Category Archives: Social Rules

High-Five For Sadness

I want to start a new trend: high-fiving people when I’m sad upset or angry. That way after I die, people who miss me will look really effing rude talking about me.
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Inaction

In my new life I have countless stolen moments. Both in the late night and in the early morning. Whatever lies next and unseen in the path of my life, I know that these moments will scatter and disperse and become less frequent. I call them lemon moments because they are pungent and sour, but also fill my mouth and heart with delicious taste. A mouth of lemon provides a bite.

As I sit here on the deck drinking a bitterly delicious first cup of coffee, the wind occasionally lifts flotsam that’s been carelessly left outside or deliberately discarded. The lightning and thunder grows closer and the wind increasingly grows in intensity. I can hear raindrops begin to drum on the waiting vehicles. The insects are roaring and providing background melody.

Yesterday, I returned to the creek. Its water had subsided as the flood receded into the past. The water was still cool and refreshing. A single snake slithered across the causeway and into the upper stream above it. A man hollered down to me, warning me of snakes in the water. “Yes, I know.” As if they didn’t belong there and that I were not the interloper into their world. Snakes may bite when startled. It is nothing personal. I wish I could remember that when their human equivalent surprises me with their hurtful way of navigating life.

If I come across as introspective or pensive it is because I am. But I’ve smiled like a fool multiple times this morning. As the fire trucks and police raced past me to a developing emergency, as the wind gusted and spit rain on me, as my cat resisted capture and darted away from me, and as I looked at the bottle lights and my art-filled fence vaguely lit seventy feet away.

I love these early mornings. Projects and activity are waiting for me. I think of Taoism. It is supposed to teach us the lesson of action through inaction. To allow the natural process of life to cascade around us and envelop us. We of course resist, wanting it to unfold in the way that we think is most beneficial to us. Most of us don’t appreciate the lemon moments when they happen.

The news and the world will always disappoint us. It has always been that way. People falsely believe that the good old days aren’t constantly renewed. If you’re wired for pessimism you will find justification. Optimism is knowing that your life is homogeneous and filled with both delights and disappointments. The trick of this dance is to remember to look for the things that light you up or give you a smile and to look away from the things that don’t.

When I took a picture of the bottle light, it was rendered in white. I had to filter the noise to reveal the color. That’s either metaphorical or practical.

As the thunder races and a lightning bolt illuminates the upper reaches of the sky, I am sitting here with myself and my thoughts.

I will stand up and break the spell in a minute.

For now, I look at my cat whose silhouette is comically backlit by one of my bottle lights. He meows at me, asking me for something I can’t decipher.

I can’t decipher myself sometimes. And I love it that way.

Welcome to Sunday y’all.

The minutes are falling away and the day will start whether you want it to or not.

Love, X

Personal Post

This is a post about my past, much of it written long ago. Not to dwell on it, but to expunge it from my head. I am not in this place mentally anymore. I’m actively choosing a reset and finding happiness.

Because the thunderstorm was about to commence, she decided to bring inside the two plastic oval feeders that jutted off the balcony. Instead of placing them on the floor, she put them on the stove. She was drinking, of course, a ritual that started as soon as she came home from work. A routine might have given her sanity, but it erased her ability to live a normal life. Many mornings, she woke up very early and started drinking. “It’s just beer,” she’d say, drinking all day and night.

Much later, I got tired and wanted to lay down. She was in her energetic yet lethargic music mode, cycling through a good yet repetitive list of music from her past. She often spent hours blasting music at high volume. While I loved and enjoyed much of the music, she irritatedly refused to let me pick music almost all the time. She would withdraw into herself as I sat there next to her immobile and waiting for her to engage me. Much less give me affection or attention. She often danced to highly sexualized dances while she listened to music that way. If I tried to touch her or respond appropriately, she would push me away and say, “beep beep.” Later I deliberately practiced asking. The answer was no every time I tried.

At some point, I felt her lay down next to me. As she stumbled up out of the bed, I opened my eyes and for some reason had a little trouble breathing. Light filtered through from wall plugins and light in the bedroom or kitchen. I couldn’t clear my eyes because everything looked cloudy. As she entered the kitchen I heard a strange piercing scream. I literally jumped from the bed, coughing a little. I ran into the kitchen to see her standing in front of the stove. Thick smoke and flames for shooting up from its surface. She grabbed the burning and molten plastic bird feeders as both the feeders and the contents burned. She flung the contents into the sink, onto the floor, and around her. Although I couldn’t understand what was going on, I knew she might be burning herself as she grabbed the molten plastic feeders. I intervened as best as I could and tried to determine if she was burned or injured.

