and the vintage (old) books together. When it was all said and done, after four hours of work, here’s what happened (from a different angle because you can see better).

I don’t know if anyone else gets excited about this sort of thing, but I sure as shit do. It’s almost orgasmic to me to make everything pretty, get stuff “right where it belongs.” I mean, being anal-retentive and hyper-organized can really drive you crazy, but if there’s a benefit to being so fucking picky, this is it–you can have nice bookshelves!

This evening I helped Anne and Andy and their staff tear down from today’s wedding and set up for tomorrow’s. We swept and mopped the floor, rearranged tables and chairs, added tablecloths, and restocked the bar. (Can you imagine actually living above a fully stocked bar?) When we finished, we ate leftover cake from today’s wedding. Who knew you could get the best part of a wedding without having to attend one?

Just because it’s pretty, here’s what the cake looked like before.

Here’s what it looked like after. And no, I did not eat every piece of cake in the photo–but I did eat two of them.

This afternoon Anne said she thought it would take us four hours to tear down and set up the ballroom. Well, most everyone helping had worked plenty of times before, so I guess they had it down to a science. All the tables and chairs got moved to one side, then the floors were cleaned, then everything was moved back. One table at a time, two chairs at a time. All the while, Anne and Andy played music. I whistled. Then all of a sudden, we were done–in about two hours instead of four.

Tomorrow the couple getting married and their friends and family will take over. One by one they’ll pour into the ballroom and decorate it. One by one they’ll come back after the ceremony, eat food, drink beer, and celebrate. Before midnight, maybe two hundred people will leave the ballroom the same way they came in–one step at a time.

I suppose our entire lives are lived this way–one step at a time. We brush our teeth, we make the difficult phone call, we go the funeral, we eat two pieces of cake. (Well, some of us do.) So often I start projects like redecorating a bookshelf or writing a blog, and then I get overwhelmed and think, I don’t know what to do next. But without fail, something happens, I do something, even if it’s just scratch my head, move one blue book from here to there, or write one word. There, that’s one word that wasn’t there before.

Byron Katie teaches that most of our suffering or stress (but only all of it, she says) is caused by our believing thoughts that aren’t true. Something terrible happens–maybe someone dies–and we think, I don’t know what to do. (She asks, “Does this thought bring peace or stress to your life?” My answer: stress.) But then we cry, or eat a casserole, or get up and go to the bathroom. So the reason the thought “I don’t know what to do” is untrue is because, in the moment, you do know what to do–you’re doing it.

There’s a wisdom underneath everything that moves us and even the planets at its own infallible pace.

It seems that this is the way life progresses–moment by moment. Projects go undone for years, then one day they get finished. You live your whole life single, then one day you’re married and there’s leftover cake. We get so worked up, so stressed out about the little things, the big things in our lives. We think, I don’t know what to do. We think, I can’t wait. And yet there’s a wisdom underneath everything that moves us and even the planets at its own infallible pace. I suppose we forget that we too are like the planets, part of a larger universe that is always proceeding one step at time, never in the wrong place, everything always right where it belongs.

Quotes from CoCo

"We all have inner wisdom. We all have true north."

Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

Sometimes, at 330 in the morning while the rest of the western hemisphere is sleeping, I feel like sleeping too. More accurately, I feel like quitting. I mean, I love writing, but every damn day is a lot. Surely I could be happy as an underachiever, or hell–just an achiever. Anything but the balls-to-the-wall overachiever that I am. Currently I’m in Springfield, Missouri, staying with some friends, and there’s a remote control and Netflix within spitting distance of this futon, and don’t think I haven’t thought about closing this laptop and going for it.

But here I am–once again–writing. UGH.

This morning, before I’d even been awake for half an hour, I got an email that a piece of writing I submitted for a statewide contest had been rejected. (“Not accepted” was the actual phrase they used.) Well, I don’t mind saying that reading that email sucked. It still sucks. Granted, I get that it’s only one contest and blah, blah, blah, but “not acceptance” always blows in the worst way. I mean–as long as I’m being honest, since that’s what I do here (ICK)–I kind of had my heart set on that contest. A friend of mine is a past-winner, and they said I was a shoe-in. I’d already mentally spent the prize money, thought about how I would thank my parents in my acceptance speech.

I heard recently that a good percentage of our mental activity and time is spent on daydreaming–thinking Well, if this happens I’ll do this. If that happens I’ll do thatIf he happens I’ll do him. So I guess all the fantasizing is very “normal,” but it still sucks.

Damn daydreams.

