empathy · maturity · middle school

What I remember about 6th grade:

7th-grade-me-1993-94.jpgAt the start of the year, I tried to attach myself in friendship to the new girl in school, since I didn’t feel connected to anybody.  She quickly sensed my desperation and made other friends.

I caught the nickname, “Smolly.”

Two kids started a bet about what I would wear the following day, because my clothing choices were apparently so limited that they could guess what it would be.  (One of them asked me privately to wear what he’d bet on so that he’d win, which is how I found out about the bet.)

After that, I begged my mom to go shopping, which we did at the discount store we always went to, and I bought my first HyperColor shirt — all the rage.  Soon thereafter, a boy in class accidentally got pen ink on it and I got so upset.  He said it was no big deal, I could just wash it, which seemed like a far-fetched idea considering the state of home stuff at the time.

The hypercolor shirt did get washed, but it also got put in the dryer, and the color shift from heat locked the whole thing permanently in hyper-mode, making it unwearable/uncool.

While riding my bike home from Sunday school, I got spooked by a car and stuck out my foot, right into the spokes of my front wheel, breaking 3 bones in the middle of my foot and landing me on crutches for the remainder of the school year.  This meant that at the 6th grade dance, the same boy who bet on my clothes was apparently dared to dance with me…while holding onto the “waist” of my crutches.

All in all, it was a kinda messed up year.  But my teacher, I remember being fine — meaning I don’t remember any trauma, so that’s a bonus!

When I tell people that I’m a middle school teacher, they shudder or wince or otherwise make it clear that my job must be absolutely horrible.

But here’s the thing: I’m not a middle schooler anymore.

I’m not “in” middle school.  I’m not the girl with frizzy hair and crutches in her graduation photo.

I’m a 30something woman with awesome hair and 3 feet of legs!

I get to pull who I am today through the world of these students, and try to let their teacher “not be traumatic”!  I get to acknowledge that there may be a lonely, ill-fit, scared person in each of these students and I get to hold space for that and guide them.

My job doesn’t in the least cause me shudders.  Sure, it might cause me irritation, frustration, mania, or exhaustion(!!!) — but it hasn’t yet once caused me to hate being there.

I think when people wince at hearing my job it’s because they’re recalling themselves at that time, and how difficult it was.  I get to say each time that’s why I wanted to do this!  To get to be a different force for them.

Not every kid will get something out of my class that they “remember,” much like I’m sure my 6th grade teacher was fabulous at his job but I don’t remember anything specific.  Not every kid will even like me!  But I get to see them.  I get to see their hardship, their worry in navigating a burgeoning world of “How am I perceived?”

And sometimes bearing witness is the most supportive action we can take.

I love and hold compassion for the lonely girl I was.  She informed some of the core manners of myself, and I’ve also had to dismantle some of the viewpoints she formed.  To know that who were are and were and will be are all time-limited (to echo yesterday’s blog) reminds me I don’t have to “get it right” for these kids.  I don’t have to rescue them; I don’t have to rescue my 11-year old self.  I don’t need to save anybody.

I just get to acknowledge and smile and breathe.


beauty · habits · maturity

The Usual.

8.11.18Anyone who witnessed my reading of Gretchen Rubin’s habit book, Better Than Before: What I Learned about Making and Breaking Habits, knows that I have some trouble making, and keeping, habits I’d like to reinforce.

But that’s not what today’s blog is about.  Instead, today is about relishing and delighting in some of my habits (which is precisely the point of that book, btw).

Yesterday, I went to the nail salon to get my toes did, as I do a few times a year.  As the woman was finishing up, she asked what I thought of the color.

“I’ve gotten this color almost every time for the last year—I love it,” I laughed.  “It’s just so nice to find something that works and stick with it.”

The 20something in the next chair side-eyed me with alarm and disgust.

I hear her.  I understand that one of the treats of getting your nails done is the thrill of trying something new: feeling into yourself what mood you’re in, what aura you want to project, what mood you’d like to be in.

But, lady, I’m about to be 37.  I’ve done my nails.  I’ve “felt into myself” (don’t be creepy) for years, and I’m kinda done.

When I was in college, I brought with me a giant Sketchers shoebox brimful of nail polish bottles.  Teal, Topaz, Magenta, Glitter.  Girl, I’ve tasted the rainbow.  Tried it on, taken it off, pasted it on again.

And now I’m old.  Now I have other brain cells I’d like to use.

We each get decision exhaustion by the end of a day.  A time when we’ve used up our store of “This or that?” and frankly, nail polish is not one of the things I’d like to use it up on anymore!

I want habit!  I want usual!  I want easy breezy beautiful, baby!

So, yes, I do love the sparkly, sexy red, like I dipped my toes in pulverized ruby slippers.  I love the peek of red out of my sandals, sophistication with a dash of coy playfulness.

I love that I drink 2 cups of coffee each morning.  That I eat 3 eggs, no matter what.  I love that I wash my hair on prescribed days of the week and make my bed without thinking about it.  My mornings are nearly perfect in their efficiency of decision-making, or absence of decision-making.

This frees up my brain to decide other things, to focus on the margins that aren’t habitual.  These are the places of excitement now:  Go to the theater.  Dress up.  Try a new book.  Read a new piece of research.

