Category Archives: Opinion

Xmas Love

This is Santa on Dec. 26th.

Unfortunately, it represents a lot of other people, too.

Xmas doesn’t have to wind us up, tear us down, or obligate people to cook, clean, or let the holiday grind them into fatigue.

There’s another way: it is simply a matter of choice and the realization that it doesn’t have to “be” a certain way at all.

For a holiday that’s predicated on the essential spiritual meaning for so many people, I hate watching people get trapped into obligations that sap them. It’s supposed to be full of love, giving, and celebration.

Not exertion. Nor expenditure.

If you find yourself overextended, tell your friends and loved ones. Ask for help. Choose something different. Just be happy with whatever you choose.

If you can’t afford to give a gift, give your time and love instead. Encouragement. A phone call, a card with a shared memory, or a hug for no reason. Good people never fault someone for being unable to spend on them. Our value lies elsewhere. Time and presence are the gifts that enhance us and neither are replaceable.

Xmas can be whatever you want it to be. You can celebrate however you want and in a way that lets everyone relax and enjoy the season.

God’s love is an embrace for so many people.

And for others, it is the presence of people, family, and friends that light them up. For those lucky enough, the season is wrapped with God’s love and closeness with those who energize them as they are.

I hope you find your internal Xmas light this year.

All of you.

If you do, let it shine.

Love, X
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I Asked

I moved my bedroom from the living room into a bedroom this morning. If that sounds byzantine, it was. I’ve lived in my living room for almost four months. I also exercised and then went running. Whether it was toward something or away, I’m not certain. But I ran. And it felt glorious. It was the fifth time this week and the first in a long time where I felt like I might become airborne as I did so. I bought a set of athletic pants that fit me properly. They are 28-30 small adult/child size. Someone nicknamed me “Babypants.” I don’t take offense. I earned the size. And if you see me running and think I’m doing it strangely, that’s more than okay, too. Doing the work and looking stupid is okay by me. I’m going to look (and sound) stupid quite often. I look forward to it. It puzzles me that people are afraid of looking stupid, saying the wrong thing, or believing that other people have the magic formula for style, method, or appearance. We owe it to ourselves to be as strange as we naturally are.

When I got back from running, the husband of a caretaker for one of the tenants here spent his time waiting by blowing the leaves off the walkway. He watched as I ran up and down the staircase a few dozen times. “Getting your cardio in again? I saw you run up from the road.” I laughed. “Well, I have 30 years worth to catch up on.”

Earlier this week, I did a reset and asked the universe for a couple of favors. Not because I’m deserving of them – but because I’m not. It’s the first time I’ve dared to do so in a long time. The biggest ask is that I avoid calamity or demise for at least another year. A year is long enough to transform anything.

In the same way, I’ve diligently said, “I don’t know” with much greater frequency this year, I’ve also started asking. It’s a tangent to my propensity to state my truth without trying to wrangle someone into a specific reaction. It’s been a wild ride! Those who respond with incredulity that I ask are forgetting the fundamental truth: it’s never wrong to ask; it’s only wrong to respond irrationally on either side of the asking. It’s the cousin to honesty, a thing everyone claims to desire yet few embrace without grimace or discontent.

As I write this, someone texted me in response to another ask. Life can be so precious and quixotic at times, can’t it?

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

Love, X
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Dear Fayetteville

If people want to see more positive posts, I have one for y’all. I moved from Springdale a few months ago to an older apartment off of Gregg.

There is theft here, gunshots, and activity around drug dealing that gives me pause. That was true in Springdale, too. Where people live, idiocy follows. The majority of us, though, live great lives as best as we are able.

Fayetteville is a great city, full of amenities, sports, churches, activities, eateries, and trails. On a given day, there are dozens of things to do and see if I choose to.

I’ve met some great people. I love walking the streets late at night or early morning. The trails are gorgeous.

Most of all, I like the people here.

It’s human to complain – and our daily lives give us a lot to find grievances.

When something bad happens here, I never find myself faulting Fayetteville. I fault the specific doofuses involved. People will always misbehave. Municipal governments will always confuse us with their choices. They are comprised of individuals, each prone to information overload while attempting the difficult task of finding ways to meet the changing needs and demands of all of us who live here.

