Author: Meghan Tutolo

Hello, San Francisco, Goodbye: Part 3

It was the moment I'd been waiting for, for months. Between the excitement and the exhaustion, I felt like I was either dreaming or a high-functioning zombie. It was in this sleep-deprived surreality that I got my luggage, signed for my over-priced rental car and stepped out into the ...cold?

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Hello, San Francisco, Goodbye: Part 2

“If I love you, I’ll love you forever, you know?”

Once, I said that to someone as a warning. By that point, it was probably too late, but I do believe love is a choice. Even if we aren’t aware that we are making a decision in the moment, there is a moment. We can choose to jump from that cliff. Or not. Unfortunately, for some of us, loving someone isn’t an action that can be undone.

This is part of what makes this story so hard to share. But there is more to it.

For one, the story isn’t just mine. Part of me feels guilty for throwing it out in the world, but this is what I do. I am a writer and probably for this very reason: to figure shit out, to process, to share with others, to connect, to heal (hopefully). So yeah, I want to be as respectful as possible. I know that my intentions are good, and I want to make sure my writing reflects that. But because of this, it feels like I’m writing in Pig Latin or something. If anything here seems cryptic or too elusive, please know it’s only because I’m trying to be… kind-ish?

Secondly, a move like this definitely has some Mortal Kombat “Finish Him” vibes. Whether my blog is read by the person or not, putting this out there gives a certain finality to our relationship. I’m pretty sure those coffin nails have been hammered in, but like I said above, when I love, I love. There is no “off” switch, so maybe I’m stalling, wading/waiting?

Lastly, it’s just downright embarrassing. Who flies across the country and invests so much time, energy and money into a person (and for all those years, really) when it must’ve been clear all along that the two of us were not on the same page? Who could be so foolish (?), naïve (?), unlovable (?) …if not those things, then what? I honestly do not know.

So. Here we are.

I am relentless in my need to figure out everything and anything. This is no different. While I risk being too reductive ( and annoying tf out of anyone who is actually trying to follow this), the story truly relies on logistics.  So I’m sorry for all of the prefacing, but this is the last of it.

Here is some scene setting in the form of pre-trip communications, Exhibits A through C. Ha! It sort of feels like that, evidence. Bear with me and the next part will be the full story. I’ve been stuck trying to figure out a way to explain this without just blatantly sharing the full texts of text messages. And I think maybe that’s just too invasive and unkind, right?

EXHIBIT A

In Part 1 of this tale, I describe planning the trip and the hotel while discussing it with K through texts. I would consider this Exhibit A. This direct quote from the conversation seems necessary to later revelations. K said this in response to my excited nervousness for traveling solo:

“While you’re here, if anything goes sideways, I’m here to help! You’ll be travelling alone with bowling alley bumpers.”

 

EXHIBIT B

About two weeks before the trip, COVID was running wild again—this time, it was the emergence of the Omicron subvariant, BA.5. This made me incredibly nervous, and so I texted K:

“Let’s not get COVID right now. I’m so nervous about getting it before I go. And the only reason I’m going for those extra days is for you! (alien emoji)”

I got no response, so the next day, I was sweatin’ it. I hate bugging people, but this seemed timely.

“You there?” I asked.

She answered. Whew. K explained she had some life stuff going on and the day before, when I texted, she was very “distracted.” I can understand that, of course. The conversation that followed, though, was about job transitions and the rampant BA.5. While my excitement was peaking for the upcoming visit, she didn’t mention it at all. Is that weird? Am I reading into something?

This is where I began to feel some sort of distancing. It’s hard to explain, but it felt like the focus of our conversation kept sliding into everything but the trip. These were texts, though. So maybe I was imagining it.

 

EXHIBIT C

About a week before the trip, K texted me. She asked what dates/times I’d be there specifically, so she could make sure our time together was “completely blocked off.” I was working, but I was so excited that I stopped to log into my flight schedule so I could double check and relay the dates and times correctly. She mentioned the crazy life things going on, but she seemed genuinely excited to make the time for us.

By this point, I was practically on the ceiling. Stupidly. Childishly. Like I was 11 again in the backseat surrounded by blankets and pillows and a brand of feverish anticipation that you can barely remember as an adult. The kind of excitement that makes you step out of your body and ask yourself:

Should I let myself be this excited? How bad will it hurt?

