Currently // July 2020: At My Best and at My Worst

“Things are prettier in June, but they’re clearer in July.” 

― Sophie Flack, Bunheads 

After months and months of spring and early summer that seemed to drag on and on with catastrophe after catastrophe, after we floundered and continue to flounder leaderless and lost, July gives way to August and yet further uncertainty and strife.

Still, we are finding our footing slowly and despite what you see on the news and what you hear from the politicians, if you look up and look around people everywhere are coming together, supporting each other, growing and pushing forward with strength and compassion.

The consciousness of the country is rising, and though they fret and fight, those who would have our country return, or perhaps never leave, the hazy dream of individuality and universality, law and order, and hard truths left unsaid, undesirables lost to the dark and to silence, those people will be, are being, left behind in favor of a world more inclusive, for connected, more giving and forgiving than we’ve ever dreamed.

At least this is my hope because to be an American right now and watch the failure, the cruelty, the death all around you and closing in is to feel hopeless and utterly ashamed. I’m fortunate to live in a state where even though cases are rising we are not seeing numbers as high as others and the people have elected a Governor who, though not perfect, is trustworthy and has his heart in the right place.

Protests are still happening regularly, but I worry that attention to racial injustice is waning as justice takes its time and the cause is trivialized. I worry I haven’t done enough for my part to keep the country’s focus.

The end of July marks the end of summer’s spirit, and the issue on everyone’s mind now is the reopening of schools. There seem to be no definitive answers about the safety of students, teachers, or staff, only a rising insistence that schools reopen no matter the cost or concern. Working for a school district has made an already stressful time all the more terrifying. None of us know what will happen and though we all want to return I have not spoken to one fellow employee who is in any way anxious to return to work right now.

As for me, I’m trying not to dwell on what I cannot control. I returned to work months ago, but only in office and without students to transport. Looking toward the start of school in just a few short weeks, I’m taking stock of my own options, my own boundaries, the compromises and the precautions I’m willing to take and deciding what is right for me. I have my health and the health of my loved ones to consider. I have to stand up for what I believe is right, to keep us all home and safe so that more of us can live.

To distract from it all, I’m focusing more and more on my mental and physical health. I’m making time for more of what I love through schedules, lists, priorities, focus, and self-care. I’m meditating, eating better, taking my medication, and resting often and without guilt. The paradox of July has been that I feel both at my best and at my worst.

With August’s arrival, I plan nothing more than incremental and infinitesimal change. I’m doing the right things now and if I find myself doing these same things 30 days from today, I will count that a monument’s success. The goals going forward are to fight, to breathe, to rest, to work, to learn each a little bit every day…

but before I do, here’s what I am currently:

Writing essays. They’ve been slow to write and even slower to post, but every day I find some new idea or take time to flesh out some part of a new piece. The hurdle has been consistency and persistence. It’s easy to begin, but the challenge of finishing is hell to overcome. I’m working on my self-confidence, getting comfortable with vulnerability, and chasing that elusive state of high challenge and high capability known as “flow“.

Making collages, blackout poetry, and cut out poems again. Last month I bought a desk wide self-healing cutting mat and now creating new work is as easy as folding my laptop away and pulling out my X-Acto blades, markers, and magazines, putting on one of my favorite podcasts and zoning out for a while.

Planning every hour of every day. Throughout the day and at the very least each evening I spend time updating my calendar, to-do list, and digital logbook in preparation for the next day. It’s been helpful to clear my mind of so much clutter and to always know what the next steps should be.

Reading less than I should be and falling farther and farther behind my goals. These past few weeks I’ve found my way back and finished a couple more from my Penguin Little Black Classics Set. I’ve purchased a couple of new one to add to my TBR pile to keep me motivated too. There is still a lot of year left to make up for time lost.

Watching I Know This Much is True, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, and Perry Mason all on HBO. I’ve been into dark dramas lately. They are comforting for the mind the way weighted blankets are for the body. I’m missing movies though, and movie theaters particularly, and hearing that so many studios have pushed back their premiers breaks my heart.

Learning about The Science of Well-Being on Coursera. After so many months of putting my learning journey on the back burner, I’m finally finding the time by asking just 5 hours a week from my schedule to log-in, watch videos, read, and reflect. It sounds like a lot, but waking up earlier on the weekends has given me more than enough time to make it happen. I’m still on Duolingo too if anyone wants to be friends.