Fayetteville is a great city, one with issues, but also one with much to offer.

I love reading the posts on this group, especially when people snark with wit and abandon. Humor helps us diffuse the mess of our daily lives.

If I meet you on the street, I’m going to say “Hi.” Or “DiGiorno,” because it sounds like the Italian word for “Hello.” Being weird fits well here.

I think of Fayetteville as a marriage. We’re willingly here. Sometimes, we love our homes and neighborhoods. Sometimes, we want to sleep on the metaphorical couch and shout at the goofiness we deal with.

I chose a picture of my mundane surroundings. It’s easy to take Kodak moment pictures of the place we live in. But most of my time is spent in my neighborhood. The trail is nearby. And the people that make life interesting surround me.

Thanks, Fayetteville
A New Resident, X

Taste Torture Love

During the cheesecake fiasco at Whole Foods the other day, I bought a reasonably-priced jug of protein powder. I should have known!

Anything reasonably priced at Whole Foods is 100% a mistake. Trust me.

It’s like buying your auto insurance from a guy named Honest Pete. You just don’t do it.

This brand is plant-based. Today, I made ten servings of it. The label said “French Vanilla.” The flavor is so opposite the label that I decided it is a new form of reverse marketing.

I made mine with skim milk. When I took the first gulp, the truth is that I thought it tasted like a chalky fart.

Yes, you read that right.

You know how you drive past a weird part of town and realize that the municipal wastewater treatment plant must be nearby? It was exactly like that but without the nostalgia. You have to drive a mile to rid the smell from the interior of your car.

The grit and residue left in my teeth was remarkable. Had someone thrown an urn of ashes in my face, I wouldn’t have noticed, probably even if threw the actual metal urn in my face, too. I decided that it reminded me of a mix of flatulence, diet tonic water, black licorice, and the tears of Tibetan monks.

As I stood there drinking it, I read the label. I couldn’t find “bile” anywhere in the list.

By the time I finished the serving?

I realized that it tastes so terrible that I LOVE it.

Just ignore me if I swallow and shiver as I imbibe it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I grow horns or an extra ear after drinking this stuff.

It’s rancid. I’ll buy it again if I catch it “on sale” at Whole Foods. Or possibly in their dumpster. Yes, I’m conflicted!

Love, X

Cat Mitten Life

I don’t want to live in a world where someone doesn’t invent cat mittens or broccoli-flavored chocolate. Enough with the conventional, as if we all enjoy the same level of normalcy. Without the zany, my life would be miserable. And stop arguing about the ‘best’ foods. There’s no such thing. We are all individuals and taste is wildly subjective, as is taste in hair, purses, clothing, cars, furniture, music, and lovers.

Can we instead talk about the things and people each of us loves, in our own way, and the people that light us up?

And while we’re at it, buy each other some cat mittens.

Living seriously is something that we can all agree is for the birds, the kind that swoops down and releases upon our heads.

Love, X
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Life Doesn’t Wait

I stood in the gravel, looking toward a mixture of history and nature, my head overwhelmed with the fact that just twelve days earlier, I thought I might die. I watched the sunlight through the trees and listened to the background of insects and the bustle of distant voices. The blanket of joy at just being alive and in such a beautiful place flooded me so overwhelmingly that I could barely muster the strength to film myself talking. I stopped filming when I felt my breath catch and the certainty of tears choked me. I’ve watched the clip several times over the last few weeks; each time, I reconnect with the gratitude of such a moment. No one has seen this clip. It’s not because I’m worried about how I look or sound; rather, it’s because I know that no one would recognize how much it took to just say the words without succumbing to the emotion.

It’s 52 days since my surgery. It’s been a year of moments in the interim. But I go back to that Sunday afternoon, knowing I’d be around to figure out what in the hell I am supposed to be doing. My experience was just a blip compared to what others are struggling with. I am so grateful for that decision to visit the place in the woods, so close to so many people and history.

Nevertheless, here’s the takeaway: people are the answer. Not places. Not moments. Sharing your time with friends and loved ones.

Your surprise will come soon enough. It’s inevitable.

If you can, appreciate what you have, who you are, and who you’re with.

