All posts by X Teri

Regarding

This isn’t another one of those, “Look at me!” posts. It’s about how surprised by the visceral reaction I had.

As I stood near the creek earlier today, I wanted to stick my feet in there and just sit, my thoughts and my time merging – and let the day drift away. Work was busy and not at all a burden. Don’t tell my bosses, please. Enjoying work is tantamount to stealing. (That’s supposed to be funny.) The moments I had in the creek very early in the morning were still on my mind.

I walked back to the street where the bridge overtakes it. Across the way, I saw a man rifling through the pantry box by the parking lot. He pulled a couple of things out of it. It was then I noticed his old car parked temporarily perpendicularly behind the others. That car had seen some tough miles. He walked back toward it and got inside. I knew I had cash, money set aside for the quarter-eating washing machines at my apartment. I paced across the street and walked around the side of his vehicle. The driver’s window had been taped multiple times. He was leaning over away from me, leaning toward his girlfriend or wife, distracted. She motioned that someone was at the window. He popped the door open, immediately giving an apology and attempting to explain why he was there for only a short respite.

I shook my head and handed him the bill. His face underwent a transformation. First surprise, then shock. “Oh lord, thank you so much.” It seemed like he was about to cry in relief. I’m sure of it.

Completely to my surprise and spontaneously, tears welled into my eyes. I felt a sob start. I walked quickly away, waving backward as I walked, not saying a word.

Life is so effing hard for so many people.

Even people with resources and money, as foreign as that may be. Even for smiling people who pass us during the day. I get so caught up in my life’s drama that I hate to admit sometimes I gloss over people’s humanity. It’s an uncomfortable realization that you’ve been selfish when a word wouldn’t have cost you anything. All of us careen around and foolishly make assumptions about other people’s lives. Most people have facades that they put on in the morning, thinking the facade protects them. It doesn’t – the arrows will get through. Eventually.

This anecdote isn’t about me giving a stranger money. Anyone can do that and a lot of good people I know help in ways that they will never admit to. This story is about how raw I was, unbeknownst to me. I had two such moments today, one in which I transformed a prank into an opportunity to remind someone how important his great sense of humor is and how much he is valued. Even when no one seems to take the time to show it. I busted his balls a little too because that is how a lot of us show our affection.

I’m not even sure how to close this post, other than to say that today had its moments, both happy and spotted with tragic limerick.

Love, X
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Creek Zen

I didn’t even know I was going to turn in and park. The air was cool and almost chilly down by the creek. But I took my shoes and socks off and walked across the low water bridge. It was dry because the water’s low. But I sat and put my feet in anyway. I listened to the water tumble and my mind went blank. It felt like I sat there for 30 minutes. When I looked at my watch, only 4 minutes had passed. I wanted to be trapped in amber and sit there for hours. Though my feet were numb from the cool water, I walked back to the car barefoot. To start my day. A little piece of me is still sitting by that creek though. Mindless and in the moment.

Love, X
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Wednesday Humor

My friend Steve was at the hospital. He waited and waited. After about 20 minutes, a young doctor entered the room.

“Steve, it looks like your wife was hit by a truck.”

Steve said, “I know. I married her for her personality.”
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Imperfectly Perfect

My latest set of bottle lights aren’t quite finished but I put them out anyway.

This set is made from a wine bottle and two mason jars that were filled with a delicious dessert.

I used a complicated set of four wire remote control lights this time. I hate to admit it but it took me several hours to decipher the wiring once I cut it into sections. But I worked the problem until I got three of the four sections to work. I reminded myself that I’m an imperfectionist and put the non-working section out of my mind.

Perfect is the enemy of the good.

The lights are vivid and beautiful.

A lot of other things are too. Even if they’re not perfect. Or finished.

Love, X
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The Tip Of The Dickberg

Cliché Reimagined
Potentially NSFW

Educational Portion Of Post: the unseen portion of an iceberg is called a bummock, while the visible portion is called a hummock. This is true, as preposterous as the words are.

