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lasagna love: a letter to your ex

I’ve waited a long time to do this. I think about you a lot. I want to know what you think, what you felt, what you experienced. He told me on his birthday that you both made fun of me for missing key points of persona in a blog but when I went back to read the blog, I only mentioned your big brown eyes and southern charm. I’m sure this could be true, my ENFJ. I used to be you. I watch you cook wonderful meals remembering when, I, too gave a shit about the chemistry of baking. Cinnamon rolls at high altitude were a thing I just never mastered. But, I bet you would.

Why did you leave? Are my hunches right? More importantly, why did you stay? I’ve never encountered a more controlling person although I have a tendency to pick those who will create the pain I sometimes can’t muster in my thoughts. I talk to vets, PTSD sufferers…we all say the same thing. We crave the pain. We crave the fast heartbeat, the impending doom of death, a hand in ice water turning red, so red like blood that comes from my knees when I fall uphill. I know you can climb uphill, I know you climbed a mountain everyday waking up with such a volatile person.

Am I obsessed with you? Depends on how you look at it. I want validation so bad because I’ve been going crazy the past year trying to understand what the eff is wrong with me that I can’t seem to hang on. I’m told that I’m more passionate, my kisses tell him I’m into the whole thing. But, I’m forever compared to you in day to day activities. I can’t pack his shit or know what he needs for a bike ride. Your diet chart still hangs in the kitchen with a Venn diagram comparing the regiments I’m sure you supplied through constant complicated cooking and domestic endeavors. Did you get him addicted to salads? Cuz I got over that kick in my own diet adventures but slowly want to come back realizing the value of compost. If I don’t eat these greens, the worms will.

Did worms take the hard clay of your heart and make it soft? How did you soften toward him after he threatened to beat the shit out of your new boyfriend? Why do you taunt him with constant phone calls, home ownership, talk of “healthy” relationships? I don’t think that’s ever happened for either of you. That’s not a judgement but a wish that I, too, could just put up with the idiosyncrasies. The statements that make no sense at all. Whatever partnership you cultivated after marrying only 4 months into dating confounds me. What I know of healthy doesn’t fit in between the layers of the story. Did you just put straw on the top of the garden of your heart to keep warm?

It feels like triangulation and “y’all” continue to talk and talk of your new lovers, I’m sure dissecting our faults like you had to have ignored in your marriage. He talks of a friend who says you were perfect for each other and I listen suspiciously as this friends cultivates dislike for others around him and speaks of his last failed relationship in terms of nostalgia. I want to know the tiny moments that were strung together to create peace. Because, with him, my peace comes second. I hide myself from him just as I hide from you. He texts me your number and I know I will never press that 505 area code into the buttons of my too-often-checked phone. I don’t know what to say–but here at a safe distance I offer up my heart.

If I can’t leave either of you be, I’m sure you can’t leave each other be. I often wonder if marriages are feigned to avoid the ever exhausting task of keeping others interested. Well, if this friendship doesn’t work out I have something to come home to. But, why did you allow his put downs? He speaks of you as an idol and as garbage. He says he spent a year crying over the whole thing but claims he planted the seed talking of divorce. How do you keep quiet? What am I missing? I know the way I am won’t work with the way he is but can we really be that different? Are you like me and recognize your own power in the whole thing and tease him as he teases you? I’ve ended unhealthy friendships to move forward. When will you get off the sinking ship, clinging like barnacles on a boat?

I wanted to major in chemistry just like you and so I know you are intelligent. As and ENFJ I know you feel the world deeply and want to help. I wish you could have helped me by setting boundaries that let him let go of control of you. It would have been transferred to me but at least the supply would dwindle. He could just bring his Texas/Utah Instagram mirage here to get back at you but you wouldn’t keep that unhealthy tether going. Cut it off. Cut him out. Let him have his tattooed girls with words that sound pretty but a reality that would drive him crazy. You and her must like to please people a lot more than me because I think I may be despised. And, I’ll take it.