What will I do in the places I’ve opened up for myself by not constantly making choices?

Further, I love the habits I’ve formed—the healthy ones, at least!—as they give me their own kind of thrill.  You could say that it’s like a machine, how boring.  Or like a well-oiled machine, how sleek and confident.

Acting out these non-decisions make me feel like I have a center of person, places I know I want to reinforce over and again.  Places that form the ground of who I am.

“I am a person who X.”  And as Pamela Druckerman writes about in her newest book, There Are No Grown-Ups, confidence in our person is what our 40s are all about.


abundance · adulthood · integrity · maturity · progress · reality · recovery · responsibility · San Francisco · synchronicity · work

Breathing Room.

Sort of makes me wonder if there’s a room somewhere where
all people do is breathe? Maybe that’s called a meditation center. Or a
In any case… yesterday, the interior design company I’ve
been temping with these last few weeks (and on and off during the last year)
asked me if I’d like to come on with them for a temp gig for a full, firm 6
weeks (possibly 2 months, but 6 weeks firm)?
Of course, I said yes. !
This gives me 6 weeks to really have the mental space to
look for permanent work, while not freaking out about bills being paid or not.
I know, now, that I not only will have July rent paid (HUZZAH!), but I will
have August rent paid. I haven’t known if I’d have two months’ rent in a row in
a long time. I can’t tell you what a relief this is.
I noticed how much more I was breathing after I was asked
and after I accepted. I have a tendency to hold my breath, or breathe
shallowly, when I’m stressed out. Most people do, I think. I realize it’s not
only then though. Sometimes the muscles of my stomach are in contraction even
when I’m sitting by myself at this computer writing this – or at my breakfast
nook, writing my morning pages. Why on earth would I hold my breath, or be all
tied up when there’s nothing to stress about? I dunno.
But, I recall what was said at a meditation I went to a few
weeks ago, where the facilitator suggested we allow ourselves to have “abs of
jello.” People snickered, because really, we all probably are holding (well,
not maybe ALL) some sort of tension
around with us.
The way that I walked into work yesterday, and the way I walked out of
it were two vastly different ways of
being. I was angry – as you might have learned from yesterday’s blog – and all
bolted up in worry and fear. I did also leave the building at noon to head downtown to meet up with a group of folks for an hour, which was unbelievably helpful – and I
began to notice, then, the whole tightness of my belly thing – the not properly
breathing thing. I hadn’t been asked to stay on yet, but I began to notice that
I didn’t have to hold my body in freak-out mode.
When I was asked to stay on, if you could visualize that
metal bib they put on you at the dentist as a cape, and watch it fall to the
floor with a thud, then you’d know how I
felt. I felt acres lighter. It’s huge. It’s a big thing.
And… it means even more that I have to show up for this
position for what I’m being paid to do. It means getting to work on time,
basically, and not hanging out online that much. That’s cool. I mean, I set my
alarm for 6am yesterday in an attempt to get to work earlier (aka “on time”),
but didn’t make that. I snoozed til 6:30. So, this morning, I tried again. And
up at 6am as I was this morning, I might have to wake up earlier still to
ensure that I have the…breathing room… to do everything that I do in the
morning with more ease and less stress – a constant look at the clock – even in my
meditation feeling crushed by my awareness that it’s ten minutes I “don’t
Although I cringe at the thought of anything earlier than
6am, it’s really not that big a deal. I’ll gripe about it some – but the
benefits will be way worth it. I won’t hold my gut in as I write this in the
morning, or as I’m cooking my ubiquitous eggs.
It’s hard to not imagine that some of the work that I’m
doing around money isn’t related to this sudden
“windfall.” I’ve been in a limbo of not knowing whether I have work from week
to week and day to day for the last few months. And now, “suddenly,” I’m asked
to stay on for 6 weeks – 6 STABLE weeks?
I sent out those letters last week to former employers (see:
Bollocks) letting them know that I was a lousy employee and that I was trying
to do better. And in the intervening week, I have been trying to do better –
and think I’m progressing along those lines.
Also, it’s hard to imagine that my work of freeing myself
from “wrong” sources of power and validation (see: yesterday, and the entire
history of my life…) aren’t in some way influencing the curvature of this road.
Sure, it could all be “coincidence.” Nothing to do with
anything, but I don’t believe that, personally. But. Nor do I believe that I am
“rewarded” for “good” behavior (and thusly, punished for bad). I rather believe that as I let go of behaviors
which aren’t serving me, I’m more available for the good things the world has
to offer. Usually those things were available all along, but I’ve been too busy
peering down the dry well, begging it to be water, that I miss the river.
Whatever the cause and effect, or lack thereof, I’m
grateful. Hugely. I bought a (cute, but) cheapy new notebook for my morning
pages yesterday. I intend to take another look at how I planned to distribute
my funds this month. Because the truth is, even though I hadn’t planned or had
money in the item lines of entertainment, or notebooks, or toiletries – the
reality is that I spent money in them anyway.
Last night, I found a note from February when I was meeting with some
money folk, and there’s a huge note-to-self that says to be honest about my needs, so
that I don’t overspend.
This month, instead of having been honest about what I
really need, I wrote up a meager, scarce, and skeletal spending plan, and of
course I haven’t stuck to it. Be honest about my needs. They’re not
overwhelming, they’re not indulgent, they just are what they are.
And I can allow myself to own and take care of them, while I breathe into my abs of jello. 
anger · change · childhood · discovery · freedom · love · maturity · progress · recovery · sex · sexuality

Rage Against the Whatever’s Handy.

