dig in.

I smell the year’s dust burn off the coils and I am immediately put into my place.

The place where I dig even deeper for meaning and someone to share it with. It’s never easy but it’s always necessary. I don’t think it gets easier from here on out, but it certainly becomes more rewarding.

I will dig in, regardless. Another year placing my feet on the ground and putting on enough coffee for one. There is a comfort there that one only has when accepting yourself as loved and cared for because your heart is all yours and you get to indulge in it.

Maybe it is selfish. I don’t give up on other people. I still believe, regardless of how much we hurt one another, that they are the path to the bigger meaning of it all. Feeling selfless is a great feeling, but remembering to also love yourself is even better.

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It’s easy to let it get to you — to gnaw into your jaws and clench tight — but you can’t hold it forever. Forever is an awfully long time to let anyone or anything hold you down from who you really are. We’re all still figuring that part out, and some of us never will.

You know your own truths. The truth that maybe you believe cilantro tastes like soap or that you will inevitably love your pets more than your human most of the time. Love is the quietness and understanding, and also the rage within.

Pull it up from your belly and don’t forget to water it and watch it grow. Give it some sunlight and fresh air.

Cut it fresh so that it soaks it in, thirsty for what gives it life and for the knowledge that you will burst open when the moment is right.

And keep your feet warm.

Wear your favorite sweater.

Invest in a tea pot.

Love yourself, and your pets.

Feed and water and give love to both.

Read a poem.

Hug someone because scientifically it’s good for you.

Crunch some leaves.

Eat really good quality chocolate.

Let go of it all for a few moments a day,
wake up, and do it all over again.

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becoming

The cicadas have been loud lately.
I’m sure some of you have them where you live, as well. To me, they sound like home. I’ve been finding them on the small walk to my car, when I suppose they’ve given all they’ve had to give, their lifeless bodies and empty shells. Their wings, still shining and glossy and helping me to remember small beautiful things.

The acorns are falling as well. I hear them hit the tin roof of my small cottage every five minutes. More so, when there are squirrels rustling about. The perks of living under a giant Oak.

The pathway to my front gate is becoming over grown with things I know not the name of. My statue of St. Francis is still sitting out there — hopefully bidding some sort of peace to all the things that pass. I try to do the same.

It’s the changing season I feel. It’s hard to see where I am now, but I can listen to it. There is a small frenzy of things shifting. Some things are dying and some things are meant to harvest.

It’s always a season to reap what you sow — except now is when there is some quiet respect for what the Earth gives us and I feel the same.

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No doubt, the months ahead have me feeling a little weary sometimes. We are going to be busy at work and we’re going to be missing traditions to help other people hold theirs. Sometimes that’s hard. It’s my job, though — I don’t mind it in this season.

I have put other things on hold — not because I don’t think I can find it — but because there are so many other things I am having to give. And also, I’m doing okay. It might not fit your vision of okay-ness – but that’s not up to you.

Still though, I hardly recognize what day it is. Only now it’s “Who has a table at what time?  When do we have to be there to setup? What’s the menu? Who’s coming in today? Do we have enough celery until Monday?”

Maybe my mind will clear the clutter. Maybe it won’t in this season. Regardless, I am still open to the mysteries and uncertainties. I am letting go more, and more. I am getting to see the darker ghosts of my past disappear and I am shedding their weight.

The trees aren’t the only things that lose those heavier things. We do too. And sometimes when they fall, they are meant for different things. Things you may not ever see in your lifetime, but they are there and they are growing.

Do not fear the moaning and growing because that is all that life will ever be.

Letting go. Moving on, and growing ceaselessly into your own becoming.

stuck.

I have been stuck on this awful and violent week.

I feel as though I owe some sort of apology to my co-workers, who over the past couple of days have had to walk on egg shells around my fragile and angry state. I am not even close to the ones who were affected even more personally by the things that have happened.

It is still something I, and many of you, have felt tremendously this week. I am an overly-sensitive dude and have always been.

Unfortunately, I cannot hide behind the legs of my mother anymore. Instead we are pushed into little rooms full of videos of men being killed and we are supposed to handle it like adults.

I was stuck on the video of the son pulling his shirt over his face to wipe his tears and prayers to God, denying her partner getting shot. Those moans are so haunting that I wonder if it’s even possible to get them out of my head anymore.

Really, all I’ve wanted to do since Tuesday is bury my head in the cool sand, like we used to do with watermelons when we were kids at the creek. Quiet. Mumbled. Cold and tranquil. We aren’t ever promised that space to heal ourselves, though.

Sometimes we have to work through it all. Sometimes that’s having to move through anger non-violently, and non aggressively with a super person’s amount of compassion and grace.

