All posts by X Teri

though the sky is blue

Because I’d been boiling myself off and on on the landing and baking in the sun, I turned the AC to 70. Because my AC and heat had to be completely replaced, given that it was from 1976, the new unit is incredibly powerful; its loud sound is relaxing. Güino decided to slumber in my office chair. He’s wandered the landing and the lower floor today several times. Instead of bothering him, I rolled him a foot away and pulled my red rocking chair up to the desk. It felt like I needed to write a couple of hundred words. A few thousand words later, all of it expunged from me in a single burst, I sat looking at the prism hanging outside through the slats of the window blinds. My metal front door is over 170 degrees again. I thought of all the energy reaching us from our nearest star, the sun. We only receive a sliver of its output. It provides enough energy in the form of light to power the entire world – if we’d let it. I think the same is true for each of us. Most of us have the gift of massive kinetic and potential energy inside us. It’s in our nature. Somehow, we allow our lesser forces to override our natural tendency toward power and movement. In my case, I’ve been busy. Being busy or productive isn’t always the best use of my time. It negates introspection and examining the things I’ve said and done with sufficient scrutiny. Life flicks by on lightning skates. It’s easy to live superficially, and sometimes this ease lulls us into thinking it is the preferable way. It’s not. A moment of thought, especially one of gratitude or appreciation, becomes twice as memorable when considered after the fact. Those thousands of words that poured effortlessly from my fingers as I sat here in the zone? They are some of the best words I’ve ever written. I feel it in my bones, the ones that now creak a little as they realize how long I’ve abused them.

Here:

though the sky is blue, you look to the ground out of caution
caution saves, but it also reduces
though the world is a palette of individuals, you seek understanding by viewing them through your own filter
though the world shall never spin according to your whim, you waste your
allotted moments by wishing it not to be so
the pond will fill if you hurl enough stones into it, though it will take years
your life will fill if you stop looking toward what lies behind you and spend your hours subtracting and adding according to your desires
the sky is blue, just for you
and for me
if we but let it be

X
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empty space

I’ve learned that people who isolate invariably have an addiction or a trauma. Quite often, it’s one they bury; like the ghosts of a cemetery, they emerge and travel capriciously in that person’s mind. Loop after endless loop. No one else bears witness. And because angst or depth wildly varies between different people, no one really understands the profundity of what afflicts them. Some people relentlessly look ahead, leaving behind the most heinous offenses. Others get trapped in the vortex over things we judge as minor. Though the loop may be nascent and small in circumference, each cycle takes the person closer and closer to calamity. We all see it coming and are mostly powerless to stall its progress.

Cognition seldom helps. You’re not rationalizing with the individual. You’re attempting to overpower something that is both tenuous and tentacled inside someone’s kidnapped mind.

You can try to get close out of love or concern. They often rebuff you. Isolation becomes its own self-fulfilling reward. The phantom loop constantly whispers to the person trapped in a behavior; its voice is not only proximal but deafening.

Don’t fault yourself if you’ve tried to pierce that bubble and can’t. It does not mean you shouldn’t try, even if it’s futile. Because the uncaring alternative is much worse. Even if the story ends badly. Most of us will return to that wall and vainly attempt to chisel away at it, even though we fluctuate between helplessness, anger, or realization.

This is the thesis of my Bystander’s Prayer.

And despite our varying cynicism, our hope for a dramatic change sometimes happens. The alchemy of why or how is beyond calculation. If this were never the case, our behavior would automatically adjust to just accept the unacceptable before we even tried. When it does come, the change, it brings joy. Everyone loves an underdog or someone who has overcome.

If it does end badly, we promise to try something different the next time. Likely, we won’t. There will always be a next time, as this world is full of trauma and unseen damage. Most of us believe that love or some fruitful variation will be enough to convince someone that it’s time to pull up into the high clouds instead of plummeting.

When one person plummets, we all do because that person carries a piece of us with them, even if they are blind to it. It’s how friends, family, and tribe work.

If you can, keep your hammer in hand, your chisel sharp, and your optimism high. If life gets you down, you might be in the hotseat. You’ll need us to pull up, just as we need you when we’re in the loop. The horseshoe finds its way onto every hoof, no matter who you are.

X
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A Moment of Curious

She sat in the shade near the bus stop. I had stopped in an attempt to take a picture of two enormous crows up in the tree. They were squawking worse than a teenage boy complaining that there was no ranch dressing. I watched her as she held her enormous phone sideways against her chin. She had a very unusual large tattoo on the side of her calf of her right leg.

It was not my intention to eavesdrop. She was animatedly talking in an extremely loud voice. Possibly due to the teenage boy crows up in the tree above her.

“Look, I don’t care what he said. He slept with my mom Thursday night after I fell asleep watching Netflix. My mom told me all about it the next morning.”

As I walked away, I desperately wanted to know the rest of that story. Neither the crows nor I were judgmental. But 100% curious!