“The tip of the iceberg” denotes that much is unseen, unmeasured, and unobservable.

I came up with a tangent phrase, one which denotes the same arc, except that it refers to some people: the tip of the dickberg. (“Dickberg” is now in my dictionary. 🙂 )

Whether it’s true or not, I think it’s clever.

“Geez, Steve is really a jerk,” Susan said.

“What he just did is the tip of the dickberg,” Susan.

On a meta-level, I would use it to express the fact that if there’s a little smoke, there’s probably a basement filled with fire.

And not the smores kind.

Stay tuned for more insights and lunacy.

Love, X

Clowning Around For Life (A Story)

Against the serpentine and changing ocean shoreline, Bret curled his toes into the cool, textured sand. The sun disappeared over an hour ago, yet he still stood there, watching the lights of the beachside hotel and the occasional silhouette of a person moving in front of the lights. Elizabeth told him she’d be back in a few minutes so that they could take a walk along the shoreline.

He knew she was terrible with directions and often quickly lost her way. The hotel wasn’t THAT big, though. And it wasn’t THAT far away from the beach. As he turned and began walking towards the hotel, he could hear her voice calling.

Her voice was always a little higher than most. The modulation of the waves made her voice faintly waft toward him. He shook his head, wondering what mayhem her internal GPS had caused. He stopped and listened for her next shout. He heard her again when he walked around the building and the service area. A large block wall separated the parking lot. He laughed. Somehow, she had exited the hotel from the service exit and trapped herself between the walls.

“Hold on a second, Elizabeth!” he half-shouted.

“Bret? Get me out of here!” she shouted back, her voice going up another half-octave.

“Go back the way you came,” he offered. “I can’t see the opening. And quit laughing.” He laughed even harder.

“That’s what she said!” she added.

From the other side of the wall, she squealed with delight. “Heads up!”

Before he knew what was happening, a bucket flew over the wall.
Bret laughed again and shook his head.

“Sweetie, why did you just throw me a bucket?”

“Duh!” she replied incredulously. “So you can stand on it and climb over the wall to come get me, dumbass.”

Bret laughed hard. “Umm, you could have used the bucket to climb over the wall yourself, so who’s the dumbass now?”

“Damnit!” She yelled while giggling.

Bret grabbed the bucket and threw it over without any warning. He turned and walked fast around the corner, turning to gain access to the barrier. When Bret rounded the corner, Elizabeth was up against the high brick wall, turned sideways, reaching to get her fingers across the upper edge. He carefully walked up behind her and goosed on the back of her upper right thigh.

One leg kicked backward, pushing the bucket away while her knee jerked forward, hitting Bret in the nose and knocking him to the ground. Her crotch landed directly above his broken, bloody nose. He still managed to laugh and smile and say, “Nice landing!” which made her howl with laughter at the absurdity of the situation.

As Bret stood up, the blood ran down his chin. “Let’s go to the ocean,” he said and laughed.

Elizabeth knew he wasn’t joking, so they walked hand-in-hand around the wall and back toward the waves. Bret’s other hand gripped each side of his painful, oozing nose. They didn’t stop at the shoreline. They continued to step out into the gentle waves until the water was at their knees. Bret leaned over and washed his face as best as he could. They both could only imagine what someone watching might think. Neither cared. That was one of their superpowers. Bret stood up and circled his arm around her waist, pulling her close. They’d go back inside in a few minutes to see about Bret’s nose.

When they woke up the following day, Bret’s nose was very swollen, and he had two black eyes. Elizabeth took one look at him and began laughing uncontrollably.

“That bad, huh?” Bret asked.

“I’m sorry to be laughing so hard! I know that has to hurt! I was just thinking about all the stories we’ll be able to make up to tell people why you have black eyes in our wedding pictures!!!” Tears were running down her face because she was laughing so hard.

“We could have someone be a stand-in for the pictures!” Bret replied. “Is that hot guy from your favorite show available?” He laughed.

