Connection and Rejection

This is a tough thing to write about.  I have no idea how much of my thoughts are logic and how much are colored by my feelings.  I’m not even sure where the line is between the two.  I don’t believe so much in hard and fast lines anyway.  I’ve always believed more in nuances and grey areas.  When I learned the concept of paradox, I was enthralled, and I felt strangely vindicated.  Like all this time I thought lines were blurred between ideas and feelings, and thoughts and words and feelings and even knowledge, and that they aren’t entirely independent of one another, mutually exclusive.  If one wants to understand others, is it virtually impossible? Do we have too much access to ideas and “facts” and data to ever come together and agree on anything?  Or understand each other?

We do know on some level that like is attracted to like:  so why the phrase “opposites attract”?  Well, it is also true.  Opposite personalities can easily attract, when we allow them to, especially in meaningful and/or romantic ways.

We see examples right now of like attracted to like in terms of politics and social culture on social media.  Pretty extreme examples.  We make assumptions about each other based on physical features, choice of clothing, presence, tone, voice, word choice, and so on.  Even when we choose to get to know one another, we hurt each other with words and actions—often unintentionally!  So what’s the use in trying?  People often tell me I am too sensitive. I’ve gotten to where I often tell people in response that they are not sensitive enough. Is that even fair?  How abstract or arbitrary or relative is the word sensitive anyway?

All this is to say that I had a conversation with a friend this morning about rejection and connection. We discussed how it seems as though I have been rejected in pretty severe ways by an “extra” amount of people than most.  I have no idea if this is true, or what that truth even means if it is true.

We also discussed how I am so open and leave myself so vulnerable so much of the time. I love the way Brené Brown talks about vulnerability. So many people wear faces and put on airs and try to impress. I’m not saying I never do those things, but my friend who knows me very well said that I am wide open. I jokingly called it balls to the wall. We laughed. But then what she said was that that is why I get hurt more often, rejected, because I crave connection. I search for it. I long for it. I go for it. I don’t hold back, or assume that I should hold back. As I’ve said in other blogs, I have been told I should hold back.

Some people take My openness and honesty as aggressive, I think. But when I do connect because other people choose to connect with me, it is very beautiful and very joyful. My friend is the one that really laid this out for me. She said she chooses not to interact with a lot of people, because she is afraid of getting hurt. She said she thinks that has allowed her to have fewer opportunities for the joys as well. Maybe this is true. I think maybe it is. It just makes me so incredibly sad and hurt when people reject me outright.

I always thought that by my age, I wouldn’t care if people rejected me. I think it hurts just as much as it always did. I could give scads of examples of people who also connected very deeply with me, or so I thought, and then unexpectedly entirely disappeared from my life.   Sometimes I don’t know how or why they did it, if I offended them in someway, or was “too much.” Others like to say, it’s not about you Holly. It’s about them. I have a hard time burning bridges, letting go, and maybe that seems desperate. Recently a neighbor friend noted to me that I stay home too much, even before the quarantine, and that I should get out more, and in the same breath told me I gave people too much information.

I’ve heard that one before. I’ve also heard that I should compartmentalize. That all of these parts of my life, for example personal, emotional, professional, social, etc. should all be separate in my mind and in my life. I really thought about that. I teach my students about metacognition. I try desperately to practice it myself. However, perspective is a real bitch. I don’t even think it necessarily helps all the time. Am I supposed to really have some sort of major clarity about how I reacted to someone and if it was wrong or right? Am I supposed to have learned the “right” way to act?

Rejection just always hurts. I recently hurt a friend unintentionally with a question I asked them that apparently seemed as though I was making assumptions about them. Maybe that’s exactly what it was. Maybe I didn’t trust them. Maybe, despite the fact that I want to see the best in people, it becomes harder.  I’ve come to the conclusion that my spirit is broken in many ways. I want to have confidence, and I do in some areas, but in others I am still a little tiny child just wanting to be loved. That sounds so cliché, but clichés are such for a reason. Maybe I am too sensitive. Maybe I do say too much.