X

Bona Fide

I’ve written that the worst feeling in the world is knowing you are the villain. Or at least the one who has hurt someone, regardless of one’s intentions. In one’s head, you don’t think or plan in a straight line. The water starts out warm and then begins to boil. It’s easy to get into that mindset wherein you begin to believe that there is no resolution; hopelessness is often the result. Emotion, doubt, and undesired consequences merge into a mass of something that seems infinite.

“On a long enough timeline, everyone is going to be an asshole.” – X

I’ve learned again and again that my intentions are meaningless when compared to the consequences, much in the way that love is diluted when you observe behavior versus intentions. If love is indeed a verb, then it follows that consequences are the fruit of intentions.

I tapered off Lexapro by going through three reduced cycles and finally just tossing the remainder. This website might sanction me again for discussing it. (Which I still shake my head about, though it was a year ago.) It was a huge help for months; now, it lies on me to practice what I supposedly learned. For run-of-the-mill idiots like me, such medications don’t add value after an indeterminate time. My doctor’s office helped my decision along by being profit-oriented rather than patient-focused. I’m used to it. And maybe, in this case, it is for the best. Everything seems inevitable after the fact precisely because it happened that way. But as adults, we know that isn’t true, even if we cling to the comfortable idea of inevitability.

Real villains and narcissists don’t worry about whether they are villains or narcissists. But just because I’m not bona fide does not mean that I am not quite often an asshole.

I yield to the truth when I’m able to recognize it.

Discomfort. Doubt.

Ignoring it doesn’t erase it.

I yield.

PS I’m okay! I just like to write and share what’s in my head. Attempting to control how it’s interpreted is a fool’s errand.

Love, X
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It’s The Faces, Not The Places, That Matter

“I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the rider.” -Old Saying

“A hungry stomach cannot hear.” -Jean de La Fontaine

“Breaking bread together” is an old phrase, but its simplicity is the message.

If you are hungry, any food will suffice. “Hunger is the best sauce,” someone smarter than me quipped. Hungry people don’t moan about what and where to eat; if they do, it’s kept short and grouchily pronounced. 

If you’re happy, bread with wine or dipped in oil is enough to fill you. And if you’re not, no amount of food will create a smile. 

If you are lonely, companionship will overfill your plate. People are the food of our souls. 

I love great food. Who doesn’t?

But I love simple food, made without stress and shared. 

And if I meet with someone or a group to eat, the presence of others is supposed to be the essential element. 

X’s Rule On Group Dining: You will dislike eating with at least one person in any group of more than four people. 

I’m not opposed to opulent multi-course meals. 

Who would be?

But if they require effort not joyfully given, they take away someone’s time and life to prepare. 

It’s one of the principal problems with holiday meals or get-togethers.

Traditions inevitably beget obligation. 

Often, what was once freely done becomes taxing and vexation. 

Complexity and expectations detract from someone’s enjoyment. 

It should always be about the presence of faces on one’s couch or around the table, no matter how luxurious it might be. Everyone’s house is lived in, messy, and full of life’s surprises that no one has the time or interest in rectifying. Unless you are eating off the mantle, leave the dust for later. 

Break bread.

Eat.

And be merry inasmuch as your circumstances permit. 

Because, well, you know. 

Tomorrow ye may die. 

Whether you’ve eaten like a gourmand or like a ravenous teenager with his hand in the bottom of a bag, it will not be what you remember as the wrinkles accumulate across your face. 

Humble food is the joy. And if someone wishes to make a feast joyfully, even better.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” 

– Oscar Wilde

“Almost all happy people I know decide where and what to eat easily, graciously, and without complaint. And if they find themselves in the home of another with friends, family, or loved ones, they make do. Unless they are visiting cannibals, vegans, or Presbyterians.” – X

“It is the faces, not the places, that matter.” – X

Love, X

PS “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” -Mark Twain

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The Little Pieces of Glass

I took a walk when the sun became hidden behind the dense summer clouds. My wobbly legs protested but the pavement called. Exertion has replaced chemistry in my quest for peace.

After a few minutes, I felt the bite of an incautious step. A little piece of glass upended and pierced the inside of my foot. It reminded me of being young when shoes were a nuisance and terrain was mine for the taking. I was walking barefoot, a modern savage for removing my shoes and walking the streets. Fifty-five-year-old men aren’t supposed to walk barefoot. It’s dangerous and an invitation to pain.

I walked several dozen steps and turned to look behind me. Little red swashes colored the sidewalk, my blood blotting the concrete with an irregular pattern.

Because there was no remedy, I walked until I left no such further trace.

I traversed the same arc after it rained. My little swashes were erased.

Life is like that if we are lucky.

A sharp, momentary pain, even if it lasts an undetermined time. All is momentary in the swath of one’s life.

The rain will come, or time will fade the bite of what harmed us.

We can take measures and cover our bare feet with shoes, yet pain will return, often from a surprising source.

Or, we can walk barefoot again, knowing that proverbial glass can lie anywhere, unseen. We can enjoy the rough textures, the literal touch of our world on our feet.