Hello, San Francisco, Goodbye: Part 1

San Francisco Bay Bridge in Fog 2022
Bay Bridge Fog, Meghan Tutolo (2022).

This isn’t the happy story I thought it would be.

I wrote and re-wrote this blog entry over the last month. It kept turning out as more of a chapter than a story—a brain mosaic of narrative tangled with memories and past traumas. Who do I think I am? Ha.

See, the San Francisco trip turned out to be more of a melodrama and less of a vacation, definitely not the event I’d been looking forward to for the last 4 months. The story feels important to tell, but it needs a little prefacing to make sense. So… buckle up? Or not. Boogie on out now, if you want. I totally get it.

Can we start with the song? I’ve had this song in my head since I landed at SFO on the 28th of July.

Hello, San Francisco, baby, I don’t ever want to die…

It was February when I planned the trip. In the middle of yet another Pandemic Winter, I was looking for a reason to keep going, you know? When you live in Pittsburgh—pandemic or no pandemic—February is pretty bleak. Groundhog Phil’s grim forecast didn’t help. So when the callout came up on my Facebook feed that poet Dorianne Laux would be workshopping at a four-day writing conference in California (on my birthday!), I perked up a bit. It definitely had those “meant to be” kind of vibes.

I love birthdays. Not just my birthday, but everyone’s. I love any excuse to celebrate the people I love in the cheesiest, gushiest, most ridiculous way. Still, July hits a little different these days. It was years ago now that Denise died 10 days before my birthday. If you don’t know, Denise was my soul sister—”my favorite person in the world,” I would tell her. So yeah, you could say there is some earned Birthday Abandonment™ trauma connected to this time of year. July rolls in hot and sunshiny, but with a weird ache. I feel it before I know it’s here.

Funny how it was her voice in my head as I was daydreaming about this solo trip across the country:

“C’mahhn. You have to live a little.”

There was more than one reason to visit the Bay Area: K lives there. K and I are what you might call penpals. We’d been posting each other (letters, postcards and packages) for over 10 years now, but she’s known me since I was just a silly, self-deprecating 14 year old posting on Tori Amos message boards online.  (In case you were wondering what kind of adolescent I was… haha. It’s a pretty good tell.)

I referred to K as “probably my best friend, though we’ve never met.”

In 2017, we did meet. And, you know, everything clicked. Though I was nervous as all get out, that same energy and connection were there from our letters. What a relief! It was a short first visit and I was looking for any reason to get out to see her again. This writing conference seemed like the perfect opportunity. It was the two things that convinced me to look into it further, seeing K and the conference. High-tailing it to the Left Coast for just a one activity seemed a little more than frivolous, money- and time-wise. So, two birds, as they say.

I texted K and a couple of my SF friends to see what they thought. To my excitement, K was super into the idea of getting more time together. And boy, not to be too dramatic, but I really needed it. The pandemic era has made mashed potatoes of my sanity and so much has felt overwhelming: health stuff, roof, chimney, a lawsuit?, the thousand small cuts of homeownership, etc. And just like any small business owner, I’d been working overtime to make the money to take care of this shit. The point: there was an excitement there that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I mean, I don’t really allow myself that kind of anticipation anymore. (I swear it’s more practical than pessimistic.) But I wasn’t on my game. I was on E—physically, emotionally—and so very willing to push myself harder for this opportunity.

So BOOM. Just like that, the plans were made: I would fly in, rent a car, book a hotel for 3 days in the Northern Bay Area to spend time with her, and then, drive down to Pebble Beach for the conference. Once it was over, I’d drive back up to the airport and fly home.

Let’s throw our bones away, get happy, babe. ‘Cause I’m seeing blue again… 

I’m not sure how to tell the story from here. You can probably guess that things didn’t go quite like that, right?

Spoiler alert: I still don’t know what the hell happened, really, and neither does anyone I’ve tried to hash it out with. But I’ll explain more in the next part.

Until then, go listen to that Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s song.

mt

OMG, a Pittsburgh Magazine interview

Sometimes there is good news.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with the super talented Lori Jakiela. Though we have known each other a very long time, I’m not sure we ever really talked about my past this way. Of course, I gabbed her ear off for hours about ADHD, doodling, letter writing, my dad, motorcycling, the whole bit. (I hope she learned her lesson asking me questions like that, ha!)

