career · change · despair · faith · fear · hope

Rock Saves.

As you may have noticed by now, I’ve been in a bit of a maudlin mood since attaining a job in retail. Since that time, in the last week alone, my sponsor had to let me go in order to focus on her own healing work, I got a traffic ticket while on my way to visit a pregnant friend, and my four stalwart neighboring trees were torn down. 
Plus, I slammed my pinkie in a drawer. 
It’s been a No good very bad day, and you can call me Alexander. 
It’s been pretty bad, and even before the tree massacre, I was on the phone with a friend saying that it felt like a series of trap doors: just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. I wouldn’t be surprised for “The Big One” to hit, or my car to break down. 
That said, yesterday, in a funk over the trees (read: hysterically crying over the loss of everything solid in my life — yes, perspective is a lost art), I drove my car in to work instead of taking public transportation. On came the NPR, because it’s what I usually listen to in the car. 
But it wasn’t right. Sure, it’s informative and I enjoy it in a way, but it’s not fun. It’s not uplifting. Unless it’s A Prarie Home Companion. 
And so I put on a CD of one of my favorite bands, playing one of their most famous live sets. 
I immediately pressed through to one of my favorite songs, one I can count on as an uplifter, and as the song progressed, I turned the volume louder. And louder. 
As I sat in that toll bridge traffic, I began to sing along. I began to smile. 
I played a series of 4 songs, the last one on repeat as I climbed the circular parking garage. And I felt better. 
I have this kind of amnesia when it comes to music: I forget that Rock Saves. 
I can go for weeks without music, maybe a few songs on the radio here and there, but not volume up to 40, ear-ringing, loud singing, smile-inducing music. 
I felt transformed by the end of my trip from Oakland to San Francisco. If there were another trap door opening beneath me, I felt as though the music was giving me upper body strength to cling to the sides of the trap, and hoist myself out. 
The trap may be open beneath me, and it is always an option to fall in, but somehow I felt like I was climbing out of that one. That, for that morning, that previously sob-fest morning, I was not going to continue on like that. 
I parked my car and walked toward my job with an actual jaunt in my step, and a bit of that subversive, “I’ve been listening to music really loud,” half-grin on my face. A cute 20-something said hi to me as I jaunted down the sidewalk. 
I’ve been walking to work looking solely down at the sidewalk, internally commenting the awful smell of human waste. 
Yesterday was a different morning. 
Sometimes I feel like I could be diagnosed with manic-depression, the way I can swing from despair to hope! But, perhaps it’s normal. And I’ll never really know, honestly. 
When things are going well enough, I never feel the need for anti-depressants, and even when they’re not going well, it’s always temporary, and not debilitating. 
So, maybe, simply, Rock Saves. 
Maybe, simply, I have a fount of resiliency that I only seem to find in desolate moments. 
Yesterday, as I drove to work, I drove through a portal of grace. 
Things are not different. All the externals remain the same. 
But I have that grin on my face. And I’ve been singing in my car. 
career · despair · perspective · recovery · self-destruction · self-esteem · self-worth