We can guard against anything, but we lose a dose of carefree disregard for the things that might happen.

There is no ‘might’ in this place we call home.

Everything is eventual, a muse once uttered. Good and bad, storm and calm, hunger and satiation. Ecclesiastes, distilled to its essence, reminds me of that frequently.

Rain will come, disguised as seconds, hours and minutes; it will surely wash us all away.

It boils down to whether you will walk barefoot despite the risk.

My feet uncovered, I decide to do it again.

If glass finds my feet again, I will once again watch in fascination as I leave traces of my stupidity behind me. But at least there are traces.

Cautious and incautious alike often lead to the same path.

I don’t want to find the glass, but I know it will find me, no matter its literal form or how confidently or carefully I walk.

Whether I keep walking is the measure of whether I’ve been stupid or wise.

My bare toes touch the bottom of the landing at the stairs. And so, I walk.

Love, X
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and if i am not

i am the prince of tides in my secret corners
imperfect yet unbound words, feeble purple prose, naive expression

i am the boy with muddy sun-browned bare feet
in the expansive tree looking below

the boy who loved his grandma and grandpa without limit
yet spent so much time in the small yet limitless world surrounding their modest tarpaper and tin roof house

i am the man who is not his missteps, his past, or his obstacles

i am known by a singular letter, born of a rejected name, burned by the pitiful and pointless ashes of anger and addiction

i have amassed twenty thousand two hundred and sixteen days of life

each of them begins anew, though i find myself waking to the next almost without edit

i can speak in a foreign tongue, stand amongst strangers without fear, walk further than most, and yet still discover i am where i started

i am not gossamer, invisible, or silent, though all sometimes would be better servants than my nature

and if i am not, who am i

i am

love, X
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Return Of The Ugly Fence

Return Of The Ugly Fence

My pet dinosaur Redactyl sits looking out the suddenly barren fence line in the background. I know he will have a lot to say about it. He’s stuck staring at a lifeless, dilapidated scene now. Color once brightened his perspective.

I’m conflicted. I spent countless hours meticulously assembling the decorations for the longest fence where I live.

Nothing is permanent.

It was great fun, finding pieces and creative ways to use things that aren’t intended to be used in the way I chose.

It was also a lot of work. Work that put me in the zone and challenged me to keep going.

I heard nothing but delight from everyone about how much color and character it added to this ugly apartment complex and the area. Friends drove by or over to see it. Several people posted pictures of it on social media without me realizing it until much later. That made me smile.

This is precisely the kind of place that needs and needed color and something wild and different. Otherwise, it’s just a plot of land and a container that many find temporary.

Two days ago, in a blaze of adrenaline, I began to take the tiles, metal pieces, and assorted decorations off. It led to my shorts’ pockets being so heavy they were about to fall off, which led to the dreaded keys-in-the-dumpster incident. Hundreds of screws, washers, tiles, and assorted pieces. I wasn’t mad, but the disappointment grew as I looked at the fence. But seeing it this morning in the dim light made it dreadfully plain and lifeless. Nothing is permanent; I kept telling myself. But in the back of my mind, I wondered about minds so small they have to complain. 1% of me negatively reacted, given how much work and cleanup I’ve put into this place. We’re supposed to do that sort of thing without expectations.

On the other hand, I put in a proportional amount of work apart from the countless hours I spent brightening up the place. Most of my neighbors don’t do their share to keep the place better than they found it. It’s disappointing that someone took the time to complain they weren’t happy. Some people aren’t happy no matter what – and unfortunately, some take delight in ruining other people’s happiness. The problem with such people is that they will never be satisfied; they thrive on such effort. They are dramavores.

I will redirect my urge to color and brighten to something else in small places and wherever I roam. I’ve left dozens of decorations and pieces all over.

When people ask, “Oh my god, X, what happened to your art project on the fence?” I’m going to shrug and attribute it to the impermanence of everything. For a few weeks, it was something to behold. The entropy resulting from complaining took its price.

Now, as I look out onto the fence I repaired out of my pocket and with my labor, I see an ugly board fence, looking out onto a dismal parking lot. I think it traps us rather than keeps others out, especially now that an expensive home is being built on the small lot between us and the trail cut-through from Gregg.

In my head, though? I can’t look at the fence without imagining it filled with color.

As places like that should be.

I’ll put up a single tile in the middle of the fence at some point, one which will read:

“…Site of recent memory’s largest personal art project. It’s gone, but color remains if you seek it. X”

Love, X
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Sprint

“Are you willing to sprint when you don’t know the distance?”

My manager had me watch a short sports clip. The rest of the clip was good but that pithy last quote resonated. I liked it even though it was sports oriented.

Sprinting is running but not all running is sprinting. It is a commitment to go as fast as you can physically, as much as it is to focus your mind or go blank mentally and let your body do what it needs to.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere. It makes me think in multiple directions.

Just sharing it in case it causes someone else the same introspection.

X
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