Then, she tells me a photographer will be coming by to snap a picture of me. I have to admit that I was dreading it. I mean, does anyone love their picture taken? Little did I know, Becky Thurner Braddock and I would be laughing and gushing in my driveway for 2 hours (the day before I left for San Francisco—another post entirely). She was an absolute magician—she put me at ease immediately and really seemed to capture my guts. Props included: my motorcycle, my helmet, my chicken helmet cover and even the Beez, at one point. Those pictures weren’t used for the article, but don’t worry. I’m hoping a few will see the light soon.

Ok. While I’m pretty sure this all makes me seem much cooler than I am, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be seen and heard. Leave it to Jakiela to turn my blabbing into a work of art. Her column, “Stories of Our Neighbors” is a beautiful peek into the lives of Pittsburghers.

A big thank you to Pittsburgh Magazine and everyone who went into making this happen. My cheeks will be red for weeks, I bet.

Read the interview by Lori Jakiela:

“Stories of Our Neighbors: When Things Don’t Work I Want to Fix Them”

Meghan Tutolo for Pittsburgh Magazine - 2 / by Becky Thurner Braddock

Part 1: Bravery in the bathtub

It was one of those nights.

I ended up on the hardwood floor, alone, half-dressed, curled into a heaving pastry and bawling my eyes out like the little girl I once was. Admittedly, I haven’t had one of these “pity parties” for a while, only tallying up to a few per year in my 30s. They always seem to come after a tornado of tasks and obligations, only after I slow down and come to a stop. It’s like my shadow in all of its “weight of the worldliness” catches up to me and bowls me down like a swift slap to my backside. But like everything else I experience, I always find away to laugh about it later—if I mention it at all.

Let me say, this isn’t meant to demean or to devalue anyone’s experience. The human condition is ripe with reasons to bun-up and break down—internally, externally, a twist cone of both. There is no shame in any of it and I try not to judge. I’ve had my share of Sarah McLachlan moments, you know? I was dramatic as hell in high school, so many emotions. Anyway…

I don’t let myself cry now. I change lanes in my brain before the inner monologue gets a chance to break me. And before you lecture me, I know the spiel. Crying is a release or whatever. I’ve heard this my whole life—a trope that has never manifested itself into my reality. Crying helps some people, but not me. But that’s another post for another day.

This time, post-cinnamon-roll, I thought maybe I could be ballsy enough to write about it. It’s not that I haven’t before. As trite as it sounds, writing has been a coping mechanism of mine since I can remember. Writing is how I’ve wrangled and untangled the many thoughts and ideas that swirl inside of my brain at light speed. Hell, I’ve got a couple of degrees in writing. I have a poetry chapbook that still means the world to me… but this wasn’t a topic I have written about, not really. And though I have never stopped writing, I have stopped sharing my writing. Not very “academic” of me, huh? (I can see that glaring time gap on my CV now. Years.)

But ok, this time, could I uncurl from my floor and write about my experiences? Could I stop self-editing my words into smoke? Could I follow through a WordPress post without simply hitting the “save draft” button and boogying on out of there (never to return)? Maybe. But I’d have to be quick about it.

So I filled a bath with Epsom salt, soft smelling bubbles and way-too-hot water and hopped in. Oh yeah, candles too. I grabbed my iPhone, opened the WordPress app… and here I am, raisining and fingertyping in the one place that doesn’t cause me pain: the bathtub. 

It’s time to get out now and I haven’t even begun to share anything, but I know if I hit “save draft,” I won’t be coming back. So I’m publishing. Without too much editing, without photos, without links or carefully inserted post-humor. I’m not going to attempt to make light of this anymore. And I’m going to share it. Because this is the only way I know for sure that I will be held accountable. My OCD is the only thing more powerful than my ADHD. No joke.

