The next, best thing

There will be a time

when the thing grazes the tips of your fingers

and you sense

the displacement of the air

between you and the thing.

Do not mistake this displacement

as your own.


Your feet, shoulder’s width apart,

are planted as they should be

The thing was not yours.

Not that one.

Maybe not even the one after that.

Do not lunge

at a near-miss

lest you come unmoored.

Best believe.

Extend your arms,

bend your knees,

open your heart

for the next, best thing.


And yet, here we are.

I did not write this because I stayed in the bathtub until all the suds were gone and the water got cold.

I did not write this because it is not poetry.

I did not write this because the Christmas tree is still up.

I did not write this because my morning alarm goes off at 5 AM and it’s already midnight.

I did not write this because somebody has to wash the sheets.

I did not write this because I started it years ago and need to just finish it already.

I did not write this because there’s a new season of The Crown out now, and I’m still on season 3.

I did not write this because I didn’t think you’d like it.

I did not write this because I didn’t think you’d “like” it.

I did not write this because I need my salaried job with health and vision.

I did not write this because my firstborn left home, and I wasn’t ready.

I did not write this because it’s all good.

I did not write this because it sounds like something else I read once.

I did not write this because he watches YouTube videos on tech or politics or cryptocurrency in bed at night.

I did not write this because that project is [past] due.

I did not write this because most Black people can’t afford to be artists.

I did not write this because she wanted me to read another bedtime story.

I did not write this because we never even kissed, and that kind of love is involute.

I did not write this because I got stuck.

I did not write this because nothing makes sense these days.

I did not write this because there are so many books to read first.

I did not write this because I wanted to.

And yet, here we are.

pâro and home remedies

Somewhere in the 13th hour of the workday, I hit a wall. Words were swimming on the screen. “Why can’t I ever get done?”

Defeated, I got up from my desk and headed to the shower, armed with the new lemon-sage body wash and shower gloves that Amazon had just left at my front door, the only thing I’d had to look forward to in days.
No time for anything else.

I don’t (entirely) blame my job. I’ve always struggled with boundaries. Perfectionism and anxiety and a touch of obsessive compulsion. Toss in a pandemic. Sprinkle liberally with racial unrest. Place in the pressure cooker that is public school education. Set timer to “uncertainty”, and voila!


n. the feeling that no matter what, [what] you do is always somehow wrong—as if there’s some obvious way forward that everybody else can see but you, each of them leaning back in their chair and calling out helpfully, “colder, colder, colder…”

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Perhaps I could shower it off. Lemon-sage the negative energy away.

But it was when I emerged from the bathroom that I knew, all at once, that I already had all I needed.

My freshly-turned-6-year-old had set up a spa for me.

Maya’s Magical Meadow Spa

Classical music playing.

Pine-scented candles burning.

A glass of ice water garnished with cucumber.

She bowed at the waist, something she’d seen on tv, and directed me to the smoothed/over bed for my massage.

She clambered up behind me and proceeded to push and pat at my back. Gently, her tiny fingers tapped out a message just for me.

I held back tears. Just barely.

“How’d you like your massage, Mommy?”

It’s perfect.

A fiscal, physical, metaphysical fast

I guess you could call this fasting. 

Since August 26, I’ve not posted on social media. I did sneak and check it a time or two (each day) until Thursday, September 3. This is my 7th day cold turkey. Coincidentally, we are also on a VERY tight budget until the 15th, so I haven’t been able to rely on my other addiction, fancy food. No Uber Eating. No foodie treats. Just regular budget-friendly food.

Toast and cheap coffee or tea for breakfast. Ramen noodles or a sandwich for lunch. Spaghetti and peas for dinner.

Functional food.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I usually eat my feelings.

Now that I can’t do that, I’m forced to just sit with the overwhelm. Actually, I don’t have time to sit.

My “day job” of being a high school English teacher and curriculum writer takes all day and much of the night to do “in this virtual environment”, and I’m still woefully behind. Like, I-don’t-think-I-can-ever-catch-up behind. I’m pretty much working during all my waking hours.

I’m miserable.

Then grateful to have a job.

Then miserable again.

At least I’m not dying. 

Last week I had a radiating pain in my left breast. My anxiety-prone mind jumped straight to breast cancer and stayed there. A doctor’s appointment and mammogram later, those fears were laid to rest.

Better the fears than me.

I’m glad to not be prematurely dying.

Yet, this doesn’t feel very much like living.

Do I exist?

Reliant says “your account does. Pay up.”

I took on a contract job, writing curriculum. I clearly don’t have time for that, but…here I am. We need the extra money, and I need the opportunity to build up a portfolio. It’s the only way forward.

Good lord I’m exhausted.

When will it get better?! 

Going the distance

They will judge you

whether they know enough to do so

or not,

because a lie is the shortest distance

between a stranger and a threat.