Just after the email came through, I had an appointment with my massage therapist, Gina, and we started talking about which of my leg muscles felt tight. I said my quads felt tighter than my hamstrings, and Gina said, “Hum, let me think.” Then she had a “lightbulb moment,” started working on my quads, and explained that they were pulling the front of my hips down. (Think of a bowl with muscles attached to the front and back. If the front is pulled down, the back will tilt up.) Gina said, “The quads are strong enough to cause your hips to tilt. They have the power to do that.

Within minutes, I felt my quads release. Gina said, “We may have hit pay dirt.” Later when I got off the table, I could tell my hips were more level, less tilted. My butt didn’t stick out as far. (Sorry, ladies.) My hips weren’t rocked back like usual. Wow, I thought, My body is actually changing. Part of me thought this would never happen, but–it’s happening.

Later I tried to call my therapist and left a message. Then–because it’s part of my creativity homework to spend time in a sacred space–I went to sit in a church. Just walked in and sat down. No one else was there–just me and God. I felt like I was in a movie–that is until the janitor started moving around and making noise. Still, I was this big ball of emotions–disappointed about the contest, excited about my hips, wondering what to do next, whether or not I should throw in the towel, settle. Then I noticed a candle burning near the altar, and I thought about how it continued to burn–day in, day out–no matter whether or not anyone was there to see it. Just a candle burning with no need for praise or recognition.

Can I be like that candle?

As I left the church, I noticed I’d missed a call from my therapist, so I called her back and caught her in between clients. I said, “I get that dreams don’t always come true the way you think they’re going to, even if they do come true. And I’m just trying to not go into a downward spiral over this contest.”

“Contests are so subjective,” she said. “You don’t know if it was a tie and someone said, ‘Just pick one.’ Or maybe the judge had a fight with their spouse that day. Plus you have to remember–people are fucking stupid.”

So then I started laughing.

“You know, there are people who meet me for an intake and say it’s not going to work for them,” she said. “I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea. I work REALLY HARD TO NOT BE everyone’s cup of tea.

Yeah, I like that. I don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea either.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Vicki introduced to Ana Maria, one of the artists who’s participated in The Unexpected (artist/mural festival in Fort Smith) for the last three years. She currently has a pop-up gallery in downtown to showcase her work, so today she met me for a private viewing. How cool is that? How cool is that octopus mural at the top of the blog?

Way cool.

Here’s a painting Ana Maria did of two foxes. It’s called Grief.

Next to Grief hung a painting she did of an octopus and some flowers. It’s called Jubilo, which is Spanish for joy.

I said, “That’s interesting–grief and joy–right beside each other.”

This evening I drove to Springfield to attend a dance and help my friends Anne and Andy at their wedding venue because one of their regular staff members (my friend Matt) is out of town. During the drive I kept thinking about how many muscles connect to the hips, how hard it is to keep them balanced. If one set of muscles starts pulling, the others have to overwork to compensate. I kept thinking how Gina referred to the quads’ ability to cause imbalance.

They have the power to do that.

At the dance tonight, there were several times that I got completely lost in the moment, having fun, laughing. My friend Andy led me in both two-step and Lindy Hop, and it was a thrill-a-minute because I didn’t have to be in charge for once. (Ironic, I know, that I’ve been upset because things didn’t work out my way.) He even dipped me back. Yippee! Then a couple times I thought, Oh yeah, I lost that contest. I guess I’m still sad about it. But I’m having fun now. And my hips are getting better.

I suppose Ana Maria had it right–putting grief and joy beside each other. Perhaps they’re the same thing–expectations disappointed, expectations fulfilled. This is the way life goes. But when I think about someone I don’t even know judging my writing–one of probably hundreds of entries–I know that person, that situation can disappoint me, but neither has the ability to affect my balance for very long. No, I’ve decided. They don’t have the power to do that. I’ve worked too hard to not be everyone’s cup of tea. What’s more, my joy comes from within, and–at least for now–sitting at this laptop every night is what I’m called to do, what my soul demands.

So I guess I’ll write another day.

Quotes from CoCo

"Miracles happen."

Meeting the Universe

This evening I went to Crystal Bridges to see the Dale Chihuly blown glass exhibit. Oh my gosh, it was the coolest thing. There were so many shapes and colors, so much to take in. I feel like it’s fair to say that I was overstimulated. It was like seeing the Golden Corral buffet for the first time. I mean–where does one start?

The exhibit consists of two main sections, one indoors, one outdoors. The indoor portion ends this weekend (I think), but the outdoor portion goes until November (I think again). Here are a few “swirly things” that were inside. Aren’t they beautiful? Maybe it’s just the practical side of me, but I think–in addition to being wonderul art–they’d also make swell toothbrush holders.

