Category Archives: Relationships

PSA Personal And True

Despite some of my missteps, I’m still not a fan of secrecy. It leads to all sorts of behavior, much of it counterproductive. I learned the hard way! Which seems to be the way I learn everything. I’m using the word “learn” very loosely here.

When I talked about anxiety and taking Lexapro, this social media platform restricted my account a few months ago. Given the content I see, I’m still perplexed by this.

I can only imagine what this post might trigger. It’s personal and honest. And maybe a little irreverent. I have a sense of humor about it, just as I do with everything else.

About 50-80% of adults have oral herpes (HSV), a virus that we usually know as cold sores. Another 16% have been diagnosed with HSV2, the kind that typically hits below the belt. Many more have it, as they are either asymptomatic or the symptoms aren’t apparent. There is no cure. Over time, most people tend to have fewer symptoms. Women in particular often have it without any visible signs given their anatomy.

I have HSV2. I recently used Everlywell at-home testing to confirm it again. It doesn’t usually have any serious medical complications. There are exceptions for some people.

Most of the people who have it don’t talk about it. That’s a problem for a lot of reasons. The principal consequence is that so many people don’t tell their potential partners. Additionally, most people don’t get tested for STDs, or even have their yearly blood tests for the spectrum of other possible diseases or illnesses. Testing for STDs is essential for sexually active adults. So many people have one without being aware. No one likes to imagine that a partner might be infected; either the potential partner knows or doesn’t. It’s on you to be proactive, no matter how phenomenal someone looks standing next to the fireplace while wearing a come-hither look in the dim light from the Bed, Bath, And Beyond candles on the mantle.

If you are wondering, you can get herpes of any kind even when you’re with someone who has no symptoms. Even if you are careful and use protection. Using contraception as an example, none is 100% effective. As I’ve personally learned, being ugly isn’t a guarantee, either. Someone will look at you with fire in their eyes. It’s one of the most complicated parts of being a human being. We superficially talk about it, of course, but few people are direct about how important this side of private life is. It’s possible to have a fulfilling life without sexual expression, but it’s one I couldn’t imagine. I can listen to only so much NPR.

If you have an STD, it is the least you can do to have an uncomfortable conversation with your partner before engaging in the horizontal mambo. Such discussions will likely be awkward. All important ones are. It’s possible to avoid transmission to a long-term partner. But it is equally valid to remember that nothing you do is 100% safe. Your libido will lead to a satisfying sex life if you’re lucky. Any potential partner worth having will be glad you took the time to allow them to make an informed choice. Giving someone an STD is the best example to prove why “it’s better to give than to receive” is problematic.

Suppose you want to test without the embarrassment of going to the doctor? In that case, you can use a service such as Everlywell to test yourself for all manner of medical conditions affordably, STDs included. It’s better to know the truth than to risk someone else’s health.

I know what you’re thinking. No matter how attractive someone is, they likely have something for you to worry about, not the least of which is bad credit and a penchant for being best friends with their exes. Hopefully, an STD won’t be an additional worry. If you haven’t had comprehensive blood testing and an STD test in a while, you owe it to yourself to do it.

You can get back to Chad or Suzanne afterward. Or Chad and Suzanne if that’s your thing. No judgment here.

Love, X

PS Yes, I will say anything on social media.
.

A Scattered Personal Post

It is wrong to try to change someone. Except…

The exception is when you care for them, and you can see that the arc they are on ends in self-destruction or living a lesser life. By way of admission, I have ignored advice that was spot on in my life. My favorite cousin gave me the best advice of my life at one point. Because of my arrogance, I thought I could somehow overcome the looming consequences of my ignorance. Of course, I was wrong. If I had suffered from addiction, I probably would have still ignored the advice. People often ask me how I avoided the tendency to addiction. My answer is a combination of sheer luck and avoidance. It’s what helped me finally understand my parents a little more and stop being judgmental to the extreme I once did about my sister. They were completely wrong for their choices but were also equally trapped. Once I recognized the congruency to my own life, it managed to humble me slightly.

I had an ongoing battle with my brother Mike with his addiction. It ruined his life and ultimately ended it years ahead of what might have been. Even if he had survived, he was not himself or living the life at his fingertips. It cost him a truncated career and the loving embrace of people around him. It contaminated my relationship with him, and I didn’t realize how bad it was until the demon he suffered from became inconquerable. His death had more of an effect on me than I thought. More vanity of my part to believe otherwise.

I’m sure each of you has a friend or family member who equally suffers. Those who suffer often possess fantastic intelligence and artfully or brutally hide their secrets. It’s why I wrote the Bystanders Prayer a few months ago. Those in the grips of these issues don’t see the life that could be. That’s how addiction works. Or choices we don’t want to face. It doesn’t have to be an addiction; any unhealthy pattern of behavior will suffice. I have a few of my own, so I’m not casting stones without getting a few bounced off my own face.