Vision Quest




I was talking with an acquaintance the other day about what
I know to be true. I know that, up or down, since I left my home at the age of
23 I have always had a safe place to live. Everything else in my life — job,
money, friendships, romance — can be in upheaval, but no matter what continent,
coast or city I find myself in, I manage to find a safe and comfortable place to
My acquaintance said, for him, he knows that all he
needs is a rucksack and he’s fine.
We’re at different places and have different needs for sure.
But it causes me to think about my assumptions about my
life. I have this assumption, this belief and history to back it up, that I
will always be taken care of on the home front.
I also have assumptions and belief and history to back
it up that even though I don’t know how, financially, I always do land of my
feet. But that usually it takes a long while, and the outcome of that is not
always what I want to be doing, but I am eventually safe there, too, even if a little battle-weary.
I also have other beliefs and history backing up my
assumptions: I don’t know how to live a balanced life. I don’t know how to
have a relationship. Or how to earn enough to support myself in a field I love.
I have beliefs about myself that keep me stuck. And what
I then have is entitlement.
Someone should tell me what I should do, because I don’t
know how.
I’ve been looking back at some of the writing work I’ve
been doing lately, finally moving on past the section on amending
relationships in my life, and in my prior writings and inventory work, I read that entitlement around jobs comes up virulently.
And only a few days ago was I able to see that for me,
entitlement is an outcome of hopelessness. I can’t, I don’t know how, I’ll fuck
it up – you do it for me. You make it work.
Another thing I noticed in my writing was how some of
my despairing fears have dissipated since I began that inventory work over 6
months ago. Some of the same haranguing thoughts about my own ability to speak
up for myself, to follow my dreams, to do things I don’t know how to do have
been challenged since the time I’ve written them.
Since the beginning of 2014, when I decided I was going to
make a go of this acting thing, I’ve been in 4 plays. That doubles the number
I’ve been in since 2006. I made a decision and followed it up with action. I
didn’t really know what I was doing. I took a few classes at Berkeley Rep that
I didn’t find altogether transforming; I found a proper headshot photographer;
I replied to audition calls.
I have been stalling on putting myself out there for my
essay tutoring work, because I don’t know how to do it.
And this leads to a feeling of, If it’s supposed to happen,
then it will. It’ll just happen.
A friend calls it “going rag-doll on G-d.” Okay, you want
“surrender,” you want me to let go of my plans because my ideas are limited by
my fears? Sure – here, you have it. You
drag me along into the life I want to have.
The point is, there’s a difference between surrendering and
giving up.
This blog is a little all over the place today, but so’s my
Basically, I have some beliefs about my life, like my home,
that make me feel secure. I have other beliefs about my life, like my earnings,
that make me feel uncertain and hopeless.
There’s really no reason for the difference, except I
continue to reinforce them both. I am blind to the changes that occur in and
around me when it comes to perpetuating my negative beliefs.
But looking back at my work from 6 months ago, acknowledging
the success of following a dream, I really have to acknowledge that I don’t have to do things the same way, right? I
do have to let myself see
that I’m not as helpless as some part of me wants to believe, right? I do have
to accept that I’m not as broken as I want to believe, right?
And, so this is the work, now. To pull back from the chatter
which causes me to stagnate and become paralyzed against action. The work is to
see that positive beliefs exist within me, and to let those fuel my action
toward my next place.
I am not stuck. I am not helpless. I am not depressed,
deficient, or despairing. I am only short-sighted. 
And for that, I can get better glasses.

change · confidence · despair · self-acceptance · self-worth · work

Answering the Caterpillar.




Yesterday afternoon, I drove back from the dentist and
stopped to pick up lunch and a drink before I returned to my final afternoon at my job.
As I stood on line at Peet’s coffee, the tall cute guy
behind me rifled through his pocket, and out fell a green Crayola marker.
Without a cap.
This only happens to two types of people: wackos, and
teachers. I took the risk.
He replied he was a teacher. And then came the most dreaded
question on the face of my earth:
“What do you do?”
It’s one of the first questions people ask when they don’t
know one another. It’s a function of the desire to orient and locate you on the web of
society and potential commonality: What do you do for a living?
And, honestly, the idea of answering this question has kept
me from dating. Because what people are asking is not simply where are you
employed, (to me) it’s asking if you are
employed, what your social status might be, what your interests are, what your
value of your self is.
They are asking, Who are

And I haven’t wanted to answer for as long as my response
has been, I’m a glorified secretary.
Sure, over the years when I’ve spoken to friends about this,
they’ve replied, you don’t have you put it like that. You are a marketing
specialist, you are in customer service, you are an executive assistant, an
education administrator. You support the people who make things happen, you run
offices, you hire and fire people, organize office events, facilitate publications. You reconcile expense reports.
And, the point is that I
haven’t felt comfortable telling others that’s what I do for a living.
Because it makes me feel less-than. Because I interpret what
I do as not good enough for me. Because I feel that it doesn’t speak to all
that I am as a person, and surely, answering that one question for anyone is never an indication of who they are as a whole.
But, I have felt it a pretty good indicator.
I am small. I have zero power. I do boring repetitive tasks
while chained to a computer desk. I get condescended to and underestimated. I have the copy machine repair man on speed
Get out of here!
I don’t want to be that person. Because, I’m not that
person. It’s stuff I can do, but it’s not all of me.
Perhaps, though, it means that I need to hold others’ answer to
that question more lightly, because I’ve only had one answer to that question
for a very long time, and it’s never spoken to who I am as a person. So maybe I
can be more open-minded toward others whose answers don’t titillate me.
But, whatever comes of my relationship to others’ answers, I
know that I haven’t been able to budge my relationship to mine, no matter how
much work on “self-acceptance” and “perspective” and “gratitude” I’ve done. And so, the only thing to do is to
change my answer, not my relationship to it. Yet.
So, yesterday, when cute, marker-covered dude looked into
my eyes, and asked me what I did, I was able to answer easily, truthfully,
and proudly: I’m a teacher, too.
(you know, part-time, after school two days a week, but,
it’s a start!)

alcoholism · change · choice · community · despair · recovery

The Bomb Squad.