This piece, also inside, is a chandelier and consists of a ton of glass pieces fused together. For a moment I stood underneath the whole thing and looked up, but stepped away when I thought, What if this damn thing falls?

Think about it. Ouch.

Earlier today before I went to Crystal Bridges, I went to therapy (which was equally entertaining). The highlights were conversations about boundaries, boundaries, boundaries, and fidget spinners (my therapist keeps them around because apparently people get nervous talking to a therapist). Also, we discussed the idea of life supporting us in following our dreams. She said that are first you “act as if” it’s true, but eventually you get to the point where you know that it is–the universe will rise up to meet you. Lastly, we discussed a sign she keeps in her office that says, “Get off the internet.” She said it was for all the people who go online to self-diagnose rather than seeing a professional.

Isn’t that hilarious? I’m sure that more than once I’ve been that self-diagnosis guy. Oh my god, there’s this thing–and what if–and I don’t want to die. I had one doctor tell me, “Doctor Google did not go to medical school.” Lesson learned (sort of). It’s a good idea to get off the internet because it can scare the shit out of you. Of course, I think it’s also a good idea to get off the internet to simply leave the couch behind and explore life personally (rather than just watch everyone else do it), which is part of the reason I wanted to check out the Chihuly exhibit.

Having done exactly that, I’m here to say that all the pictures you see online don’t do it justice. The outside exhibit is along a trail and consists of nine pieces, three of which are “reeds.” Here’s maybe my favorite. I love how they come up around the logs, like they grew there, as if they belong.

Here are the red ones, and I love the fact that they are crossed. It reminds me of fire, something tribal.

I walked the entire trail twice. The first time when I came to the largest exhibit–a five thousand pound collection of 1,400 pieces of glasses–there were a couple ladies taking selfies in front of it. Well, you know how you can’t help but overhear and pay attention to people. So I was watching these two ladies, and they were cracking me up. One of them called the piece “Ode to Reproduction,” since it looks like a bunch of sperm racing toward an egg–everyone trying to cross the finish line before the other.

Anyway, when it was my turn to take a selfie, the ladies offered to take a picture for me. Sweet, that would be fantastic. So one of the ladies took a picture of me full-length, then the other lady said, “Here, let me do it,” so she stood closer to make it look like the “sperm” were coming out of my hair–like Medusa. I think it’s definitely my new look.

Then I asked to take a picture with them both, and we all went on our respective merry ways. (That’s the photo up top.) I finished the exhibit, went back inside, walked around the gift shop. Basically I killed time as the sun went down because I wanted to see how the outdoor pieces looked at night. (Everything’s better in the dark.) Well, just as I finished my second time through the exhibit, I felt this tap on my shoulder, and it was one of the ladies, who said she came back to the trail to look for me and ask me if I’d join them for dinner.

“You seemed so friendly,” she said.

The universe will rise up to meet you.

“Sure, I’ll go!”

As it turns out, the ladies were (and are) named Jenny and Caroline, and they’d tried to find me earlier when they realized we’d taken a picture together but they didn’t have a copy or know my name. So they were walking through the forest sort of shouting random names hoping they’d guess correctly. (Sounds funny, but you’ve probably bought a lottery ticket before.)

Chad! John! Jack! Remington!

Uh–you can be honest–do I look like a Remington?

I realize this could sound creepy, but I just hopped in their car, they drove me to mine, and we all went out to eat. We talked for probably a couple hours. Jenny just got a new job and home schools her kid. Caroline is a poet who graduated for the University of Arkansas. A fellow writer! It was a great conversation. PLUS, there was tomato soup WITH FRIED CHEESE FRITTERS INSIDE. Talk about a good reason to get off the internet!

Today my therapist said that we all have fantasies about how our lives will go–how our dreams will come true. She said that in her experience, the universe always has better plans. I watched a video about Chihuly today in which he said, “It’s not that I’m looking for something new [to do or create]. Something new comes.” Personally, I’d planned on eating Mexican food tonight–alone. I wasn’t looking for anything else. But I’m grateful it didn’t work out that way and actually worked out better. Maybe going to eat with a couple of strangers sounds pretty out there, but I guess life is pretty out there. I mean, we’re on a planet that’s being hurled through space. Believe it or not, I’m starting to love the fact that it’s all kind of unpredictable, that anything can change in an instant, that the universe can rise up to meet you anytime, anywhere.

Quotes from CoCo

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