on downsizing & “letting go”

17 Aug

IMG_2360_2If you’ve followed my life story of the last few years you already know that I’ve done a great deal of downsizing. I’ve lost 60 some odd pounds, sold a home and 95% of its contents. I’ve donated more to Goodwill in the last two years than I think I have purchased there in my whole lifetime–and I love me some goodwill/thrifting. Over the last few years I have tried to develop a practice of letting go. It sounds so easy right? Live simply, let go, its just stuff.

I’m no hoarder, but until this recent purge, I’d developed a massive collection of bits and scraps of a life, my life. I’d kept momentos more than anything else: rocks from walks, scraps of paper, cards, photos, letters, metal objects, earring onesies. I figured that I’d lost so much in this short little life, hanging on to these “useless” items had always been quite useful to me. They help me remember. You see my memory is shit. I’ve always chalked this up to my brain protecting me, keeping me “safe” from the harsh realities of a life lived with pain, sadness, depression and abuse. But, I’ve not been run over by a dump truck or had traumatic brain damage. I’ve never had to worry about whether my table would have food on it, how I would get to school, or where I was going to sleep. But Samantha (Sambolina, Sammy, Sambo-suave, Sam, Floyd) my first lady love, had all these things and worse happen. Her memory was shit too. I think it was our shared difficult backgrounds that made her feel so kindred to me.

Sam died this week. I am angry and sad. I’m fucking pissed actually. 

For the first time since my downsizing I am so fucking angry with my buddah-esque bullshit choice I could scream. I had collected a lifetime of things, and in one big emotional let-it-go, I chucked it and/or sold it all away. Lighter, sure. Freed up to live in today, the moment, yes. Fuck, yes. But you know what, for the first time since this purge, I hate this new “freedom.”

“When was the last time you talked to her?” someone asked. May? June – yes, June 21st, her birthday. But the distance between us recently was growing. I always knew where she was in some way – I’d be lurking on the facespaces, seeing photos of her pop up in shared friends feeds. She looked happy-ish. I heard through friends that she was adored at her current job, being the amazing helper that she was. I was distant, but never stopped loving her. I was distant because I am married, and the space we held was that kind of space. Sure, we had learned to be friends, it took a long time to get there. But I couldn’t go for long drives anymore. I couldn’t go for a ride on the back of her bike, and I couldn’t just meet up for beers. I knew all too well how I am; and I couldn’t do that to her, or to my partner.

So in this last purge I sold our engagement ring, a pendant of with a map of Ireland she bought for me, and threw away a few old love letters, over a dozen “mix tapes” she made for me while living in KC. Oh, and I finally let go of the suicide note that she wrote, the one after we had broken up. FUCK. I held on to it for years, 10 to be exact. What could I possibly need with it. She had moved on and told me repeatedly she “never had the guts” to actually go through with it. 

The first night she ever sang to me, a lifetime ago.

The first night she ever sang to me, a lifetime ago.

Now all I want to do is tear apart my things and scream. And also sing, croon & bellow along to all those songs she gave me, used to sing to me: Leather & Lace, Satellite, Total Eclipse of the Heart, the entirety of David Gray’s work. I didn’t actually do what I just did, did I? But I did do it. I let it go.

Every action requires an equal reaction. So here I am, lighter of my things, but heavy in heart. Today I don’t like downsizing. Today I wish I had these things. But more than these, I wish we all had Sam. 

A gathering is planned for Tuesday night at 7:30 at the Seward Cafe. All are invited and welcome to come. 

carpe friggin’ diem

1 Aug

IMG_1189Sometimes I wonder if you all think I live in a constant state of grief, what with an anniversary of something or other 
always in my writing. The fact is, I do. I am forever changed and chased by loss.  

4 years ago today my father woke up not feeling great. An hour later he was gone. The changes in my life that have happened after my fathers passing are mind boggling.

I miss you Phil. I will spend my day trying to fill your shoes; I’ll spend time making people smile and I’ll sell some ice to eskimos. I’ll listen for the birds song, and look for the good in others, even when they hide it real well, behind their pride and bullshit. You always could see past all of it dad. I didn’t know what a crazy gift it was you had. Now I know. 