The apartment was filled with thick smoke but luckily the fire had not progressed. The burners were ruined from melted plastic and it smelled pungent from the burning plastic and birdseed.

I looked into the sink. She was so confused that she had confused the round bird feeder with a skillet and had cracked an egg or two into it to cook the egg. And then lay down next to me as the feeder began to burn.

She began to wail and cry in frustration and anger. I tried to calm her but she was wild with confused embarrassment. She laid on the floor half-naked, her robe barely covering her. She screamed and cried in bursts. I was scared for both of us and I wasn’t sure how far down the mental rabbit hole she might go. I have pictures of the mess and it evokes a lot of mixed feelings.

I spent an hour cleaning even as I tried to calm her down and console her.

I finally got her to lay down. The next morning, I changed out her burners with mine. And then went about the long process of cleaning.

Because she stayed in bed really late, hours past her normal waking time, a friend of hers had reached out to me asking if she was okay. I did the best I could to explain away everything and say that she was okay. I chose my words carefully. One of the things that had always stuck between us was that she insisted that our relationship be kept secret from her male friend. It was a huge red flag and I tried communicating repeatedly about it. It’s not her fault – it’s mine. Had I to do it over again, I would have said, “No” at the outset. Despite what she says in her narrative, I carefully navigated the line to let her friend know she was okay but had experienced a brutal night.

I don’t know how to characterize her mental state when she got up. But you can imagine… I had hoped it would be ‘the’ event to get her to stop drinking.

That was also the day she decided to do multiple hits of psychedelic mushrooms.

I was still confused and upset, and also nervous because of what had happened the night before.

Though she had promised me she would have no one else around when she did drugs, the allegedly concerned friend came over without invitation, another thing that she told him he couldn’t do. They proceeded to sit on the floor and cuddle and kiss while I was in the room, repeatedly telling each other how much they loved each other and what their friendship meant. She was deep into her mushroom hallucinations. It did not look like friendly cuddling though. At one point he lay on top of her as she lay on the floor. I had to tell her twice to close her robe because she was exposed.

As a result of the hours of laying on the floor, she had bruises all over her body.

Not only had I survived a near-miss with possible death due to the fire, but I had to witness what I consider to be a nervous breakdown exacerbated by alcohol and mushrooms. Adding insult to injury, I had to witness her being very inappropriate with a so-called friend. She and that friend had previous interactions, as well as interactions with his ex-wife. And although she had friendzoned him, it was obvious that he always wanted her and loved her. You can imagine that internal conflict inside me. Because the intimacy between her and I had come to a standstill, the hurt was amplified. I’d communicated my longing and needs multiple times, each time rebuffed. To see her behave that way with someone who obviously wanted her was beyond indescribable. She definitely did not cuddle with me like that, or tell me she loved me in that way. I tried to interact with her, but she pushed me away and made several hurtful comments ridiculing me. The friend also provided her with a mushroom supply.

Coming out of that confusing night and drug-filled day, the same friend reached out to me. I know that he already knew that she and I were together. Anyone would. Only she believed he didn’t really know. She on the other hand had insisted for months that our relationship be kept a secret from him. No matter how I explained the pain that caused me, she violently insisted. I asked her more than once to just tell him and sort the consequences. This confused me too because she too had been in a previous relationship where the other person was ashamed of her and demanded that she be kept a secret from his life. That evening, because the friend was hinting, I told him that of course, I had been with her all night.

The next day and for days later, even though I had been there for her and cleaned up the incredible mess, she was most focused on the fact that I had allegedly ruptured her demand that I do not say anything about our relationship to her friend. The friend’s possible reaction dwarfed being in a relationship with me.

She couldn’t understand that I had not planned it or the incredible circumstance she had put me under the night of the fire or the entire day with the mushrooms.