“No, I already called his agent. You’re stuck! Besides, you look kind of hot with those black eyes. Bad boy, even. It could be a knee-jerk reaction for me to say so, though,” she added wryly.

“Oh, I’ll give you a knee-jerk reaction, all right,” Bret replied as he rolled over on Elizabeth and gave her a quick kiss, mumbling, “a wee-nee jerk reaction!”

Elizabeth laughed. The weenie joke was one of her favorites, even though it was so stupid and old. It made her laugh every time they used it.

That evening during their beachside wedding ceremony, Elizabeth kept giggling. Bret thought she was tickled at the two witnesses he found that agreed to be there for their wedding. Witnesses that she did not even see before the ceremony. One dressed in an inflatable T-Rex costume, and the other was a clown. He wouldn’t put it past her to use a fake marriage officiant, either. The pastor laughed when Bret leaned in and whispered, “This is a legal marriage, isn’t it?” The clergy replied, “Lord help you if it isn’t.”

Elizabeth giggled out her vows and “I do.”

Bret knew the clown and dinosaur were funny, but not THAT funny. She had tears streaming down her eyes from holding back laughter.

After their first kiss as husband and wife, Elizabeth let out a massive howl of laughter and bent over at her waist to catch her breath. Bret had never seen her laugh that hard.

“Do I have a big booger on the end of my nose or something??” asked Bret.

Elizabeth waved her hands and shook her head no. She was still laughing too hard to speak. Finally, she pointed down.

Bret looked at the bottom of her dress.

She slowly raised it to reveal that she was wearing a ginormous pair of clown shoes and rainbow stockings under her elegant, white dress.

She had also hidden two clown noses in her bouquet for a few pictures after the ceremony.

“Something else that kept getting me tickled was that I noticed how the colors of the sunset matched the colors of your black eyes!!!!” as she roared with laughter again.

During their wedding dinner that night, which was Pizza Hut pizza-of course!-they hatched a plan.

They would send out their wedding picture as their Christmas card this year. Each card would have a different story explaining why Bret had black eyes and a swollen nose in the picture.

When December came around, their stories ranged from a seagull attack, that he wanted his eye shadow to match the colors of the sunset, and “This is what happens to Bret when he tries to use his hemorrhoid cream as a moisturizer.”

I think these two are going to be just fine.
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Imperfect Union. Of Thoughts.

As a middle-aged white guy in the South, I would like to remind everyone that I am not what you see. Most of us aren’t. Most people aren’t even really the idea of them that we hold in our heads. If we have a fundamentally different worldview from someone else, we tend to vilify their beliefs or motives. We have to be on guard about that. It infects everything. There are a lot of evil people in the world, but most of us want the same things. No one likes other people interfering in their lives, yet so many do exactly that. People are surprised to discover how calcified their belief system becomes as they age.

I’m no Chicken Little. Despite the appearance of continuity, we’ve faced a lot of major upheavals as a society. I used my Handmaid’s Tale picture from years ago because it is a go-to symbol of a possible outcome if we don’t get our crap together. I made mine out of humor. It’s easy to see that we need a buttload more humor lately. It’s easy to succumb to cynicism and frustration.

Everyone’s social media is going to be flooded with opinions about social issues. Women who’ve had abortions, especially those who did so for their own reasons and often without others knowing, are going to learn a lot about their peers and loved ones. Some of those women did so for medical reasons or in cases of rape. Most of them didn’t choose abortion lightly. As I grew older and shared my personal life, I can’t tell you how many women told me stories that would shock you.

Most of the vocal celebrants of the supreme court decision are past the age when abortion is a viable concern for them individually. Old wounds will open and new ones will arise as people spew words. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I’m not worried about the next generation finding new ways to fix some of this. Old ideas don’t serve as well as many would like to think.