Certain skin, shapes, tongues,

ways of loving and of seeing God(s),

the way your body moves or doesn’t,

these are no mystery

though, maybe, magic.

You are a map, unfurling.

There are no shortcuts to the truth.



I’ve decided to get off social media for a while. I don’t know for how long. I do know that it had become a terrible time-suck and source of emotional self-flagellation. You see the posts. You read the comments. You click the links. You watch the videos. You hate everything. You “like” other things. Repeat cycle.

I want to get off this train.

I don’t trust myself anymore. 

What I hope this time and this journal writing experience will be is a return to center, to full honesty. And, if I’m honest, I don’t know that I will write every day. I know that I want to write every day. That will have to be enough.

I want to keep track of how I spend my time and what thoughts I allow to linger. Keep tabs of all that I take in. It is supposed to be a more curated life, isn’t it? Not just a whirling, floor-dropping shitstorm. I want to love life again. 

So, where do I begin?

I’m sitting at my desk, still in my robe and the pajamas I’ve had on the last 2 days. I did brush my teeth and wash my face, but other than that, no other physical maintenance. Instead, I have plopped myself down in front of my laptop and second monitor to try to “catch up” on work during these two days of school closure due to the threat of Hurricane Laura. 

She skirted by Houston without so much as a “boo”. She focused all her considerable energy on points east and north, plowing through Lake Charles, LA and the surrounding towns. Leveling them. I assume. I haven’t actually looked at much of the post-hurricane damage footage. (No social media). 

It was strange waking up this morning to a world ostensibly untouched. There had been so much news coverage, so much hurricane prep and panic buying, so much sky-watching. And…nothing. At least for us. 

There was something disappointing about it. Maybe I was looking for an excuse to not do things. Another reason to interrupt regularly scheduled programming. As if the pandemic itself, and the racial tensions and protests, and politics of re-opening schools haven’t been enough. So much upheaval. Why not throw a hurricane on it? I wanted a reason to pause and try to catch my breath. It’s so hard to justify doing that without an excuse that everyone can clearly see. 

“Hey, I need to take like a week – 6 months off because life has been too much, and I’m about to lose it” makes you look weak. Your job and the people counting on you just want you to keep doing the things. They say they care (solidarity and such), and yet…somebody needs to do the things. Also, bills.

So, I don’t take the time off. I feel too guilty. That’s why I needed the storm. It’s ridiculous, I know.  

Yet, here we are. No excuse. No pass. Just having to face the music. 

So what do I do with that?

I need to dig at this workaholic-procrastination-perfectionism thing, examine what makes me feel so damn unaccomplished all the time, so annoyed with myself, and work on that.

That’s it. 

That’s the status.


According to “How Stuff Works”, spacecraft re-entry is “tricky business”. I’m fairly certain that isn’t how aerospace engineers or astrophysicists would explain it. But, hey. *shrugs *

Re-entry into the work world after vacation is tricky business, too.


The object, you, launched into the freedom of space (space to breathe, to graze, to sleep, to gaze), must return to the real world.

Re-entry is sudden. Jarring even.

Gravity and drag push and pull against you, sucking you into an atmosphere charged with fabricated urgency.  Your calendar is already full. Notifications pour in. Deadlines loom large and lowering. Somehow, tasks have metastasized and spawned action items in your brief absence. The cool aura of peace that momentarily surrounded you burns away. Once briefly and tenuously calibrated, your sense of equilibrium is rocked off-center.

The ground rushes up to meet you as you hurtle, limbs flailing, earthwards. Red warning lights flashing. Alarms blaring.

You slam into terra firma.

Bounce once. Twice. Skid to a stop.

Everything goes black.

A train stalls on the tracks. The network is down. You didn’t bring lunch. The copier is jammed. But the show must go on.

You open one eye. Then the other.

The smoke clears. A voice cuts in.

“How was your break?”




7 thoughts in 7 days off social media

It has been 7 days since I logged off Facebook and Instagram for a while. I’ve had lots of thoughts in that time (like “how can I get someone to find the boy Leila likes on Instagram and see if he has ever posted any shirtless pics without sounding like a sociopath?”). But here are 7 less crazy thoughts about being off social media that are probably worth sharing.

1)  Ignorance may not be bliss, but it’s a ceasefire.

I may not know which celebrity did what or died, or what the latest outrage perpetrated by [insert entity here] is, or where you got to go/do that I didn’t, but in the quiet space left by the absence of media chatter and the resulting cognitive dissonance, there is some peace.  I like it. It gives me time to regroup and ration my ****s. I can’t be just giving them out all willy-nilly. Because, inflation.

2)  One-eyed morning-scrolling keeps you from waking up. #staywoke

For the last 7 days, I’ve gotten up within 10 minutes of waking up. I reach for the phone, check the weather, do a quick check of work email, and get up. There’s nothing else to “check” except myself, and I can do that in the bathroom. Not that I physically check myself.  I just check in to the day. Wake up to my life. There will be enough crazy populating it soon enough without me clicking and scrolling and bookmarking any extra. Bandwidth matters.

