All posts by X Teri

Along, Into…

Today, I walked more than I have in a few years.

Because it was chilly and the sky was overcast, the atmosphere didn’t feel like May at all. It was glorious. My walk to get there was indeed long, but my feet floated on the grass and pavement as I made my way across town. As I walked, I witnessed several hundred drivers nervously hit their brakes as the increased holiday traffic police presence caught their attention. I passed a massive grove of honeysuckle, whose scent was unique and vibrant; the odd observation is that the same patch also contained more trash than any other single stretch I passed today. I noted that Magnolia Gardens is now Natural State Rock & Republic, a haven for cyclists. (Their website is top-notch, by the way.) The grounds at Magnolia are still beautiful, just like a few of my memories made there. A woman stood on her long, covered porch. As I passed, she offered me a cup of coffee. “Next time,” I told her, and she nodded. I found a picture of a young woman stuck in the criss-cross pattern of a chainlink fence – and couldn’t stop myself from conjecturing what led someone to place it there. (I’ve done the same thing countless times in my life.) I left the picture artfully placed there, hopefully for the next passerby to ponder. I wrote several index cards of messages myself, using a pack of multicolor ones I had forgotten that I had. Some of these I placed on fences, while others I left in cracks on the sidewalk, across tables in open spaces, and a couple in the branches of trees. Some were humorous, some serious. All of them contained hints of me.

On a last-minute whim, I decided to skip a usual walk and instead take a longer one to one of the main cemeteries in Springdale. I visited a couple of graves, including my cousin Jimmy’s. I spent a few moments spouting off one-liners to roast his absence. It’s not something that many people would understand if they overhead me doing so. Jimmy, though? He would howl with appreciation. I imagined his Mom, my Aunt Ardith, rolling her eyes and muttering, “Oh brother!” as I did so. Jimmy’s grave is the closest to the meandering creek on that end, and because of the recent rains, the stream echoed and combined with the birds squawking and announcing their presence.

As I walked along one of the main horizontal streets in the cemetery, I passed a group of men. They were smoking pot and drinking from tallboy cans. I could see them circumspectly look up at me. I’d already decided that my presence might make them nervous. So, I nodded and told them in Spanish to carry on and that no one would disrespect their moment at whomever’s grave they stood. They all nodded, and I left them in peace.

It’s a moment Jimmy would have appreciated. No matter how his life ended up, he was a devout admirer of marijuana when he was younger. For anyone who would mind me saying so, Jimmy wouldn’t. Now that eight years have elapsed since his death, I am sure that all truths, both small and large, bear him no harm. Whether he lies in eternal silence or walks in his idea of heaven, I know that he’d laugh and say, “F’em.”

I left the cemetery, trying to decide whether I should walk further. I walked quite a way in the opposite direction before opting to walk back to downtown. Emma was closed off, and people were setting up tables and chairs along the main street. Vendors were scattered along the same path, extending up to Shiloh Square and Turnbow Park.

I ate at Mr. Taco Loco (because life is too damn short to miss a chance to do so). I spent a few minutes waiting for my food and inadvertently listening to several tables full of people gossipping and saying things louder than they probably intended to. Though I had headphones on, I wasn’t listening to music, though they probably assumed I was tuned out to them. In honor of this, I’d like to give a shout-out to Nathan, who is never returning to the job he hates and is using the excuse of the holiday to miss all next week: his employer thinks he had a death in the family. Rock on, Nathan.

To my surprise, I convinced myself to forego an Uber back to my house. I’m glad I did, although my legs are complaining a bit already about my choice. I tried to focus on walking to the next traffic light and no further. Usually, as I make these small commitments, the walk doesn’t seem as daunting. I feel like there’s a metaphor or analogy for life in this somewhere.

By the time I made it back several hours later, the sun was out, and making my choice of wearing a light jacket a regret. I still carried the shadows from along the creek in my head, though. No one can see them, nor the smell of dozens of honeysuckle plants in my nose. I’m not sure why I know I’ll remember this walk for years to come. In part, it will be the length, yes. The other facet is that each of us is a work in progress, often unaware that we’ve shifted in ways both insignificant and transformational.

Love, X

A Small Story

The woman sat by the long window of the coffee shop, making ridiculous and exaggerated faces at her laptop screen. I sat at least ten feet away, studiously not looking directly at her. Her hair was dyed a deep jade hue and tied into a ponytail, one which seemed to be centered on nothing except perhaps imagination. She wore a red shirt and had a long blue tie loosely around her neck. The tie was thrown over her left shoulder.

My coffee was too hot and as a result, I found myself furiously blowing on it. I realized that this was largely ineffective, given that the lid was still on the cup. I laughed. As I did, I looked briefly toward the green-haired woman. She was looking directly at me. I quickly looked away. And then back. She was still looking in my direction.

She motioned with her hand for me to join her at her table.

Not sure about what might happen next, I took my laptop and coffee and walked to the window, pulled the chair away from the table, and sat down.