Last summer, before I started getting help around money, I
was in a bad way. I answered an ad for a company/house looking for dominatrixes
(dominatri?). I was desperate for money, and was almost willing to do anything
to make it.
So, I answered the ad, spoke with a woman on the phone,
looked at their website, and scheduled an interview.
Then, I emailed a friend of mine who’d been a dominatrix
once upon a time, and I asked her what her thoughts were around it. She replied
with an interesting thought. She said that it was a very low and base level
of energetic exchange.
Even though it sounds “woo-woo,” I knew what she meant. She
didn’t tell me yes or no, she just said, basically, that it felt icky. And that
she was heavily using drugs at the time.
A few days later, and before my interview, I called to let
them know I wouldn’t be coming in for my interview, that I’d like to cancel.
And that was the end of that.
However. I’m reminded of this now, about a “low” source of
energy, or power, because I’ve been experiencing the most wonderful (<–
sarcasm) feeling of free floating anger lately.
For those of you who know me, “angry” is likely the last
thing you’d associate with me – quirky, awkward, loving are most likely the top
layers, and indeed, the most core layers. But, in the middle of those is
everything that I’ve tried to put in between me and you. That includes sex, and
that includes anger.
Now that I’m in the process of extricating myself from any
sexual entanglements, grey areas, … dating sites…, I’m noticing that anger has
arisen where “sex” used to be.
When I was in junior high, and I came into school that one
Monday with contact lenses and makeup and suddenly I was visible, I rode that
high, and my anger that “you” only now noticed me, I rode that well into my
I fed off of that energetic exchange. The power that a woman
(or man) holds via sexuality is more than palpable, it’s addictive. It’s
enlivening. It becomes what I’d come to believe was my only source of strength.
This was a “low” form of strength, and a false form. But oh
the many heads of it. I feel powerful (or visible, or valid) when you pay
attention to me. When you’re giving me what I think I need, when you’re eying
me, or flirting with me, or seeing what I know (or think I know) you’re seeing
when you see me.
So, now, I’m removing this source – I’m calling this well
toxic, and trying to walk away from it. Sex isn’t bad – but it can be a natural outcropping of feelings rather than
I said yesterday to a friend that I feel like someone has pulled my
covers. That my defense mechanisms are being shorn away one by one, and so,
now, here I am with anger.
I am very aware that anger is just the other side of
vulnerability. I don’t want you to see how vulnerable I am, so I will put on my
angry armor and tell you to fuck off.
But, being aware of it doesn’t cancel it out.
I was reflecting this morning about the power of anger. I
realized that before there was the Power of Sex, there was the Power of Anger
in my life. It was modeled to me that if you were angry, you were powerful. If
you were angry, you were paid attention to (and left alone). I learned that
anger was an appropriate way to feel visible.
This, is a poor lesson. As frightened as I was when I was
younger, I began to learn to fight fire with fire. I learned this young too. I
was not really a pleasant kid, behind my shy exterior. The shy came after.
After I learned how to be angry, to yell back, to provoke, to antagonize, and
to defy. I learned that not everyone, especially in school, was going to put up
with that, and it sank inward, enclosed by the layer of “demure” and “shy.”
I’ll just disappear then. If I can’t have power via anger, then I apparently
don’t have any at all.
When I found sexuality, I found a “more acceptable” pathway
to visibility. And now, again, as that one’s being taken away from me – the
abuse of that power, rather – now, I’m falling backwards through my timeline
into anger.
Rage, really. I learned a lot about rage growing up – surely,
not as much as some, but more than Mr. Rogers would have wanted in his
So, here I am at rage. One of my last defenses. I am sorry
to be here at it. And I also know that freedom from it will bring untold gifts.
But… I like it. And that’s the problem. The problem is that these sources of
power are still salivating. I still feed off them. I still feel powerful from
them, even “knowing” that they’re false.
I made someone angry yesterday, and I liked it. I felt
validated. If I’m able to make you mad, then that means that I’m alive, around,
meaningful. If I’m able to cause a reaction in you (previously, a sexual one;
now an angry one), then I have a purpose.
Yes, I “get” that these are totally fucked up thoughts. I
get that this has to be “gotten through” or it will continue to cause me pain.
And isolation.
But I felt that “low source of energy” when I was the
recipient of that anger yesterday. It’s like a “HA! See, you do care.”
It’s so Psych 101, it’s stupid – better negative attention
than no attention. But, it’s recorded in textbooks for a reason. It must be
prevalent enough and common enough to fall asleep to at your freshman college
So, that’s my thoughts for the day. Thoughts on feeling
vulnerable, and what I do to hide that. Thoughts on my reluctance to let go of
sex and rage as sources of “power” and validation. My thoughts on compassion
for myself, as I know this is hard. And a modicum of hope and self-validation
for choosing to move through this anyway. 
authenticity · community · creativity · friendship · frustration · kindness · maturity · recovery · relationships · San Francisco · writing