Maybe I should just really want to change who I am or who I think I am and realize I have to be something else for people to respect me or want to connect with me. Maybe that change is about bettering myself? But maybe it’s not. Identity is a strange thing, but it’s one thing that I feel I have. It’s not about identifying myself as someone with mental illness or being too sensitive, but simply loving myself where I am right now and realizing I can always do better, but also realizing that I’m not the only broken one, and other people can do better too, and we can connect in our brokenness without wanting to fix each other, and I don’t have to do all that work for them, and they don’t have to do all that work for me.
I have a lot of love that I want to give, and I don’t want to give it with stipulations that anyone has to give it back, or want to understand me back, but I think I will always crave true connection with people, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think we were put on this earth to love. Whether that means we understand each other is certainly another thing. However, I do think putting ourselves out there and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable can allow for a lot of really good things to happen, and I really kind of wish that more people would do it. I feel pretty alone in that space. I do think it takes strength and bravery. Do I think I’m always right? No. But when I read someone like Brené Brown, or Jen Hatmaker, or James Baldwin, I think that’s what they are talking about too, and how important that is to allow ourselves to connect in our pain as well as in our joy,To be vulnerable enough to put ourselves out there to be connected with or rejected. I wish it didn’t have to be some binary, and I don’t totally think it is. The person I recently hurt, not on purpose, hurt me (not on purpose) too. They said they would rather be alone than to have to defend themselves against people who don’t understand them. I totally get that. I think I sway back-and-forth between feeling that way and being vulnerable and trying to connect again. But no matter what, I still think I will just always want to connect, and I will likely always be sad when others don’t want to.

Covid-19 thoughts and research

I’ve tried so hard to focus on others during this quarantine.  I know how hard it is to be inside.  Mental illness issues and unemployment and isolation and domestic abuse and sexual abuse and mental abuse is WAY worse for some people right now.  It’s a broken system.  All of it, but I’m loath to say that this is about government control or that it’s not any worse than any other virus or that “they” want us at home and afraid.  There’s so much yet unknown about the virus, but anyone who has had someone die from it or works in a hospital or hell, on a ship in the ocean, or in NYC, knows this is no fake virus.  That’s simplifying things.

Of course, the whole damn thing is more complicated, nuanced, strange, and layered than we can imagine.  Trump convinced a whole lot of people that it wasn’t going to be this bad, or anywhere close.  At a time when epidemiologists were telling him differently.   Being someone who teaches research, I will more likely go to WHO or CDC website, and even better, medical journals, but those will not be buzzing with info just yet. It’s still too early.  This is a very new disease.

One thing I really don’t understand is how people could believe Trump, as opposed to medical experts.  I don’t see how people can’t see how seat-of-the-pants he is!  He makes decisions on whims constantly, and says the most horrific things, worrying more about his reputation than the health of the nation.  All one has to do is listen to the words that come out of his mouth.  Not the ones about “great, beautiful, perfect, under control, no problem” bullshit.  Again, if we simply see the hospital workers, we know the problem is MASSIVE.  One article I thought was very useful, as a whole, was this one in: the atlantic

I think if I were to go to a fact-check source, The Atlantic may be the least likely source for me to worry about doing so, or like I said, the WHO or CDC.  Yes, big pharma sucks.  Yes, people lie and are greedy, and yes, big business is doing just fine compared to the rest of us right now.  It sucks.  I think it’s really hard to come to terms with, but the fact of the matter, is that this is a very complicated circumstance, and the numbers are already so high in this country for people who have died.

According to the WHO, on March 3rd:

“Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.” [13]”  

According to Johns Hopkins University:

1,467,796 US cases have been confirmed, and there have been 88,754 confirmed deaths from Coronavirus.  That’s about a 5.8% percent death rate.  This is incredibly high compared to the common flu:  which much more is known about, and there is at least some sorts of vaccines for, even though they are not foolproof.

I’m no math wizard. Ha.  These things are very very complicated, and the numbers will indeed change before this is all over (God, let it be over soon.)  I can’t say I understand it, and even the Atlantic article is complicated in terms of stats, which are not end-all be-all numbers.

This article is also interesting in terms of arguments about when the virus came to the US:

I don’t want to argue with people.  Maybe I believe too much in the good in people, and that conspiracy conspiracies are indeed that.


A Lot of Strangeness

I bought some new underwear that I love.  It’s light blue.  Can I just wear matching cropped tanks and high-waisted panties all the time?  They’re from the company Arq.

Photo on 5-12-20 at 11.55 PM

I mean, cute, right??  I want like 10 pairs now.

So ANYWHAY: I hated dodge ball in elementary school.  Why did they make us play it?  Mean kids throwing balls really hard at kids who don’t want to get hit because that shit hurt.  But also a big grisly man of a coach who was just as much a bully with a long wooden paddle.  Public education in the south.  Ugh.  I was full-on alienated by everything but the learning itself.  Until high school with AP Biology and Calculus.  The WORST.  I wasn’t in it at all.  My head was not in that game, or dodge ball.  I was a swimmer and soccer player in high school.  I loved it!  Well, ok, I loved swimming.  Soccer in Tennessee in the springtime was pretty hellish.   I played defense, and we were a sucky team, and our goalie, Shondelle, was also a bully.  If I fucked up, she would yell at me right on the field in front of everyone!  And she wore a full face of makeup and her hair higher than Jesus after ascension and the ripping curtain.  UGH.  She was a bitch!  I remember her making me cry.  Like what??  Now I would yell back.  Then go home and cry.  hahaha!  Some things never change.