“Hi, I’m Sue,” the woman said, smiling. “You must be John,” she said.

I hesitated. “No, I’m not John at all. I’m Kirk.”

“You look like a John. Are you sure your name isn’t John? Take a moment and think about it.” She continued to smile.

“Uh… No. I’m Kirk,” I said. I knew I sounded a bit stupid.

She reached her left hand across the table, presumably to shake mine. I thought about putting a sugar pack in her hand. Instead, I grabbed her hand as she shook it.

Sue turned her laptop around and showed me the screen. On it, a picture of me from a few years ago was displayed. My mind went blank for a second as I tried to bridge the gap of just meeting her and seeing my picture on her laptop.

Sue laughed. “Relax, Kirk. This is something I do.”

“For a living?” I asked.

“No, as a hobby. I write freelance to pay the bills. That and buy and sell nonsense on the internet.” She turned her laptop back in her direction.

“What kind of writing do you do?” Writers always fascinate me.

“All kinds. I even write dialog for screenwriters. That’s fun. Want to hear an example?” She quizzically titled her head, knowing I was going to say yes.

“Okay. A couple of years ago, a writer for an ABC sitcom needed an excuse to get someone to a cemetery. So I had the character say, ‘Anytime I need to cry a lot, I go to the cemetery, because no one questions someone crying there.’ That’s pretty good, huh?”

I was already nodding my head in agreement.

“Another one? I had the idea that the character should put a greenscreen inside his car, so that everyone would think he was at home, instead of driving to Dallas.” She laughed. “But that’s been done six hundred and two times now, thanks to the pandemic.”

“What’s your secret?” I asked.

“I accidentally burned down the neighbor’s house when I was 14,” Sue said.

When I looked at her face to gauge her sincerity, she winked.

“That is some secret, yes,” I told her.

“It’s not a secret now, though, is it?”

“No, but I also meant what’s your secret for success?” I smiled.

“I have no clue. It’s mostly been luck and being in right place at the wrong time and sometimes vice versa. But you know that.” She smiled.

“Well, I guess I’m in the right place at the right time now, aren’t I?” I laughed.

“Touché! Ha! But yes. We have a lot to talk about, don’t we?”

I leaned back in my chair, not questioning her assumption. It turned out she was right.

Two hours later, I knew both nothing and everything about her. It seemed like the best start possible.

A Follow-Up on Miley

Yesterday, I posted on my blog about the Miley Cyrus cover of “Heart Of Glass.” I hadn’t seen the live video until then. Several people commented, and all who did so loved the song. Regardless, such things are subjective as hell. That’s okay. There are times when I can’t explain why some songs earworm their way into my head and others don’t.

I also mentioned that Miley’s performance was sensual. It was.

More importantly, it reminds me that people will always bring their own filters to anything shared, voiced, or written.

Even if they are wrongly stretching words to mean things they don’t.

Take the word ‘sensual,’ for instance; it is NOT a congruent synonym for ‘sexual.’ It CAN be used similarly. But when someone deliberately uses ‘sensual’ in context, it doesn’t signal that the reader should infer whatever meaning they wish to, especially with the intent to change the intended spirit of what’s said or written.

In the spirit of honesty, this performance is very provocative. But it is her voice that is the focal point of the song for me. The internet is full of much more revealing content, if that’s what I’m after. Her song, “Midnight Sky,” among others, is certainly more focused on sexuality. I love that song, too.

We see a lot more skin at swimming pools and beaches. And tv shows, in catalogs, at Walmart, in commercials, sporting events, and just about everywhere else.

While I’m not one to brazenly advocate provocative behavior, it’s none of my business when an artist chooses to do so. I can click away. But don’t fault me for saying that a particular song is sensual. Or sexual, either, if I had been making that argument.

My sexual proclivities aren’t something that I expound on in public, but I could. We are all humans with similar desires and behavior. There is no shame in saying someone is sensual, sexual, or beautiful. It’s an acknowledgment of our senses. Being 54 doesn’t detract from my human response.

The whole point of my previous post was to say that the song resonates with me powerfully.

Love, X

And Miley Sings…

I’ve long been a fan of Miley Cyrus, even when she became controversial. I didn’t know her until after her Disney run. Her cover of “Jolene” opened my ears to her ability to sing.

Hannah Montana aside, I find her voice to somehow echo something in my head when I listen to her sing. Her voice certainly isn’t angelic or pure.

And along came her single “Heart of Glass,” a cover of Blondie’s hit.

The first time I heard this, I felt like it was the way the song should have been recorded in the first place. Whether everyone else agrees with me or not, but somehow I understood the lyrics with her version.

It’s raucous, a little uncontrolled, and 100% one of the best covers I’ve ever heard. Broken voices always add an extra measure of something that I find compelling.

And then I saw the video of her singing live. I’ve honestly never thought of her as anything other as interesting and a singer with an amazing voice, one who constantly defies genres. Whether I’m supposed to say so or not, everything about her in this video is distilled sensuality. It’s hard to look away. I’m 54, but not dead.