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With so much violence and grief, the smallest amount of love and goodness feels like cold water after recess.

That small relief fills your belly with some peace.

This world and its growing pains. We are all here for it, right now. It is the most messy and heartbreaking thing we will see in our lives, but in all of these things we learn and our hearts grow and mend.

My eyes have been watery on and off the past week. Yours too, probably. Hopefully.

Hopefully we have all felt broken, and put back together with a few pieces missing. Pieces of us that were hanging on to hate and injustice and complacency. And gaining something new, maybe.

Maybe our love is stronger now.
Maybe we our stronger now.

Regardless, we are stuck with carrying each other’s pain, now.

So let’s do that. And let’s be wounded healers and cook food together,
or mow someone’s grass, or just have a little grace on someone who’s having a hard day.

We need you here with us, okay?

Okay.

noticed.

There are moments where I miss it. 

Having a good person to come home to is one of them joys of life, I suppose. I never grew up with pets, so I reckon’ it is similar. Though I believe people are a little more complex. Even more so than cats.

When I take some time and settle into myself, I do miss it. And I miss her and I find myself so curious as to how we forgive and move on from hard things. I haven’t cried much at all the past couple of years. I think I got a lot of it out of my system back in that time and to be honest, the waterworks are on hiatus.

I still get sad, for the overwhelming things we see and have to deal with every day. I get angry. I fight. I argue.

I submit, too.

I laugh, and then do this thing where I choke up. Like when I found out I won this really cool award for my work — because it is often times, such thankless work. I laughed because I thought it was funny for a cook to win such a thing, and then I choked up because this work is so hard and I was so thankful to be noticed.

I would like to think she would have been proud. After all, I spent most of our marriage hustling around different cafes and restaurants in hopes that something would stick. And some things did, and sometimes I would lay on her lap exhausted and wake myself up snoring.

When you get noticed, like I find myself from time to time, there is a moment of pure joy where you know you are doing good work — and then the moment comes where you remember all the things you missed getting what you wanted.

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Mississippi, man.

I suppose I find myself thinking about those things. Not much these days. But you always remember your best friends. Best partners. The people who pushed you forward and made sure you got home safe when you accidentally got (hanging out the window at Popeyes) drunk from a work party.

That safety though…is something you will always remember in your belly. The safety of being loved and thought about and cared for. You have those things when you’re single too. It just looks different. And you learn to love yourself in such a different way.

I suppose that is what I miss about companionship — what I crave when the nights get late and I drift away to the sound of my heater.

There are too many frustrations. Things I wished I would’ve done a million times. And then, there is now.

And now is bigger and wilder than I ever imagined. And it’s in Mississippi of all places.

A new home. A platform. A place to grow what my mind has sewn.

Things are never going to be the same. It is all new, all of this that I’m going through and often times it is hard to get out of bed and on to that next thing. But I’m always so thankful that I did…and that I do.

Here’s to our seasons of growth and struggles and lessons — In hopes that you approach them all with goodness deep down in there,

and remember that not everything you lose, you necessarily need back.

 

 

 

change

I’m not going to act like everything is okay.

There’s a lot to this time of year. People want cheer and peace and giving. And while there will be a lot of that, there is also a lot of fear. I suppose, if you grew up in a Christian faith as I did, the season is what it is due to a family fleeing for safety. There’s a lot of fear in fleeing.

Not just that, there’s just a lot going on, right? I think I feel people collectively tense up around mid-November and they don’t stop until Mid-January — the heavy realization that you just made a resolution you’re not going to keep.

I like the idea of going easy on yourself. Again. And again.

It takes a while to change. If that’s what you want from  yourself. Physically, emotionally, etc. Then again, if you like who you are, then perhaps you’re going to be just fine.

Only I’m not. I’m not okay. I’m not okay with the way things are and neither are you, I suppose.

I’ve never felt like I’ve wanted to be more ignorant in my life. I realize that sounds harsh. But there are a lot of people saying a lot of things out there and I’m one of them. I also think I’d be okay if I never saw another news feed or flash about guns and refugees and politicians. It’s a hard thing. These are things that are triggering our nasty parts. The parts we disagree with our parents and friends on — this is the hard part of change, big world.

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You’re going to disagree. And I’m even past the point of “Hey, as long as we disagree well, right!” — like that ever really works. It’s never worked in my head. I still think the other person is acting like an asshole and they think the same about me.

So I guess the point of me writing all this is to challenge you and to also challenge myself. You’re going to be around a lot of different people this time of  year who happen to be relatives. Y’all will be coming in from different places — life places — philosophical places and something will probably be said.