3)  It’s okay to be bored sometimes.

There was an article posted recently in Atlantic Monthly about the benefits of boredom. According to fancy scientific studies, it sparks creativity. I’d like to think that the few moments of boredom I’ve experienced in the last few days spurred some ingenuity, but I can’t be sure. There’s this (and another post I’m working on about a word I made up), so that’s something.

4)  If you take a picture of a tree falling in the forest, and you don’t post it, is your reality sound?


It still happened. And if I’m honest, I took the picture so that I can look at it, which I can still do. I don’t need anybody to “like” it, because I do. We like “likes” though, don’t we? It’s validating. “Yes, you/your food/your kid/your dog/that thing you’re doing/your Pinterest projects are interesting.”  You exist. There. Done.

Just to clarify…I did not take a picture of a tree falling in a forest. But here’s one in case nobody has posted it recently. (picture courtesy of

Tree falling


5)  You’ll have more to say if you say less.

Need I say more?

6)  There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but that’s dumb.

Idiomatically speaking, to skin a cat = achieve your goals. I’d like to think my goals in using social media were to stay connected to people, stay abreast of what’s going on in the world, to be entertained and to entertain. But, if I’m being real with myself, a lot of it was about passing the time or procrastinating. But there are other ways to do those things. It’s possible to connect through good old-fashioned conversation, an activity I engaged in during a mandated team-building time mid-week. In spite of my social awkwardness, it was refreshing. Staying informed isn’t hard to do either, and it’s easier to manage if updates aren’t speeding past you like ticker tape. I still get news notifications, but I feel less compelled to click on all of them. (See thought #1). As for passing the time and procrastination, *shrugs*, I’m trying to quit.

Strictly speaking, skinning cats is not a good use of time. It’s also gross.

7)  You have more time than you think, and it’s better than it seems.

There never seems to be enough time. Just 24 hours. But when I add back the time spent posting pictures of falling trees, one-eyed morning scrolling and skinning cats, there’s more of it. I’m estimating about 1-3 hours a day. I can fill those hours with reading or writing or playing check-up with Maya. Or with nothing. It makes me appreciate the other hours, too. Gratitude is never a waste of time. It draws out the moments around it. It creates time. Try it. Take a few moments to list the problems you DON’T have, the people you do have, and the good in you.

See?  More time.

There is enough.

So the hiatus continues.


Since I’m not on social media right now, I’m relying on readers to post this on theirs. Otherwise, this is a metaphorical tree falling in a digital forest. Alternatively (or additionally), you could comment here. Mama needs a fix.



Making Space or Whatever

I decided, rather abruptly, to take a break from social media. No Facebook. No Instagram. Haven’t tweeted in years, and only snapped like once, so no change there. I wish there was a deep reason. Something about transcendentalism or enlightenment or minimalism or mindfulness. But I can’t make such bold claims.

Really, I think it’s about clearing some space in my life for…you know… living. Tamping down my addictive nature. I really haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about “desired outcomes”. I leave that for my day job. All I know is that, for me, there is more of an illusion of connectedness than I wanted to admit to.  Social media can make you feel like you know people, that they see you. It was getting to be too much of a crutch.  This thing, posting and scrolling, reading and tapping, started to feel rote. I don’t know.

I guess what I’m saying is that there wasn’t really a big plan for this disconnection, or even a definite time frame. I’m assuming that I’ll know when it’s time for this to be over just like I knew it was time to start.

In fact, I wasn’t going to blog the process. So many others already have, like Blogger who quit social media. Besides, what do I have to add to the conversation?

Randomness and honesty.

That’s what you’re here for, right?

We’ll see how that goes.

Today’s Highlights

I wore a bright blue pleated skirt that my grandmother made for me. Every time I felt surrounded by crazy, I remembered that I was literally wrapped in love.

Me,: “Maya, do you wanna do some school work?”

Maya: “Ummm… Not yet.”




Lamenting on Lemons


Lamenting on Lemons


There is a lemon tree in our backyard.

Two, in fact.

Last year I had enough to make

A dozen jars of Lemon-Basil marmalade

And give them as gifts for Christmas.

Because when Life gives you lemons,

You make marmalade.


This year, there was supposed to be more money

So I could give more than jars,

And travel to new places.

Money to make even more of life.

But there isn’t.

And there are reasons and no reason for that.


I am looking to the lemon trees.

It’s November.

I only just noticed that there are hardly any.

Not nearly enough for marmalade

The one tree offers half a dozen acne-pocked lemons

Loosely held in leafy fingers

Threatening to toss them to the ground.

The other bore no fruit at all.

I see why Jesus cursed the fig tree.

What happens when Life won’t even give you lemons?

What do you make then?