Yesterday was a day off from work, as they needed the room
I’ve been stationed in, the library, so I got to experience a lot of loll and
gag. Less gag, more loll.
I still did spend
time in a library, peeling myself from my couch to go sit in the local library
and email and submit applications for higher education jobs. Here, Southern
California, New York City … Northern Florida. Throwing out the seeds and seeing
what sprouts.
I also got another book out of the library, and began to
notice a trend of mine over the last few months. The latest books I’ve read
have been:
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do) by Mark Greenside
Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine by Eric Weiner
Seriously, I’m Kidding…
by Ellen Degeneres
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
and now
Bossypants by Tina
As I was checking Tina Fey’s book out, I was able to connect
a few dots through the above list. Firstly, there are the books that are
about redemption – about people searching, seeking, going insane, going sane.
Mark Greenside’s book is more of a bridge to the other category, not being a
redemption, but certainly a “coming of age” (at 40) kind of an adventure. The other
category, of course, being the comedienne’s books.
Something about this strikes the right balance with me.
That, yes, I want to read about your harrowing walks through dark nights of the
soul and wilderness and Vegas (see : Man Seeks God), but I also want to read the levity, candor, and
strength of women in showbiz who are being pioneers in a
different way.
I’d never been one for non-fiction, and all the above are.
They’re all “memoirs.” I was raised picking up the library copies of my mom’s
Stephen King novels, and for most of my junior high and high school years, I’d
sit on the couch in the downstairs living room, engrossed in the psychological
and physical mystery of King’s characters and plot. Everyone would eventually
go up to bed, but I was too page-turned, and soon, it was late. And I was by
myself, reading Stephen King in the middle of the night.
This, was not an altogether pleasant experience, so I’d read
further, because if I closed the book, I’d have to turn off all the downstairs
lights, and walk upstairs in the dark with visions of deranged clowns lurking
in my peripheries. So, I read on, and then it’d be 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning,
and my eyes scratchy from being open so long, and I’d finally give up, too
exhausted to care if there were a rabid dog perched somewhere in the stairwell.
I’d climb up to bed, and fall in, too tired to be awake enough to contemplate
the darkness.
There were the years when I didn’t read anything at all,
really. I call these college.
No, (!) just kidding. But after college, I read nothing much
at all, or nothing that stands out. And I don’t really remember what I picked
up next, but it wasn’t that many years ago.
I remember when I first got sober, within the first year, I
went to see a movie at an indie theater in San Francisco. I had befriended a
group of people who were wonderful and hilarious and lovely, but none of whom wanted to see anything like what I was seeing that day. I enjoyed
the movie immensely, and when I walked out, I began to panic.
I’ll never have the kind of friends who’ll want to see
anything like this with me. No one has the kind of taste I have. I’ll be
destined to watch things and do things that interest me alone forever
Fatalism is not just a river in Egypt. Melodrama, the same.
I began to cry. Honestly.
I called the one woman I trusted, and sobbed to her on the
phone how alone I was, and that no one “got” me, and that I was too weird to
have friends.
She told me to come over to her house right then. I sobbed even
more that I didn’t know the San Francisco bus system, and I’d be stuck in Polk
Gulch forever.
So, she told me how to catch the Geary or the California
bus, and picked me up at a mutual spot, and fed me tea and calmed me down.
A few months later, I was outside my car with a group of
people. One of them I’d just met, and she looked into my backseat and saw a
book I had there (I honestly can’t remember what it was). She exclaimed with delight – she had been meaning to read
that book! How did I like it, what did I think? And I told her she could borrow
it when I was done.
It felt like a revelation, even though it was such a “small”
thing. I leant her the book. She leant me one. I began to form friendships with
people who had similar tastes and interests, and who would undoubtedly today
come with me to an indie movie theater.
It took time. It took
a lot of time. I have a friend now who is going through similar transitions and
longing for those kinds of connections, having been immersed in a relationship
involvement so that it’s been hard to make the kind of friends she wants. So, I
told her that story of the movie theater breakdown and the book-in-the-car new
At some point, I turned from the sci-fi, novel genre (though
The Illustrated Man sits on my shelf – moment of silence for Ray Bradbury, and his children’s room/lion story
that has never left my consciousness). Today, the books I read are not paths
into the mystery of the mind and the world, but out of them. (Though, someone once gave
me a copy of
The Power of Now,
and each time I tried to read it, I a) threw up a little in my mouth, and b) twice —
TWICE– simply threw the damn thing sputtering across the room – this
last time, just a few months ago. I’ve since given it away. Self-righteousness
in a “spiritual” teacher is an ugly characteristic.)
It’s just interesting to me to notice what I’ve been
attracted to lately. That it points to a change in course. I yoked a friend
of mine to driving up to Jeanette’s reading when she was in town a few months ago, and that
friend now has my copy – a friend of mine, wants to read something I’m
interested in too. A friend of mine is interested in the things I am too. And she’s not the only one. I’m
no longer bereft and alone on a street corner drowning in the electric whine of
MUNI wires and the stench of human misery.
Thank you, Brandie, for asking me about that book in my
acceptance · dating · fantasy · fear · finances · growth · maturity · progress · relationships · romance · sobriety

"Love as Burrito" or "This, or Something Better"