Until next post…

mt

My Top 9 NEW Obsessions brought to you by Pandemic Life

 

Furby Face by Meghan Tutolo

While my last post (eons ago, really) went into one of my many obsessions, aka Gillovny, this post is a silly little list-style tribute to my newer pandemic-born obsessions. I wanted to share these, because hey, maybe you need something to consume your days and torment your soul too. Or maybe you just need to know you’re not alone. Either way, let’s do this…

 

9. Morbid shit.

Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

Ok, I know it’s trendy to be obsessed with true crime shows, podcasts, documentaries, etc., but this shit has been my jam since, like, Windows 98. (Does anyone remember Rotten.com? Ugh.) It just so happens that now, due to the hype, there is a serious cache of all things murder and mystery. When you’re like me and you think you’ve watched/read/listened to just about every crime and unsolved case to ever happen in the good ol’ U.S.A., it might be time for podcasts. I scarcely listen to music anymore, but what am I rocking out to when I’m in the basement workshop making stained glass things?

Morbid, The Podcast
Hold onto your butts. These ladies bring the funny and make it feel like you’re just gabbing about murders with your bffs.

The Vanished Podcast
At the heart of my true crime obsession is disappeared/missing people cases, so it’s no wonder I have binged the entire show. There are plenty of episodes for binging and many are cases I’ve never heard of.

Radio Rental
Starring ya boy Rainn Wilson from The Office, this podcast features the wildest true stories told by the folks who lived them. I can’t stop thinking about them, to be honest. There is one in particular that has me 99.5% sure that we live in a simulation. #glitchinthematrix

Other noteworthy true crime podcasts include Unsolved Mysteries, In Your Own BackyardUnexplained Mysteries… honestly, if it’s a true crime podcast, I’ve probably listened to it.

8. Coins

Can I get anymore grandpa than this? Maybe not, but did you know that you could be carrying around, dropping, and/or Coinstar-ing coins that are worth dollars? Though I’ve always had a fascination with coins (and used to dream about finding really big ones as a kid?), finding this damn TikTok account had me on the floor dumping tins of change and paying with cash at the store. What I didn’t know is that coins that have obvious mistakes or blips in their printing are worth tons. The least you can do is make sure you don’t have a weird printed coin in your stash before you plop them down the Coinstar drain, you know?

7. HelloFresh

Puffer and HelloFresh

First, no, I’m not getting paid for this.

Here’s the deal: in my 30s, I’ve become so bored with food. Whether food boredom has to do with my age or just the pandemic, HelloFresh sort of woke up the kitchen a bit. I like that it introduces some new flavors to our routine of chicken + whole-grain carb + vegetable. For one, anything dubbed “Bulgogi” and I’m all in. WTF is that even?

Sure, Hello Fresh is easy and convenient (with no need for shopping and meal planning), but there is like ZERO food waste. My very-Italian father would be proud.

And hey, if you want to try Hello Fresh, they’re always bugging me to handout these codes for free weeks of meals to new peeps. So hit me up if you’d like to try them out. I promise it’s not a pyramid scheme. I get nothing in return.

6. Houseplant Harlot

Houseplant Love by Meghan Tutolo

If I’ve earned any new title since The COVID-19 rocked planet Earth, it would be Supposed Savior of Lost and Forgotten Houseplants. Ugh. It’s a nightmare, really. I go to Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. and find these sad-ass succulents and cacti that need love and somehow I attach feelings to them. So what? So I buy them in these near-death states—often without discount—then bring them home for A to repot and take care of. I mean, I’ve gotten better at handling my responsibilities, but I’m admittedly the worst. I just go around worried they’re all dying or not happy and point it out like a nagging and helpless housewife.

“A, I think this one is getting a fungus. Maybe you’re overwatering it? Do you think we should move it to the other window?”

If I were her, I’d axe me in my sleep. What’s crazy is that before this, I was KILLER of all houseplants. Like, I couldn’t keep a cactus alive.

My latest buy is a group of 3 carnivorous babes from an Etsy seller in Florida. I mean, I’m probably going to kill them, because I always do, but I was impressed with how well they shipped! Recommend Etsy and this seller for plants.

5. Rocks

I’ve always had a collection of gems and rocks and crystals, but I’ve definitely upped my game this past year. In trying to support small businesses—like myself—now more than ever, I’ve found some cool rock shops on Etsy. Loving Thyself Rocks has a pretty amazing selection of rocks and they are constantly adding more. But besides this, the duo behind the business has a pretty sweet story of overcoming some serious life shit.

