We Could
 
Let’s return to the trees 
become light, oxygen, wood, and waxen canopy,
photosynthesis our mother. 

We could fight by living, striving,
and thriving. 
We could fight the death we chase 
with shallow perception, 
believe in new roots, 
tossing aside where we come from.

We could sway and bend
so we won’t break.

But we work towards stress and lies 
about what it means to make it.
We could build foundations, 
a home, strong children,
a backbone,
and these could be our legacy. 
 
We could toil for money not ethics, status 
not fortitude.
We could look the same as we might 
had we fought for the good
and the many, for content 
of character  
and not comments 
on social media pages.
 
But it is neither truth nor integrity we seek;
we build 
card houses,
images out of false praise.
 
We could build each other up.
 
We could tear each other down, 
protect our flimsy empires
with arsenals of self-interest.  
 
We could eradicate fear.
It could matter not that we died
but that we lived.
 

CBD and Me

I want to start smoking pot, but my husband won’t let me. Typical story, I know. Seriously, though, for legal reasons attached to my husband’s job, I can’t keep weed in the house. 

Enter CBD oil. I found it at Jimbo’s (San Diego’s version of Whole Foods). And I’m addicted but not an addict. On days I struggle with back, head, or neck pain, or when I suffer from fibromyalgia body aches and fatigue, I squeeze the dropper and release the peppermint-flavored liquid into my mouth like I’m a baby bird. 

There is no high. No immediate, discernible improvement occurs like a curtain of cure lowering over my woes. But within several hours of ingesting the potion, I feel better. I’ve wondered about a placebo effect. Am I merely tricking my brain into thinking CBD is working because, for almost $50 an ounce, it should work, by God? I don’t know. And I don’t care.

I’ve collected pamphlets and talked to others who swear by the stuff as a close second to THC. I’ve yet to understand in more detail exactly what I’m putting into my body.

This is how we do it, though. We take medication, eat food, and drink delicious sugary or alcoholic concoctions without fully understanding their effects on our bodies. And if my doctor tells me to gather hundreds of dollars in supplements, I do it. But shouldn’t I be more careful? After all, it was a doctor who prescribed Skelaxin (a muscle relaxer) while I was on Lyrica (Pregablin, a nerve blocker). I found out the hard way that the two have major contraindications. It wasn’t until I felt like I was literally dying that I checked sites online—sites I chose to trust without confirming whether I should actually trust them—and discovered that, no, nobody in their right mind should ever take those two medications together. Well. Lesson learned. Or maybe not. 

Every morning and night, I scoop a medicinal cocktail into my mouth, little colored pills of power, thinking I’m on the road to wellness or, at the very least, on a path further away from the pain I live with daily. But what if these drugs and vitamins are keeping me sick? The fear and lack of certainty about what to do regarding my own health is enough to make me give up and resort to bonbons and Netflix as a panacea for what ails me. I’d like to think I’m quite proactive when it comes to participating in my own wellness regimen. I ask questions, read websites and brochures, record migraine severity and frequency, practice yoga and meditation and breathing…But the more I read and live in this world of western medicine, the more I wonder whether there might be a more holistic approach that doesn’t require pharmaceuticals at all. I might be too afraid to enter that portal without armor and a proper arsenal. I need to survive, because that’s what all this is about: surviving.

And I’ve let acupuncturists flick needles into my face. I’ve drunk Chinese herbs that taste like oregano, bitter tea leaves, and dirt. I’ve exercised and rested and journaled and laughed. But are any of these the best medicine? And who has the time and energy it takes to become a paragon of health. Aren’t we all just fighting an uphill battle, knocking down invaders one by one as they multiply in number and severity? 

So, here we are, CBD and me, and until the day comes when I can level-up, I’m content to suck that glass dropper and believe doing so cozily affects the pain center in my brain. And if it’s a lie, so be it. The older I get, the more willing I am to think ignorance is bliss. Well, bliss may be a stretch. Let’s call it temporary relief, and let’s be grateful we at least have that. 

Make-up Tutorial

OMG, you guys. It’s my first video ever, and it’s a make-up tutorial. They say you should do the things that frighten you, so thanks to that, you get to see me being weird. Turn up the volume; I was being a shy, soft talker. I still have a lot to learn about filming and editing, but there’s time for that. Meanwhile, leave comments for me about tips and tricks you’d like me to share. Thanks!

1.21.19 natural look vid 1

Dear Auntie,

david-taffet-563064-unsplash.jpg

You’ve been gone for almost 18 years, and I miss you every day. There is so much I would tell you if you were here to challenge me to a game of Scrabble over a box of donuts. Remember the day we practically made ourselves sick? We didn’t eat all the donuts. We had some semblance of self-respect, nibbling a little on each flavor to take it all in without literally taking it all in.

Remember the day we shoplifted earrings and makeup from Woolworth’s? We used our stealth, our sly desire for cheap, criminal beauty to slide those silver, dangling things and plastic-wrapped lipsticks into our purses. I was a thief but also a bolt of lightning, coming alive under fluorescent lights, following your lead. Ethics aside, you taught me to lay down my fear so I could hold excitement in my hands. At your apartment, we counted our loot, and somehow, the lipstick I’d lifted didn’t make it home. We retraced our steps to the car and under the seats and floor mats. I didn’t acknowledge then the irony of my dismay. I didn’t deserve that lipstick. I hadn’t earned it. But what I got was the memory—the sweet rebel memory of being with you.