What do I really want to say? I admire your courage for staying so long. I admire you for keeping quiet about your innermost thoughts. And you both can say I’ve gotten it all wrong but I will never know. So, I make guesses. I create characters. I string together meaning through what little I know of what happened. I see that you both have stopped cycling like you used to. I have some running partners, too, and I know the connection. There’s very few who can go the brink of physical exertion and not fall off. But, that’s the thing. You fell off. Stay off. Give yourselves a fighting chance at peace and compassion so that others can fit into the layers, too.

“You can love someone so much…But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”
― John Green

 

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10 things i learned in love

I sat down to write this blog with intentions of spouting 10 reasons why my ex was a total jerk.  Then it would probably end with 10 reasons why I’m a total jerk.  No need.  People get together and break up all the time.  I have admiration for the 25 plus years folks and for the serial daters.   Relationships are hard work and none of us have a clue what we are doing.  Some have dispositions that lend to the interpersonal world but we really all want to be loved.  I’ve started some clinical work and one thing I have noticed is that the session can be full of hard icky stuff but the client always resolves.  I will always resolve my sadness and on the other end I acknowledge my accomplishments within the sadness once I’ve got the ol’ positive lens back.  So, I thought I’d offer a few things I’ve learned.  I’m speaking from the majority experience of a straight white female but hope I may be able to hone in on what we all can take away from the glorious and painful experience of trust, broken trust, and the hybrid trust that emerges after.

  1. Always, always, always trust your intuition. INFJ’s especially.  You are not crazy.  It wasn’t because you met him on Tinder.  It was because he was not ready. YOU. KNEW. THAT.
  2. Don’t rush it. Take 5 dates.  Hold off.  You can have sex with most people fairly easily.  It’s much harder to make a long-lasting friend who will honor what you can do with your body.
  3. Keep a close eye on the company he keeps. Be mindful of the way he speaks of his friends. When you notice a pattern of instability amongst the friendship group—pause.  There is no reason to develop an alcohol problem to handle folks who will never get you.   They will drink what you don’t.
  4. Make sure he knows himself. Did he used to love something and completely let it go, does he contradict himself in regards to his tastes and distastes? Does he defend hobbies and sports that don’t seem to mesh with his outlook?  Notice the disparities, let go and let him grow into a solid identity.
  5. Don’t put up with lies. We are in our 30’s now.  If he must hide sleeping around or is still sleeping around without making that a clear expectation or guideline—he will do it again.  Female attention has trumped human connection.  Honesty is what creates growth and space and lies stifle the human spirit.
  6. Vocalize what you need, and if its not accepted, LEAVE.   Let him know you need time in the morning for spiritual work.  Tell him you have no obligation to comfort him and sleeping next to him isn’t always what you want or need.  Let him know you want him to make dinner.  Tell him you won’t clean his house.  Stand up for you, stand up for what you need, stand up for what you believe.
  7. Don’t respond.  If you are reading this my best guess is your last relationship conked out as well.  Instead of responding in pain, stop and look at the facts.  So you were called a (insert name here) and you know very well you are not a (insert name here).   FACTS.
  8. Be reflective. Be calm.  Chances are, you were at fault as well.  Take time in the bath or a safe space where you can look at some of your own ugly shit.  Then you decide if you want to change it, or if that is something you will accept.  And only YOU have to accept it.  Your wounds are your wounds and fuck whoever thinks they are ugly.   Sometimes, they simply just are.  There is no inherent badness in a scar.
  9. Watch others in their relationships. Do you find yourself feeling akin to another tumultuous relationship and normalize that process?  DON’T!  Make an effort to surround yourself with people are working hard in their relationships.  Make an effort to surround yourself with people who prioritize self-growth.
  10. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Relish the good shit.  He made you feel beautiful and that infatuation was some strong stuff.  Let that feeling of freedom translate into something that is long-lasting and controlled.  Remember the impulses to love and the strong feelings you felt and temper them into a nice tea of self-love you can drink daily.

While I sometimes feel I am the last authority on how to make relationships work I would venture a guess that I’m just as good as any other authority on how to love authentically, genuinely, and with my whole heart.  I know that I am not for everyone but I am just right for me.  The biggest takeaway from the last relationship is how very whole and complete I am by myself.  My mind is a vast space where I can crawl, climb, swim, boat, ski, run, stretch, sing, dance, fuck, breathe, bike, and love LOVE in just the way I need to.  Just the way I know how.