Those who are capable enough or lucky enough to achieve escape velocity from their past decisions are among the most fortunate people in the world.

Those who escape find that other people were waiting for them to be someone else, the person they could be absent from the internal turmoil, often self-imposed.

It means they have access to a full life. A life full of people and friends. The world is meant to be experienced fully. If you have a friend or family member who needs to hear the screaming gong of change, ring it with a hammer of sufficient size. Doing nothing will undoubtedly end the way you think it will. Hammering the gong might cause a lot of temporary pain, and it might even cost you your relationship with those you care for. They’ll be gone one day anyway if that is their choice.

Only the spoon knows what stirs in the pot – as with any situation. Because of the private nature of most struggles, a lot of what is hidden fails to see the light of day. Personally, I couldn’t begin to explain the craziness I’ve witnessed in life or faithfully explain my irrational reaction to it. No matter what happens, I’m supposed to be in control of my response. That definitely hasn’t been true.

Emotion clouds cognition.

I have asked people to change. Whether it’s to stop drinking, being angry, or even accepting affection reciprocally. I’ve had both failure and success.

I want everyone to have a clear mind and the opportunity to be happy or satisfied.

If they are in my life, I’ve realized that there is a weird undefinable line between boundaries and asking someone to change.

Boundaries require you to hold fast to your expectations no matter what happens. That is tough, especially when you need love and attention.

When I was younger, I had to detach from some of my family because I couldn’t keep my sanity otherwise. Literally. They wouldn’t change. With the exception of my sister, everyone who suffered addiction in my immediate family met their demise still suffering with it. That’s a terrible track record.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve also found myself seeing that not everyone experiences love and togetherness the same way. Asking for someone to mirror me might be too much for some. Is it wrong for me to ask? No. There is no obligation to conform to my idea of a good life.

Me asking someone to give me what I want or need isn’t a demand to change. It reflects me communicating that I’m not getting what I want. That’s how it is supposed to work. It flames out quite often, too, though, because people are complicated and come with a suitcase rack of luggage that has nothing to do with you. People praise communication as if it is the cure. It’s not. It’s necessary, though, no matter the consequences. All you can do is speak your truth and surrender to the idea that other people will respond however their life makes them.

I can’t imagine a life without enthusiasm and without someone who wants one hand on their shoulder – and hopefully one wrapped around their back, too. It’s something that many don’t openly discuss. Most of us want a warm heart to greet us and hands that magnetize us. Don’t we seem to wander through a mile of weeds to get there?

Because I’ve gone to therapy, I know all the jargon for my attachment style. It’s helped me recognize some of the stupid sh!t I do as stupid sh!t. It’s not translated well into rational behavior, though.

But I did see the folly of chasing what I wanted. When you’re running and chasing, you don’t see the scenery. As you come to a stop, you look around and wonder how you got there. The fight in you evaporates.

If you’re not getting what you want out of life, at some point you have to decide to face the certainty of more of the same or the possibility of something different. That uncertainty comprises a lot of our lives and keeps us running in place. There will be pain on either side of your choice.

Choose your hard, right?

By surrendering and chasing no more? The thing I wanted?

It rang my doorbell. Metaphorically, of course.

And I answered.

There are no guarantees. Only instinct and experience. Optimism is a rare commodity that must be actively replenished. I’m capable. As I quoted last week, the person in the selfie you take is most often your own worst enemy. What are the things or people that make you most likely to be happy? What is holding you back from reaching toward that life?

I’ll need another hammer or two alongside my head to keep me on course. I feel like I have a cousin who is already searching Amazon to buy the perfect hammer.

Meanwhile, I have to answer the door.

I definitely hear the doorbell calling me. There’s a smile and hands on the other side.

Love, X
.

NSFW: The Siren Of Sex

This is an unusual post. Its theme might bother you, so be warned.

I reverted it to ‘draft’ form for several weeks because people kept personalizing it. It’s true I understand a lot of it.

This isn’t my story, but I was asked to retell it in the way that only I can.

I am not saying some of it doesn’t resonate with me, though. The parts that resonate with me are what allowed me to flush the description and agony to life.

Again, though, this is NOT my story.

I’ve seen countless retellings and versions of it on TikTok.