I’d like to say, that if you can, be good. But also, be honest if you don’t understand. I’m pretty sure we all love one another, but that doesn’t mean we have to tip toe around each other. It is important, like St. Francis said, to understand, rather than be understood. I think that’s helpful.

Even if I don’t agree, I’d at least like to understand why you feel a certain way. I think that’s for real. And I think that’s sort of when change happens. You take a little bit of the other side with you. You are still you and believe who you are, but you also take some other stuff with you, to think and chew on.

I will walk in this season with a lot. I would hope that I’d bring some peace with me, even as outspoken as I can be at times. I want us to be better, because the world is changing and moaning and we can hear her louder than ever.

Feel what you need to this season. Whether that’s pain or joy, regret or gratitude, because it’s real and it’s you and we need you to keep going with us. To keep running and to keep us running when we can’t.

I am thankful for other people. Regardless of how they wound others and how we wound them. Carry around some peace this season, maybe some patience, too. For me. As I try to understand things as you see them, too.

Happy Thanksgiving — eat and love and listen well

 

rock slide

I live my life in a lot of forgiveness.
I suppose we all do.

And there’s so much that I want to say about that. I don’t quite know if all the words are in me now, but maybe someday, I will tell you what it feels like.

There is a point where one is responsible for their actions and thoughts. They are responsible for themselves, in that way. I know there is a difference in being responsible to and for. Generally, you are responsible to others for various reasons. A teacher. A parent. A friend. A caretaker. This is your job as a human being. You are responsible to the human race and probably animals like cats and dogs, if they’re your pets. Maybe a little pig, if you’re lucky.

But, you are responsible for yourself.

I can’t blame why I do what I do on my parents or their parents. I can’t blame it on the media or my neighbor. I am responsible for me. That’s a lot of pressure as a human, yeah?

I think this might be why we break into millions of pieces, sometimes. It is hard when the two get jumbled up and we are left with a gaping hole in the earth below us.

What I mean to say, and what feels heavy right now, is that there is a lot that hurts right now. Mostly inside me. I can’t say what I want to say because I know people will argue and “respectfully” disagree. The fact that there aren’t many good answers in dealing with hard social issues is problematic for me.

Like how I’m afraid of guns — not because I don’t know how to use them, but what I might do with a gun. And I’m afraid of what you might do with a gun even if you were raised with them and hunt with them and you are happy with your life.

That’s why I don’t own a gun. That is why my views on gun control are so conflicted, because I know so many great, wonderful people who have them and don’t seem like a threat.

And like you, I have every reason to have something completely random and messed up happen. I think what burdens me is how scared people are. There are so many reasons. Where you grow up. What you grow up in. The messes we find ourselves in. Even the privilege of being raised in a place where I hardly ever saw crime. That is my backpack, though. It is very light. Maybe, ten years from now when and if my situation changes where I feel having a gun keeps me, and helps me feel safe, I will change.

It is not now.

rock-slide

Changing is so radically important. It is so hard. Having a person change their mind is a revolution in itself. Perhaps enough to pull a gun away from someone’s direction. Or those who hold on to this Southern flag for reasons of racial pride and “heritage” without really feeling the depth of what it looks like to the other fifty percent of the population. If what you are doing is hurting another person, think about it.

Even as I think about the people who make my clothes and grow my food,

Which is why I am here to say that I am glad to live in forgiveness.

I’ve been able to move through my life, thus far, relatively lightly.

Overly-senstive. Quiet. Unassuming. But hopefully kind and thoughtful in between. This doesn’t go without my kitchen persona in the heat of a moment where I might snap at you for complaining too much or slamming pots and pans.

Another reason for forgiveness-stuff.

Moving was really hard. Losing my best friend and partner was excruciating. Losing anything is hard. But in those moments, so many things change. I lost some things I needed to lose. Some of my beliefs were challenged and it settled a bit. Sort of like a pile of rocks sliding, and adjusting to their new position for another twenty years. Until the earth moves and they tumble again.

That is what it feels like to change.

So I won’t stay quite settled. My reality is often shifting like loose sand.

I know myself enough to understand that now, I am responsible. For bills and being a good person and moving along in my part of the world, hoping to leave it better than I found it. For me, that looks like questioning things that hurt people a lot. I realize fixing this problem isn’t a reality, but I can cover it in some grace in hopes that more of it works its way on down, into the cracks of the icky things we hurt for.

Forgiveness-stuff.

That is what change is all about.

fixin’ and floatin’

Quite often I remember the words of my friend Jen in Portland who would always tell me that time would heal.

And I also remember how much I hated that.
I didn’t want it to take time. I was in the fixin’ business.