Carpe friggin’ diem.



Hello 43

22 Jul

My brother called and wished me a happy birthday—which is no small miracle in an of itself—reminding me that I was a mere 7 years away from 50. This year is starting out with a bang, though most of the shrapnel is felt on the inside. My therapist tells me it is the very best thing for me. 

They say Cancerians are reflective when it comes around to marking things like a birthday, and I’ve learned something important about myself that I wanted to capture and not forget. Forgive me if this is all too much navel gazing and me me me shit.

I’ve learned about myself that I live by three main principles: I find my joy in helping others, crave intimacy and I need to be known/visible. Perhaps this is a no brainer for all you enneagram 2s out there but for me, I guess I have just always taken these things for granted. I tend to hold on to people so I always have these things surrounding me. However, ushering in this new year, I also have a new job, with new people. I’m only a week and a half in. (read: no one, for all intents and purposes, knows me yet). It is my birthday and I’m new so of course, I am working. No big deal, I generally don’t care much about my birthday, and I’ve celebrated with my lady friends over brunch. I get ready to go into a busy night work. 

I am no stranger to busy nights in the restaurant business (have you been to Lola?). But in a new place, with new people, with no one that I know walking in for dinner or working with me, suddenly the pity party descends. I manage to squeek out to the chef “hey, you know what? It’s my birthday” to which he responds, face all lit up like the very last candle at Easter Vigil at midnight, “Really?! Well happy birthday! You can have anything you want for dinner, on me.”    … hold…     and scene. He turns, wipes another plate and takes a breath about to holler for a runner. The moment is here and gone in a flash. 

I think to myself, “good lord Rachel, get a fucking grip.” But I can’t. I’ve lost myself, gotten all nostalgic and sappy, and I long for my people—Lola people. Tears well, leave the line and the floor, and I think “What would tonight be like if I were there? I wish so-and-so were here, they’d have given me a hug.” Hug. Crap, run up the stairs, the tears are now bursting, and I just want someone, anyone really, to hold me and let me cry into them. 

I sit myself down in a corner and have a cry. I call a friend. She talks me out of my tree, asks if I can ask someone for what I need. I thank her, hang up, and I hug my own damn self, because I can. I dust myself off and think of how very lucky I am.

When I go back to the floor, my eyes show the red remnant of what had just happened. “Are you ok?” comes from a kind soft face. I let it all blurt out. It’s my birthday, and I miss my people, and its hard being new and not knowing anything and not being known and  ….. shit, I am sorry I am a mess, and I am not normally like this, and it’s ok and …. they reach out and hug me. Like really hug me. 

So when you ask me how I am, and if I like my new job, know that there is no one simple and easy answer. I am forty-fucking-three. I am an older dog learning new tricks. I am learning how to be vulnerable and open, and how to love myself exactly where I am, in my mess and discomfort. I am learning how ask for what I need, and learning how to help new people. And these people, they are GOOD people.  So it IS good, but it is also hard.

And with a single candle and a gaggle of smiles beaming at me, these new people sang across a room with a beautiful chocolate panna cotta. They saw me, and said welcome, you are one of us now.


comparison is the enemy of happiness

15 Jun

warning: not very much “bisexual” content ahead. Well it is technically because I wrote it—and I am—but it
really isn’t mentioned here. 

father and daughter-in-lawLaying in bed this morning I was reminded that it is father’s day. Mine, like many others, is dead, gone almost 4 years now. Phil was an amazing man: a husband, artist and hippy. He died suddenly, unexpectedly, just as I felt like our relationship was coming into what I had hoped for all my life.

My father left us too DAMN soon. He was only a few years into his 10 year art retrospective. He was just getting involved in medical marijuana passing in Minnesota – what could have been an amazing new adventure pulling together all the best of what he was about: people, health, joy and laughter with a side-car of crazy adventure. He adored his wife, his kitty children Liberty and Justice Furall, and always kept an open ear and heart to his human ones. He was very much alive when I met Karen—my beloved—and somehow he knew with her I would be ok. He adored her.