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

― Lao Tzu

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state of solitude

Picture summer. Those movies set in the dog days of August where the kids are out of school and have found an empty swimming pool to slide around, maybe skateboard, whatever kids in movies do. That empty pool stark white, maybe with dripping rusty tears around portholes and some brown branches scattered here and there. This empty pool is dating in Laramie, Wyoming. This empty pool is dating for me.

I’ve picked up every stick from the pool trying to make it a tree that will grow, blossom in spring, sing to me in the wind like tall trees of the mountains. That all happens, for about three months. Sometimes more rapid fire depending on the seasons and the ebb and flow of my passion and anger. With each potential love and each break up the white cement pool turns into a horror movie scene filling with brackish water and foul smells.

Underneath the dark waters of this dating pool and are the hidden stuff that has been tucked away neatly in the bliss of a new lover, the pain of all the others who rejected me, insecurities drip dripping like water from the garden hose that filled this place. And I dive right into the pool at the conclusion of each person to find myself suffocating. Each break up like a heart attack. Each attempt at love a nose dive into the shallow end.

I thrash around in the pool for a while trying to survive on what I tell myself are my redeeming qualities “you are good person.” And like a struggling drowning victim it only gets worse. Positive affirmations are junk from the eighties that I can’t always jive with. No, I’m not always a good person. In fact, I think some pretty shitty stuff about some folks.  And in that pathetically human way, I think worse things about myself. I positively and negatively affirm that yes I’m in this human experience suffering in this mound of flesh right along with others.

In all these dating stories the narrative is the same—he stopped talking to me, she ghosted me, what could I have done differently, I’m a nice engaging person why can’t I land a keeper? People are fickle. Sometimes it turns out they are gay. Sometimes it turns out they are in love with their former spouse. Sometimes they don’t find you sexually attractive. Sometimes they are too deep in drugs and alcohol to chill.

This cement pool, this space, full or empty is just a perception. There’s no reason to stay and skateboard with these kids and let this empty place take up space in the head. There is nothing for rent in the human heart, especially a place for disturbing thoughts that stop the divinity from shining through. There is choice in dating and while the suffering is great there are things that keep us all in Laramie. We are Wyoming tough.  We are ready to be in isolation for just a minute.  It don’t bother us none.  Do what has to be done. Live each day with courage. Especially this Valentine’s Day single or in love–human worth does not change.

“Recognize that you are enough, and that all external gifts are simply extra blessings.”
― Bryant McGill

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the most selfish person i know (a biography)

Every day is filled with tiny baby setbacks and tiny baby victories and I’ve been putting off blogging about it because I realize how much I exist in my own head.  My head is not in the bell curve, it’s not appealing to many folks, it would be cancelled after one season.  I am so very selfish and spend so much time alone.  My world is all I have.  My thoughts are my friends, my thoughts are my enemies. As I work to share my world I create experiences to validate that which I already believe—I don’t understand intimate relationships.  I don’t understand friendship.  And I certainly don’t understand the intimate/friendship combo of a long term relationship.

I set the stage for my lonely, tragic, existential play at a young age, ready to be analyzed over and over like an awful Shakespearean play that I have to pretend to like because it seems to be what I ought do.  What ought I do?  It was Valentine’s Day and I was sixteen.  We skipped school and filled a brown, sticky, stained bong with snow and took rips of the dirtiest ditch weed a kid could get their hands on.  We skipped from house to house where parents would have us or where parents were gone and we could drink stolen brandy or Bud Light and listen to Tom Petty.  We would often drive around the dirt roads that connected coal mine to oil rig to ranch to old schoolhouse.  As we passed the same plastic bong around I thought—this is it.  This is all I need.

We arrived home and my parents had tried to show me love.  They sent me flowers only to find I had skipped school and had come home smelling of booze and weed.  My parents had never sent me flowers, all of us had trouble understanding these human relationships.  My face felt hot and I bit the pieces of skin around my fingernails that smelled like Marlboro Reds.  Harsh words, questions, and raised voices.  I swung my hair over the tie dye shirt I was wearing and told my parents:  I wanted to spend the day with someone I love.  That one is drugs.

