285 // A Monstrous Storm

I can promise you I am not being dramatic when I say that in the past few days my whole world has been very much turned upside down in some of the worst ways imaginable.

People I love have been hurt and are hurting and I’ve been living in an alternating state of shock, anger, anxiety, guilty sadness, and helplessness for some days now. These “some days” have stretched for an eternity and moving forward from here in any emotional or temporally sense is a foreign, unimaginable, and impossible notion.

It’s as if I am existing at the center of a raging storm that, while it’s only just gathered, has managed to gain monstrous shape, speed, and strength. Some small calm can still be found in my very immediate surroundings, but the winds are shifting unpredictably and I feel if I do not shift quickly with or in response to them and the needs of those I love the storm will grow beyond my control and I will be sucked in and blown away as well.

My suspicion is this sense of control is an illusion, and my efforts to maintain it are futile. There is worse and on the horizon and it will come whether I fight or fly. Part of me is already at work in the recesses of my mind to prepare for those hardships and heartbreaks.

And I keep wondering how much more we can all take? I’m trying not to make the surrounding storm all about me, but I am involved. I am affected and not from one direction or by one thing, but from all sides and on many levels. I’m hurting. I’m afraid. I’m lost. I’m so very lost…

My instincts tell me to pull away from writing, from this space, from everything I love, from all the things I do for me. I’d thought to write here only to announce an indefinite hiatus, but I’ve always been, always had to be, skeptical of my instincts. I hardly ever really want what’s good for me. My urges and impulses tend toward the self-destructive because—I believe—it is the simplest and most satisfying place to find control and satisfaction.

So, if my gut says pull away, I have to at least consider the idea that what I need most is the exact opposite: to lean in, to try harder, to give more. Self-expression, even these small and stale attempts, mean something very much to me and the way things are going I should probably cling to whatever I can call my own as much as possible.

There is another side of me that is offering alternative solutions to that sense of control: radical acceptance, incredible patience, and flexibility. Planning and expectation may be unreasonable undertakings in times such as these.

Each day, and whatever it offers, both good and for bad, may have to be taken on its own separate and alone from the day before. Hell, each emotion, thought, need, idea, and action may have to been received separate and alone from all previous and even from their cause.

I see no other way to cope. Time—both laid out behind and stretching out ahead—has become an overwhelming concept.

From here and for a very long time, there can only be now.

275 // A New Month

I’m stuck at home and stuck in bed today, feeling awful physically but worse mentally. I’d been seeing some real signs of improvement, and I let myself get a little too excited. I let my hopes get too high, and then today there were strong setbacks and swift backslides into painful and all too familiar symptoms.

I’m not the only one who’s feeling a little under the weather. My dog, Lola, got into something she shouldn’t have and she’s got a little upset tummy too. I don’t like seeing her sickly but it is kind of nice to have someone, even if it’s just the dog, to be miserable with. At least she’ll be okay in a day or so with a little rest and plenty of fluids. I wish it were that easy for me.

I keep thinking about how bad of a start this is to the new month. Then again, perhaps starting at your worst can be an opportunity in disguise. When you are at your worst there is nothing you can do but get better. There’s nothing to do but improve. There is nothing to do but start again. A new month and a new chance to let the past go and move forward.

274 // Bad Start

Well, this morning is off to a pretty bad start. I woke up late. I struggled to get ready for the day. I’m tired and irritable. I’m messing everything up and as much as I have given up on today, it seems today has given up on me right back.

I had thought upon arriving at work that the wrinkles of my mood and luck would smooth out but everything seems to be going wrong and the gap between my expectations for the day and the reality of the day is widening all the time and with it my frustration and impatience keeps on growing.

The good thing is I’m lucky enough to have the kind of job where I determine my days and I have the support I need to set back and determine my attitude too. I don;t have the emotional strength yet, but I’m sure after a few things get checked off my to-do list and I’ve had a meal and a cup of something with caffeine in it.

The good thing too is there are going to be plenty of breaks and the real possibility of the day ending early. That means time to decompress, to write, to practice the self-care I clearly need. Until then, I’m doing my best to focus on the positive, on the blue sky I know is there above the clouds and behind all this curmudgeonry and complaining.