Much later, too late, I decided I could not tolerate her secrecy anymore and told her I’d had enough. All the months of me being communicative and honest and open with her had not worked. I should have said no to it all from the very beginning because all the red flags and warning signs were there. Secrecy is always a problem. And that kind of friendship with someone who wants you in that way was always an ongoing problem. It too was exacerbated by the fact that they were drinking buddies and his presence made it impossible for me to be around her when she wasn’t drinking. And it robbed me of conversations that we should have had together. It’s not her fault. It’s mine. I ignored my instincts and boundaries because I loved her and feared losing her and the loneliness that would ensue. I did have multiple conversations with her, trying to explain the hurt that she was causing by refusing to see it from my point of view. It’s okay to have friends, but not ones who spend their fantasy life imagining being with the person you love.

When she stopped drinking entirely, I think she understood the gravity of that night and what she put me through the next day.

I will never forget it.

Part of any relationship is the negotiation of boundaries between both people. I have learned the hard way. It is perfectly okay to have friends, but it is equally true that there has to be a discussion and acknowledgment when it’s not working. And to me the principal ingredient is secrecy. If the interactions are transparent and nothing is kept from the other, it’s healthy. I experienced something before myself that was similar. For 90% of the time, it was just friendly. If the relationship is working and there is physical intimacy between you and your partner those sorts of things almost never cause a major rift. But when one person is not being listened to and not getting what they need out of the relationship, the danger increases tenfold. Not getting the attention you want inevitably leads you to look for it elsewhere.

After the birdseed night, she wouldn’t let me be around him, and she continued to have him over and drink with him. I wasn’t allowed or invited. Anything above board and open would be okay, but to be excluded knowing how I felt was a red flag that I should not have ignored. Whether she sees it that way or not, she was more concerned about his feelings than mine.

My therapist had me write down a bunch of my stories and to see how they looked written out. Had they happened to another person, obviously I would have said that I was being disrespected and to get away until she changed her behavior.

People who knew me asked me why I was dormant some days, with both my blog and social media. I wrote three dozen entries, not with the intent of disparagement. Rather, to get my thoughts on paper and look at them like a third person. It’s a story of constantly asking for attention and affection. And yes, intimacy. Drinking was the third person between us. Her friend was the fourth.

The good thing that came out of it is that I flat out told her I was done explaining sharing my life with anyone I wanted to. And then I wasn’t going to explain or defend her insistence on secrecy.

Having a secret relationship is not privacy. Telling the other person he or she can’t talk to people about the ‘us’ should have been a deal-breaker for me early on. Factoring in that I couldn’t even be around him, much less have our relationship known to him, or discussed after he already knew, seems toxic to me now. She had stopped interacting on social media with me, too, and never publicly acknowledged me. Due to covid and her tendency to be a hermit, drink, and follow a hellacious sleep routine, we did not go out once as a couple.

That night she sat on the couch next to me and texted a previous interest nude pictures of herself, ones I had never seen, that about killed me. She angrily defended it until she stopped drinking. The person receiving the texts is one I had warned her about, and a person who everybody believed that the two of them had an affair. He is married. She also behaved inappropriately with him at work, something that really bewildered me, given how she angrily pretended she barely knew me under the same circumstances. She would die of shock if she knew that everybody knew that she had behaved that way with him. She drunkenly insisted that it didn’t mean anything and that it wasn’t sexual, even though they were beautiful nude pictures of her when she was younger and the language they were using was extremely graphic. She said they were pictures of her before so they couldn’t possibly be sexual. I had the same visceral reaction, in part because she was not being intimate with me for several weeks at that time. It is difficult to reconcile being physically starved while watching the person you want to be with be flirtatious most verbally and physically with other people, much less sexting while you are sitting right next to her and being ignored.

That she had shared stories of being with people she worked with reminded me that words and actions must align. Secrecy should have been my biggest red flag.

I asked her to let me see all those pictures four times. She said she would but never did. When she was angry with me, she insisted that she was going to text me all of them. She didn’t.

She also told me that there was a website out there that a few people had access to, pictures of her when she was younger and very sexual. I never got to see that either, even as other men out in the world had access to them. I can’t believe I tolerated that or that she thought such a repository of pictures and excluding me would be anything other than deeply hurtful. I’m not complaining that the pictures existed. I’m complaining that I wasn’t allowed to see them.

There is no shame in me admitting that her sexuality was explosive from the very beginning. It’s true that it was always while she was drinking. But I had never experienced anything like that. She told me crazy stories of her sexual past. She opened me up to new things. I of course did not begrudge her the past. My arrogance shielded me from realizing that I was just another person in the pattern, one with feelings who was about to learn what it feels like to be slowly starved of those things. And she did starve me. Both for what I call routine affection and physical intimacy. It was a terrible affliction to be in the best shape of my life and to want someone like that and be unable to express it.