Paying rent is a choice, she told me.
Um, What?
Sure. You can choose to pay your rent or not. If you choose
not to pay rent, you face those results. If you choose to pay, that has
different results. But it’s still a choice; you do have power here: where would you
rather spend your money?
I was about 2 years into actively looking at my numbers and
money, and back at the beginning of some work around my relationship to money,
being broke, struggling, restrict & binging (aka depriving & then overspending).
The pattern that I would fall into was like clock-work.
Every year and a half into a job that I didn’t enjoy, I would begin to feel
frantic. Trapped. Manic. Suicidal. How can I make it stop?, I’d
With no tools or guide, I
would do what I thought made sense: Quit the job.
With no tools or guide, that didn’t really accomplish
much. Except send me back into a different kind of mania and frenzy – now I
had nothing, no savings, no job, and no plan. Three times in the last 8 years,
I ended up with less than $5.00 in my bank account.
Each time, “miraculously,” I would land another job just in
the nick of time. But it would be one job same as the other job same as the
other job.
I had no idea how to break this cycle. I thought I was being
diligent. I would reach out to people before I would quit. I would do
informational interviews, and send out tentative resumes. I would look on
craigslist for “creative” jobs, but would somehow end up at an ad posted by a foot fetishist…
Anything. Anything to
not sit in front of a computer all day, I thought. – Well,
almost anything.
And so about 3 years ago, in despair, I went near bawling to a meeting of
folks who are trying to claw their way out of the pit of debt, financial worry,
self-abandonment. Because, in the end, I’ve learned, it’s a function of self-worth.
So, I began working with a new mentor about a year ago. She
had hopes for me I couldn’t imagine at all. Buying a car to get me to auditions
and band practice, being a big one. Not me. Not people like me. I’m a fuck-up.
I ruin things. I’m broke. Hello?!
But, she held out hope for an idea I could never have
conceived of. And 6 months later, I put a down payment on a car.
A car that takes me to auditions and band practice.
However, it’s not the
rosy scene it seems.
About two months ago or so, the itch arose again, the heat turned up. I
gotta get outta this job
. I’m dying here! GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
And along with that struggle and pain and fury and anguish
again arose the suicidal ideation, because how else can I get out of this
pattern. I am doing all this work, I have a car now, I’m doing shit, but I HATE
MY JOB. I will never end this cycle, and I can’t quit again.
I can’t quit again.
I can’t quit again.
Quitting, for me, is equivalent to relapse. It’s insane to
think it would be different this time. It’s insane to throw myself back into
the cycle. IT’S NOT THE SAME. IT CAN’T BE THE SAME. I don’t have to be the same…
And that’s where the change happened.
I reached out every single fucking day during that period,
texting and calling friends in TEARS, unable to see out of this hole. Telling
them, please please PLEASE help me not to quit today. That I see the insanity of this. That I can’t go down that path
again. That I don’t want to detonate my life again.
I don’t want to detonate my life again.
I like stability. I like the freedom of knowing how I’m going to fill my
fridge and my gas tank. That
mean that I have to do the kind of work I’m doing for the rest of my life, but
right now! for this minute!,
it does.
And please dear god, help me not nuke my life again.
And, you know – I didn’t. 
Because I didn’t, because I sat through some of the most
uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever had, through that pain and frustration and ire
and hopelessness and despair, because others told me that it would pass, because they told me to read the chapter on Withdrawal, because they told me they believed that I could find another way if I just held
tight…. I got the chance to drive a car with a tank of gas and belly full of
food to an audition and land a role. I got to show up for the things that give me zest and zeal
and love and joy.
I get to do that today, because I sat through some of the
worst anguish I know. And I came to the other side of it.
This does not mean that I love my job. It doesn’t mean I
don’t want to do different work. It doesn’t mean I enjoy my job any more than I
did. But it means that it’s not my whole world. And by allowing myself to sit
still, I am available for the other things that feed me. Like groceries.
I have never come to this side of that struggle before, so I
don’t really know what will come on the other side. Except, today, play with my band, tomorrow theater rehearsal, and Monday, a photo shoot.
If I had quit, I couldn’t show up, because I’d be in despair
of not having any money and a frenzy of trying to find work. I don’t like that I have to show up and adjust margins for a
goddamn living.
But by not nuking my life, I get to have a life. 

action · ambition · aspiration · band · commitment · despair · faith · fear · self-abandonment · self-worth · singing · spirituality · truth · uncertainty · vulnerability