You’ll see her thirsty and carefully crafted social media. There aren’t many candid, spontaneous photos because she’s apparently unsure of herself. It will confuse you because she will have one persona in private and another one around other people. The public one is effervescent, vibrant, and wily. Even with male colleagues and male friends. The pictures she does share though are thought out and send an undeniable message. Multiple men and exes will follow her and make innuendo. She texts many of them. It’s her life so, of course, it’s her right. You’ll feel stupid for feeling a bit threatened by it all – that blatant sexuality that she says she’s oblivious to. You’re not a jealous person and you have learned not to begrudge anyone their sexual history. All that matters is that she is with you now. Over time, those intrusions will noticeably detract from your intimate time, even conversationally. As your physical connection lessens, her contact with all those previous lovers and potential replacements will begin to infect your head with previously unknown worries. Truthfully, had the physical connection not dwindled, it wouldn’t be a problem most of the time. Connection begets intimacy and usually evaporates one’s self-doubt. Without it? It exponentially worsens a troubled, lonely mind. You can easily be replaced by any number of people, all of whom will have to undergo the same pattern you did. They are very willing and motivated based on what they see and perceive. Our mental windows open due to what we see and experience.

Sidenote: I could write a book on how self-aware she is about her effect on people. It’s possible that she is blind to much of it. Her brilliance, on the other hand, makes it hard to reconcile. If you are attentive and communicative, you tell her about her effect on you and other people. Not from jealousy but from observation and wanting her to know. That’s how love works, even when mixed with incongruous sexuality and feelings. If you love her, you don’t want to think she is in fact self-aware to know how she portrays herself that way purposefully.

She’s beautiful in a way that is hard to define. She is certainly attractive and sexual. Intentional or not, she exudes an aura of sexuality. Her full red lips, her wide eyes, her hair either loose or pulled tight across her head, and her upper body, once defiant to gravity but still immensely provocative. Whether she has tattoos or a tongue stud, these things are signals to most people. She’s brilliant, quick-witted, and loves to tell dirty jokes and endless quips of sexual innuendo. She’ll share pictures of herself, boudoir pictures from the past, or recent ones that imply availability and carefree pleasure.

If you are the jealous type, you’re in trouble. A lot of people have seen her nude and more have seen her pictures, some of them professionally done. You won’t get to see most of them, though, even as you share the most intimate of words and actions with her. She will tell you that she was sexy and proudly so when she was younger but now feels unsexy and unattractive. All the signals and behavior around her, though, will continue to coalesce and add up to wildly mixed signals. She sees that you are inflamed but points back to her self-confessed past, one of sexual mistakes and inactivity as a penance.

She’s experienced. She’ll tell you stories of her multiple partners, her brief encounters with women, and eventually, she’ll tell you that she goes through prolonged periods without sexual expression. And though it is not that uncommon, she won’t be able to experience pleasure with you. Because of the fire in you, it won’t be an issue in the beginning. Then, you will discover she needs a certain kind of visual stimulation, alone and never with you, to experience it. If you’re faint-hearted or not accustomed to the content of her visuals, it will undoubtedly excite you further. You’ll convince yourself she will eventually share that secret part, the part that good lovers want for their partners; she won’t though. You’ll have to survive imagining it. It will feel like a wedge over time. Being able to witness the sexual explosion is a huge part of intimacy. She can have it alone, she says, but never with you. And always with content that will titillate you. One day, the finality of knowing you probably will never experience it sinks in so deep that it almost capsizes your sanity. You can’t explain it to her; when you’re truly with another person, these things are not things to be kept private unless both people can live with the decision.

You’ll discount it, though, because when you are first together, she will be seductive, crafty, and adventurous. You’ll likely experience things you’ve never encountered before. You will be on fire with desire. Anything COULD happen. She starts out 0 to 60. The stories she tells you will captivate, entrance, and pile a truckload of fire onto your urge to be with her.

At the outset, she will exude sensuality even during her cycle and share stories of encounters even during those. You won’t experience it though. You’ll just have her recounted memories to imagine. You’ll ask her what has changed, or why she won’t be expressive that way with you, now. Her answers will vary and you’ll be tormented. That she was that way casually before, absent love, but won’t be with you, in the now, is a huge pill that increasingly grows in your throat.

Slowly, over time, those chances for joining wantonly will diminish.

You’ll be left with an open burning libido and nowhere to go with it.

“I told you from the beginning that I was this way,” she will tell you.

Yes, but she didn’t SHOW you that, not in the beginning.

And you’ll start to feel crazy.

You’ll try to express your wants and needs and how much she delights you, both visually and because of who she is. Because she’s incredibly smart, she will have the words to turn her lack of interest back to you as a shield. Who would want to engage sexually with someone who says they aren’t interested, even if it is part of their long history of dormant periods? It’s a trick question. Because you will want to. There are two of you in the relationship. It’s not all sexual, of course. It’s hard to get past the defenses of someone like her, to allow her to realize that two people have to come to a mutual understanding. Otherwise, one of you is going to be suffering without intimacy. It’s akin to discovering the best food in the world only to find that the restaurant is slowly and unpredictably closed or open, often without any way to know when. A loving partner doesn’t shut the water off when their person is dehydrated.