Love, X

P.S. I’ll put a picture I took of my surgery incision from the bed when I fully woke up in the comments. It motivates me to overcome my anxiety.

Toil

Take note, fellow travelers.

For a moment today, I temporarily forgot that being able to be back at work is a gift among possibilities.

While you labor, I hope it is a fair exchange for another priceless day, gone forever.

That while you work, you find a way to express yourself, appreciate others, and be yourself as much as you’re able.

And if you don’t, that the toil provides you with what you need to replenish your body and home.

If you’re lucky enough, may you find a way to flourish and earn.

If that’s the case, don’t forget to be grateful.

We often confuse ourselves by failing to appreciate that our jobs give us the ability to do things we need and love.

You have about 11,000 workdays if you’re a typical worker.

May you find the balance between work and home.

And the strength to do it again for all your tomorrows.

Love, X

X’s Advice Column

This is an unusual post for me. Someone asked me for advice that I wish I could give everyone.

“Romantic love is a mental illness. But it’s a pleasurable one.” – Fran Lebowitz

“It is not love that makes a relationship complicated; it’s the people in it who do.”

A secret for younger people to adopt: if you’re interested in someone, the truth is that you should just say so, simply and without ambush. All mature people will respond rationally to such interest. Those who don’t aren’t people you’d have success with anyway. It’s never going to be easy to put this into practice. Even the most beautiful and outwardly successful people find themselves tongue-tied and filled with doubt. If it’s hard for them, it ain’t going to be easy for you, either. If you wait until you’re older or when you think you have a handle on things, it will be too late. Life’s intense muck will trap you into indecision and inaction. And yes, you’re going to get shot down for reasons that are entirely out of your control. But guess what? You’re living an authentic life, and you’ll find the people you need by being authentic. If you express interest, you are sharing YOUR feelings and opinion, which is always a healthy practice if you’re doing it responsibly. It takes a lot of practice to handle rejection, and possibly only sociopaths are unbothered by it; it hurts us all to varying degrees. But I can tell you that the answer to every unasked question is “No.”

“I suspect the secret of personal attraction is locked up in our unique imperfections, flaws and frailties.” – Hugh Mackay

“I don’t always know when someone is attracted to me, but when I do, it’s two years later.”

No matter which course you choose, some people are going to dislike you for no reason that you can control. Some people think that Tom Cruise is ugly – or that Lada Gaga isn’t pretty. If they have detractors, there’s no chance in Hell that you’re not going to have them, too. Even if only 1 in 100 people accept your interest, that’s a lot of possible friends or romantic entanglements. Many people you find attractive will be filled with so much self-doubt and dubious past experiences that it will be difficult for them to accept your truth at face value. As people age, this tendency strangles most people.

“I know I’m a handful, but that’s why you got two hands.”

There is no such thing as universal beauty. More importantly, there isn’t one for attraction either. Much of what we overthink boils down to some intangible feeling we have about someone else. A big part of the beauty might be obvious; that’s not always the case. For every taste and preference, there is a fan. Thin, oversized, bald, prominent nose, mustache (man or woman), tastes vary wildly. It helps to remember that you shouldn’t assume that anyone has a fixed idea of attractiveness, especially compared to everyone else. No matter who you are, it’s overwhelmingly probable that someone thinks you’re interesting. If they tell you so, take note.

“Relationships all start with, “Can we talk?” and end up with, “We need to talk.”

It isn’t about relationships. This is about attraction. A secret that will violate a lot of what you think you know is this: you don’t have to buy expensive presents, plan complicated meals, or jump through the hoops you think you do to spend time with someone. Just tell the other person your interest and intentions. That’s it. If they feel the same, you’re going to shortcut all the needless roundabouts to shared time and presence. And if you’re lucky, the attraction will blossom into mutual affection. At a minimum, you’ll get to know another person. You might both mutually flee in terror, but that’s beyond your control at the beginning. You not only have to break the ice, but you also have to dive headlong into the water to find out.

“He gave her a look that you could have poured on a waffle.” – Ring Lardner

“One rarely falls in love without being as much attracted to what is interestingly wrong with someone as what is objectively healthy.”
― Alain de Botton

Love, X