Anticipating the end of summer. This is typically my favorite season of the year. Summer is when I feel the most free, the most myself, but between Covid-19 shutting the whole world down and my own health holding me back, this summer has been nothing but disappointment and loniliness. Sometimes “not the same” is worse than “not at all”. I’m ready to move on and try again in 2021.

Reflecting what exactly it feels like to be alive right now. As hard as it is to navigate these trying times, to be frustrated, to be afraid, to grieve, this is the life I am given and though much has been lost all need not be lost. I can still let myself feel. There are times now when feeling is all I can do. I won’t give that up too. Even when it’s hard. Even when it hurts.

Fearing what the end of the season will bring. I’m afraid of returning to work more fully. I’m afraid of being around more coworkers, more kids, more chances to contract the virus. I’m afraid I’m not doing enough to protect myself, my loved ones, my coworkers, or my community. I’m scared of the worst I see predicted by news outlets and over social media. I’m scared of the combination cold, flu, and Covid season to come.

Hating anti-maskers. It’s hard not to see people like that as the enemy. It’s hard not to wish the worst on them for their ignorance and disregard for life, but I’m trying to remember that they are human like me and prone to fault and failure. As a species, we will never be perfect. We must cope with the contrarians, drag the ones we can, kicking and screaming, and make right the mistakes of others the best we can.

Loving Colorado’s monsoon season. The heat of the summer might set me free, but it is the monsoon season that gives me life. Each afternoon as the summer starts to wind down we see afternoon thunderstorms roll from the mountains, through the cities and off toward the planes. They pick of strength as they swirl and gather most times unleashing their fury over the eastern half of the stats but some night the city feels the wrath in the form of rain, hail, flooding, bright lightning, and deep rolling thunder. Nothing is more soothing.

Needing some good news. I’ll take it personally, professionally, or politically, I’m not picky. I’m desperate. The good has been so hard to find. Everywhere I look there is nothing but bad, and pain, and anxiety, and anger, and death. All our usual means of escape are cut off and our usual means of connection along with them. I need something good to balance all the bad. I need something good to balance myself and make it through.

Hoping one foot in front of the other can go on being enough for now. I hope this not just for me, or just for you, but for us all together. Life may never return to what it was and we are going to be limping along, broken, lonely, angry, uncertain, terrified, and the weight of failure and loss trying to find a new way.

The only thing to keep on dragging one foot in front of the other. The only thing we can do is not give up. I hope we won’t stagnate. I hope we won’t lose hope. I hope, in the end, we won’t give up on one another. I hope we learn the value of community. I hope we learn to love more and to let love, and care, and community guide us forward into this great unknown we face, together.


So, yeah, all in all, July was…not the worst month of 2020. The bar is low, sure, but everything felt a little lighter. The world took a moment to breathe in and come August we will breathe out and begin. There is still work to do, life to live, a year to get though, and just now I can begin to sense, a new year beginning to form on it’s end that we’ll have to ready ourselves to begin starting now.

But what about you? Were there any celebrations? Any trip? Any bit of good news or chance for joy? Are you still wearing your mask? Are you still doing your part to keep the people you love and people you will never meet safe? Have you registered to vote?

Let me know in the comments.


The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love

Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash

Currently // July 2019: Embarking on a Life

“My life, I realize suddenly, is July. Childhood is June, and old age is August, but here it is, July, and my life, this year, is July inside of July.” 

Rick Bass

July wore me out. It chewed me up, used me up, and spit me out disoriented and weak. It took all I had and left nothing of myself to give to me. July tested, exhausted, and stressed me beyond recognition. July was a hard month, but after all of that stress, this July gave me the most beautiful day of my life. This July and every July from now on will be a special month in my heart and memory. This July, after 17 years together, my girlfriend and I finally became wife and wife.

Planning our dream wedding meant that nearly every other aspect of my life had to be put on hold. I had barely enough time to eat, sleep, and shower regularly let alone read or write. I stopped seeing my friends and family. I stopped being able to think about anything but decor, attire, vows, cake, catering, and seating charts. I stopped doing all the things I loved in order to have one perfect day and while I know it was unhealthy but I am so glad I did it. It really was a perfect day.