As your encounters wind down, she will still engage in the sexualized banter with other people, even other men. “It’s not sexual,” she will say. But it is. And more so because it makes you feel like you’re an idiot because you’re unable to explain to her that sexual banter and innuendo with other people while withholding from you is a blow to your self-esteem and difficult to live with. She will slowly stop bantering with you like that. She has both your heart and your libido and she has the control. Your purposeful but increasingly difficult silence will become too massive to contain.

The encounters will dwindle after the initiation, like a shotgun pattern on a graph board. You’ll notice the decrease and find reasonable explanations. The need to ask for more attention and yes, the scarcity of intimacy will come to drown your ability to distance your reasoned mind from the attraction that singes your head. You will chase after her, being needy, trying to find the right combination of words to show her what you’re experiencing. Or that you’re drowning.

You’ll be bitter with yourself and distant at the end.

And if you love her? Her physical absence will be a spinning poker in your heart, one you can’t quite get her to understand. We are all physical beings – and most men (or women) haven’t known someone so vibrantly sexual.

As it ends, she’ll tell you that she doesn’t want to just give herself freely. Even if you still desire her or love her. This will be the nail in the coffin in your head because her sexual past tells a different story. Though she is a different person now, her arc of history put her in the position often of having sexual experiences in the moment, even absent love or even acquaintance, ones you’re imagining from her retelling them to you. You will be crushed by the incongruity of it, your heart filled with longing despite the pain. When you love someone and it is mixed with such a volatile and visceral desire, it is indeed almost impossible to approach it with rationality, logic, or decisiveness.

She will change the narrative and minimize the love in favor of believing you to be with her for physical intimacy. Even though the composite of your gestures and affection tell another story entirely. It’s normal for people to villainize their exes, to reconfigure and adjust their biggest weakness. It blankets out the love and affection.

Adult relationships require being wanted both physically and emotionally. With consistency.

When the physical component is so out of proportion and dwindles, it is a natural reaction to chase after it. Sexuality is one of the most sublime and delightful of all possible interactions. It causes people to literally lose their minds.

It’s already written.

If you read any of this and see yourself, it’s already written.

Fire keeps you warm. But it also can burn you. Or become ashes and leave you frost-bitten. You’ll still remember the fire, though, intensely. And a small part of you wants to stick your hand willingly into that painful fire just to experience the pleasure and agony. We are biologically driven toward sexual experience. And emotionally capable of infinite mental gymnastics to engage in behavior that isn’t healthy for us.

The best possible relationship is one filled with equal parts love and intimacy. We all know this. Most of us crave it. Some of us are lucky enough to find it. Sometimes, though, we find it and the burner burns with a flame that reaches the ceiling.

.

.

Don’t Write A Long Post On Monday Morning

My “Ask” project both failed and succeeded. The truth of it is that you can’t control another person’s response – only your own. I wrote that it’s never wrong to ask; the bigger sin is to have an ‘ask’ and remain silent.

“Silence is the gravedigger for enthusiasm, love, humor, and happiness.” – X

Ask
Ask for what you want or desire.
If you don’t, it is a certainty you’ll never get it.
Ask of life and ask of people.
The answer, though bitter or not what you sought…
It’s at least the truth.
Everything starts from there

Ask

PS I do mourn the failure.
.
.

I woke up at 11:30, safe and happy. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I think multiple things kept me awake, one of which was the unusual trip I took to LR to see my sister Carolyn. Her house was built in 1939 and updated before she bought it. It’s a beautiful house, one she’s made comfortable and homey. Like many people, I think she doesn’t see it for what it is. It’s truly something to be proud of, like her life. Although I don’t have a clue how she juggles knowing so many people. She could run for state senate based on the number of friends and acquaintances she keeps up with. Though she will kill me for saying so, she’s fiercely single. But she needs a lot of hugs, preferably from someone really cute and financially capable. Don’t tell her I said so, though.
.
.

The Target Rule For Women: If you love Target, you can never be truly happy with a man who hates it.
.
.
I got out of bed instead of laying there. My cat Güino did his part, nuzzling me and demanding more treats. So I made him a concoction of juice from cat food paste. He doesn’t eat the actual meaty part. He likes to just lap up the mess I make by compressing extra water into the paste. I’d mock him but I eat some weird things too. We all do. Last week, I made the mistake of making sardine juice. Güino loved it. One afternoon as I sat in the office chair, I turned to watch him hurl a stream of sardine juice across my newly-washed comforter. I could see a look of satisfied amusement on his face as he finished. I’m sure of it. The smell reminded me of a late-night bowling alley after hot-dog and free beer hour. Bed Bath & Beyond does NOT make any candles scented this way.
.
.
The Reg Flag Maintenance Rule For Women: if your man spends more than five minutes on his hair, he’s going to be ridiculously high maintenance about all the things that matter to you or annoy you, too.
.
.