Grateful to my friends who gave me feedback, I texted the okJew yesterday morning
that I was a fan of getting to know someone before getting physical (I couldn’t
help but hear Olivia Newton-John as I typed it), and if that was something he
was interested in, then I’d love to continue getting to know him, and if not,
no hard feelings. He texted back to say that, in fact, he was looking for
something else, and didn’t know how that fit in with me or not.
So, I got to sit with that. Tall, attractive, well-built
Jew? What’s not to like? Oh, unavailable.
And, I did sit, I questioned, I turned inward for a few minutes to test that
option, and ultimately, gratefully, I said I was looking for something less
tenuous, and good luck.
Then …
I sat and stared at a wall of books.
I was shocked, honestly, at how “air out of a balloon” I
felt, without all that funny noise it makes. It made me realize that I still do
have some work to do. I identified very clearly the feeling of a crash after a
high. I could almost smell the cigarette smog and late 90s radio.
Hm. Love as Drug. Huey Lewis has a song about it. And, duh,
it’s not “love” as in Love. It was intrigue. Oh, Intrigue!! – when’s the next
text, what do I wear, how flirty do I be, funny do I be, do I invite him in,
scheduling plans, etc…etc…etc… Something to think about, and then the plug was
pulled yesterday mid morning, and I sat deflated and comatose for a few minutes
on and off till lunchtime.
When I went and bought a burrito. My friend texted me to say
that it’s normal to feel feelings, and we get to let them pass. I said my feelings now
feel like a burrito in my belly ~ Real feelings TBA. And that much was true. How
much easier it is to feel full, or to
buy something to feel better – not better, to just feel different. My burrito
accomplished both of those. Better to eat, feel full (and mildly grossed out
that I ate a pound of tofu and salsa flesh), and to get the thrill that I spent
money on lunch when I had a perfectly decent one in the fridge at work.
Cuz, what do I feel when I’m not caught up in the nonsense?
Fear. I feel fear about money and work and job applications and
directionlessness. Who the hell wants to feel that?? No one. But, better to feel those feelings, and
get into action around
them, than to stuff them with something else, and continue avoiding the
elephant in my psyche.
There’s another okJew who I’ve been talking to – and I’m not
entirely sure that I want to pursue it at the moment. I met up with some of my
new “relationship/emotional intimacy” folks last night after work, which was a
very good use of my time. I’m so glad
I’ve chosen to fall in with them – and they were talking about dating, and
showing up, and boundaries, and desires, and how to be honest. These are things
I want. I
want to have desires –
I have no … desire… to be celibate, or nunnish. I am a hot-blooded woman with
hot-blooded needs, and a great big bag of tools that don’t work.
That said, I obviously do have more tools than I used to (burrito
coma aside) – because I did let this dude know what I was available for, and he
said he was glad we got that worked out early – and it’s true. I know plenty of
times when I’ve let my “fear of looking needy” keep me from speaking up about
my discomfort at the level of murk in a relationship or sexytime companionship.
Once, it took me almost a month, and when I finally broached the subject with
the dude, he said he wasn’t available or looking for more. So, I said, great,
and was glad to know, and left his house feeling better and confident in my
ability to state my needs, and let go of the results.
Sure, I didn’t “get what I want” in that situation – who doesn’t want the person to say, of course, I’d love to
continue to get to know you and see if there’s something substantial that can
come from this. But … as my “sugar crash” yesterday proved to me, there’s more
work to be done. It’s not at all fair to place that amount of expectation on
anyone – because they’re not really being asked to be themselves, they’re being
asked to fill something in me, or distract something in me, or fix something in
me. And, that, my dears, is an inside job.
When I said a few days ago, that if relationships are
Miracle-Gro for your character defects, then surely they are/must be for your
spiritual growth – this is why. My defect here being the desire to run away
from the reality of my professional and financial situation – and when someone
says they can’t be that for me, I’m left simply with my situation all over again, like
the ugly step-sister you lock in the attic. Still here.
So what do I do? Well, firstly, I meet up with folks and I
ask for help. Done, and will continue to do. Secondly, I continue to work on
the job front. I was invited to go camping this weekend, and had accepted, as I
love to camp, and getting out of dodge sounded so very nice. But last night, as
I was compiling job listings into an email draft so I could take a look at them
in my spare moments at work… it occurred to me that perhaps going camping was
not the best use of my time at the moment.
This temp job will likely end in the next week or two, and
after that is a blank horizon. It’s time for me to assist in coloring it in.
Lastly, I offer myself kudos. I made my intentions known,
quickly. I listened honestly to what another person was telling me about their
intentions. Which I didn’t take personally at all (a thought, I recognize, is
also huge progress, but seems so “of course” now). I can try to treat myself
kindly with how I treat my body and not go food coma on myself.
I showed up. I got in the ring. I made out. And, I can be
confident that what’s available for me is “This, or something better.”

adulthood · balance · dating · faith · growth · integrity · maturity · spirituality