Yeah, But…*




Here’s something nobody knows about me: When I access
something very truth-y in my morning journaling, my handwriting becomes
Written like those boardwalk booths that used to write your
name on a grain of rice, I find myself getting really tiny with my words – and that’s when I know I’ve struck
something important. Shh, don’t say it too loud or it might whisk off the page.
Let’s back up a little though.
Yesterday, I got to see my therapist (the Rosen Method
therapist I’m still seeing. Despite my doubts before every time I go, I always
leave laughing that I doubted). We hadn’t seen one another for about a month
due to schedules, so I had a lot to catch her up on.
Last time we spoke, I told her I felt like I didn’t have any
options available to me in dating land. Like Goldilocks, I’d experienced the
too hot, the too cold, but have yet to find the “just right.” I mentioned this
yesterday because I was talking about my job search. I told her that as I was
driving over last night, I realized that it’s not that I don’t have any options
available to me in job land – it’s that I refuse to commit to one path.
She challenged me on this a little, and asked if it was
“refused” or something else. And, surely, it is fear and paralyzation.
Because here is the secret, sacred truth: I do know what I want to do.
I told her that I see my job options like a scene from Sliding
. If you haven’t seen the movie, the
premise is based on Gwenyth Paltrow in one version of her life catching a
subway train before the doors shut; in another version, she misses that train.
At that point in the movie, we follow both these lives and their divergent challenges and
successes (and haircuts). 
I told her I see three options of my job life for myself:
One: Be a Jewish professional, or a community professional,
a leader, an organizer, a bringer-together-er.
Two: Do something counsel-y and social work-y, working
directly one-on-one with the populations I want to serve, particularly youth.
And three.
And this is where I began to cry.
Be an artist.
I laughed through the tears, and said, “Well if tears are
any indication of truth, then the third one’s the charm.”
The third one is also the hardest. Requires the most work,
the most vulnerability, the most action, the most fortitude, and… the most uncertainty.
I told her I’m not willing to be a starving artist. But
perhaps there’s another way.
As a note, by “artist,” I mean in all disciplines, starting
with performance, starting with that Yoshi’s singer I mentioned yesterday.
Starting with that dream.
I think I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been told I
don’t let myself dream. It came up a few times yesterday when I had to correct
my “Yeah, But”s to “Yes, AND”s.
Every time I even begin to think about following this path,
I get buried under a mountain of “Yeah, But”s. I don’t think I need to list
them for you, since I’m sure you have your own bevy that attack your own
So, we/I were careful to reframe them. I told her at the end
of the session that I feel like my whole life has been an exercise in “Yeah,
But.” And she told me that that is changing; that I am changing it.
And it was in my morning pages today that I recorded
something I thought of after I came home yesterday that actually knocked the wind out of me. What I wrote
in the miniscule, micro-truth script:
When we are in alignment with our highest good, the Universe
will rearrange itself to help us.
I don’t have to know how to do this. Because I don’t. What struck me so suddenly and
viscerally were the words I’ve heard repeated for years: When we take one step
toward (G-d / Fate / the Universe / our Highest Good), it takes a thousand
toward us.
I will be carried. I
will be helped. I won’t have to do this alone, because, “When the student is
ready, the teacher appears.”
I was floored by this revelation. I was floored that I
actually heard and felt and believed it. It was a moment of belief.
I take care of the What and G-d takes care of the How. I’ve
heard this for years.
What I have needed to do is admit and commit to the What.
I have “Yeah, But”s coming up as I write this. About money,
and too late, and this is for other people and other lives, and what are you
thinking of me right now as you read this and are you doubting me and rolling
your eyes, and how, and how and how.
Yes, I have doubts and fears. AND. I only have to hold onto
the “What.” I only have to hold on to my dream. That’s my only job right now –
to not go back to sleep, to not abandon my dream, again. To not continue to break promises to myself. To not
drown myself in those fears and doubts. Because
I am trying to live
my truth
. And all this wisdom says that’s
all I need to do.
(You know, along with reaching out, asking for help, seeking
people in these professions, gathering intel, honing my vision, practicing and
learning the fuck out of it AND remembering that the pain of avoiding all this
is SO MUCH GREATER than the pain of trying to do it.)
Molly, you want to be a singer in a band? You want to
perform onstage in dive bars? And at Yoshi’s? And be a lounge singer? You want
to feel proud and full and felt and heard?
All you have to do is say, “Yes.”
*(Thanks, Joel Landmine, for the title grab. See: Yeah, Well…)

action · despair · dreams · fear · friendship · god · miracle · perseverance · persistence · spirituality · surrender · theology · trying · vision

Men at Work.