When we discovered you’d died, Phil and I arrived at your place to clean it up and divide your belongings. Strangers had already been there, rifling through your things like trash. The air in your apartment stunk of death—you had left, but you still remained. You lingered there like a foul perfume, like a soul angry about the life you’d lived and furious about when and how you’d died. I held my breath as I stepped over the stain of you, the spot where you fell, trying not to get you on the soles of my white Adidas. My mind rattled—and my teeth and my chest. I heaved and tried to pass through the thought of you like a shadow through the mist. My task was to clean up, clear out, and move on as if you’d never existed. That was how I was supposed to get it done.

Phil and his friend Tim rented a U-Haul, and they had everything under control—everything but me—so I left them standing in your space, their hands on your glass animal menagerie, Elvis vinyl, and the couch where Mom tried to strangle me in my sleep. I left them alone because they had each other, and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t be an adult, couldn’t be responsible enough to do the stoic and objective job of throwing you away.

When I look back on that moment, I wish I’d been made of stone and steel. My brother grieved the loss of you, too, but he was built out of resolve and duty, love and respect. So he let me go. He knew that your death had broken. I wish I’d had that bolt of lightning in me so I could have blasted through the project, lifted your precious items from your home, and reinforced my love for you with inner strength. But I was weak and small. I cried in my car, letting the 80 degree weather layer through me like the fire of great loss.

You were my favorite. You, with your frizzy hair and chip-toothed smile. You, with your easy laugh as you danced to Gary Numan’s “Cars.” You, with your non-judgmental eyes and unconditional support. And your untimely death showed me a new kind of loneliness.

Sometimes I daydream you’re here with me. We stroll through the mall and lift lipstick and shiny earrings delicately from unsupervised counters. We make it home with everything and each other. And there is no death, no fear, no facing the day without you. But those are dreams. You’re gone, but the memory of you is so thick I can almost touch it. Thank you for hanging on. Don’t ever let me go.

Love, Me

photo: David Taffet

Friendship

photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Today we remember and honor the great Martin Luther King, Jr., a man of character and courage who saw that society had a problem and tried to inspire us to fix it. For his bold action and controversial stance, he was murdered. I often think about MLK and how it is that honorable men come to be—men who move mountains with charisma and determination to see a better world. For most of us, our reach only goes so far, and our influence is about what we can do on a small scale every day.

Having good girlfriends is one of the things I cherish most in life. My friends make me a better person because they not only challenge me but also tell me when my new foundation is too orange for my skin tone. I think there must be people out there who aren’t as lucky as I am to have such good friends. We need friendships in our lives—gal pals serve as a source of comfort and soul-fulfilling clarity about who we are.

I spent yesterday with a group of friends whose honesty, support, laughter, and loyalty I admire. We ate a delicious brunch and secured a popular spot where we proceeded to day drink. None of us had more than a couple drinks over several hours, but that wasn’t the point (even though we labeled our get-together in the name of the libations activity). The truth is, we simply enjoy each other’s company. We talk about anything and everything, the details of which shall remain anonymous here, and we leave each other wanting more.

One thing we talked about was how necessary it is for people (i.e., us) to shed toxic friends so we can make room for friends who build us up. Each of us could recall at least one friend we used to have who no longer shows up in our lives. We had to decide at some point, despite the difficulty, to let them go.

Recognizing those individuals who drain us of our energy and positivity is a crucial element in molding a better life for ourselves. It’s like Feng Shui for the soul—rearranging the friendship furniture—for the most propitious advantages. It’s like KonMari-ing your way to a minimalistic friendship circle. If that friend doesn’t spark joy, let it go. If you hesitate when considering her qualities, release her. If she no longer serves you, send her to the Goodwill and make room for better friends to come your way. 

We can’t be friends with everybody. No one can stretch that thin without disastrous consequences. We must choose our friends with care and reap the benefits of mutual respect and time well-spent. Yesterday, we laughed at each other, with each other, and because of each other, sharing stories and attitudes about our lives free from judgment. We accept each other and hold each other in high regard.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can’t forget. Those are your ‘friends.’”

On this Monday, I am grateful for the bonds I’ve formed with these extraordinary women who trust openly and love freely. Their courage in relationships makes the world a better place. We may not always know the influence we have on others, but we must continue to be ourselves and seek friendships that warm our hearts and nurture our spirits. There is strength in every morsel of laughter, every moment of sharing. Through friendship, goodness and hope prevail, and it is through friendship that the world will be healed. 

Dear January,

Skeleton pondering life
photo: Mathew Schwartz

I loved you until today. You brought me “The Sinner,” “The Americans,” and “Homecoming.” I’ve been a happy little binger. I lost myself in each series. By the way, I also lost my first pound since December 20. I know we typically don’t think of loss as something to smile about, but I’m a fan of contradiction and unexpected whimsy. I’ll tell you what I’m not a fan of: migraines. And today, January, you brought me one, like a tail-less lizard dropped on my doorstep. Maybe you thought you were showing me your devotion. Maybe you thought I would appreciate your unsolicited gift. But I did not. Your disappointment robbed me of a productive day of laundry, writing, and whatever else I might have tackled had you not tackled me. I lost a day–spent it on the couch. And it hurt. The more I sat, the more my body hurt. We know that bodies need movement, and you pinned me down in pain. So, January, let’s get it together, okay? Knock this shit off.

–Sincerely, Me