I still do a few hundred pushups a day, without going crazy like I once did. My cousin was right; doing them made my life more manageable and better. Over the last few months, a couple of people have been energized by my advice to start doing them, too, especially when they realize that they can spend a couple of minutes a few times a day exercising and avoid the hassle of driving or being at the gym – if they choose. When I got my hair cut the last time, a younger barber was fascinated and I sold him on trying them for six weeks. One of the things I explained to him was that he could start with “female” pushups if he needed to. (I also convinced him that he could do ten pushups at a time, multiple times a day. Before long, he’d be doing sets of 25-50, if he wished to, and even between clients.) Male pushups do work more of the lower body, but if upper body fatigue is reached by doing the allegedly easier “female” pushups, they are extremely effective to build upper body strength. It’s a myth that they aren’t great for your physical well-being, much like the mistaken belief that walking isn’t an amazing way to stay in shape. So many people think we have to run, do a lot of cardio, or stress our bodies needlessly to be in shape. “Female” pushups and walking aren’t as flashy as their counterparts but they do result in transformational physical effects if you make them a habit. Any small applied change to behavior becomes a habit. The Law of Increments prevails.
.
.
“To a dog, all food is dog food.” To which I’d add, in the same way, if a person won’t remove their personal filter from what they see in life, circumstances will never change. “All is yellow to a jaundiced eye,” though not my quote, is apt.
.
.
Profile Picture Rule: if the person doesn’t have a visible and updated profile picture, swipe away if you’re looking for a reliable partner to date. It is the minimum level of honesty and telegraphs their ability to be open. Argue all you want; those people have infinite time and access to both phone and their accounts.
.
.
One of the pitfalls of social media is that people don’t use it to expound on the spectrum of their experiences. You see a thirsty photo or one of a big moment and conclude it’s an honest representation of their life. You know from experience it’s probably not. I continue to learn it’s definitely not. It’s both a comfort and a curse, as perverse as that might sound reading it.
.
.

I went out on the landing around 1 a.m. Güino accompanied me, of course. My solar lanterns had charged well yesterday for the first day of spring but only one still held a dim charge. I heard a strident voice clearly. The person was upset and ranting. I made a cup of strong coffee and knocked on the apartment door. The voice went silent. To my surprise, the door opened. “Here’s a good cup of coffee. Do you need to talk and have someone listen?” The person was astonished and said, “Thanks for the coffee. I’m sorry you could hear me. I didn’t know.” I waited a couple of seconds before saying, “I’m sorry y’all are struggling. It can be better if you want it to.” The person nodded. “Reset it if you can,” I said. “I hope your night goes better.” There’s no moral here. But I do hope they read the inscription on the cup I designed and had made: “Choose your hard.” It’s hard to change but it’s equally hard to continue navigating waters that always capsize your boat. I hope I get the coffee cup back. It’s one of my favorites.
.
.
Yesterday, I was delighted to discover that my internet provider had decided to put the previous tenant’s $500 delinquent bill on MY account. You can imagine the creative phone call(s) and comments I made. It seemed to be a disservice to not respond with humor and sarcasm. The person who lived in my apartment before me not only trashed the apartment but succeeded in ruining her credit. The mistake to my bill was supposedly fixed but I do wonder at the imperfect process that allowed it to happen in the first place. To say something positive along with my negative, I was shocked and delighted to see that I somehow qualified for a $30 monthly credit on my internet bill. I had zero expectations I would be able to.
.
.
During my trip to central Arkansas, I got a ding to my windshield as I exited Conway. When I got in my car yesterday afternoon, the ding had spread to a 4″ crack. I was going to epoxy it today; now I’ll have to hope a window service can drill it out enough to repair without needing a new windshield. I guess that’s what I get for making cracks all the time; it was inevitable that one appear in my window. I get dings all the time driving through central Arkansas. I should probably refrain from driving through so many ditches. That’s where all the interesting stuff is, though.
.
.
The two and a half hours of sleep I managed before midnight will have to suffice for this day. I shouldn’t complain. So many people suffer worse. I’ve been lucky and I can’t forget it. That is the worst kind of entitlement, that of failing to see blessings.
.
.
“If it is important enough to you, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.” Not my quote but resoundingly true.
.
.
It’s going to rain hard later today, which is great. I cleaned more of the parking lot and landings yesterday – by hand, no less, wrenching up detritus and trash that the landlords failed to clean from last fall. A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned up 23 bags of leaves and trash. The rain will do its magic and cleanse the remaining residue. If it isn’t chilly, I’m going to stand out in the rain like a lunatic this afternoon and get drenched. My hope is that it will do its metaphorical work on me, too, taking away the residue of self-doubt and discomfort in my life.
.
.
.
.

