The Unexpected

Have you ever walked into something, thinking you know exactly what’s going to happen and then it is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE?

Welcome to my life lately.

So I’ve been having horrible nightmares as of late, and all I wanted to do last night was watch something light and sweet and wonderful, cry happy tears, feel sappy and in love, and enjoy all of this with my bottle of water (I’m sick so I can’t have a glass of wine) and my kitty. I wanted the quintessential love story. So…I look on my DVR and see a movie that I saved for just that sappy moment: Like Crazy. It’s premised as a movie about two lovers who will do anything to make their long-distance relationship work. How sweet, right? The previews were so sappy and lovely, and I was so looking forward to it. It was a train wreck. Nothing goes right in this movie, and, what makes it worse, is that it’s one of those movies that just…ENDS. There’s no ending. The final scene is the couple are finally, awkwardly, living together, married (that part is not sweet AT ALL and reminds me of the awkwardness I felt married to P–I love you, P!), and awkwardly giving one another a kiss while in the shower together. Then it just goes to black. I about vomited. My heart sank, my stomach turned…I was like, “Wow, what the fuck is love? This shit is too real for me right now.” I was so disturbed that I couldn’t sleep for like 2 more hours (it was already 2am).

I had this conversation with my mother last night about being comfortable. In October, I decided that I wasn’t happy…in fact, I was miserable. So, I decided that for every decision, I would consider what I wanted to do and then choose the opposite decision. It’s been working out lately. It makes me so uncomfortable that I can’t stand it sometimes. Take, for instance, TK coming to therapy with me. I can’t even explain how horrifying that experience was. I want to say, yeah, now that I look back on it, it was SO GREAT. But, honestly, it wasn’t. He thinks it was the best thing for our relationship, deepened our relationship. My therapist thinks it was a “huge step” in my recovery from trauma. The only thing I can think of is how I don’t know what my life looks like without trauma. I don’t know what happiness looks like. I don’t even know if I want it. I don’t even know how to handle it. I decided I would choose differently, and now I don’t know where I stand.

The worst part about this is that with the unraveling and catharsis of my trauma comes horrible anxiety, horrible emptiness. WHO AM I WITHOUT TRAUMA?? I feel like I am grasping at straws for my sheer existence. I am terrified. I am bored. I am scared. I am sad. I am horribly sad. It’s like mourning the loss of…ME.

CS Lewis said: “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

My therapist said something like this, but used the acorn and the oak tree comparison. You look forward and you see that the oak tree is super strong and tall and magnificent, but there is pain that comes with the breaking of that acorn. The pain of breaking the egg’s shell. Some days, all I want to do is STAY THE ACORN. Yesterday and today are two of those days. But the problem is that once you start breaking the shell, you have to move forward…because now you’re just rotting.

“It always seems impossible until its done.”–Nelson Mandela

(but today, it feels impossible.)



Nearly twelve summers ago, I was 15. I was free, crazy, had just decided no way to the Mormons, had just left the confines of a mental institution, had my first serious boyfriend, and I was living. I remember those days pretty well (despite the fact that I had to seriously think about how old I was when this memory occurred).

That summer, my mom and I couldn’t handle each other. I think it is always a product of me working my program (I am a PTSD sufferer) and realizing that she is not working her program and also is a shitty mom (if you’re reading this, I hope you and I have already talked about this stuff, Ma). It was also the first year my favorite sister and brother-in-law moved to Seattle…far from my home pastures. So, for several weeks that summer, I was shipped to stay with them. I remember how warm Seattle was, how beautiful West Seattle was in particular, how much I loved spending every day gardening and running with my Akita. I remember LOVING Seattle. Sigh, I fucking love West Seattle even still. It was a great time.

My sister sucked even more than my mom or maybe about the same (they have the same issues), but she opened the door to the awesome, amazing human being she married. Before they had kids, my brother-in-law was super cool, and he wanted everyone to know it. He was an executive chef in a gorgeous location downtown, making great money, and loving every second of the city life. And boy do I also love city life. He loved anime, which he also exposed me to (note to self: get Key on Netflix again), he exposed me to the wonders of Netflix, he loved cool music, and he loved local before loving local was cool.

That summer, my brother-in-law took me to all the things my sister never wanted to go to with him: blues festivals (we had tickets to John Lee Hooker’s last ever on Earth concert), amazing food (we drove down to Portland to eat at the “up-and-coming” Higgins restaurant), tax-free Oregon shopping!!, wine (I tasted my first flight of red that summer…and I am eternally grateful), art house films (we saw Magnolia), and poetry. Actually, we saw the world championships of slam poetry at the Paramount Theatre.

At the Paramount Theatre, I met a college kid, not much older than myself, from San Diego, CA, named Jonathan Yaffe. Jon is now a very successful entrepreneur living in Japan, and I have since lost touch with him. But that’s neither here nor there. I am convinced that Jonathan changed me. To this day, I still read his chapbook on a yearly basis. Why? What’s so special about this guy who no longer slams poetry? Well, first off, Jon admitted, through Slam, that he attended the same mental institution I did. Then, he rapped off a rhyme a little like this (this is by far my favorite, but I’d let you decide for yourself):


I love you–Period.