Do crystals cure ailments? Can they alter ones mood? Will they bestow you with sixth-sense-style abilities? I don’t know the answers to these things, but I do know that everything has a certain energy to it and certain rocks promote certain vibes. No magic necessary.

4. Lottery Tickets

I can’t count on two hands the number of Friday or Saturday nights (during the pandemic) that we camped out in the living room with some soggy takeout, a true crime documentary and a couple of bingo or crossword scratch-offs. I mean, who have we become? Let me reiterate that it must be game-type scratchies. Otherwise, it’s just a quick ripoff. We prefer that slow burn apparently. Oh, and I won’t buy anything higher in price than like $5.

Helpful Tip #1:  Dimes work best for scratching, since they have little ridges along their sides. Plus, their tiny size makes them ideal for hitting those small bingo spaces.

Helpful Tip #2: The PA Lottery has an app that allows you to check the ticket’s QR code right there, so you know if you won or not right on the spot.

3. Furby?

Meghan Tutolo with Furby

Maybe the title for this category should just be Hunting For and Buying Weird Shit From My Childhood. So before COVID Times, I spent a lot of my “downtime” being a browsy browser. I love going to stores to just stroll around and look at things. It’s relaxing and inspiring to me. I don’t know why exactly, but yeah, obviously things changed and we were stuck in our houses, venturing out only for necessities. That energy had to go somewhere… and as much as I tried to limit my spending, it didn’t stop me from buying a brand-new, in-the-box Furby (1st series, 1998.)

Furby is not just an old toy. I found a cult-like following of Furby owners, Furby mods and Long Furby. Oh boy. Don’t go down that rabbit hole if you’re not prepared to see some weird shit. Look, I’ll be the first to admit that quarantine has been a one-way ticket to Strangetown for me. After all, life is too short to be boring and predictable, yeah?

2. Glass, Glass and More GLASS

Meghan Tutolo at Youghiogheny Glass

Let’s just say my collection of bandaids is beyond help.

I’ve been making glass thangs since before the COVID, but the ante has been SEVERELY upped. For the most part, I’ve been a machine. I mean, I work my day job and then hole up in the basement all night because I’m essentially a subterranean mole person at this point. The winter was the peak of this and after a while, it felt kind of garbage-y. When I finally did, I would go out into the world and blink and fumble like a gd day goblin.

But it’s not just the making that I love. I love buying glass too, so I totally leveled up in that category.

Shameless plug: If you’re interested in peeping some of my glass creations, I sell my glass only in-person and on Instagram. (Check out the FOR SALE story highlights button on my IG profile to see what’s currently available.)

1. TikTok

I know, I know, I know… I’m 92% sure I’m too old for TikTok. BUT the CAT VIDEOS. C’mon. I love making music montages of the beezes, making music-bopping parades of my glass creations and mostly just flipping through some of the most creative, insightful, inspiring and hilarious shit I’ve ever encountered. I loved Vine, but TikTok is master curator. For real. I’ve never been more seen in my life.

Plus, before TikTok, I spent my bedtime scrolling angrily through Twitter and feeling like one of those red-faced cartoon characters from the Loony Toons days… you know, the ones with the fat heads and the smoke kapow-ing out of their ears? Though goofy and often time-consuming (sleep-consuming?), TikTok has warmed my bones. Let me share my favorite TikTok peeps with you.

TikTok People to Follow:

  • HeadoftheHoochies – I’m not sure what it is about this QUEEN, but I love everything about her. I love watching her talk, scold her cats… and like, has anyone’s hair ever taken so many shapes, colors and styles in such a short period of time? She keeps it real and isn’t afraid to call out a “snow possum.” Get out of here.
  • Jimmy Darts – I am not sure if I’ve ever cried so many happy tears in my life. This sweet man goes around giving people money and doing awesome things for others. He gets suggestions from people who donate the money and he goes out and does the things. Sometimes they are silly as hell. But he’s made so many friends. Anyway, if you need your humanity restored, this is the account for you.
  • SubwayCreatures – Need I say more?
  • Keyon – I laugh so hard I cry. Might just be the funniest observational comic out there roaming these streets.
  • Bridget Chant – Well, it’s actually her bird Hamlet. Darling af. I’m not sure I can explain… you have to check him out for yourself.
  • And if you want to, you should follow me.