Drugs won’t purposely miss your call.  Drugs don’t give you an STD.  Drugs don’t say that you text too much.  Drugs don’t call you insecure.  Drugs don’t avoid eye contact with you but stare at your overdeveloped thighs and hips.  Drugs don’t tell you that you remind them too much of an ex and would-you-just-quit that.  Drugs don’t stalk you for seven years.  Drugs don’t punch you so hard during sex you lose your hearing for three days.  Drugs won’t fuck you only past 10 pm because you are the other woman.  Drugs won’t take money you left on the counter.  Drugs won’t ask you to suck their dick for blow.  And yet, drugs take you all these places emotionally.  Maybe I ought treat them like an ex.

My uncle once told me that my brilliant grandfather experienced setbacks in his career because of the fire.  The crazy.  That which runs in our family which I have seen firsthand and experienced even more deeply firsthand.  I knew I was round the bend when I seventeen and I shot up a half gram of meth that had been cooked up hours before.  I lost my vision.  I lost my hearing.  I barely made it up the stairs.  When I had finished lying on the bed staring at souls circling above me, I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror.  I had switched, something had turned.  There goes the screw.  Like Alice, I had gone to the other side.  Manic.  Depressed.  Crazy.  Gifted. Touched by fire. Out there.  Ridiculous.  Ludicrous, preposterous, risible, farcical.

Will I ruin my career?  Will my soul mate be crystal meth?  I don’t believe in either of these things, because maybe I’m crazy enough to understand that while my attributes aren’t valued by all, or many, or a lover, I am not unworthy.  There is no manual of human contact and we create just miniature projections of ourselves.  Some cells want to be with others.  Some organs stand alone.  But no part of the human body is wrong, and no part of me is wrong.  I am selfish.  I am crazy.  I am the most beautiful person you will ever meet.  I say the ugliest things you will ever hear.  Will you still love me?  Because I sure do.

“I do a lot of crummy things, and I do a lot of beautiful things, and I’m neither good nor evil, I just am. There is good, and there is evil, and here I am.”

-Ram Dass 

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on your (my) worth

This post might resonate more with women but we are all sharing this experience, as humans, and it might ring true in any situation. Often, I hear women demean themselves in many ways, subconsciously or not. Our society is built in such a manner than anything that isn’t pleasant, immediate, and effective we dismiss. I can be any one of these traits on a good day, but most days it’s enough to wear a bra that makes its presence known, gripping and scraping the skin around my armpits because I’ve gained weight. It’s not pleasant.

I don’t think I’m fat. But I wonder. Sometimes, the universe aligns in shitty ways and the day I tell myself I’m fat is the day I’m told I’m fat. It is this perfect shitstorm of synergy and BAM I’m neither effective nor immediate. Pleasant is not in my worldview. The story starts to spin. Not in an empowering way that says “oh I wonder if I could nourish myself in different ways besides numbing myself with food” but it’s “you stupid fat fuck if you had any self-control or if anyone liked you, you might be skinny.”

This becomes my belief system and soon my vibe attracts my tribe. I begin sleeping with men who I know are no good for me. I begin to distrust everyone because I’ve let so many in and I’ve become so out of touch with my system, I don’t know what feeds me or what depletes me. I still want to assume good of people so instead of listening to the strong, beautiful, woman who says “this is not good for you” I seek to be liked no matter the cost. Here, have this body I trash anyway.

I let others deplete my energy, my life source. I create that. I’ve found that if I give myself space to forgive myself–to let myself know that I seek love just like any living being and that I will mess up–I can begin to see my worth. Okay, so I sought love. Big deal. I’m safe. We’ve all done it, and wow did I create an elaborate situation to feel loved! Isn’t that neat? I create a different narrative because I know this much to be true—I am worthwhile.

How will I respond to life now? Am I going to treat myself like the divine, wondrous, person I am so I become that person? Or am I going to create another story of lost love and addiction where the ending is always tragic? In any moment I have the choice to make my life show others what my heart has shown me—I am divine, you are divine, and we are all worth so much love.