  2/17/09: G-d Jar Projects:
  – My band
  – my mural
  – the play or musical I will be in
  – the songs I write
  – the essays and poems
  – the bass I play
  – the vacation I take to Hawaii
  – the sketches I make
  – the painting I do
  – the creative job I am making
At the time I wrote this list, none of these were true or in my life. Today, of this task list I wanted “God” to complete, all except two have come to fruition.
It would be a year from putting this list in my “g-d box”
when I would apply to graduate school for creative writing in poetry. It would
be two years from then when I would take my first oil painting class at that
college and start writing my daily blog.
It would be 4 years from putting this list in the jar when
my friend would become a flight attendant, and ask me if I wanted to escape winter and my chemo treatments and go to Hawaii for cheap.
A few months from there, a year ago, I would finally accept
the invitation to be a part of the band my friend had been asking me to join
for years, and actually use the bass I’d bought for $5 when I was 19. And not
long from then, I would begin auditioning and taking acting classes, and eventually be cast in a play.
The only items on this list that haven’t come to fruition
yet are the mural and the creative job.
The mural seems less important than it did 5 years ago, though
it would still be very cool to do.
The creative job “I am making” (whatever that means!) is still in
flux, in process.
Astonishing, isn’t it, that things I had no idea how they
would come to pass have all come to
pass? I could never have imagined when I wrote that list that I would actually
be in a band, or be able to go to Hawaii. Those were
the gifts and “rewards” of successful, other people. But, some part of me has
always believed that I can be one, or they wouldn’t have been in the box.
I love looking at this list. It is so concrete. I can check each off with a stroke of joy and elation: I
painted! I wrote! I acted! I vacationed! WHOOP! Look at me, enjoying a life (in spite of my self).
We all know what I’m going to say: If everything else on the
list has come to pass except the last one, then there must be hope that even
that can come to pass as well.
I am not sure I’m exactly an optimist, but I am a believer
in the efficacy of asking for help, not doing it alone, but doing it. Eventually.
Because, I should mention that going to school has saddled me
with nearly $90,000 in student loan debt and sent me into a recovery program
around my relationship to money and scarcity. I should mention that my airline
friend offered me the trip to Hawaii because I needed a break from cancer. And that I only finally reached back out to my
friend with the band as I was sitting alone and bald in my apartment, listening to a CD,
and busted out crying because I wanted to be a part of something like that –
because I didn’t want to be taken from the chance to have that in my life.
It’s not as if this list got checked off according to the
“easy way,” is my point. It took a lot of work, help, reaching out, despair,
action, pleading, and god damned willing it to be.
I would not have
chosen this route to getting these items checked off, and yet, here I sit
elated that so many of them have been. They say that it’s the journey not the
destination, but these journeys sucked. The routes to getting here, to crossing
off these accomplishments that have brought me joy, were really horrible, scary, and
It’s a strange dichotomy to sit with: The immense gratitude for being where I am, and the questioning
of the benevolence and efficacy of the path that brought me here.
So I guess what I sit with now is whether I want the road
to crossing off the last item on this list – “my creative job” – to be as
arduous as the roads before it. It is true that sometimes we don’t have a
choice, and choices are made for us, but I feel today that I do have a choice
on whether I want to struggle toward this final goal, whatever the
circumstances, or if I want to acquiesce toward it. Maybe not even “acquiesce,”
but move with joy. I mean I have a whole list of accomplishments to buoy this
part of my journey, right? 

Maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t have to be so hard. 

action · career · despair · exhaustion · friendship · hope · hopeless · job · jobs · miracle · perseverance · persistence

"We Need Back-up!"




I have no back-up, she said.
My friend with two kids, impending divorce, move, life,
told me a few weeks ago. Trying to figure out if she could go back east
for a family reunion and see her great-aunt probably for the last time. To
figure out if she should bring her kids, even though she couldn’t afford it.
Trying to figure out who would take care of them if she went, because “he”
wasn’t available.
She felt alone, lost, and hopeless.
When I was leaving, she picked up her phone to check a text.
The kids’ other grandmother would be happy to come up and stay with them, it read. No
Her eyes went wide. She laughed. I laughed. We laughed about
the energy we put into feeling terrible about things. 
A few days ago, I saw her again. She was telling some of our
friends how she’d found a house in the town she wanted to be in because of its school system for her son. I hadn’t heard this part yet. Only how pained she’d been in the
looking, months and months of looking. Fearing, wondering.
She regaled us with how she went online on Wednesday, saw
the house on Thursday, and on Friday, signed the lease.
She told us how there was another house that she really wanted for $800 more a month. The kind of dream house she “really” saw herself living in.
But guess how much the tuition will be for her girl at the
school she wanted to be in? $800 a
The litany of things that lined up were astonishing.
Each little piece of it having fallen firmly into miraculous and perfect place.
Each need met, better than anticipated. And “right on time.”
My friend was ecstatic and a bit winded with all the
resolutions that worked out in her favor. Eventually.
I said that it was like the “Universe” was tittering with a
present hidden behind its back. “Oooh… Look how upset she is that she has
nothing, that nothing’s coming out right – She’s gonna be SO BOMBED when I show
her what I have for her!! What I’ve had for her this whole time — Ha! It’s
gonna be AWESOME!”
And it’s true. It’s not that these things just came about
“miraculously.” It’s that she had been reaching out for help, grasping at any
straws, and finally, some of those straws bore fruit (to mix metaphors).
Desperate and despairing though she was, really distraught
at feeling abandoned by the Universe, lost in this HUGE transition in her life, she was asking for help. She
was taking action.
And that’s what
produced the miracles… to my mind, at least.
I report this whole story, I think, for obvious reasons.
I am currently grasping at so many straws, I could line the Augean stables.
I am reaching out to places I haven’t before, and listening
when people have things to say. (Even if I’ve heard their advice or platitudes
before and are silently telling them to shut it.)
I am feeling so lost and desperate and hopeless and
wondering and flailing and floundering. In short, I am feeling just as she was.
I know that we humans are meaning-making animals. We, or at
least I, want to make sense of
everything, even the things that don’t. So, I know that I want to make meaning
out of her story, make it into a tale of heroic action and
I want to make this story Job. Because if it is, then in the
end I get a flock of sheep, too. 