I insisted she stopped drinking. And I also asked for more intimacy. She stopped drinking but couldn’t provide the hugs, the kind words, or her hands on me. I hated to give up asking. As it turns out I never got to be with her once when she wasn’t drinking. So I don’t know if her wild sexuality is really a part of her or a residual symptom of something else. I do know that she reeled me in with that wild sexuality. And then turned it off. She wouldn’t hear any compromises, no matter how serious or heartfelt they were on my part. I have a feeling she’s done this before. No one wants a relationship without physicality.

People become more uninhibited when they drink, but just like hypnosis, they don’t do or say things they don’t want to. They just become uninhibited about doing so.

Weeks after she stopped drinking, I found her friend has indeed come over and brought alcohol. She had some. It’s hard to believe that anyone who cared about her would expose her to drinking again. It’s not that he is a bad person – it’s his right to behave as he sees fit. He wasn’t the problem, not in the relationship sense. But to an extent he needs her to be the person she was before, for a variety of reasons. She maintains contact with people who bring discord and needless stress to her life, one that she needs to leave behind to be happy and satisfied.

When I wrote on social media about HSV2, she was not happy. I didn’t name or her or point fingers. I did it because I don’t like secrecy.

My part of the story is mine to tell, even if I do so without naming people or hurting them needlessly.

I tried to show her the normal attention of someone who appreciates her and life. Most of my efforts were treated as intrusions while she drank.

Our biggest problem other than her drinking was that she could not see that I was not exaggerating my need for love and affection. I was made to feel crazy and “extra” for wanting it. I wanted her to be happy and to have a normal relationship. She’s getting older. The old patterns won’t serve her anymore. I couldn’t continue having a life bereft of what most people would consider basic affection and intimacy.

I know this is a rambling, weird post. I’m tired of it mocking me in my draft file.

Another List From Social Media

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I got a dose of humility again.

I patiently explained to the inconvenience store cashier that I wanted a Natural State jackpot multi draw ticket for the next 10 drawing dates. She mocked me, so I explained it again, telling her that it meant the ticket would print with one set of numbers on one line and with a corresponding date range from today and the next nine drawings. She mocked me again and then rang it up wrong. For the first time in several consecutive such encounters, I told her she was going to have to void the ticket. She launched into an angry rant at me and called me an idiot. I told her that I am indeed an idiot but that she should ask her manager how to ring up a multidraw ticket. And then I wished her a good day. I genuinely smiled at her, even as she muttered profanities under her breath.

When I drove up to the inconvenience store, a homeless person was bundled in a white blanket.

When I left, I saw him walk around the back side of the parking lot. Out of curiosity I walked around too. Behind the brick facade containing the dumpster, there was a shopping cart full of someone’s life. Next to it, a closed tent. The homeless person I had followed was not the occupant of the tent.

I shivered with the chilly March breeze.

And even though I was beyond polite to the cashier who mistreated me… Seeing that cart and the tent next to it broke up a stone in my heart.

I don’t have a moral to the story. Just grateful for my life.

Love, X

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I hadn’t seen Max the terrier in a few days. He got excited and jumped up to me to give me hugs and kisses as I petted him…

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That’s the moon next to the stop sign. Sirens racing past, dogs barking, sitting on the patio with my sister as she talks to one of her 300,000 friends. An unexpected life, a moment in time…

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In LR, making sister seem annoyed with me. Enjoying time and also missing home.

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I used my night vision lens to snap this picture at around 6:00 a.m. Scull Creek roars and overflows on both sides of me. The bright moon of course is diffused by the filter but I took a mental snapshot too. I’ll look back in a year and probably feel like 10 years have elapsed. A beautiful moment, full of thoughts and delights for the eye.
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Zen proverb modernized:

A farmer arrives home late from the day in the fields. He finds his wife of 30 years in bed with another man.

“Is dinner ready?” He asked her.

She emerged from the bedroom, hair a mess and bewildered.

“Aren’t you going to ask why I was in bed with another man?”

“Why? Would it change what happened? And I still need to eat.”

Acceptance.

Not defeat.

Life relentlessly marches forward, even as things out of your control happen.