The day did in fact improve, and with it my mood. I was able to get some real work done, more than I have in many weeks, and I even managed a smile while I did it. Everything just needs time. Everything changes, both for good and bad, in time. My sour perspective has brightened, and that’s good, but I am under no illusion that tomorrow I won’t have turned back toward the worst again. Good and bad, good and bad, they both come in their turn, in time.

273 // I am Stronger

Today is full of things I don’t want to do. My anxiety is sky high at the thought of some of these tasks and my mood soured knowing there is no good or guilt free way of getting out of them.

I’m still working with the new class of employees and though I’m comfortable with a lot of the material, there are some skills I’m very new to teaching and knowing that I will still fumble over my words, forget to mention things, and generally look like I don’t know what I’d doing or talking about. My worst professional nightmare.

I try to tell myself that worst case scenario is never as bad in reality as it is in my mind or and never feels as bad afterward as my body assures me it will when I’m caught up in my worry. I know what I am doing and I only have to follow my instincts and share my knowledge, experience, and perspective. I’ve earned the right confidence in my ability to do a good job.

Besides, the truth is I’m not really on my own today and nothing that needs to get done today is solely my responsibility or rests only on my shoulders. We’ve got this.


Had a strange interaction today during my class. I was teaching Crisis Prevention and Intervention a class in which we give employees the tools to verbally descalate crisis situations involving our students.

We teach that all behavior is communication. We teach that behavior influences behavior. We teach reestablishing rapport with our students after any conflict or crisis. We teach that physically intervening with students always involves risk of harm and should only be considered as last resort. We teach that during a physical intervention the safety of the student, the care and compassion for the student, and the consideration for what the student is trying to communicate through the physical outburst be considered throughout the crisis.

In the class was an ex-cop. This ex-cop did not seem to think anything I taught was of value. He rolled his eyes while I spoke. He closed his eyes as if to fall asleep. He did not participate in discussion except to contradict me and near the end he openly admitted that he took nothing away from the class.

This both infuriated me and hurt me. At first I wanted to fight back, to defend myself and my passion for this material and perspective. Then I considered the entire class, and I considered the chances that I might change this ex-cop’s mind and decided that being confident and secure in my viewpoint and intention was the best strategy I had to defend myself and the material.

I decided to preserve my peace of mind and ignore his outbursts and fits.

I decided that I am stronger than one man’s doubt. I always have been.


It’s debate night here in America. The first Presidential Debate is airing right now and I have to say, I have never been so visceral embarrassed to be an American. This is honestly the first time I have watched or listen to Trump for this amount of time and it’s quite…upsetting. The man can’t even follow simple debate protocol and rules. Biden hasn’t been perfect but he is not the one currently tasks with leading and representing this country and he is showing the world the very ugliest side of America.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum there’s no way you can watch this debate and not know deep down that something deep in the core of this country is badly broken. You can’t watch this and not see that something fundamental in the way we all think and engage with one another and with our politics needs to change.

272 // Dragging Myself

I am struggling to meet the work week with enthusiasm this Monday morning. I didn’t sleep well last night, but that’s been my new normal for a long time now. Part of it was the usual pain and discomfort of the body, but most of it was anxiety over the problems I have yet to overcome and the problems I imagine may be on the horizon.

So, I am dragging myself through work and class, trying to complete tasks and teach others what I know. It’s a tough morning, but the great (and horrible) thing about time is that it is always marching on moving you toward a new state. The morning will end. The calls will end. The day will end and each end brings with a new beginning, a fresh start, another chance.

The good news is that the day should end early and I’ll hopefully have time to spend in my newly—though far from perfectly but much more than before—organized creativity room. I’m looking forward to doing some writing, or some reading, or whatever feels right to do when I get there.

I’m carrying my pocket notebook with me today and I’m excited to use it, though so far no thoughts or ideas worth jotting have occurred, of course. I pulled out my old physical journal yesterday too. I haven’t written in it since January. These entries have taken its place but somehow have never given me quite the same satisfaction.