Words of unexpected encouragement from a while back:

“You’re not too much. You’ve just dealt with others who don’t have the capacity for you. Somewhere, that ‘extra’ that you give is exactly what will fill someone with happiness. Really, you’re going to reduce yourself? How’s that for a slap in the face, X?”

I decided to post it because recently, I explained the 10% Rule to someone who was unfamiliar with it.

We focus our attention on perceived defects about ourselves. But what if instead of trying to change those things, we embraced them and actively sought out people who think those alleged defects are enhancements?

Instead of fighting our nature, find someone who looks at us with a little bit of fire and awe? No hair? Big nose? Odd hands? Love handles? Weird feet? So what. The world is an awfully big place filled with a variety of people.

All of us would be so much happier if we could swing for the fences for someone who appreciates us with our defects.

“Defects become invisible where enthusiasm resides.” – X
Its counterpart is this: “Faults are thick where love is thin.”

A sense of humor is the number one key for me. Followed by wit and a quick smile. That wit and quick smile telegraph so much about a person to the world. Things are going to happen – but such an outlook glides past the obstacles without getting stuck. Because I’m a comforter, I want comfort when I’m stressed – and I want to freely give the same. It’s impossible to be myself when someone else isn’t reciprocal during the tough times.

The other thing? Enthusiasm for my presence and the ability to express it with their hands and heart.

I know, the lightning of hypocrisy may very well strike me. That’s okay. I’m mortal in the worst way. I fought a losing battle with wanting attention until I realized I didn’t want to fight for it anymore. It was the worst kind of agony trying to put it into practice.

When I was 20, gray hair set in. About that time, I adopted a short, almost military-style haircut. For convenience. My hair is one of the least important things about me. Now that some of my hair is permanently gone, I don’t chase getting it back or hiding the salt and pepper. Far from it. It’s like me new scar running up my abdomen. I own it and as perverse as it sounds, I’m glad in some ways that it happened.

Now that I lost weight, my sternum is odd. It was one of the first things that emerged from beneath my fat. I used to lie in bed and touch it, both surprised and tickled. As the rest of my body caught up, it tickles me that my sternum has that ‘jut’ in it. Below it, I have a weird connection from the surgery that obscures my stomach muscles. I’ll never get rid of it without surgery. But I would never want to. I don’t care if the whole world sees it.

For some, I am too much, too needy, too something.

The 10% rule continues to tell me that I need only one person to find me to not be “too much.”
.
.

Love, X

Dear Eric:

The optimistic part of me hopes that justice has already been served to you on a hot plate.

One of your cases probably already unfolded this morning. I of course hope that the victim in that case is soberly acknowledging that some measure of appropriate response finally transpired.

The realistic part of me, the one who has read and heard so many stories about you, dampens my expectations.

Relying on the criminal justice system to protect people is at best foolish. It is an eternal after ~the~fact endeavor.

I know that karma does not really reach out and grasp the people who legitimately deserve a harsh measure.

I would hope that you would finally yield to the universe’s demand that you be held accountable.

To the women you made victim through no fault of their own, I offer my apology. Were the decision mine, liberal though I might be, legal proceedings would be the least of your worries.

I am hoping Justice prevailed. If not, there is no point in honoring our collective agreement to do no harm.

X

Both Personal And Random Ideas

“Make all the right choices. Eat all the right food. And you will still be dead one day. This is a rigged game, indeed, this gift of life.” – X

Have you ever thought that another way to describe a bath is “butt soup?”

For the first time in MANY years, I am getting a refund for both Federal and State taxes. While I can’t finance a yacht with the refund, it is a pleasant change of pace! Also, I did my taxes exceedingly fast; in previous years, it was a very tedious process, usually involving a lot of typing, swearing, and frustration – and that was just addressing the envelopes. Though I meticulously followed the software and triple-checked it, the IRS said my refund had to be adjusted. Whether it’s worth arguing over depends on whether my hold on sanity is firm the day I receive the letter to challenge their adjustment.