Okay, that’s enough of me. What are YOU up to? How are you coping? I hope you’ve found something—no, many things—that keep you grounded/contented/able to function. Hopefully they are things that aren’t too destructive? Tell me things!

mt

There’s no karma in weather

Old Toys // 2020 Copyright Meghan Tutolo

We get what we deserve.

Pffft. You don’t believe that do you? I don’t. I mean, I didn’t think so. I think… maybe somewhere deep down in there, I’m programmed to believe this, though. I know you’ve thought it too: If I do good, then good will come to me. We also like to tell each other: Bad people will “get theirs.” These delusions keep us going.

And why wouldn’t we think that? We’re trained from an early age to believe in rewards and consequences. Whether you grew up watching Disney movies and reading fairytales or learning the parables of the Bible, you were taught to be a good person through positive and negative reinforcement. This, then, evolves from the easy and superficial into the grown-up and severe—some omniscient score card, you might say. But if not your parents or teachers or older siblings looking over your shoulder, who is keeping score? The universe? God? You? Tallying up your good deeds and sacrifices, waiting to cash them in for some Get Out of a Jam Free Card?

You know this is complete bullshit, right?

But does that change the monologue you’re having inside your head? Are you still shocked when liars and thieves make it out seemingly unscathed? When bad people win the lottery? Get the girl? Do you tell yourself that their behavior will catch up to them? Does that make you feel better? Do you believe that?

No amount of hindsight rationalizing can blur the truth here. Life is wholly unfair. Bad people win. Good people lose. Good people die. Good people die too soon. Not just good people, amazing people die. Needed people. Talented people. People with so much to offer the world. People who inspire others. Good people who deserve good things die.

Fuck.

Some good people have died in the last few months. Amazing people. People whose lives meant so much to so many other lives. And I just can’t reconcile this in my brain. Even if I know what I know. Even then.

I know some of you have your religion. While it’s not my intention to shit all over that, religion isn’t a good enough answer for me. These are just my opinions, of course. “God” is so good at being a catch-all for the unknown and the unfair. It’s a nice way to comfort yourself, to bandage wounds. But that’s all it is. It’s something we’ve invented to do just that. And why? Because it’s too hard to believe in nothing.

The truth is… the world is precarious. Just because we have a conscience doesn’t mean the universe does. In fact, that’s what makes it so beautiful. We, as humans, spend our lives trying to figure it all out, expecting some predictable outcome… like how Cinderella wins her prince or how the slow-moving, but determined, tortoise finishes first.

But we don’t live in a children’s book.

We love our patterns and scales and even numbers. We spin our wheels trying to create some bigger picture from all of these random pieces, like trying to put together a bad jigsaw puzzle. So when shit doesn’t add up and the scales don’t balance, we’re left in the middle of the floor, sleepless, on our hands and knees, surrounded by all these pieces, thinking maybe we just aren’t getting it. Maybe there’s another way.

But there’s nothing to get. And even in knowing that, it doesn’t make it any lighter.

Hang onto each other. If we are all we have, we are all we have, you know?

mt

 

Twenty-twenty vision…

Livermore Cemetery, PA // 2020 Copyright Meghan Tutolo

2020, you’re dumped.

If this were middle school and I were 11 again, that’s exactly what I’d say to this year thus far. Here we are. Even with the naive hope that this year might be good, make up for the roller coaster of last year, I can say officially that 2020 is en route to Blowstown. Something like Death, in fact.

No, no… I’m not trying to Emily Dickinson y’all by personifying death, the concept; I’m talking about the tarot card. Number 13 of the major arcana. That Death.

Death is depicted most classically as a skeleton riding a white horse. Often there’s a person or people under that horse with distressed faces—pleading, maybe? It can be interpreted as something like “death comes for all.” It’s more than that, though. While it seems grim and morbid, there’s more depth to the Death card than that.

Rider Waite Tarot - Major Arcana Death XIII

 

I’m not going to lie, though. When I draw this card for myself or others, it’s pretty unnerving. I mean, who wants “Death” to pop up in their spread? The image itself is creepy. But just remember: the Death card is about change, typically an abrupt and sudden change that leads to something new. A transformation of sorts? A death of something? Maybe you didn’t initiate it or plan for it, but sometimes a forced switch of the gears is necessary.