I suppose it isn’t good to start the exploration stage of any idea in a place you know others will be watching or judging. I do my best to be open and free here, but there is a level of raw emotion I can only achieve in in writing meant for my eyes only.

271 // Bond and Blur

The weekend is finally coming to an end and I’m ready! It hasn’t exactly been and bad weekend, but it’s been a bit of a lonely one. My wife has been away on a trip we meant to take together, but because I have been feeling so cruddy she went without me. That meant four days at home, just the dog, the cat, and me.

I enjoyed the extended time spent with silence and solitude but my wife and I have been together and been so close for so long that when she is away, it really does feel like a part of myself, my psyche, my soul, had been ripped away.

There is a numbness, a blunting, a dampening that happens to my emotions and passions. It’s as if I go through a miniature grief and life becomes a little less lively, less livable until she returns.

She’s home now though, and the life is bright, full, and open again. All is right with the world and with me. What is interesting is that I don’t necessarily have to be talking or interacting with her to feel better. We don’t even have to be in the same room. I only need to know she is near me to feel whole.

I think about this a lot, this wholeness I feel with her. I think about how intertwined we are, how dependant we’ve grown, and I worry over how healthy or right it is to be this way.

I’m alternatively resistant to it and longing to deepen the bond and blur between who she is and who I am, where she ends and I begin. I know my resistance comes from fear about how we, or sometimes just I, will be perceived—too needy, too wanting, too willing to give up who I am. I don’t have many role models for long-term relationships, and even fewer for what constitutes healthy, so it’s hard to know or compare.

Perhaps, like all things in life, any example or comparison should be taken in the context of what feels right or wrong to you. Perhaps it isn’t about right or wrong at all. Perhaps it’s only about what is. After 18 years together, how could we not be so intertwined or dependant? How could the boundary between where she ends and where I begin not blur with time? This bond is inevitable.

270 // Purge, Develop, Expand, Evolve

I spent the morning working through a very large purging project in the “creativity room”, a place where, lately, very little creativity has been happening at all.

This room, divided in half with a desk on my wife’s side for her work, and a desk on mine the doubles as a place to create both my analog collages and these attempts with words, has long become a dumping ground and storage space for every knickknack and ambiguous piece of furniture. It’s become far too cluttered and become something far from its original purpose for me to fall into the kind of focus and flow needed to produce anything without great effort and distress.

So, I’ve been avoiding the room entirely, and my desk, and my art and writing because I can’t relax or think in there. I can’t connect old ideas or generate new ones without anywhere to “spread my mind out in”, you know?

The bulk of the work so far had been throwing out those items I haven’t used or even thought about in months or years and that will certainly give me the space I need but there is a harder and more delicate task to tackle after of sitting down and working through the mountain of scrap paper and old notebooks containing just about every thought that has occurred to me over the last many, many years.

Yes, I am a compulsive note-taker. Most of the notes are useless nonsense I jot to remember a task, an item from the store, a thing I read or saw, or mean to read or see, but there are a few small gems buried beneath: ideas for blog posts, essays, zines, and even books I scribbled while working or in the dead of night and never went back to expand or develop. Now they sit, contextless and nearly indecipherable, waiting for review, reflection, revision, and reshuffling into something that resembles real writing.

I had thought to transcribe them into Google’s Docs or Keep apps, but I think a new Are.na channel might be more interesting. I can then connect each note individually to other channels to give them that missing context and purpose as I decide what each thought means, or can mean.

Going forward, I am going to carry a pocket notebook with me everywhere and at least weekly transfer the useful ideas to Are.na (or an index card system that I can keep in a nice and tidy box on my desk if I decide to go full analog). The hope is that through regular review of the notebook, I can then set those ideas free from their frozen prison of paper and turn them into long-desired blog posts and essay attempts.

I’ve never had an issue generating ideas in the moment, the struggle has always been in returning to those ideas and making time to do the work, the writing. Today is a chance to clear the slate, the desk, the mind and begin developing and expanding ideas but developing and evolving a system that feeds the writing.

