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.

The Dilemma

That’s part of the dilemma of being an American Negro. That one is, a little bit colored and a little bit white. And not only in terms, in physical terms, but in the head and in the heart. There are days, this is one of them, when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it. How precisely you’re going to reconcile yourself to your situation here and how you are going to communicate to the vast, heedless, unthinking, cruel white majority that you are here. And to be here means you that can’t be anywhere else.”

— James Baldwin, A Conversation with James Baldwin

The Soul and the Body

The soul and the body are one, and mostly so in love. What the body chooses, the soul loves; where the body clings, the soul cleaves; body for body, soul to soul, they come together at God’s signal; and the lower part (if we can call aught low) is only the footstool and foundation of the highest.”

— Robert Louis Stevenson, Olalla

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.