I loved “Midnight Sky,” as well as “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart,” and “Younger Now,” too. If you want a treat, get on YouTube and give the Miley Cyrus – Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix) with Stevie Nicks a listen. She does a few other covers that are worth a listen.

I know Miley isn’t for everyone.

I hope she does a lot more covers, especially rock covers. Her voice bangs a gong in my head when I hear her wail.

The Dream Song

In another life, one I almost lived, I was a musician.

A few nights ago, I found myself inside a dream so real that it was impossible to move my head, even in the dream.

The song began, wrapped in gauze, growing in intensity, like a delayed crescendo.

Even when I awoke, the song intensified in my head.

I sat up on the side of the bed, repeating the reverb chorus of it over and over.

I’m not convinced I was dreaming.

The melodic voice on top of this track eludes me, although I can remember most of the lyrics, which in itself is unusual for me.

The protagonist in my dream danced and moved in accompaniment to the unsettling music, eyes locked in on mine. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but whether fortuitous or calamitous, I didn’t care. The movements were like an unending crescendo.

Though I haven’t used it much in several months, I opened several iterations of my music software and began compiling the components of the song from my dream. Although one’s dreams always convey a couple of levels that honestly aren’t experiential, the result is reasonably close.

And even now, as I listen with headphones, I feel like I might be sitting in two places simultaneously, so powerful was the feeling of being in two places at once while I dreamed. It’s a good thing I haven’t used drugs.

Sunday Excursion

As tough as life has been, there are still moments of sublime depth. This morning, I got my chance to walk without worrying about turning around and making it back home. I walked so far that Uber had to rescue me. The driver was tickled by my tip, as I gave him one he wasn’t expecting, all in new Thomas Jefferson dollar coins. As I walked, I saw so many interesting things: the sunrise, the geese squawking at me from their artificial strip of wetland on the perimeter of the airport, the whoosh of a plane so close I could feel my insides vibrate, the remnants of last night’s carnival (and a worker sitting in a place in which he thought himself unobserved, smoking a cigarette, his dangling legs swinging comically), hidden murals brightly calling for attention, new apartments and buildings shining against the dim sunlight, businesses I’ve never noticed, upstairs studio apartments that are no longer hidden to me, empty voids where buildings once stood, a weary overnight George’s worker walking home still wearing his rubber poultry boots (something I well remember from my own life when I was much younger), a Marshallese man inexpertly riding a bicycle and attempting to avoid falling on his face as he did so, a variety of people moving through the early hours, each intent on whatever private life they were leading. And – me, among them, as an observer. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I already knew that whatever alchemy swirled in my head, it was something that wouldn’t translate secondhand. I wanted to walk twice as far as I did, despite my legs beginning to waver. There are some mornings in which time feels like a tide against my back. Even so, reality intruded to tell me that I couldn’t walk forever, though I wanted to.

A Subtle Truth, 3

You can’t control your addiction, your weight problem, or drinking? Tell someone. And then tell another person. Chances are you have someone in your life that knows exactly what you need to get through it or over it. Being cautious and secretive only blocks you from the possibility of others helping you. You might not want other people to know your secret. But they’re damn sure going to find out when your life explodes, aren’t they?

Pico De Too Much Good Food

Pardon my great photography.

This is a pound of pico de gallo, iceberg lettuce, Tajín seasoning, and coarsely chopped aluminum-foil wrapped/baked lemon pepper chicken breast, along with two bags of Popchips. Of course. Grilled chicken is preferable, and if given a choice, I’d use shredded lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is less expensive and seems to last a day or two longer than shredded lettuce, especially once opened. Foil chicken is infallible to make, too. Since I don’t reheat the chicken, it’s very convenient, too.

Although I don’t count calories, it’s somewhere around 350. And it’s a LOT of food, so much that it is difficult to eat it comfortably. But because I’m dedicated, I, of course, devoured every bit of it.

I ate a very similar lunch yesterday, using Mr. Taco Loco chicken as the foundation.

I had a can of diced tomatoes, hot sauce, and tomato-chicken broth for my early meal today. It might sound ludicrous, but I can eat it on the go. It’s also inexpensive and impossible to make incorrectly unless you stick your tongue in the microwave outlet.

People are constantly surprised I don’t really get hungry.

Sometimes, I tell them outrageous lies just to see how they respond.

I experimented with variations of this until I realized how much of the things I might have previously thrown in there were superfluous.

I still take fiber and other basic nutrients apart from my natural diet too.

I’m evaluating everything I do as I go. And even if I make a few missteps, anything is better than when I had another 65 or more pounds on me.

I’m confounded by people who can’t get full without indulging.

A Moment of Zen

I watched as the person they called Guru sat on a hard rock.

“Aren’t you uncomfortable? Why are you sitting there on that hard rock?”

He replied, “You asked me why I’m sitting here for a brief moment, yet you live a life that is entirely founded on discomfort. I can get up from this hard rock. Can you?”

And then he smiled, knowing I would think too long about what he said.