I always hated my body too.  Here I am, 47 years old, still struggling to love my body.  And back then, I was tight as hell!  I was just short and stout, like I still am, plus a lot more um, curves.  But it never mattered.  At my smallest, I was 117 pounds, and my fiancé at the time totally had to take the weights off of our stand up scale because I obsessed!  Now, I’m much larger.  Much.  But I am still learning and trying to love my body where I am.  Damn, it’s a bitch in our culture.  Try going to a yoga class in Boulder, Colorado!  I had gained weight for sure in grad school, and I was a whale in a class of graceful dolphins who could collapse themselves like a damn octopus going under a sunken ship!  I had lost a lot of that ability because I had “too much” body to go that flat, though I was still strong and flexible.  Still am.  There are still bullies, and I am still not comfortable with my body most of the time. The bullies are now in the form of random people who try to police my openness.  Tell me I should be quiet.  TMI they say!  NO different than telling me I should shrink!  It’s mansplaining, which I have found is mostly done by women.  Gross.  STOP propping up the patriarchy.

They keep throwing balls at me like I’m a moving target and they are in a competition.  “They” are the bullies, the propper-uppers, the privileged and blind, the “us and them” people.  So for me to say “they” is also broad and reductive and simplifying the matter, but it would just be rude to name names.  So I won’t.  I’m not playing the same game.  I’m not trying to compete with them, or anyone else, except maybe myself.  I always want a personal best, and I certainly don’t always get it, but I do try.  It’s a weird time to be alive.  It’s why I’m writing a book about empathy.  It’s why I believe in it . . . and because the results of teaching empathy in my writing classes has been PHENOMENAL.


Thankfulness really does make all the difference in the way I feel.  My feelings swing so far.  I know part of that is definitely perimenopause (yep!) and stress from this stuff.  I want to be more thankful.  I started closing my work emails with “Gratefully.”

I do mean it, very much so.  I have had so much support at times in my life that I have taken for granted.  I was just discussing with my friend Toni how I am an extroverted introvert.  I love interaction most of the time, but it also can make me very nervous, and then I want to go away, and then I do this:

I wonder if they really like me.  Did I have a booger?  Were they laughing at me or with me?  Do they think I’m fat?  They don’t believe I’m as smart as I am because I act silly.  They must be looking down on me.  People don’t respect me!  I’m just a woman.  And a fat, single, angry one at that!  I hope they like me.  I don’t need them to like me.  I wish they really did like me.  I wish I had someone to hold and comfort me.  I wish I didn’t want that.  I don’t need it, but I do want it.  No maybe I need it.  Maybe they really do like me.  Maybe I’m inspiring.  Maybe I’m intelligent, and they see it.  Maybe they only see my fat stomach.  Or they see my cuteness and light.  Do I have that?  Am I strong?  I’m not.  They see all my weaknesses.  I let them.  Brené Brown gets it!  She’s smart!  Vulnerability!  Yeah!  But she is respected, and I’m not.  Nobody wants to publish my poetry.  I try, but then I gave up trying.  I can always persist!  Except when I can’t. Fuck the patriarchy!  Fuck privilege!  Except when it’s mine.  But then I feel guilty from my privilege, but try to work on and acknowledge it. But then I know part of privilege is that I can’t see it.

This could seriously go on for pages and pages of self-loathing, picking myself up again, getting angry, seeing and being thankful, and falling back down again.  Prayer helps. Making art helps. Moving my body helps.  But I forget, or get distracted, or make excuses.

I guess I needed to write this blog again.  It’s all just coming out.  I’m a looney and I own it.  But I want to blame it on others :D!

But I am thankful, and this was not a poet’s writing because it’s got so many abstracts and so few concretes.



2020 COVID-19 Quarantine/Catching up on 5 years

Having never said those words aloud in that order, I never noticed how quarantine and 19 rhyme.  I haven’t been here in what feels like millennia.  5 years is a long time.  Dad died.  I’ve gotten another degree (who cares really, except the student loan companies?)  Maybe I’m a better writer.  Maybe I have some new skills?  But that’s more because of technology and my job and my own ass-kicking self bleeding from my eyes getting work done.  Y’all, It’s a real bitch of a time, and people are all:  focus on the positive!  Duh.  When is that ever not a thing we should do?