“The chickens came home to roost. Or so they thought… the smell of fried chicken soon permeated the air.” -X

Last week, very early in the morning, as I rounded the corner of the apartments near the trail by the hospital, I found three bags stuffed with personal items. Though there was no one there along the fringe of the building, I surmised that someone had slept between the minimal hedging and the brick wall. I saw someone there the following day, and I left them in peace. When I passed by again, they were gone, but the bags were still there. I left a gift for them next to their bags. I’ve not seen the bags since. I wonder about them each day.

I keep learning that being clear and honest still likely results in a mess. It doesn’t matter what your motivation is or how concisely and openly you share; the odds still dictate that things will likely spin away from you. Likely, there’s nothing you can do about it. So much of the outcome depends on the other mercurial person. Not stating your truth will just as likely cause you to bubble over unexpectedly when the pressure to speak overwhelms you. As hard as it is, between the two options, it’s always better to just state your truth when you feel like you need to. It won’t feel like the best option, though. Most of us are hard-wired to put off what plagues us until it seeps or explodes out. It’s important to remember that the feelings you bury are still alive under all the layers.

Wine ice cubes are fantastic. Not only do they go well in actual wine, but they also can be used as needed when you want wine to cook with. Don’t “at me,” either, saying that ice cubes in wine are uncouth. There are no actual rules regarding taste, cooking, or eating. The sooner we abandon that nonsense, the better off we’ll all be. And happier eating macaroni over the sink – or a bowl of cereal for supper. One wine ice cube is much better than a cheap grape popsicle, too. In my opinion. Adult note: if you drink enough wine, your appetite will likely go away. And your ability to cook coherently definitely will.

“Wisdom teaches us to be patient with the ridiculous setbacks we’re all going to encounter. It also somehow still fails to prepare us for being surprised by how people will act.” – X

Not everyone is wired the same way sexually. That’s to be expected. But if you’re a sexual person and not being intimate, consequences to your quality of life or well-being always follow. It doesn’t mean that sex is an overwhelming or inflexible motivator; it just means that human behavior will succumb to the urge toward intimacy. People need to stop being ashamed of their essential needs and how they practice and define them. Sex is the big mystery that permeates our lives in multiple ways – yet most of us have a completely mistaken idea of how other people live sexually, much less how to be happy with our sexual selves.

My therapist told me that in one of my first sessions, I said this: “Isn’t it odd how most of our need to look presentable isn’t really so we’ll feel good about ourselves. It’s because we are leaning into the idea of spectator attractiveness. We want to look good to other people. Because if not, generally speaking, we’d all dress comfortably and not think much about hair, makeup, shoes, or how we are perceived. Absent the expectation of attractiveness and left to our own devices, we might be a lot less preoccupied with appearance and happier as a result.” I could be wrong, but it seems to be true generally.

You can drive around the roundabout 17 times if you need to. Likewise, you can fail as many times as you need to or have to until you finally make the turnoff. It’s where you end up that matters, anyway. It would be nice to avoid a convoluted, circuitous path of errors, but life tends not to work that way.

“You’re not afraid of being alone in the dark. You are afraid that you might not be alone in the dark.” This isn’t my quote. It does demonstrate how our fears and thoughts overtake us.

Male secret #34: most men do not care if a woman’s legs are smoothly shaved. Or if their nails are painted, their blouse, shoes, pants match, etc. The enthusiasm of presence derails all those concerns. I’m not sure you should trust a middle-aged man named X or not – but this is true.

Rule of Presence: each of us will jump to hold the door for another person, but we will move heaven and earth to stop someone from passing us on the road.

I’ve put up three ‘fake’ streets signs in the last couple of months. All of them are still posted. PS If you want to do it quickly, have the sign made prior to showing up, with the bolt already through it. Since most street posts have multiple bolt holes, push the bolt through and twirl the nut on it quickly. Also, did you know you can order a custom street sign easily? If you’re bored, google it. It’s no accident that 75 mph is a great sign to add in Johnson. (I didn’t do that one due to public safety concerns. And the lack of a sense of humor with traffic enforcement there, now that I think about it.)

Another one I stole from the internet: “Each and every selfie is a picture of perhaps your own worst enemy.”

It’s been about six months since my surgery. It’s been the longest ten years of my life. I’m still thankful to be here. But I can’t escape the idea that I’d be a lot happier with a check for one million dollars in my wallet. I might not ever cash it.

Love, X
.

Try This On For Sighs

Well, I wrote a country song, if you can believe it. The song is just banjo, piano, and guitar; the guitar is loosely tuned to mimic a banjo’s jangly feel. It’s an imagined moment, making it more tangible than a memory. One of these days, I will sing it, though your ears might protest.