As he got older, things changed in our relationship. It felt like I was less and less his kid, but more and more like family. He was a man who had a huge family. Chosen family, none by blood, all by chance, each person collected in strange and wonderful ways. Bit by bit loved me like a friend, instead of his pain in the ass needy daughter. No, I didn’t love being his daughter, because frankly, I cramped his style. He never understood me, even as I tried to explain myself along the way. Yes, I changed my mind—often like underpants—and it frustrated the hell out of him. I was a kid, his kid. I am quite sure he loved me, but am not convinced that he ever fully understood the role of parent in the traditional, unconditional sense. His love and acceptance often felt very tied up with strings and conditions.

This morning as you’ve posted pictures of your dads, proud, smiling, arms draped or even near, I went searching through my pictures to see if I had one. Of just the two of us. Him, with his first born daughter, or even with both of his daughters, wrapped up, smiling. Perhaps I need to look in photo albums that don’t yet belong to me. But in the photos I have, there are none.

Ours was a different sort of love. My family albums don’t look like yours. My memories don’t feel like yours. They feel like mine. And mine are pretty good, all things considered. I wish I had a photo that looked like yours, from my wedding or a party or something, but I don’t. But I am happy you have yours. I am.

Comparison is the enemy of happiness. Today I will be grateful, even happy, for what I have and had. Happy, yes, happy Father’s Day.


I married a poet

15 Feb

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Every other year I can remember since becoming older and a somewhat jaded person (this happened right after grade school I think) this day has meant two things. One, my sister’s birthday is today (and my cousin Susan and good friend Colleen’s birthday was the day before VD). And two, why in the sam-hell do we celebrate this stupid holiday?  One day to celebrate love? Cripes, come on, that is not enough and it is all too much all at once.

I love love. All forms and sizes, in all the ways we package and do it up. I love the idea of it, I love watching it blossom in others. I love expressing it, in words and—ahem—other ways. My friends who have known me for a while would tell you that I have rarely been single. I have been perpetually falling in love with someone or another since 4th grade, Mark Beaver, my first true love. In 2004, that one true kind of crazy love hit me like a Mack truck booming down the highway of is-this-all-there-is? and set me free of my wanderlust. That one kind of crazy is she who is known here on this blog as Sweetie, my forever hot pants, my work out partner, my love and lover.

But damn, this holiday has a lot of hype and expectation. I hate it because it creates a lot of pressure to perform. It contains a time bomb of expectations: getting the right card, having the right meal, make sure the day is absolutely perfect. You know what isn’t perfect? Me. You. Them. Anything. Not one good god-damn thing is perfect. I just cannot get on board with expectations of perfection. I always fail. But also, I hate being wrong. And friends I am wrong about Valentine’s Day this year. This year, the first one I’ve been legally married for, was a game changer.

You know the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” well, it is my belief that perfection is as well. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Perfection is possible, given the ability to see it and receive it, the desire to attempt it. It may not be perfection to the giver, but to its recipient, ohhhhhhh. Yesterday, I received it, the perfect valentine, from the perfect partner. How can she be perfect? Because in all of her humanity, I know that she is perfect for ME, for us. How can it be the perfect gift? Maybe it won’t be for you, but for me, I received it beautiful and amazing. It made me burst with tears. Amaze-ing, as in I am amazed. How did she do this? How amazing is her mind to notice, to see such beauty in me, in us? I don’t know how, but she did. She does. I am lucky.

A poem from my love, my very own poet laureate, Karen “Ratchet” Mattison

Restaurant Workers Come Home Late

The midnight water is quiet when you slip
your body into the home port of our bed.
Anchor down, clothes peeled off and clumping on the floor
still with the shapes of your elbows, knees, and heels.

You are careful not to wake me, but likely hope that I’ll stir—
(it’s nice to be greeted after a long voyage).
Nightly I fight to float up from the bottom
of sleep’s ocean to hail my sailor
my mouth full of water and dreams.

We are not ships that pass in the night
shining a light in greeting and sliding by.
We are each other’s ship and harbor
mainsail and kedge
sail and sleep
adventure and rest.
Our cats jump like fish at the edge of the sheets.

Our midnight water is quiet when you slip
your body around mine as a ship’s hawser whorls the wharf’s bollard:
your twisted working rope spooled around my solid dock’s spur
secured but loose,
gently bobbing on the ripples of the moon’s whim.