I have my own abortion story, one that tempers my interpretation of others’ opinions. Many of your friends and family members have them, too; most you’ll never know. Human sexuality is a constant drive, one that leads to consequences and turmoil. If we are going to limit other people’s ability to mitigate the consequences, we have to step up and provide a better social structure to support one another. It’s not about condemnation or judgment.

Women outnumber men.

I’m liberal, speak Spanish, and am in favor of just about every social program that helps people. Even if it reduces the defense budget, even if outliers take advantage – and even if the systems we put into place aren’t perfect. I’d start with universal health care, which, despite its flaws, would cost each of us less than our current system. Knowing that everyone around me could get at least basic health services anytime they are needed is something that seems stupidly right to me. For whatever reason, people disagree with me. My principal argument is that the rest of the modern world agrees with me. And universal health care is cheaper than our current system.

I anticipate a firestorm across the board.

Entropy is at play on a societal level. We are never going to be at a fixed point on any social issue. No matter which side of a particular issue you’re on, no issue is safe from review, even if you’ve achieved a momentary victory. If you galvanize a particular group, the system can be destabilized to such a degree that it no longer serves anyone. These issues are far from settled. They might even permanently rupture the system of government.

Politics is a dirty, specialized, and selfish game. If you play it correctly, you can achieve almost any objective, especially if money is involved.

So, I am a middle-aged white guy.

But I’m not responsible for the prevailing conservatism of my age group or those who look like me. We look alike but definitely don’t think alike. Despite that, we share a lot of the same ambitions, wants, needs, and desires. We have to learn to stay out of each other’s way as much as we can as we pursue our version of the dream. Conservatism in its purest form is sound; the evangelical version of it makes me cringe and shake my head.

So many of our problems result from those who “know” what is best for everyone else. Certainty breeds callousness. I try to think of all the things I once knew and believed, only to discover I was wrong. Which surely means that I’m mistaken about things now.

Railing about politics on social media is a fool’s errand unless you tell it as a personal story, one which reflects your life and who you are. You are not going to change anyone’s mind – nor should that be your goal.

Whichever side you’re on, remember that we are all human beings and got to our beliefs by inconsistent trial-and-error. Adding anger won’t change anything, even if it is justified. Like all of you, I admit that sometimes the burn of anger is a welcome relief, even as it short-circuits my humanity. It almost always makes me lesser.

I know that people are legitimately scared because the abortion ban will allow states to foolishly prevent abortions even in cases where it’s medically recommended, necessary, or a result of involuntary conception. That’s fiendishly diabolical and evil in my opinion. It ignores science and human decency.

No matter what changed, anything can be changed again.

Literally anything. With the right lever and effort.

Look for your lever and try to avoid adding to the woodpile of words. Find a way to convert your anger into action. Anger or fear is an immensely powerful motivator.

I know that being a middle-aged white guy contains a certain privilege of thought. I see that. But I can worry along with the rest of you, the ones who see a weird arc of conservative social ideology creeping into places that have little to do with fiscal policy or public health. Most of us think we have a singular plan and path for everyone else to live by. Imposing it only leads to no one having autonomy or happiness.

Love, X
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Going

I got a surprise when I came home today. A friend put a butterfly brooch out for Larkma, my resident sprite/fairy. It took me a while to know who it was. She can “out” herself if she wishes to. Doing so means that she willingly encourages this never-ending project I have going. I am even more tickled that more than one person in the last week has told me to keep on going with the art. (And also that people have taken the time to leave art offerings and whatnots to add to my wild collection.) Whether it is art is purely subjective.

As I stood out by the Gregg Street fence adding more tile patterns this afternoon, two Latino males were waiting at the light. The driver honked. As I turned, he gave me a big thumbs up. When I walked back into the parking lot, two neighbors at the end went out of their way to enthusiastically tell me that they love the color and jumble of it all. “Are they paying you?” one of them asked. I said, “No, but I didn’t ask for permission, either.” The other said, “It’s crazy and beautiful. I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

I said a prayer for them both because neither has any idea how far I might go with this.

Love, X
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