* Epilogue

Look. I know this sounds like a lot of self-obsessed, self-centered bullshit. I know this isn’t Rwanda, or even East Oakland. I know that no matter what happens, I’ll likely have clean water to drink.

I suppose, having always been a late bloomer, I just am getting an advanced jump on the whole mid-life crisis thing.

I think the argument with authenticity is an important one to have. I think the screamings of a soul that feels trapped is an important one to answer. I get that that looks like a lot of navel-gazing sometimes, and I get the pain all that staring causes in my neck.

But I just want to say that I see both sides, here. I see that I have it immensely “better” than a hundred million people around me. I get that my life is infinitely better than it was 10 years ago.

But, I also have the capacity to listen to myself at a level that I have never been keen enough to hear before.

Last night, someone recommended I read the chapter on Withdrawal in a 12-step book. I did. This “not quitting my job without having another one lined up” thing IS withdrawal for me. It’s causing me pain. It’s causing me to act out. It’s causing me to have conversations and intrigue with inappropriate people, and to eat enough cupcakes to stock a shop.

I’m in pain, and it comes out here. This is my place. I feel badly about putting it up so that you have to read daily about it. But, you don’t have to read. And I don’t have to feel.

And yet. Here we both are. Xo.m

change · childhood · despair · empathy · family · father · fear · forgiveness · loneliness · love · recovery · sorrow

1 + 1 = Forgiveness?




Because he was an electrical engineer and adept with numbers, it was always my father I went to with math homework.
This near-nightly escapade always took the same tired route:
My dad trying to explain to me a concept that was assumed, understood, and so
ingrained for him by now that he couldn’t
explain it properly, and his getting frustrated when I couldn’t understand what
for him was plain and evident.
I would get frustrated at his impatience, and the fact that
I had to do this homework so I had to sit with him. And eventually, we’d become locked
in a battle of wills so contentious, we’d end up screaming at each other.
We call this 4th grade.
My brother told me a little more than a year ago, when I was
going through chemo treatment and my dad was unable to show up for me, that
what I was asking my dad to do (show up emotionally) was like asking a crippled
person to walk: It’s impossible. It’s unfair, and it’s presumptive.
The same assumption that my dad had about teaching me math
concepts, the ease and obviousness and facility he had with numbers, I have about emotional matters. I simply assume that because this is something so damned simple and easy for me, even
when it’s painful, that
should be able to do this.
I am making the exact same mistake he did with me: I am
shaming someone for something they are not able to do.
So, when I contemplate following up my dad’s return
voicemail from Father’s Day, I have found that I want to do what I always want
to do: Hash it out. EXPLAIN to him what
is so obvious to me: I needed you to show up for me, and you didn’t. In fact,
you blamed me for not being attentive to your needs. And you threw in my face every time
I’ve failed in my life as if that would manipulate me into realizing, once
again, you’re the savior and I’m the fuck-up.
I want to tell him this, of course, in a gentle, loving way,
because then, of course, he’ll be able to hear it and understand it.
If I explain it really  s l o w l y  as if to a child, my dad can’t possibly not
understand that his behavior across the years has been abominable at many times,
and that I don’t like to be in touch with him because of it. That I don’t trust
him because of it.
However. I’m simply expecting what he expected of me back
then: Comprehension.
No Comprende, Mamasita. He don’t get it. He won’t get it. And you can sit with as many graphing
calculators and pie charts of his behavior and your feelings of hurt and
betrayal as you choose. You can even make a PowerPoint presentation about how
his increased anger and violence was inversely proportionate to your trust of
However. I’d be wasting my breath. And do people even use
Powerpoint anymore?
I still remember concepts my dad taught me about math. I
used the one to figure out a percentage this morning. Somewhere between the
yelling and the tears and the slammed books and doors, I did learn something.
But what was the price of that education?
My dad was not a teacher. And my dad is not an empathetic
person. It just is. Just as a paraplegic, my asking him to do what he is
mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unable to do is unfair of me. My expectations on him won’t make him walk.
I hate relearning this lesson. It too ends in tears most
times. But, today, I do have a choice between struggling to opening his mind, or to simply let him be a cripple and relate to him as such. Because it seems like the person who
needs to learn something is not my dad (someone I have no control over). The
person who needs to learn empathy here, soy yo. 