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I finally got the hint and realized that I’m not attractive. My proctologist stuck his finger in my mouth.

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“Rain can’t wash away enthusiasm.” – X

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“Some people at full tables will wish they were you.” – a quote contained in a video sent to me by my favorite cousin. It’s a good reminder that a lot of people don’t live deliberate lives, or the ones they wish contained them.

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Operation Blue Justice is going exceedingly well at work today!

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Dubious~Optimistic FB Post #637: the percentage of known drug dealers in my apartment building is now down to 14%. I’m confident that no one has ever posted this type of statistic on their personal Facebook before.

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If you hear the klaxon call for help, know that I will be there quicker than Metamucil clears out a senior citizen. I will fight for justice and also tacos.

Love, X

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“If you put both arms out, he will hug and nuzzle your neck and face,” the owner of the large dog told me, as I kneeled on the trail’s edge.

I put both hands out palms up. The dog wagged his tail and put one paw on my hands. As I leaned forward, the dog put its nose against the side of my neck and I rubbed its flanks and neck. I laughed and watched its tail wag ferociously.

When I stood up, the dog barked a single time, a pop against the quiet and the dark around the trail.

“He wants another one,” the owner said.

I kneeled and got another hug from the dog.

“If you put both arms out, you’ll get a hug.”

I wish the entire world would stop long enough to absorb that lesson.

Love, X

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I like to get everyone to use hand sanitizer. Not for hygiene, but because it looks like they are hatching evil plans when they use it.

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Güino and I in an imaginary world, where colors blend and bend to the will of those seeing them. Where the sun both sets and rises simultaneously.

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Another famous painting suffers at my creative mercy. 🙂
PS That’s my Uncle Buck in the bathtub behind me.

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“Always wear two socks,” I was taught, so I put them both on one foot for the day. “Be happy,” they said, forgetting to tell us that happiness is being grateful for the opportunities in front of us rather than what we think we think we’ve lost or what we want.

-X

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Two women were jogging on the trail, both with dogs on leashes and flashlights blazing. One of the dogs saw me and surprised its owner by barking and yanking the leash free. The dog continued to bark and ran towards me. I kneeled down and waited to see if I was going to get mauled. The owner shouted in fright, probably assuming I was about to get a bite-sized chunk taken out of my ass. Instead, the dog ran at me full speed and jumped up on me with its paws licking my face. I made a new friend. Totes is his name. The owner was very apologetic. I petted and rubbed Totes until he decided it was time to run again.

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If you wear underpants without pants, they are no longer underpants or under pants. There is a lesson here. And that lesson is that decaf isn’t the same as regular.

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Redactyl got cold and started complaining. I put a blanket on him so he seems to be comfortable now.

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Compared to middle managers, velociraptors are pretty tame!

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My coworker Darian is a big guy. I definitely wouldn’t play seesaw with him.

He was complaining about young women being unable to cook.

Without missing a beat, I retorted, “Evidently young men these days definitely know how to eat though.”

I got a lot of laughter but I deserved a round of applause.

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I sat next to the trail. An enormous blackbird came and sat directly above me, commenting vociferously with a loud cacophonous caw. When I stood up, it looked directly down at me and stared. For reasons known only to the CIA, I talked to it in broken Russian. The bird cawed at me again. It did this all three times I spoke to it. I hated to leave the bird and to return to work. It felt like that bird needed to tell me something. Probably not to talk to strange birds.

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My guardian dinosaur, Redactyl, is a lot happier now that I have bedazzled him. He has the watch because of course dinosaurs have no sense of punctuality. Everything is totally Jurassic for them. He was complaining earlier about not having a hat so I’ll have to find one for him.

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To prove I do have an inner voice that corrects me, I did not post my meme today, the one that said: “If assholes could fly, this place would be an airport.”

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Philosophical observation: without a doubt, horses have to be the most farted upon animal on the planet.

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“A keychain is a ring invented so that you can lose all of your keys at once.” How often do we stop and figure out in how many other ways we’re bundling our lives like keys?

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I am a time traveler, as all we are. It flies past us, our most valuable commodity. Reality is whatever our filters tell us it is. I got a reminder yesterday just how tenuous it all can be.
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My name tag is a funny variation of carpe diem. I’ll leave it to you to figure out what the translation is from Latin. (Carpe culus)

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I hear birds singing hours before the sunrise. And I can imagine why. Someone asked me what’s good about the day. And I smiled and pointed at my curved lips. Enigmatically, I replied, “I brought the day with me.”