But now it’s over, and so is July, and now it’s time to return to real life. I’m slowly picking up the neglected pieces of my life and getting back to some old self-care habits. July was supposed to be my fresh start, but it looks like August is when I will begin again. I’ve decided that after the summer I am taking time for me to get back to writing, reading, and learning.

But before I do, here is what I am currently…

Writing essays, really this time. I may have to wait a week or two before the first one is up, but I am determined to work on them every single day, even if I can’t post them weekly as I had planned I just have to work on them for a certain amount of time every day. If I just do that, I’ll be happy. I have a direction. I have a list of topics and a schedule. I’m so excited to get started and I to see where this “essay a week” journey takes me. I’m excited to explore the genre, to improve my skills, and to finally start sharing what I feel and love with all of you.

Making writing friends online and in real life. At first, writing may appear to be a solitary activity but the truth is that support, encouragement, and social stimulation are critical to growth and mastery of the craft. I believe that this (and a lack of will power and ample energy) is what I am missing most in my journey to authorship. I’ve noticed that my focus, enthusiasm, and confidence in writing has waxed and waned with my writerly or creative connections. I feel most stimulated after I have talked with other artists and writers and I am reconnected with my own purpose and passion. I’ve recently connected with a coworker who also enjoys writing essays and poetry, and I’ve joined a lot of Facebook groups for queer/women writers like myself in the hopes that I can get more done by relying on a community to encourage me, guide me, and hold me accountable.

Planning big renovations and projects around the house. For over a year now the place has been falling apart around us and for over a year we have been saying “after the wedding”, “after the wedding”. Now that we’ve finally come to “after the wedding” it’s time to fix up this old dump. The basement, the kitchen, and both bathrooms need to be completely ripped out and redone. The garage door, the front and back yard, the siding, and the roof have all gone into disrepair. We’re looking at loans and a whole lot of work but we are ready to take on a new challenge and begin to build our dream home.

Reading Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, still. I have now fallen 7 books behind schedule in my reading challenge and am profoundly disappointed in myself, but even though I don’t expect to catch up (unless I get this Little Black Classics Box Set soon!) I am not giving up. August is when I will begin again and I will pick my nightly reading habit back up as soon as I pick up my nightly habit of going to bed on time again. I may move on from Dostoyevsky as him and I aren’t seeing eye to eye yet and I do have books I’m much more excited to start with them I am to finish with him. Particularly It by Stephen King and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

Watching too many things, sigh. I finished the second season of Big Little Lies, a star-studded dark drama on HBO, and the 3rd season of the nostalgic sci-fi horror series Stranger Things on Netflix. I’m still watching the deeply disturbing teen drama Euphoria on HBO and I’ve just discovered Years and Years, an anxiety-inducing dystopian drama joint produced by HBO and the BBC. I’m trying hard not to binge the last season of the prison drama Orange Is the New Black but so far it’s been so much better than the last and I expect to be done with it in days. My greatest obsession though has been the FX channel drama Pose about the underground Black and Latino LGBTQ ball culture in New York City during the 1980s.

Learning how to learn again. I could go on blaming the wedding and planning for every goal I’ve stopped pursuing in the last month but the truth is procrastination and fear have been my largest adversaries. I have been my greatest enemy. Rather than getting to down on myself or giving up, I’m deciding again and always to simply try again. I think the fact that I want to learn and that I am pursuing learning actively in life is something to be proud of and taking a break, or falling behind is better than never beginning at all. So, in August, I’m simply picking up where I left off with Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and International Women’s Health and Human Rights.

Feeling stressed and depressed. Even though the wedding is over and there is no more planning to be done or decisions to make the worry we’ve carried over the last year has been slow to fade. To make matters worse, we have other bog changes on the horizon too. After over 13 years of working together at the same location, my wife is moving on to another school district much further away. It isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but it is a change and change, no matter how small or good, has never been something I cope with very well. Besides my anxiety, I will simply miss seeing her throughout the day and getting to ride into work and back home together. I’ll miss hearing about her from other coworkers and getting to witness firsthand how amazing she is at her job.