(Begin Parentheses

And it’s not a cute little pooky wooky love

It’s not muskrat love

We’re not kittens purring at each other’s meows

But my love isn’t a tiger either;

My love is an Emu.

It’s kind of weird looking

You’ve probably never seen a love like mine before

And it’s really hard for me to define in terms of animals

But give me some time and I’ll try.


In 3rd grade I was called on to read a story out loud

about Johnny Appleseed and when

I got to the part in parentheses

which was going to explain:

where he was from

who he was

why he traveled endless meadows

planting seeds in the ground


I had no idea what to do.

People always told me parentheses were a subthought

A more subtle statement

And I don’t want to read it aloud

Teacher said:”Read what’s in the parentheses Jonny”

and I protested:”parentheses were supposed to be silent”

I wasn’t going to read the parentheses

And it still is silent…

And now, I love you.

Look, I’m not obsessed.

I don’t faint when I see you

I don’t want to marry you just yet

I just love:how I feel around you.

I just love:like an Emu.

I just said “I love you” and left out all the rest.

I wanted to explain that I would be good for you

I’m not just a tease

That yes, I’m madly in love with you

But I’m not saying any of this:

Because it’s all in parentheses.

You are the cure for the love blues

the constellation reds

the insomnia nights covered in white

You tattooed my skin into a flag

And it was not enough that you became

Prime Minister of my Heart

I needed a dictator of my soul.

You taught me to love the moon

when there were no stars in the sky.

I wanted to tell you all of this….

Where I’m coming from

Who I am

Why I traveled endless miles

Just to tell you how I feel about you

You see, A lot of things don’t make sense

when you don’t read the parentheses

Details give meaning to Democracy,

they add colors to monochrome literature

parentheses let you better understand emotion

they allow philosophy to become more stable.

But because I didn’t read between the parentheses in 3rd grade,

I never realized Johnny Appleseed was just a fable.

And here’s the distinction,

If meaning without parentheses fails

Then love can’t be Johnny Appleseed

and emotion can’t be fairy tales

I wanted you to realize that your love is a purple unicorn

dancing with Cinderella on the heads of the 7 dwarfs

emus and fairytales singing in unison

but I never read parentheses out loud

and all that comes out is…


close parentheses)

I love you.

That night, I fell in love with not only love or the potential fairytale-like idea of love, I fell in love with the art of slamming. It can be funny, it can be witty, it can be dark, it can be profound. My poems stayed dark but also sometimes got more tangential, and that is all because of this wondrous night. Thank you to my brother-in-law, thank you to Jonathan Yaffe, thank you to Big Poppa E and Brian Andreas….

Speaking of Big Poppa E, I have to give him a shout out. He has been my true idol, my inspiration, my favorite ‘N’, the reason I started blogging in 2002, the reason I hid my blogging for years, the reason I kept journals…oh, Eirik, YOU…thanks for giving me a rebirth at 15. Because now, I know when someone loves me before he EVER says it. Poetry saved my life. Poetry changed my life.


WTF, Portland?

I love my transplant hometown. I mean, for me, there’s no better place to be, or no place I have found to feel most like a “home”. But since Portlandia has taken off, I constantly wonder why Portland has decided to start making a complete mockery of ITSELF.

Disclaimer: I am a total hipster hippie. I ride my bicycle, I drink craft coffee and local liquor, I go to beerfests, I am gluten-free, I am Paleo. I am a yogi. I have dabbled in crossfit. I like strange games like bocce. I don’t use an umbrella when it rains. I’ve even started rolling up my pant legs and keeping them like that. I engage in philosophical discussions on the MAX. I wear Nike. I am part of the slow food movement and know my farmers. I get grumpy when New Seasons changes ranchers or egg carriers on me. I only shop local. And I am a snob about that.

But, Portland, you are going too far even for me. This morning, I was in New Seasons to buy my 1.5 lbs of bacon for the week. (Sidenote: this experience got me really peeved because I usually buy Carlton Farms regular pork bacon which is so good at rendering fat from, and I just absolutely love their little piggies…today, they switched bacon carriers on me, and I was actually upset enough to comment on it. Don’t fuck with my bacon!)

So I was wandering through the store, looking for a card for a friend, when I found these:

  1. Seriously? This just reminds me of people who try to milk their hamsters….Image
  2. Next to the book above, there was a SHELF of bicycle stuff. Hey, everything you need to worship your two-wheeler! Who reads “I love my bike?” Weird.                                                                                                    Image
  3. Ok, I don’t know which of these actually disturbs me more. The beard thing has been going on for a few years, I know, but it has ALWAYS annoyed the shit out of me. WHy is this a thing? Why do women want to wear/try on lame beards? Why do men want to wear plastic beards? This is not cool, or cute, or funny. It is lame. STOP IT. But THEN…what the fuck is the trend in Star Wars origami about? Who does this? Who pays $20 to make a freaking yoda origami set? WHO DOES THIS?Image

Tony Bourdain, maybe you’re right to not visit Portland. I could just see you cringing.

All for now…



“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

~Neil Gaiman

My therapist explained the discomfort of trying new things using the analogy of an acorn and an oak tree. The acorn has to die for the tree to grow. And when that tree grows, it’s the strongest tree out there. With the pain of breakdown comes breakthrough.