“Cells are energy efficient because they use their energy to the fullest extent to survive. We waste our energy all the time. When we waste energy, we are throwing away life; because energy is life. That’s why, when it comes down to it…the real question is, “How do I respond to life?” Looking at how cells maneuver and live in their world supplies a template for us, teaching us how to move and live in our world. If we understand how cells do it, and then treat ourselves in the same manner, our cells are going to prosper. And if our cells prosper, then by definition we are having a rich and full life.”

Bruce H. Lipton

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the art of life

Sometimes I distrust the morning if for nothing other than the light. Harsh blue light creeping from the east casting a shadow behind. Feeling cornered in a smoky room I found through swinging western doors after a journey I wasn’t sure I should travel. Hyper vigilant and jumpy staring through silvered almond eyes that become smaller and less sure, less open in the early dawn. Light drifting upon gravel roads, sparkling from the periphery atop tall grass and yarrow arching, flicking plant hair of dew and little black bugs.

I see a man walking in the afternoons wearing a long sleeve, button up plaid shirt. Faded and worn from the James Cash Penney department store in some small town in Wyoming, maybe Kemmerer, or so I imagine. A gentlemen walking now in the warm afternoon but lost in hot time when clothes were wrapped in brown paper and string. A man displaced finding himself not at a tent revival he thought he’d finally found but on the scoliosis spine of Laramie sidewalks. Maybe its own tent revival, rural, a button up shirt is Sunday’s best, Laramie’s finest. He is looking fine as frog hair. Hymns falling off mouths now pearl buttons, flannel thread a new verse to the same old song, prayers like solid brown slacks. Slight hunch in his back and a bible in his left hand. Head down, hair long past his chin and a long gait staring forward and down, down.

Evening the time of theatre-in-the-round. Tonight the playwright, the designer, the director, the sky. Wearing a gown of deep purple, glowing orange, soft pink swaying in brown-shoe-roads with stockings made of green. Symphony directed by the wind–cottonwoods and aspens flutter, creak and sway, deep bass sounds of thunder and soprano of neighborhood children screaming create the score for the epic of the unwinding evening. Breeze gentle, smells gentle, touch gentle, as the play turns toward the bedroom where spoken lines becomes sighs and the music fades with the gentle breath of sleep.  What dreams may come, said another playwright, and what dreams may be.  Dreams of morning, noon, night, now.

“The art of life is to live in the present moment, and to make that moment as perfect as we can by the realization that we are the instruments and expression of God Himself.”

Emmet Fox

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the unspoken anne shirley

I’ve been struggling to know what to write lately—even how to approach blogging stylistically, which I’ve always thought was a strong point along with attention to detail and honesty (what do I know—not much!). I regularly delete posts on my Facebook wall along with blog posts I’ve deemed too scandalous. There’s a few haunting me right now, including one in which I mention my dick. No, I don’t have a dick. Yes, I want to work proactively to diminish binaries that separate us including mostly arbitrary ideas of dicks and vaginas. I have daily self-talks in which I shame myself for my past, shame myself for my thoughts, and wish I understood more of these social conventions, these unspoken rules. I’m perpetually offending. Wikipedia (crowd-sourced, dynamic, in the gray) defines unspoken rules as:

“…behavioral constraints imposed in organizations or societies that are not voiced or written down. They usually exist in unspoken and unwritten format because they form a part of the logical argument or course of action implied by tacit assumptions.”

So, what the heck is a tacit assumption? What are we assuming?

“A tacit assumption or implicit assumption is an assumption that includes the underlying agreements or statements made in the development of a logical argument, course of action, decision, or judgment that are not explicitly voiced nor necessarily understood by the decision maker or judge. Often, these assumptions are made based on personal life experiences, and are not consciously apparent in the decision making environment. These assumptions can be the source of apparent paradoxes, misunderstandings and resistance to change in human organizational behavior.”

This is the paradox of my life. Somewhere, along the way, in my own personal history I missed the boat about 7 billion times. I didn’t realize I was not supposed to invite people into a business or endeavor that is not mine. And unfortunately, people can choose to be very hurt by the things you don’t know. I lost a job and my passion over it. (friggin yoga, another blog post). I didn’t realize that I cannot talk candidly, expressively, or truthfully around most professionals. It’s not wanted, needed, and it really doesn’t matter.