I have heard it said that Relationships are like Miracle-Gro
for your character defects.
If this is true, I realize this morning, then Relationships
are also Miracle-Gro for our spiritual development. One must lead us to the other if we aren’t to fall into a pit of fire or stagnation.
A few years ago, I was engaged in a clandestine dalliance
with a man. I was titillated by our connection and conversation, but “nothing”
had happened so far. So I did what I do in circumstances like that – I went to
G-d, or Higher Power, or Magical Sky Faerie, or Inner Wisdom -, obviously “G-d”
is just a great shorthand, so please read it as such.
I wrote one of my “G-d letters,” a letter to my HP with all
my questions and fears and excitement, etc. about this man. And then I turned
the page, and wrote a letter back, in theory from G-d, or from my higher wisdom.
In this letter, I was informed that, great, have fun, be titillated, but
whatever you do, Molly, don’t forget Me.
Don’t forget my HP, and like yesterday’s blog, don’t forget to do those
practices which help to keep me on balance and on my side of the street.
Relationships are like Miracle-Gro for my spiritual
development. I have not always used them as such. Or viewed them as such, but I
believe I’m really understanding that more now.
The more involved I may become with someone else, the even
more firmly and strongly I need to involve myself with “myself,” or those wise,
calm, serenity-producing, others’ welfare-focused parts of myself.
I’m not in a relationship – but I have a second date with
the okJew on Tuesday. We confirmed this yesterday, and so it is. But, today is
not Tuesday. Today is Sunday, when I’m heading with my girffriend and her bf
all the way out to Discovery Bay for some sunshine, barbeque, potential pool
and hot tub, but mainly, to fellowship, camaraderie, catching up with friends I
don’t see nearly that much now that I’m in Oakland, not SF. Today will be a day
for me to be present with who I’m with and where I am, as well as a day, potentially, to
rest by the pool, and do some of the writing I need to have done for tomorrow.
Today, is not the day to obsess. I will not obsess on what I
will wear on Tuesday. I will not obsess about wanting to text this guy and let
him know that I won’t be having sex with him on Tuesday, so he can back out if
he wants – because obviously, says my story (see above character defect
reference), men only see what’s on the outside, and that’s all they want. Today
I will not obsess about planning to get STD tested, or whether I have
up-to-date condoms, or if my feminine lady time is coming right now and will preclude
sexual encounters anyway.
Today, I will not obsess that I should have been paying more
attention to working out, or to a lack of firmness in any part of my body.
Today, I will not obsess that my home isn’t clean enough, or
decorated enough. Today, I will not obsess about what will happen on Tuesday,
about whether I’ll be able to stand firm at my boundaries and decline the
obvious sexual attraction from being consummated.
Today, I’ll get ready for my friend to pick me up (in 30
minutes!!). Today, I’ll pack a beach towel, and some sunscreen, and sunglasses.
Today, I’ll put on shorts, and sip the last of my decaf. And that’s really as
far as I need to see today. There are plans to go cherry picking, there’s
likely going to be barbeque and food. There may be time to catch up. There may
be social awkwardness. It may not all be about me.
As far as I can see today is the next 30 minutes. Those are
pretty easy.
Oh, and I can recall to not forget G-d. 

acceptance · adulthood · change · commitment · direction · faith · maturity · progress

Turn Left.

Feels like another “toodling along” day. I actually don’t
know if that’s a known phrase or word, or if my mom made it up – but,
generally, I suppose people know what I mean if it’s not. Or, for all I know,
it’s a well-known high-fallutin’ word. … Yeah, I just wanted to write
Feeling generally optimistic today, or rather a lack of
pessimism, so that’s a good start, and a decent change. I’ve been presented
with the opportunity to think about choice, a few times in the last 24-48 hours
or so. Particularly, the idea that I have the opportunity to choose my
perspective. And more than that, I have the choice to do a lot of damn things.
Basically, I’ve been given the power of choice, and I’m
recognizing what might be better ways of using that grand choice. That
privilege of choice.
I was talking with a friend yesterday, and she was telling
me about some places where she was feeling hopeless, and I offered that she
does have a choice here. That we are indeed at places where we both can choose
to turn right, and go down the all too familiar well worn path of despair,
crumbs, victimhood – all the way back to the dry well. Well is dry. It always
has been. But sometimes I, and she, like to see if maybe today there’s just one
drop I can squeeze out from it. Nope. That well is dry, but I have a choice to still go there if I want.
Or… I can choose a different way. A different way to look,
approach, feel, be. Think. I believe part of this is owning that mantle of
adulthood – recognizing that we have the power of choice, and are in some ways
the steward of our own fates. Sure, Fate sometimes intervenes, Divine
intervention happens, and sometimes we are stripped of choice, but, for the
most part, nearly everything in my life at the moment, and how I choose to see
or hold it, is a choice. I have chosen to engage in despair. I have chosen to
stay small. I have chosen to reject responsibility, and then I get to complain
about my meager finances. Or romances.
It’s not all as simple as turning on a light switch, but
sort of, sometimes, it is. It needn’t be some massive, monolithic effort, or
commitment; sometimes, it seems to me now, it’s just a simple shrug, and a turn
left. Not so heavy, or burdensome. Not so daunting or scary. Just a left turn.
Toward something … not new. It’s not new – I mean, it is and it isn’t. I don’t
quite know (obviously) all that’s down a path of Left, but I’m familiar enough
with occasionally taking that route that I do know some of the milemarkers.
Peace. Calm. A sense of well-being. These are quite obvious
particularly in contrast to the milemarkers on the way to the dry well.
Today, I can choose. I have a choice to see myself roundly,
to see my life roundly. I can choose today to notice the assets, to notice
where I have a choice – a choice to write my teaching resume. A choice to send
it. A choice to decide whether I want to do some live drawing modeling
tomorrow, or if I’m feeling a little too tender for that.
I have a choice to buy eggs, instead of eat popcorn for
dinner. I have a choice to make a nutritious meal – like the one I’m eating
now 😉 I have a choice to dress properly today, in a way that makes me feel
professional, but myself – not a drone or clone, but not defiant. That may
seem like a “silly” thing to think of as a choice, but it’s not.
Last Tuesday, to my second day back to the temp job, I dressed in all black, with my black leather
jacket and my fuck you attitude of, I can’t believe that I have to do this work
in this office, sitting for all these hours… yadda yadda, fuck you, I’m wearing
black. ! Yes, That was a choice. Luckily, that was also the same day I had my
wonderful conversation with a friend about whether or not I want to be an
So, today, I can wear something that says, I’m still me,
with my quirks and style, but yes, I respect this workplace, and am grateful to
be here.
I also have the choice to pack my lunch instead of buy it. To meet my friends
later instead of isolate. And to remember to breathe.
I have a lot of choices today. And the well is still dry. 