Hurt? Broken?
Fixed.
Done.

Next!?

Love, unfortunately, has this awful way of slowing time down.
Heartbreak, too.

My sister showed me a picture recently of myself from two years ago. I was visiting them on the Alabama coast from Oregon, just having told them that I was getting a divorce. I was in the back seat with my nephew Cooper, cheesing it up for the camera phone.

My heart sank.

I was so very broken. Holding a smile so I wouldn’t completely bum out my entire family on their vacation. Well. My vacation too, I suppose.

The flight down had an empty seat next to me the whole way down. The place where she would have been. And I held it back and concentrated on being strong for everyone. Everyone but myself.

I remember thinking that if the plane crashed, I wouldn’t mind all that much.
I did not want to remember the pain anymore, or how alone I’d felt and how I knew I’d be alone for a while.

Being alone is difficult for an introvert. I need it. But I also don’t need it. Because human beings, regardless of their agenda, are worth struggling with. They’re worth getting beat up and torn apart for. Regardless of how much you’d like to guard your heart from this world, people will find their way in. They will set up camp and explore all sorts of depths with you.

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Today I feel really lucky. I’m not sure I believe in luck or being blessed or any of those terms that deem me worthy of such goodness. I believe in people being people. I believe that in our depths we are bound to one another, to be good, for the most part.

To want what’s best for our children.
To find meaning in our work, and to do a good job.
To make a decent living so that our needs are met, plus some.

To eat dinner every now and then at a table and explore a few souls.
(often times when the babies go to sleep and you can get too warm and giggly.)

Because our stories are all so complicated and jumbled. The people that have reached their arms into the pit and pulled me out — I feel eternally indebted to.

Only now, I am part wounded person and healer. This happens when you walk through the world. You are, too. It is never safe, okay? I know you’re scared of a lot of stuff, but there will be helpers. Healers. They may bring over cupcakes or a six pack of High Life. Or both.

I suppose that is what I’m feeling today. When the currents seem to be working with me — pushing me to another horizon. I soak it in when it’s good. That’s what I always tell people. To get it in you when it’s good, because it’s not always good. In fact, it’s bad. A lot. So celebrate when you can, the friendly currents. The people who help pick up the pieces and dust you off.

My Beloved.

Healers.

Friends.

Family.

Thank you.

here and there.

I’m writing to you.

This person I’m so afraid of.
With so many breaths I find myself apologizing for my lack of commitment and the mess that other person left in my head. The mess I leave in my own space.

Sort of like moving out of a place, you can get the big parts up and out, and it looks like you’re making progress. But then you’re left with the tiny things. The rackets in the closet. The loose boards. The last picture you take off the wall to hide the hole you made, inevitably losing your safety deposit.

This is the stuff I’m still cleaning up.

I think about choices. I think about how devoted I am to a place, and I’m not convinced that I have what it takes to stay too long any one place. I am always thinking about something that involves me, traveling towards another horizon. Maybe that’s with you. Maybe it is opposite you.

This is my biggest choice.

I think that it might be one of my most life defining moments. What do I give up and when do I give up? What do I lose? Do I have to lose something to gain another? Why do I even have to word it that way?

I realize I’m using a lot of possessive pronouns here. It all sounds very selfish, and it is. I have that luxury right now. What it took to get me here, was its own hell, though. We’ve both been through our own hells and we are both seeking the heavens in our own little ways.

So, I can only indulge in what has given my heart so much peace. Time. Some days I feel like I’m wasting it and other days are full of the moments that make me believe that I am here for a reason. And maybe it’s like my coworker said one time, “Some folks are just meant to be background people.” I was a background person. But I was also very strong. I didn’t know it at the time. I still don’t quite know about this person I’m becoming.

defyingthedistance

There is so much here.

And there is so much there.

Every day, I am torn between wanting you and wanting my craft. Knowing that obtaining both is so, so very hard. It is not something that I would want to put you through. The world that I work in is stressful and tough and demanding.

I think that it’s totally possible. I also think there are better people for the job. On both ends.

But, when I do think about you, this person, I melt. It doesn’t go to waste, like some tragic spill, but instead it absorbs into something else. Like butter into toast. That’s kinda how it feels.

I think about building a home with someone again. I feel hopeful and it makes my eyes water a bit. I know this to be true and something real. But right now, I dream. And I dream where I am. Mixed with where you are,

in hopes that someday,
they will meet.
and I know, inevitably,
they will.

dots

Big changes.

Big lessons.

Big moves.

These are the themes in my little swirling galaxy.
Currently, in my head, are a million different ways of doing a million different things.

I see faces and I hear their words.
pressure.