Try This On For Sighs

I turned on the radio, hearing lyrics nostalgic and free
Conway, George, and Charlie telling us simple stories
invoking us to live by life’s happy and simple decree

family to give us community
friends to give us companionship
and one to share our vulnerable soul

come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong

I walked by the closet, you standing like a dare
facing the mirror, nimble bare feet on the floor
black dress draped against your body, shoulders bare

the memory of your departed mom flooding your candid eyes
I could picture both of you silhouetted there, and still
your shared beauty an ongoing and persistent surprise

your chin and neck trembled with the painful past
you turned and smiled willfully in my direction
knowing I witnessed the overlap of time, recast

you tossed the garment aside, your eyes locked and wide
“Come here, and try this on for sighs,” you whispered
as the invisible music played, our bodies erased the divide

come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong

In the small space of a closet, time slowed, then stopped
as we laughed, elbows bumping as we twirled
in that closet, the entire volume of the world

….as we sang…

come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong

hallelujah, hallelujah

I haven’t finished the melody, but I wrote this song, something I haven’t done in a long time. When I finished, I realized that it could be both spiritual plea or a personal promise. For those whose lives are filled with God, let that be your premise. For those who love, may this be your optimism and purposeful promise of anticipation of another day. And for those souls who have both? Stand together and watch the sunrise, if you can.

Or the sunset. And be renewed. – X
.
.

hallelujah hallelujah

I shall never know if you’re listening
only that I’m whispering the words

That my life not be made easier
only fuller and always in anticipation

I don’t want to know the obstacles
nor the slap of who will precede me

only that I’ll have one more variable day
before the shadows grow feet and approach me

I make this unrequested promise to you
let me arise and see the sunrise, anew

just one more time, one more snapshot
another measure of loving enduring optimism

and if you do, I vow to sing

hallelujah, hallelujah

not for me, but for you

hallelujah, hallelujah

I shall never know if you’re listening
only that I’m whispering the words

hallelujah, hallelujah
.

Love, X
.

P.S. The picture is two superimposed pictures of a man celebrating both sunrise and sunset. Because the sun never sets upon the Earth, only upon our eyes. So much of us is limited to our narrow perspective, and we grow to trust only the things we can touch – instead of the things we can feel and experience.

Never Veer

I love sharing on social media. I do. It’s personal, revelatory, and I try to be honest without stepping on people. I tend to step on myself the hardest.

I learned to play the game of Chicken with my crazy dad. Do you know what his secret was? NEVER veer, even if you’re going to get killed. He told people beforehand, “I’m not going to veer. I’m not kidding.” And he never did, even when it could have killed him. People learned not to play Chicken with Bobby Dean. Not in cars, not on tractors, not ever. Never veering is a stupid way to play chicken – unless your goal is to stop people from challenging you. There is no truth I will not confide if it is in my heart to do so.

I wrote very personal posts on the 23rd and yesterday. Both were honest and revelatory. The one from the 23rd was an admission that I’m as guilty as anyone about being a revisionist. I’ve not hurtfully crossed the line needlessly about anyone – including my ex-wife. That’s not to say I couldn’t. Two of the components of my post were to mention that I appreciated the good years, as well as to mention that I could have engaged in a flame war during the divorce, even though I bore the responsibility for the mess. It’s okay to need to gain perspective and distance. Even if it makes me the villain. It’s not okay to wipe away the good times, the good things, or the concessions I made to mitigate my self-made disaster.

With my level of humor and stark, combined with my willingness and ability to literally say anything, it would be manifestly easy for me to shatter a lot of illusions and break eggs. Even while still admitting I’ve behaved like a lunatic at times. I’ve been considerate after-the-fact. I can’t erase the past. It’s unwise to argue with someone who buys ink by the gallon, or with someone who will respond to accusations by admitting even worse truths himself. No one can win a “let’s share secrets” war with me. I will go there – not out of spite, no matter how someone pushes me to inflame or respond to fire with fire. It’s a fool’s game, especially after the final whistle has blown. The players should exit the field, hopefully with the goal of learning from what happened. Even if they fouled forty times during the game. An examined life always yields lessons.

People trust me not to reveal secrets they share. Believe me, one of the most satisfying aspects of social media is that many people have shared some of the most intimate things possible using it.

As you’d guess, I caught hell privately for the things I shared. Even the post about my wife who died brought out a level of accusation that surprised me. None of those accusations touch the truth, though. Everyone was kind, loving, and supportive to me for both posts. Well, almost everyone. And I love that. Worrying about the critics is another fool’s errand. Because I’m a fool, I’ve been guilty of that at times.

“You’re the villain in someone’s story” has always been true.

Equally true is that telling me I can’t tell my story isn’t going to end well. I’ll be respectful – but not silent. Trust me to be both honest and responsible.

If you play Chicken with me, I will not veer, now or ever.

Love, X