acceptance · adulthood · commitment · discovery · finances · growth · maturity · TEACHING · time · work


Dear Folks,
My new “normal people” hours are conflicting with my ability
to write this with coherence, and eat, shower, become fully conscious. So,
forgive its in/coherency, if it is so.
I had two phone calls yesterday that sort of count as
informational interviews. One was with my darling Aunt Roberta (technically my
mom’s cousin, but all those cousins are sort of like aunts and uncles – that’s
how it was when you played stickball in the streets of Brooklyn in the ’50s).
She has been a professor of English since the sun was born,
and had some great information and tips for me. She sent me her teaching resume
to take a look at, as I’m beginning to apply for teaching jobs – something I’ve
viciously avoided for so long, I almost
forget why. … but I do remember.
For as long as I can
remember, what with my interest in literature, and writing, and reading,
well-meaning folks have said the following to me:
Well, you could always teach English.
Somehow this phrase has turned into an anathema for me. Is this the only
thing that I can do?? It begins to sound like a default, like welp, you could
always settle. It has calcified into a job title that brings to mind aging high
school professors, eking out their little lives in some underappreciated,
underpaid job. My vision of “teacher” has come to also mean “sedentary,” as
once you get a job teaching, all I hear is “tenure” and that’s all people are
working toward – all they want is to stay as absolutely still as possible. No
room for exploration, movement, change. You got it, you keep it, you pipe down,
and suck it up.
Obviously, many of these ideas are unrealistic and quite
ridiculous, but that hasn’t kept them from keeping me away from the whole idea
of teaching – teaching English, teaching high school, teaching college – as if
I’ve ever thought that I could.
The reality.
Firstly, as Roberta was quick to assure me, teaching does not mean wasting away in some small town or inner city
for eternity – it doesn’t have to mean that, and particularly in the beginning,
it doesn’t mean that – as chances are, as a beginning teacher, you’ll have to
sort of go where the job is.
Secondly, … and here’s the hilarious irony … I like teaching.
Sure, it’s hard work – I’ve done it before, but never
considered what I’ve done as “real” teaching. I had a job at a Sunday School last year, once a
week (and had lots of lesson planning experience to really really learn that lesson planning.is.not.paid.). I also
taught ESL in South Korea for almost two years, but I don’t “count” that either,
as I was hung-over most of the time, and worked out my lesson about 10 minutes
before class, if that.
However, I do like being in a classroom. I also think I have
a lot to offer – I, if I may be so unhumble, think I’m pretty cool. I’m funny,
performative, creative, a good listener, and a very good judge of classroom
dynamics and social cues (i.e. they’re not listening – change it up, or so and so is
interested in so and so, so I better move them). I also have a lot of outside
interests, which makes for a well-rounded incorporation of things into the
lesson plan.
Thirdly, I’m technically qualified to do it now, with my degree and all. 
So, I could do it.
And as I’ve reminded myself a lot over the last year, “Can I
do it?” is a different than “Do I want to do it?”
But here’s the change occurring. My wonderful sunshine ball,
Maila, came over for tea last night. Here’s what she said:
“If it wasn’t hard, they wouldn’t have to pay us.”
BAH! Oh, right. It’s work. The ideal is that work include some play or interest, or a lack of
soul-crushing mindlessness that leaves
zero energy available for outside pursuits. And the thing
is, I want and would love to pursue a LOT of outside pursuits.
As she was leaving, I thought of something else which has
probably helped to keep me at arms-length from a “real” job. I’m reminded of my
life several years ago, which I know is similar to a lot of folks I hang out
In the cheepy-birdie hours of the morning, in the hours when
the sky is beginning to lighten, and the new day is dawning, I and we, were
usually heading home. Weaving and wending our way to some pass-outable
location, or so red-eyed and clench-jawed that the chirping birds were a
mockery of all that is holy (Shut the fuck UP! Don’t remind me it’s a new day,
I’m still … still … STILL up!).
And as we were wending home, or at least one well-worn path
I remember particularly, as I was wending my way home in my second tour of
teacher duty in South Korea, I would pass by a church on Sunday morning. There,
people, humans, were walking to church. And I would sneer, Suckers.
These people, in their pressed, clean clothes, with a full
night’s sleep, and a full refrigerator. With brushed teeth, and combed hair,
and a place to get to at 8 or 9am. Who paid rent, and taxes, and didn’t have
their utilities turned off monthly. Whose teeth were not ground down with
clenching, or livers distended with liquor, or clothing bathed in a cheap bath
of smoke. These people, with real jobs, real lives, real responsibilities, were
Suckers. They knew nothing of the way things ought to be, the nocturnal,
hedonistic, nihilistic counter-culture. They were suckers.
And as I begin to accept that it’s time for me to take on
those same responsibilities, there’s a part of me that calls myself a Sucker.
But, I’m not a hedonist anymore. I don’t reek, or steal, or
slink anymore. If a balanced check-book, paid rent, cat and people food, and
some bass lessons are what I want, then I have to do what they do. I have to be
a Sucker,
which I guess is another word for Adult. 