I think that’s what I feel most.
Not necessarily from these people, but what I put upon myself.

The pressure to be the best and make the best choices. Or at least to keep getting better. I know this in itself sounds troublesome to you. But in my line of work, if I wish to succeed and be better, I have to keep practicing.

This is a reason as to why I cook so often for my friends and why I push myself. I don’t have the luxury of a professional institute training me how to do things. I don’t know anything about business. I’ve taught myself everything.

So that pressure. It’s not always bad. It continues to push me beyond my own boundaries, where I know if I wanted to stay in my room all day, I could.

But I can’t. And I won’t.

This galaxy, that is swirling constantly, is pulling in and slinging out all sorts of jetsam and flotsam.
Daily, I am digesting new information and recycling ideas with each new day that I find myself staring into some oblivion, hoping to connect the dots at some point.

Like stars they are, floating in a great mystery. So many tiny dots — like bulbs lighting up the darkest of spaces.

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I am aware there’s a common theme to what I’ve been writing lately. A lot of “I don’t know what I’m doing and where I’m going”, and bits and pieces about food and how it relates to all of this.

I suppose that is what this time in my life is about. I know better than to act on a day thought. Sleeping on ideas and words are often better than me making a quick life decision. I realize that life is about failing too, and people keep saying that it’s okay to fail, but that also seems really stressful. Many of us are in this boat.

It’s a very large boat.

I will do as I always do. I’ll try my best to hold loosely to my loves. My friends. My family. Their lives will change. I will maybe fall in love. I might move away again. I can guarantee you food will still be very important. Nothing seems to be very permanent, except cheeseburgers.

But alas, I put my hope in much higher things than cheeseburgers.

I put it in today and tomorrow. In people. In feeding their bellies and watching them raise their kids.
I say thanks to it all, for the tiny galaxy that consumes and moves and transforms,

and the mystery we’re all floating towards.

wobbly shelves.

I look down my tiny hallway to see my bookshelf, buckling under the pressure of heavy cookbooks.

All of my shelves are like this.

Hand me down furniture, mixed with a few new things.
I never knew I could get so attached to these odd bits.

I tell people often, when my car lost a tire on the side of a mountain in Colorado, I had to put all my belongings on the side of the road to retrieve my spare. It was a little humbling to see the things I cared so much about.

My pots and pans. Boxes full of cookbooks and an old writer’s shelf where I keep the things that will become my heirlooms.

I live a life that is hard to explain. Why I don’t want certain things or why I might put myself through certain trials, seen or unseen. The truth of the matter is that being alone makes those hard life things a little harder. Not having a person to bounce your thoughts off of, or maybe giggle at because they bumped their head on a wall while trying to understand.

I am an unusual person.

And it is as natural as breathing is to me.
Having to explain why I do things the way I do…or why I am obsessive about particular things is like having to explain why you do things a certain way that no one understands.

It is exhausting to be different people.

I was driving a few days ago and thought, “I wonder if it’s possible to be the same person to everyone…”
I figured it sounded ridiculous, but I thought about it a little more. It might be impossible to be one person unless you’d like to go about your life offending and alienating 30-40% of the world’s population. But we have to be different to different people. I’d like to, somehow, remain mostly me in the midst of it all.

We live in a world where you can’t just be one person. You have to be fierce to own a business and to lead. You have to be gentle and compassionate with those who need extra help. You have to be wise and loving and other worldly-patient with your children. You also have to grow more patient and understanding with your parents, if they are still with you. We grow older and imagine we have seen a thing or two which gives us some power over our lives. And it does. But also, if you value wisdom and age, and like me, are stubborn, it is important to let it in.

And your siblings? Well, I think you can be whoever you want to be with your siblings.

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I say all of this because these cookbooks and pots and pans, they mean a lot to me.

I look through them and remember who I was cooking for. Where I was. What it was for. I remember the conversation I had with her which made us both sit across from each other and talk about really difficult things.

I see another that I got for Christmas from my mom. Another from a friend who thought it reminded her of me.

They are more than references to a dish.

They are me, slowly becoming.

And they sit on my wobbly shelves, with stories to tell just as much as any ingredient or dish will allow them to spill.

Sometimes, I think about a stock reducing, becoming more concentrated and flavorful. I see life doing something similar. Things get added, things evaporate, and it gets stronger and stronger with a bit of time. Richer. More full of depth. And what it gets added to, makes it better.

I suddenly find myself thankful for everything, and everyone who makes my life what it is.

While I lean my head over the steam and breathe in deeply,
I see the lines on the side of the pot of where I used to be, to where I am now.

And this,
right here,
right now,
is who I’m supposed to be.