awareness · career · childhood · clarity · despair · faith · fear · healing · isolation · jobs · recovery · work

The Runaways




I sent out a mass text on Wednesday to several women I know
who’d understand. I asked them to help me not quit my job that day; that for me
quitting without a safety net is equivalent to drinking; that I was at the end
of my rope.
I got several texts back, including from a woman I am only
acquainted with but who I admire, and she offered that if I called her, we
could pray together. Sure, what else have I got?
When I called, I imagined we’d just say some rote prayer that
is common around, but instead, she launched into a several-minute long prayer
personal to and about me. In it she said, to me and to the ether, that this job
is just a recreation of my childhood trauma and neglect, and to help me see
that and heal that. She said many other loving things, but this is the part that
has been sending shock-waves through me the last few days.
I’ve “gotten” that my relationships in the world tend to be
mirrors or recreations of older, historical relationships. It’s been clear that
my acceptance and pursuit of jobs that make me want to cry with frustration
over the hemorrhaging of my time is a pattern of low self-worth and despair.
However, there was and is a new level of understanding – an
“aha” moment if you will (not gag) – as I listened to my friend’s prayer. How
is my job a recreation of my home life
growing up?
Well, at home, I was a runaway.
When I was little, I only did it twice. I got as far as our
public library, with a small backpack filled with maybe an apple and a
sweatshirt. But at 7 or 8 years old, I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have a
place to go, there was no where to go. And so I defeatedly walked back home,
and slipped into my house, where no one noticed I’d been gone anyway, just like
the time before.
In my home, my gifts were not encouraged or noticed; there
was an unstable force that expected perfection, meekness, and to be obeyed; and
finally, all of my most basic needs were met. I was fed, clothed, and housed —
anything else was bonus, not to be asked for and not to be expected.
(It wasn’t prison life, I know; but this is the
interpretation and internalization of a small person with a brain that analyzes
and makes judgment.)
So. How have my work environments been a reflection, a
recreation of this initial home environment?
Perfectly. Perfectly parallel:
Basic needs met. Check.
Gifts not seen or utilized. Check.
Perfection and meekness expected. Check.
Unstable authoritarian. Check.
And finally,
Somewhere I run away from. Check. Check, the whole of my life, check.
I have held 6 jobs in the past 8 years.
Each year and a half or so, I become so frustrated with the
confines of my environment and the yearnings of my soul, that I quit. I quit
without a safety net. I quit with nowhere to go.
And so I do what I did when I was young: I go back home. I
find another underearning, underbeing, dissatisfying, deadening, useless position
that also meets my very basic needs and has a few coworkers to be my allies.
I keep this job until I end up crying in my car for an hour (See: this Tuesday). And then I quit again.
Rinse. Repeat.
So, today, I am attempting with every fucking fiber of my
being not to quit. Not to start the cycle again without a plan – without
someplace to go. Without someplace to go that is “right,” that is safe, that is
not running from the frying pan into the fire.
For me, to quit a job without a safety net – meaning,
another job or enough savings to carry me through to another job – is tantamount to drinking. And as a sober alcoholic,
that’s a pretty serious parallel. It is deadly for me to do this again:
 I eventually begin to think about driving into oncoming traffic. It is insane for me to do this again and expect that in any way
it would be different than before.
So, what is my solution?
I have tried every mode of visioning, job window-shopping,
informational interviewing, praying, meditating, and begging known to me to try to “conjure” or land on or decide or realize or discover
what the job, the career, for my life should be. And I have landed on nothing.
I am absolutely blocked in this area of dreaming.
A therapist once told me that I don’t let myself dream.
And this is true. Why dream, when it’ll be taken away or
I’ll fuck it up anyway, which amounts to the same thing?
I had a moment last night when I heard someone say that “we”
are the kind of people who try to get away with doing the least work.
I thought about that. Why is that? Because I completely identify with that.
I leaned to my friend on the left, who identifies with that
way of being, and asked, Well, what about workaholics?
I leaned to my friend on the right, who is a workaholic and would no more do the least amount
of work necessary than eat sand, and asked her about it.
Later, in talking with her, I’ve come to see that although
the routes are very opposite, the motivation and the fear is the same for both
“underearners/under-be-ers” and for workaholics: Things are not going to work
out; I’m not going to be okay.
For the set that does the minimum, the fear (for me at
least) is that whatever it is is not going to work out anyway, so why try? Why
give the world the satisfaction of seeing me put effort in, if it’s only going
to turn to shit?
For the workaholic set, the fear is that unless I have my hand in everything, it’s not going to work
out. I must make sure that I’m doing everything possible, or it will turn to
In both these scenarios, the fear is that the result will
not be favorable to us. On the one hand, why try to make it work – on the other hand, make
In both cases, there is a lack of faith in the positive
outcome of things, or in an outcome that is unfavorable but doesn’t demoralize
and crush us into smitherines. Because,
for me, that’s the final stage of the fear – I will be so demoralized, I will be
But aren’t I there anyway?
So, again, what is the solution here?
It seems to me, that I needed a safe place to go when I was
running away. And although I cannot conjure or envision for myself a job or
career that I want, I do think that I
can try to envision for myself a safe home.
Though, even in my home life now, I’ve recreated what it was like when I was
a kid: My own small room that was safe, filled with things I’ve made and pretty
things, a place I could hide, be myself, and a place where I was mostly alone.
What is a real safe
place, not like this isolation? Where would I
want to run away to?
I believe that as I try to answer this question, to envision
what an ideal safe home looks like, I will begin to have movement on the job
front. I will begin to create that environment I crave in the external world. And though that might not mean a lightning bolt in terms of a career
choice, it may help to make whatever my next transition is one that I don’t
have to run away from.