community · family · forgiveness · love · maturity · recovery · San Francisco · willingness

Three’s Company

Best Laid Plans are luckily not always the best plans.
Overambitious as visits with family usually are, my brother Ben and I did not
get to see all of San Francisco in an hour and a half. He did say the sweetest
thing, as we swept back into the car off of Pier 39 on our way to Lombard
Street – that he came here to see me, not San Francisco.
My brother is 3 years younger than me, lives in New Jersey,
and is a highlight of my life. It was not always rainbows and puppy dogs between
us, but the last few years have seen a dramatic, but incremental shift toward
mutuality, trust, and love. It’s been one of the greatest gifts that I’ve
gotten, this renewal of our relationship on a basis of support and respect and
admiration – to get to know each other as adults, or as adult as we are, rather
than as two kids fighting each other for the crumbs of whatever there was
So, he and I got to briefly traipse around those tourist
spots, and then had to get to SFO to pick up our mom. Another relationship which
has formed and reformed many, many times. It’s in an iteration that neither of
us know, and so we’re sometimes formal, hoping not to cross boundaries or
offend, and we’re sometimes deep, treading carefully for the same reasons as
above. Mostly, we’re funny. Mostly, the three of us together is like an old
left-off conversation, dotted with movie references, and cackles of laughter –
though my brother chortles rather than cackles.
An old boyfriend of mine got to meet her once when she came
to visit me in San Francisco about 4 years ago. He said that we laugh the same.
I’m sure we’re many things the same – sometimes I catch the strangest sights of
myself, and am struck at how much that’s a “mom” move – reaching for a kitchen
cabinet, I see the hollow of my thin, graceful wrist, and it’s hers that I see
and remember. Sometimes it’s the way I click my fingers together when I’m
nervous or anxious. And sometimes, it’s strange things that I’ve picked up from
her, like when I was in college, cutting up chicken breasts in the kitchen, and
I started clucking at the chicken – and didn’t even notice it until my roommate
came it and laughed – this, is a mom move.
Irreverent, sensitive as all get out, brilliant, worried,
with a kind creamy center like the inside of a cadburry egg that you cradle so
you don’t crush it. That’s my mom, and also my brother and me. We each have
varying degrees of it, but we are apples not fallen far from the tree. And
however embarrassing it was growing up without cable or Nintendo, so that we
watched Fred & Ginger movies, and all the movie musicals, and The Marx
Brothers, so that no one our ages would get our references, we’re older now,
and people still may not get our references, but I can appreciate that we have
them at all.
A friend of mine told me maybe a year or more ago, how
distancing she felt that her father could really only communicate in quotes
from movies – that it wasn’t personal enough or intimate enough. I shared with
her my and my brother’s experience, and said, for me, now, it’s actually one of
the ways we do share intimacy – sharing
something, a witticism, with each other that we know the other will get, and so
we bond and revel in our commonalities.
My cell phone broke recently. In it were saved text messages
over the course of several years. I’m a hoarder of texts. One of the last that
I know I have saved in there is from my brother a few weeks ago: “Of course
your president is an actor – he has to look good on television.”
For those uninitiated, this is a Back to the Future quote, just one in the long continuous conversation
that my brother, and mom, and I get to share with each other across time and
We cannot be present in person with each other often. And
when we are, we’re all still learning how to relate in a way that is open
without overreaching, and fun without being superficial, among many more
balancing acts that all relationships aim to master, but likely never fully
achieve. We figured out that the last time the three of us were together was
about 3 or 4 years ago.
Last night, at dinner, which didn’t go “as planned,” as my
dad and his fiancé were stuck in the city and didn’t make it to the ceremony at
school, it went perfectly. It wasn’t as I’d planned, it was better. And the
three of us delighted in the bright, animated, multi-faceted, infinitely
tangential company of one another.
For all that has come before, for all that it took to get us
to that dinner table, for all that will continue to need to happen to help us
show up to tables like that with one another, I have a family whom I love, and
who love me dearly.
TODAY’S GRADUATION DAY! So, as Abe Lincoln said,
Be excellent to each other, and… PARTY ON DUDES!!!