265 // The Practice is Important

The new week has finally begun and though I woke in a bad mood, wanting to stay home and forget all responsibilities and obligations, I’m doing a remarkable job of faking it until I, hopefully, make it. Being part of a team and knowing there are people who are counting on me to show up and produce good work means leaving my problems and poor attitude at the door.

And you know what, taking the time and making the effort to change my perspective really turned the whole day around. It wasn’t easy though, and I realize now why the practice of mediation and mindfulness is so important. I’ve been out of practice for weeks now and I am noticing that stepping outside of myself, grounding myself, or using my rational mind is getting harder and harder to do.

The good news is that even though this week’s schedule is full, there are plenty of people on my team to share the load this time. I have more downtime than I anticipated and on top of that I’d long decided to take a couple of days off at the end of the week. It won’t be near as hard as it looks on paper and knowing that alone makes the day all the brighter.


There are just 100 days left in the year. Of course, I know that nothing, not politically or personally, will get better when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021, but the elections will be over, we’ll have settled so much further into this new normal, we’ll be halfway through winter, and so many of the big decisions I have to yet to make will be behind me.

It’s not the new year that matters. That isn’t really the end I’m waiting for. I’m just looking forward to solutions and outcomes to the problems we face and a chance to overcome fresh problems altogether.

264 // What a Weekend

What a weekend it has been! Friday night was the start of a great many birthday celebrations. Three of my siblings happen to have been born within the same 48 hour time frame, though many, many years apart. In addition, we have my father-in-law, and, a new addition to our family, my beautiful newborn baby niece.

Her father is one of the siblings celebrating his birthday this weekend too and I’m so happy that his greatest birthday wish finally came true—him and his daughter will share their special day for their whole lives.

Beyond the festivities and the bundle of joy joining our family, there has been heartbreak too. I was shocked, and then devastated, and then terrified by the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. The world has been uncertain for a long time now and grows more uncertain as the days pass and our heroes pass away. I feel certain there is so much worse to come for us all on the horizon and hopeless, powerless, to stop any of it.

So, for now, I’m focusing on what I can control. I’m focusing on what I can wrap my head around—today and the week ahead—and even that mush feels enough to push me over the edge.

258 // Carry this Pain With Me

Health-wise, today was an awful day. For one, I felt a lot worse. My pain and other symptoms were heightened and quite distressing. I’m so tired and run down I had to leave work early so I could to come home and simply sleep the afternoon away. After two additional hours rest, I still woke up with darkened eye circles and weakness in my muscles.

On top of that, I met with my doctor and though we still have no solutions; we are not quite out of options. I have a plan, but it’s a little terrifying. On one hand I have to come wean off one of my medications and see if I get better or worse. On the flip side, we are increasing another medication with the hope that it will work better. So a lot of hoping with very few certainties and a lot of real possibilities for things to go from bad to worse.

I feel close to giving up, or at least wanting to. I don’t know that giving up is even a choice or what that would like as an option going forward. I guess I can’t really give up, but I’m dangerously close to giving in—to grief, to anger, to loneliness and hopelessness.

I’m just tired of fighting. Talking myself up or back is a daily battle. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, going about my day, and doing my best to work, listen, connect, laugh, love, and be present is exhausting beyond words. How can I keep up this pace? How do I go on living, really living, not just being alive, while my body is falling and failing me every minute of every day?

I guess the only way is to see that, for one, my body is me, and two, I am not failing or falling at all. I am perhaps doing, giving, and expecting more than I should, but I am strong and I am getting through it the best anyone could if they were in my position.

It’s been helpful to remind myself that that none of this is my fault and more than that I don’t owe anyone anything because of it, let alone an apology. I’ve been feeling so sorry for every part of this, but what exactly am I sorry for? For impacting others? For asking “Will you help me?” For the proximity I place them to suffering and fragility by simply existing and being perceived?

Yes, I’m sorry for it all, but what is the point of friendship, of community, of caring, connection, and love if not to both experience and welcome such impact? I’ve got to stop feeling bad for living a real life that includes sad things, bad news, and hard choices. I have to not just welcome but expect that the people in my life will put up with me, will help me, will carry this pain with me willingly and enthusiastically.