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Me and Cookie Monster, imagined inside the famous painting “Rain’s Rustle.” Carry on!

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My therapist recommended that I hold hands at the movies, in order to address intimacy issues. Again, she should have stipulated that none of them belonged to people I don’t know. Goodbye forever, AMC Theaters.

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My roll of 350 HELLO stickers arrived. I am playing the role of Frankie Jane today. And someone surprised me with a hare brooch, making the pun that I did not have enough hair on me.

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I set five alarms so I would have time to sweep off the car. But it was the Fitbit that woke me up. My cat Guino was sitting on me pawing at my arm with the Fitbit. He got his hugs in this morning. So it’s already a good day despite the snow.

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P.S. I had zero problems driving to work in my little bitty car. Anyone who wants to make it to work should depart before the rest of us idiots get out there.

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Despite the amount of sleet that had fallen, I had no problem driving in my small car around 10. It was like another world out there; even the traffic lights cast a beautiful sheen on the crystals covering everything. I felt like I was driving in a secret world, entirely new and refreshed. Tomorrow morning, I might well wake up to a blanket of lord knows what. But for tonight, it was sublime. I’ll remember this for a long time. If I didn’t have to work tomorrow, I would go out and walk a few miles, even if icicles formed on my nose. Feb. 2nd

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“I do all my own stunts, but never intentionally” seems appropriate this morning. Happy Monday!

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In a moment of profound victory, after weeks of doing it wrong, I realized that if turn my gallon of homemade protein drink upside down and shake it, it mixes immediately. I’ve spent so much time violently shaking the gallon, like I was having heroin withdrawals. What else have I been doing completely wrong? I’d make a list, but I don’t have a notepad that long.

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I learned something: when someone says I should walk with Jesus, they should have warned me he would stroll across the lake.

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I really struggled with my lunch. Now I know why. I ordered the pork chops but they accidentally gave me a plate of karate chops.

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When people ask you, “How are you doing?” Interpretive dance is evidently the wrong way to answer.

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The world is two kinds of people: morning people and mourning people.

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P.S. This joke could also be interpreted somberly.

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Because of my ability to explain things simply, the director told me to walk everyone through the basic premise of the new protocol. Using as much brevity and clarity as I could, I extended the middle finger of my left hand and walked away.

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This morning, instead of being productive, I lay in bed, watching the sun through the big window in my bedroom. Guino staked his claim across my stomach and torso. I’m unaccustomed to being lazy. Guino had no complaints. Now, I’m sitting at my desk by the front window, watching the world whiz by and the little birds darting at my feeder. I’m happy, even as life continues to unevenly give me blessings and obstacles.

PS Guino is unhappy again; he’s scratching at the door and singing the song of his people. The landing is calling his name, as the birds chirp and beckon him. Jan 22nd

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With everything going on in my life, I got a horrible reminder of what physical pain is: because I’m chewing gum more, I bit my bottom lip hard twice in the same place with my incisor. It brought blood the second time.

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Ellen DeGeneres quipped: “Accept who you are. Unless you’re a serial killer.”

I don’t THINK I’m a serial killer. It could be my delusion talking, though.

Someone snarked at me that I post too many pictures of myself! And they are right! With that in mind, I of course felt compelled to update my profile picture. Not because I’m too arrogant or because I’m wowed by myself, but because it is important to feel comfortable in my own body. And I do. I’ve changed what I can. The rest? It’s inside my head, where it matters most.

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” Lao Tzu

“Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.”

Love, X

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I’m standing out on the landing. The door is open and Güino is prowling in the dark, furtively looking at me to see how far I’ll let him go. It’s 52° as I watch the neighbors go about their secret business. I have Anni’s Lullaby by Patrick Pietschmann playing on the soundbar. One of the downstairs neighbors looks up with her head cocked sideways, wondering where the haunting piano melody might be coming from. I wave and she nods, then smiles. “It’s beautiful,” she said. I laughed, and the laugh caught in my throat. “Isn’t it all?” I rhetorically asked her. Because most of my neighbors are accustomed to my weird ways, she laughed too. I stand there against the railing for a few moments, thinking about my evening. Surreal is the word that best encapsulates my experience. 54 years old and capable of being surprised. Both by myself and the people around me. I let the song play a few more times, each time letting it punctuate the nocturnal air with a staccato rhythm. Were that all nights were like this. It would be difficult to complain. A day of ice cream smiles, exertion, storytelling, and feeling like I belonged exactly where I was. Jan 18th

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She used my own trick against me. She handed me a white note card. It had 7 words written on it: “People change out of inspiration or desperation.”