I’ll tell you when.  When the president is a lunatic and a racist, xenophobic, dictator and half the country is anti-science and believe shit they read on the internet, especially the memes and bots and Fox News or any other extreme source, and extremists and racists are encouraged, and people are passive, and that is the main fucking problem.  The passive people.  I will keep teaching, keep educating my now 9-year-old daughter.  I teach empathy.  I teach healing.  I teach critical thinking and avoiding binary thinking and open dialogue.  I don’t always practice these things perfectly.  By God, am I human.  I am so motherfucking human.  I have written more than enough poems for probably two books and done enough art to open my own shop (poetmomarts on Etsy), but what does it really matter?  Thank God for friends and students that make me think it matters sometimes. Thank God.

I’ve applied 3 times for a full-time job where I’ve been teaching 4 years, stretched myself to the limit on so many occasions it feels like tomfoolery at this point.  First, I wanted to use that word, and second,  it feels silly and  useless and even annoying and painful and sad and bloody fucking insane to keep trying, but I don’t have a choice. I’ve managed this far in to keep Izzy and myself afloat since moving on our own and going to Vermont 50 days in 2 years and having to ask for lots of help and writing more than I ever ever thought I could.  I am now looking into journalistic and copywriting-type jobs.  I need the extra income, but then there will be deadlines on top of deadlines.  But I did that when I was in school and teaching, so hey.

I’ve had people question what I can “handle,” and I showed them on a scale grander than they could have imagined.  NO, I’m not rich or famous, and I don’t have another book, but I am still here, and I value people who want real connections, and that’s really all I want from life is real connections with real people who don’t act like I can’t fucking live my life the way I want or need.  I’ve driven the long way around most if not all men for 3 years.  It’s been the right thing.  Quarantine has been hard for that.  I faltered.  I got more than burned.  I don’t like to milk words like “trauma,” but yeah, I got re-traumatized, which says to me I’m probably holding on to the old trauma.  Give me a hack saw or a butcher knife.  Maybe I can cut it out or off.  Doubtful.

Man, I’m stressed from end-of-semester, online teaching, Covid-19 quarantining, and eating greasy-ass hibachi.  I’ll end this for now.  It’s what it is.  It’s a blog post.  It’s a place and a time and a whole MOOD.  (there’s a recent term for ya.)

Oh yeah, and I published my first non-fiction piece here:

Past Ten

Don’t call me confessional. I’m always like this.

After Dad’s death, my writing has been a bit stunted.

This is something I’ve felt for a long time, though, about my work. Someone once called it confessional. Whatever.

I’m not flouncy trouncy or whippor-whillsy. I’m just me. No special kind of writer from the club of special specialists with special names and badges. I just write.

It keeps me sane.

We are a bird story.

We Are a Bird Story

I am your song,
and you are mine.
Most days, things down low
don’t seem to matter,
except a bit of food I take
from the ground
for you.
I share all,
serve you from my mouth.
You take, eat.
I use feathers, bits of moss and trash,
and make our grand nest.

Swinging in your swing,
I watch you pour
rainwater on wildflowers-
your yellow watering can tipping
and I listen to the sound of the birds
emerging from their houses.

Home not home

It’s been too long since I’ve posted.  Dad went into the nursing home, and now we are having trouble getting Medicaid to keep him there.  Having said that, I’d like to share some thoughts about nursing homes and modern health care:

Legless, often speechless, voiceless, everywhere in wheelchairs, waiting faces, lives of modern medicine. expressionless at least, we see they don’t have, forget they had, still have.  Aunt  said, “putting us out to pasture.”  Keep them alive. “Live longer! Look younger!” the commercials preach.  And they sit, childlike, smooth or wrinkled faces, eyes that still see, ears that still hear.

She was a high school teacher.                                                                                                                                                                   He was an engineer at NASA.                                                                                                                                                                    She was a mother, a caregiver herself, a lover, a writer.                                                                                                                                                                    He was a Tuskeegee Airman.                                                                                                                                                                  Made soup on cold days, loved.                                                                                                                                                           Built his own shop to work on his motorcycles, now rusted and scrapped.                                                                                                                                                                                    Watched his buddy die in the war.                                                                                                                                                                        Lost her husband in the war.

The lives go on, and the stories.  But we don’t hear, don’t even ask.  We feel sad, or ignore so we won’t.  We stick hats on their heads for holidays.  We dress them up for church.  We smile, and feel so proud when they smile back, because we visited, for once, because we did something, not nothing.  They watched their children grow into adults and have their own children, and their children, grandchildren don’t have time.  But praise modern medicine for saving their grandmas and grandpas!  What would we do without longevity?  What will we do with it?  Bodies and brains rotting, but alive, by God, alive.