authenticity · clarity · confidence · despair · self-love





This morning, I imagined myself going into my interview for
the “Gold/Coal” job tomorrow morning. Going in as I felt at the moment I was
reflecting, hunch-shouldered, weary. Why do you want this job, they’d ask? For
the money, I’d bite into a lie that would instead say something about
supporting the education of children, though I would have zero direct influence
in that education.
I imagined the gray, and lonely march, with the exterior
painted for display.
Somewhere in my reflections this morning, I remembered what I
always seem to forget: I am a witch. 
I am a shaman warrior goddess. And like many of the women I
know who are, I do not fold into a box of forget-me-yes’s.
Raise your brows if you like, but I forget, with apparent
force, that I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to subsume my person. I don’t
have to abandon myself.
What would a witch do? She would see opportunities. She
would create them.
I don’t know in this instant what that is, but I have remembered that I am a healer, and that I love helping others to heal.
When I was sick, and was tired of others bringing me things
and taking care of me like I had nothing to give them in this world, I hosted my workshop. My
workshop called, Creativity and Spirituality. I sat for an afternoon with 5 women,
and helped them find something in themselves they’d lost or thought they had to
abandon. I am a witch. I am a healer.
I am six feet fucking tall. I don’t have to hunch my
shoulders, and roll over dead for anyone, including for the spite and ire and bile
in my brain sometimes.
It’s shorter, these lapses in memory. And today, I finished
my journaling and meditation with a smile of confidence I haven’t had in a bit. The smile itself may wane, but I hope that the centering thought does
And here’s where the real miracle is: The thought hasn’t
waned. For years now, I’ve eventually come back to that centering truth that I am not powerless and I am not worthless. Sometimes it takes longer than
others. But after seriously considering this morning whether I should go on meds, something else happened. The bottom dropped out of my
short-sightedness, and I remembered that I am not as narrow or narrowly defined
as a drone, the drone I’m trying to prove to someone else they want to hire me
to be.
Who knows. Is that more school in some kind of healing art,
is it running my workshop again just to get some spiritual juice flowing, is it
looking back into working with kids in a direct way, revisiting my idea for an
after-school program for them?
I don’t know. But I remember.
And I’ll show up tomorrow, and I’ll place on my lie. I’ll do
it because that stability could finance further education. I’ll do it because I
show up to things and never know how they’ll turn out.
But, unlike when I took the job I have, and cried
mercilessly after work while waiting for the unfailingly 45-minute late bus,
after earning a master’s degree through words and performance that I created,
after accepting what I thought I had to at the moment (and perhaps did) – and one
month later developed cancer … Unlike then, I seem to be remembering that I
have power. That I don’t need to accept a life sentence of menial work, or define myself under such disparagement.
I’ve been depressed because I have thought that to be what’s
happening again. Once again applying to things I don’t want because I want to afford healthy food and visit my mom in New York. Once again, I’m poking around the internet half-heartedly saying, yeah, sure, I can answer your phone and type up your emails. I can hack away my power so you can look good. …
And if it weren’t for cancer, this time might indeed be that away again. But because I am hyper aware and viscerally afraid that subsuming my
light in pursuit of “stability” can cause repercussions of atomic scale, it is
top of mind to not allow myself to shrink into that dull, flatlined human
who trudged her death march to Muni every morning.
What would a witch do? Firstly. She would remember she’s a
witch. Then she would put on high heels.