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At 4:00 a.m. the mockingbird doesn’t sing. But I can hear it hacking and clearing its throat.

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Here we are, each of us, as the day breaks. All of us have a different view in front of us. But each of us shares a huge overlap of the things we find to be important. I hope your day surprises you in all the best ways. Let this be a subtle morning prayer. Optimism and one foot forward is all you need. Jan 4th

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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.
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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.
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The Target Rule For Women: If you love Target, you can never be truly happy with a man who hates it.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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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.”
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Love, X

Morning

The moon, large and luminous on one horizon, the fireball of the sun cresting on the other. The bridge and the big river below me. Large flocks of v-shaped formations of birds making their way across above me. Because I was playing radio lottery, Wheel In The Sky came on. I absorbed the lyrics in a way that I never had before; the song hasn’t changed, but I have, another mercurial soul looking out on the world. I will be 55 soon. That is an incredible accumulation of thoughts, moments, and love. All the mistakes I’ve made, the stupid thoughtless comments that have escaped my lips, they lay behind me, even as I realize that a cycle of new ones undoubtedly are coalescing to surprise me. Even though the interstate is a lifeless place for many people, it is a conduit connecting weigh stations in life. I am taking advantage of that, measuring and trying to renew my ability to find a way to have a good life and appreciate that everyone else orbiting with me is struggling to do the same. The interstate is indeed a metaphor. We look at it as a necessary means to an end, and often forget that large swaths of our lives are sometimes squandered because we don’t appreciate that most of our life can be missed as we try to get to the next big moment. The biggest moments are inside of us. Ones of appreciation and hopeful wonder. And yes, sometimes discomfort and unfulfilled desire.

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
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Party Like It’s 1582

The time change is supposed to make it feel earlier in the afternoon. By some miracle, I was asleep at 9:07 last night. I woke up at 1:42 a.m. and listened to jokes on Alexa. I did the no-laugh challenge. By the second joke, I was laughing enough to annoy Güino, who attempted to remain motionless and quiet at my knees. His consternation with me was apparent.

My newish downstairs neighbors had visitors last night. I used the tried-and-true “turn the box fan even higher” method to drown them out. It was effective. Standing on the deck this morning at 2:30, I whispered down at a couple of people as they smoked and gossiped outside and below me. One of the two guys jumped. The other one laughed. “I hope we weren’t too loud last night,” he said. “Nah, the fumes from my batch of meth had me hallucinating,” I replied, being as serious as I could. Both of the guys looked at each other and then laughed. My only regret is that I didn’t have a chemistry beaker as a prop to add credibility to my joke.

It doesn’t feel like Monday, and it indeed doesn’t feel like it is March with Spring breathing down our necks. It’s Pi Day. That always strikes me as funny, given most adults’ aversion to math. To me, November 10th would be more fun for Pi Day, as it’s the 314th day of the year on the Julian calendar. Most people don’t know that the Julian calendar reigned supreme until the later 1500s. I love the idea of someone just deciding to add two extra months to a year, or arbitrarily opting to change the year. The effect of this is that many events we have learned that happened on a specific date didn’t transpire on the date we note. In 1582, much of the world simply skipped ten or eleven days entirely; some parts didn’t. While we think traveling across time zones is odd, can you imagine traveling across an area only to discover that TEN DAYS was suddenly missing? In England, Sept. 2nd was followed by Sept. 14th.

Myths about daylight savings time that won’t die: we didn’t adopt DST to help farmers. We’re already on DST for 8+ months a year, so what exactly is “standard time?” The ‘extra’ hour of daylight does not make us healthier or happier; it’s physically and emotionally disruptive to many people.

I left my backward clock an hour behind. It’s a good reminder that it annoys most normal people to look at a backward clock to begin with.

Time is indeed an artificial construct. Keep that in mind as you clock in to work today. If your manager asks why you were late for work, feel free to reply, “I’m taking back my time from 1582. And where’s my pie to celebrate the day?”

Party like it’s 1582. It’s the least you can do to celebrate this Monday.

Love, X