Anticipating some time to enjoy the last of summer for a while. I spent so much time planning the wedding and worrying that I haven’t gotten a chance to enjoy myself at all this summer. I haven’t gone swimming, hiking, or camping once! I doubt I’ll get to do anything much before the school year starts and I’m back to my usual work schedule but I hope to get at least a few good trails in before the temperature begins to drop. I’m looking forward to some warm days downtown and night’s spent on bar patios with good friends. I’m looking forward to the sun, green trees and flowers, and freedom for at least a month more.

Reflecting on my relationship. My wife and I might have only just gotten married, but we have been together for quite a long time already. In August we will be celebrating our 17th year together and embarking on a life where we have been together for more years than we weren’t. I will have spent most of my life with the same person and I’ve been wondering about what it means to two people to grow as close as we have. Where do I end and we begin? Are all parts of me known to her, and her to me? Who would I be without her? How much of me is me and how much has simply molded to her? Does it matter?

Fearing driving, though less and less all the time. Since my wife and I are splitting up professionally we won’t be riding in together anymore which means I can’t rely on her anymore when I’m struggling with my driving anxiety. I’m afraid but this is honestly probably the best thing for me. I shouldn’t rely on her so much and I should be stronger, but I know I won’t be until I have to be. That is how anxiety, fears, and phobias work. It takes more than hard will. It takes having no other choice. It takes your life coming to a standstill, or the threat of life falling apart. It takes living with your fear becoming worse than the fear itself. I have to work and I cannot let my wife down. Not working and disappointing her by not working are worse prospects than my any outcomes my fear of driving has put into my head and so it’s time to face it. 

Hating the current Democratic party presidential candidate pool. I don’t mean that I hate the candidates themselves. I have quite a few favorites, candidates whose viewpoints and priorities align well with my own, but the field is far too crowded and the interparty attacks are starting to ramp up and, in my opinion, damage our mission and chances. We’re beginning to pull each other down. We’re beginning to sound like Republicans. More than that, I want the field to thin out to give each qualified and truly potential candidate space and time to reach the American people. The problems we are addressing and the solutions being proposed are complex and I hate that the details never reach the American people. 

Loving the current Democratic party presidential candidate pool. I know what I just said and I stand by it but I can’t help being a little proud of my party for dreaming big. The field might be crowded but only because so many people want to do the work to make this country a better place for people to live. It feels good to see people debate how to help the vulnerable, the downtrodden, the underprivileged, the forgotten, and those this country has exploited. It feels good to hear so many people give voice to the pain that so many of us experience every day. I feel very fortunate to be alive when I am to witness such political courage and love. 

Needing help. I’ve been working on recognizing my patterns and I have seen the good and a lot of the bad I do naturally and the ways I react both positively and negatively to the world around me. I can see where I am failing myself, but I recognize patterns is only the first step to correction and the next stepu201—building new habits, getting rid of what hurts, what distracts, and what holds you back, and find what works, what you need, and what you love—takes more than what we are made of alone, especially in a world where we have so much freedom, choice, information, and entertainment at our fingertips. I’m working on solutions to procrastination and building good habits. I need strategies, apps, and hard truths. I need more than what I can give myself.

Hoping that the coming school year runs more smoothly than the last despite all indications it will actually run worse. I hope we get these open positions filled, and that moral goes up and stress levels come down so that we can get back to focusing on what really matters, the kids! I may complain about my job a lot but it’s only ever the other adults who frustrate me. The kids give me purpose and joy and they all deserve the best version of ourselves we can be. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always given my best. I’ll be the first to admit that the grownup world sometimes sees into the world I try to make for my students and I struggle to give them back what they give me. I want to do better this year, and I hope that the people who are supposed to help me give my best to the kids get back to giving their best to me.


So, yeah, all in all, July was an absolutely beautiful month! I don’t care how hard it was, how stressful it was, or how much I had to sacrifice. It was all worth it to stand up in front of my closest loved ones, say my vows, and then celebrate my love. I realized one of my greatest dreams this July. I will never forget it and it will be a long time before I achieve or experience anything that will top it.

But what about you? How is the summer treating you so far? Have you taken any trips, gotten any camping, hiking, or road trips in? Have you made or realized any grand plans of your own? Have you found yourself distracted and doubting? How have you managed to pick up the pieces and move forward?

Let me know in the comments.

“[JULY IS OVER AND THERE’S VERY LITTLE TRACE]”

— Frank O’Hara


The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love

Photo by Kassidy Sherburne on Unsplash