I spent my graduate program in near remediation because I was perpetually docked in the professionalism area. Folks wrote about me on a survey after a conference saying I was bothersome, got up too much to pee, talked too much. I really throw some people off.  Yet, the exact (non)skill that hurt me during social interactions helps me inter-personally in counseling sessions.  Thank gawd these unspoken rules go out the window in therapy where saying that which hasn’t been said is suddenly healing.  My clinical work pulled me through my graduate program (watch as I invoke ego to feel better about paradoxically falling short).

Where was I during the development of these unwritten logical arguments, courses of actions, decisions, and judgments? I was doing drugs, drinking. I probably might have been having sex. Most likely, I was reading a book to try to connect to folks on my own terms. Books where unwritten rules are more explicit and develop through words, words I know. In a book, often the thoughts of the character are exposed, and I suddenly understand why Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables) keeps bullying Anne Shirley even though he likes her. Her red braids swing and her bangs puff out as she smacks him back which she wasn’t supposed to do not according to any rule but because she was a lady.  Gawd forbid.  And gawd bless, she did it anyway. She imagined her life and she created it exactly how she wanted to be. A few people upset along the way, but this Anne, she’s an archetype. One that I will continue to live.

“It has always seemed to me. ever since early childhood, amid all the commonplaces of life, i was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realms beyond-only a glimpse-but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.”

-Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

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the uncut hair of graves

I keep the phone squished between my shoulder and ear driving to Corona Village to pick up fajitas I had ordered before my dear friend called.  She is dead now.  She hung herself.  I wish I could say I don’t picture her body there hanging, owl tattoo on her right shoulder.  Hair blonde, maybe more brown, jutty cut she had surely given herself to frame her beautiful thinned out almond crystal eyes.  We talk about so many things on the phone.  She hears my voice for who I really am. She sees me for me.

We talk about how she will move to South Carolina soon and I watch the brightly colored tiles that decorate the walls of the restaurant nd wish she were back in Wyoming.  Phone sill squished, I drive home to eat my meal.  To talk to my friend.  To heal my soul.  I dip a chip into guacamole and taste the tiny individual pieces of salt visible on the triangles and she tells me when she admired me for talking about performing oral sex in our English capstone class.  Tells me I used the phrase “sucking dick” and that had liberated her.  I remember that self that wouldn’t wear a belt or a bra and talk frankly of sex in class because I wanted so bad to accept my body and to accept sex and to be a part of something that carries so much power.

My mind flashes back to a care package she had left at my house and I watch as a drop of runny salsa hits the floor and puddles out while I remember what was in the box.  Corsets, bras, whips, and other kinky shit she felt safe enough to give me.  I look at the spot of salsa and smile about how she thought I was something more than I think I am.  In her eyes, to her short choppy hair, I was a sex vixen.  I crouch down and wipe up the blood like salsa with a napkin and shove it back in the takeout bag.

Pushing carrots, celery, and mushrooms around in the foam container soaked in grease and dark red sauce made of chilies and cumin she tells me about how she had to cancel her Facebook account for slugging too much wine in the evenings and writing provocative shit.  That wasn’t her or mine assessments but her graduate program that had broken her down like I had been broken down in my own program.  I drop a tiny spoonful of sour cream onto beans and put them into my mouth while tears start to fall down.  She gets me.  She sees my spark and I see hers and we want to drink wine and perform oral sex on whomever or wherever we feel like.

I’ve wrapped my tortillas in foil and slopped the food from foam into plastic containers.  Organize. Compartmentalize. Anything to give myself the illusion of control.  We get ready to end the phone call and I tell her to keep pushing forward, to give her writing to the world, and I tell her I’ve saved all of her writing.  Even her e-mails.  Nothing can happen more beautiful than death for the awareness of life it gives to all who suffer its consequences.

Hey jenn,
Im getting that piece to you sunday night hell or high water.  I found this article about throwing around words to look learned n after our talky talky bout the mfa boys club n tim like people i thought u might like it too:
http://rhetoric.byu.edu/figures/groupings/Vices.htm
Im usin my phone so pardon all the grammar bad ju ju
Jodi

J. P. Corley