Grim reaper dude here gets a bad rep, for sure, but Death can be a positive card. While change is scary, it’s mostly necessary for growth. So you know, sometimes you have to play the long game? Look at the big picture, as they say.

So… I’m not sure what the Death card means for me personally, but I’ve never been good at dealing with change. Most transformations feel traumatic. The letting go of things is hard—even when what I’m holding to is toxic. I don’t always see it that way. I too often embrace the difficult, the challenging, the things that make me question my own worth. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Change is something I often have to dare myself into. But here we are, 2020, and already I can say the year has been difficult… eye-opening.

Ok, so I get it. Life is a chaotic culmination of wins and losses. I’ve got all these damn feelings, and so I’m the type that straps in for it for real, ups and downs (for better or worse). It’s not the usual for me, but I got pretty low recently, more than I’d been in a long time. I guess what’s so scary about it was that I forgot how fucking hard it is to get out and up again.

Snowballing. It started with an injury that had me limping and kept me from the gym. Without that physical outlet and the restraints of literally hobbling around, I caved in on myself. The shit piles that appeared were harder to navigate. Sometimes it’s just the timing and quantity of bad things (no matter how small) that can sink you. At some point there, I found it hard to get out of bed, to find the reasons, you know? This is not my typically sads, but it seemed like everywhere I turned, I hit a wall or a rejection or a silence.

Not to be dramatic, but it’s devastating to learn how very alone you are. It’s like that Dorianne Laux poem I like to reference, “After Twelve Days of Rain.” Nothing is really yours. You are no one’s. None of that matters. This realization can be either liberating or ruinous. I thought I knew this truth. had felt it even. But this latest valley made me realize how easy it is to lose—especially when you don’t have a family—and how important genuine human connection is. (And no, I don’t mean Facebook comments or text messages, but the kind of connection that exists without the white screen.)

God, even the word “need” makes me cringe. I mean, who wants to need anyone? My stepmom used to say, “Your dad wouldn’t ask for a bite of a sandwich if he was starving.” I relate. Too much so. And as you can see, this cycle of needing and then shaming oneself for needing is kind of dangerous. Particularly so when you’re at the bottom… when you need a sandwich.

Maybe this was my abrupt and sudden change? My Death card is a wakeup call?

I’m here rambling to try to figure it all out. That’s part of why I write in general: things get too abstract and tangled upstairs. But also, sharing these things feel important too, because someone out there might need to hear it and know they aren’t the only alien floating around in outer space. Before this, I thought I had my people, but you know, maybe not. And that’s okay. It has to be okay. (I’m telling myself this as much as I am telling you.) Our people are out there. We can throw a pity party for eternity and block out all the good and trust no one… or we can hold our hearts hopeful. We’ll only be extra alone if we don’t stay open. We’ll only become “get-off-my-lawn” old and miserable. Can you dig it?

No matter what, I think I will always carry around this burden of “unlovable.” It’s a chain around my neck, the lack of unconditional love, a family, growing up. I now know that’s what my dad felt and what he has passed onto me. My heart breaks for him. Though I didn’t realize this when he was alive, I think some part of healing myself might just heal him too. Is that crazy?

So here I am. Back to the gym (finally), trying to believe, trying to hope, trying to give myself everything I hoped to get from people who loved me. I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow, but this is how I feel today. It’s okay. I’m telling myself this as much as I am telling you.

mt

 

 

2019… what?

2019, what can I say?

It’s hard to sum up a year, any year, but especially this year. 2019 was loaded—for better or worse. I thought, how about a list? Maybe a list. I’m good at lists…

1. Stained glass! I had a decision to make this year… I had waited a couple years before taking the plunge into glass land. Hey, it’s a big commitment, dollar-wise and all. I mean, what if I didn’t like it? What if I couldn’t do it well? But I’m so glad I took the risk. A special thanks for Glenn Greene for believing in me and showing me the ropes.

2. I saved up for and bought my first motorcycle, a Suzuki TU250X.

3. I fell on my first motorcycle and injured my shoulder, but luckily not the motorcycle. Thank god for that AAA membership and Alex, who legit took care of me in that moment in a way I can’t even describe (three words: King Size PayDay).