So happy Valentine’s Day friends, yesterday, today and always. Go beauty! Go perfection! GO LOVE.


22 Oct




The weather is turning cold here in Minnesota; its been 40 degrees and the air has that chill, the one that gets into your bones and won’t let you loose. If you are from around here you know what this means: it’s sweater weather. Now, if you have followed my journey over at the other blog at all (don’t worry if you haven’t, like this space its been a little dormant too), you’ll know that I don’t have any sweaters to break out this season—you see—all of my cold weather clothes are too large for me now. That is except for this little number. 

Heather, light and dark, a plunging V-neck, with horizontal stripes. Yep, horizontal. Stripes.

 Do you remember when someone told you what you couldn’t do and you did it anyway, because you thought you could, hell for that matter, you should? Not like when you were four, but like when you started to become a grown up? I do.

When I was a pre-teen my mom told me that there were two rules I could not break. One: do not ever go to the video arcade, that is where all the “druggies and losers” hang out. Two: don’t wear red. Whores wear red. When Sweetie and I first got together, there were essentially two colors in my wardrobe, black and some variation on black. No color, and certainly no red. Somehow though, in all of my moving and traveling around that time, a red hued outfit made its way into my wardrobe, and I wore it. On a date, with her. Well my heavens to murgatroyd if she didn’t declare me the most beautiful woman in the world—and not in that whore-ish way—upon first glance in my hot-sy tot-sy outfit. 

When I was first finding my way back to the church after a long young adult sabbatical of sorts, I had been out for a few years already, and quite comfortably so. I was in a relationship with a man, but everyone in my life at the time knew I was bi—except my new church community. I did what I thought was best, I went through the process of coming out again. To me, this was no big deal. I was comfortable in who I was, but knowing the climate of the church at the time (ummmm… read, not progressive, at all) I thought it best if I put all my cards on the table. I met with my pastors, my prayer group, my friends and finally my favorite youth pastor from when I was a kid. Do you know what he told me? It went something like this: You had better never tell anyone else this while you are involved in youth ministry. It will kill your career. People don’t approve and will not understand. I came out anyway. I kept telling people anyway. Because it just felt good and right. Turns out he was right, but so was I.

I am wearing horizontal stripes today. I know the rules, and I haven’t lost all the weight I’d like to yet either. But it’s cold, and I am feeling cute. Hello fall. Hello friends.

it is possible to change?

10 Jul

tp accidentThere are many reasons I love social media, one of them being the exchange of opinions on some of the most intimate and personal of topics. Every once in a while something will pop up that I feel every so strongly about that I think to myself “how could ANYone think the other way is right?” Same sex marriage, a womans right to choose, the death penalty and so on.

Enter how to appropriately hang toilet paper. Now, everyone knows that over is the much preferred hang than the under. No need to google it; it is prettier, cleaner, and well, it’s just right.  Well it is—that is—until it isn’t.

The picture seen here was texted to me the other night just before coming home. “Look what your children did …” was the text that accompanied the photo. The new kitties have discovered the unbridled joy of a roll of TP. Now we’ve had a few stumbling blocks to being new kitty mamas; what they like to eat, where they like to be pet and all that, but this was a whole new naughty ball game. Tigger never ever touched the stuff.

To remedy the situation we tried a few things: moving the TP holder around, but still in comfortable reach for a human. Fail. We tried keeping the roll on the back of the tank, but that just makes us sad, not to mention I think it’s gross. We let them rip it up and we re-rolled by hand, hoping the new-found TP toy might lose its charm. All, as I am sure you have guessed, with no happy solution for humans AND kitties. Until … *gasp*

What if we hung the toilet paper UNDER instead of OVER? What if—even though everything in my life, experience, and reading has taught me that OVER is clearly the right and meet way to hang the TP—this not necessarily true? How could this happen?

Friends, I am telling you it IS true. For the 3rd day in a row our TP is in tact, and hanging in the under position. The kitties are still amazing and adorable, and I can still wipe. The world has not ended. I changed my mind about a deeply held belief I never thought could be changed. There is hope. Hallelujah, amen.


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