4. Someone who I consider family and who I love a whole lot (one of my soul people, in fact) was diagnosed with cancer this year. Claiming this on my list feels strange and selfish or something, but when you love someone that’s just how it goes. FYI: she totally kicked its ass, which is probably the best thing about this year for me.

5. I bought a house. On paper, this is a win, but getting there was a lot more sad and stressful. We were kicked out of our home/apartment in Regent Square by a greedy 25-year-old rich white boy and his daddy who bought the building. They gave us 45 days to relocate. Maybe I should be rejoicing that I had the money saved up to make this happen, but there is so much more to this story. (Like how his family was in the yard out front the next day saying things like “God brought Tr*mp here to heal the country” to our Jewish housemate.) We almost went to court too… an uncertainty that was drug out for too long. To be honest, I think I’m still processing all of this. Luckily, though, we got a much better spot… and we never have to deal with being displaced that way.

6. “At least, you didn’t die at Walmart.” Sure, Abbie and I didn’t die at Walmart. Lucky us. Instead we were running for what might be our lives while gunshots rang out from behind… literally 3 days before we were moving. In hindsight, it feels dramatic, but in the moment, we were all terrified. The worst part about this event is how it felt like everyone used this afterwards to console us as we struggled through house buying and homeownership. Blah.

7. I said goodbye to Meredith Baxter Birney, the Scion. After 10+ years, a new transmission, some rust, and finally, a leaking head gasket, it was time to put her to bed. As you know, my luck with Meredith wasn’t great. In fact, she only had 117,000 miles on her when I discovered the leaking head gasket that drained my oil. That said, no more Toyotas for me. I moved on and leased a Honda CRV LX. His name is Frankie, as in Frank O’Hara. I needed something to haul my art and show stuff, and it has been a great choice so far. It’s so fancy. And the heated seats? Woo. Way luxurious. 

8. The pain. It’s not something everyone knows about, nor is it something I talk about too often. Before I experienced it, I never thought too much about chronic pain or nerve pain, etc. I’ve been trying for almost 4 years now to figure it out. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars, wasted so much of my time and energy… and hope. It really is more maddening than it is painful. But if you have any sort of persistent pain, you know what I mean. At the beginning of the year, I tried to take another path—I went to someone who has experience with my particular issue, TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome). Though he taught me some valuable things, he did not fix my pain. Actually, it got worse. This could be a much longer bit, but let’s just say I’ve got some new hope today—where foolish or otherwise, I’ve been finding some relief. So here we go, 2020.

9. 1flychicken creationsIt’s hard to explain what this small business means to me. What started as a hobby, then a side hustle, has turned into something much bigger and much more meaningful than I could’ve ever imagined. (I have all of you to thank!) It came out of my love of giving (making/finding) the perfect gift for my people. This is the heart of all I do, because let’s face it, thoughtfulness might be the best gift. It’s not so much about the physical thing as it is the time and energy and love behind it. Being able to make and offer those unique items (as gifts for others and for shoppers themselves) is the closest thing I’ve felt to pure magic. For real. And making things? It’s almost necessary for me to function at this point. Being creative and being productive are two things that keep me sane. And while it’s some of the hardest work I’ve encountered (both physical and mental), I am so very grateful to have the opportunity. Here’s to 2020 continuing the pace. (Did I mention all the amazing folks I’ve met along the way?)

10. Not sure if I’d survive the world—especially this past year—if it wasn’t for Happy Family. This is the name I have given to our lil’ collective of cats and humans. As much as I am an independent person, who probably annoys Abbie with my pride and drawn lines, I am wholly grateful for her love and support and supreme belief in me. I mean, she probably thinks I’m like 45% better than I am, which drives me bananas, but I’ll let her keep thinking that for a while. Ha! Need I even tell you how much my cats mean to me? I hate it. I hate loving something so hard and so helpless. But just looking at them makes me heart pee, you know? 

Man, after writing this, it still feels like there is so much more to talk about. AWP, poetry, losing my grandfather, new friends, old friends, art events, the fall semester, almost teaching a poetry workshop, etc… but I’ll stop here. Maybe tell some more in photos soon…

What was your year like? I hope through all of the challenges in your year, you can take from it, grow from it and give yourself everything you need to kick some 2020 ass.


mt