Welcome to the re-activation/remixing of “Short Answer Fridays,” where patrons of the site have first dibs for getting short questions answered. I broke it up into two parts, I’ll post the rest this weekend.
Q1 Scripts for when my mom talks about how she looks like a slob, or how she is such a lazy wretch because her house is a wreck (spoiler, it looks a million times better than mine). Or should I just grit my teeth and let it go, always an option. Love your work. Thank you for doing it. (she/her/hers)
I am allergic to self-deprecation in others (my own is another story), I strongly dislike the bonding ritual of putting yourself down as a gambit to get the other person to try to convince you that you’re great, and one way I deal with all of it is to playfully agree with the person. So I would go with “Ha mom, you’re right, what a dump!” or “Sure mom, you’re a slob, everybody knows!”
I keep my tone light, I laugh, I change the subject as soon as I can because I don’t want to give it a ton of attention, the message is “I’m not playing this game with you.” I think these conversations are more between the other person and themselves than anything to do with me, so who am I to take a side?
Other people have luck with “Stop saying mean stuff about my mom you big jerk!” or sincere talks like “Why don’t we try saying only nice things about ourselves for a change” or “If you’d like some compliments or reassurance you can just ask, you know.”
Or there’s always Mr. Awkward, who’s 95-year-old friend often grouses about looking old and Mr. Awkward answers, deadpan, “Well, good news, Scoop, you don’t look a day over 96.”
More questions after the jump.
Q2 Where’s the line between “This is a normal adult thing to do so I expect you to do it” and bullying people into doing things (e.g. going to dentist, finding therapist) or between setting boundaries vs. emotional blackmail (“You agreed to do x but haven’t and refuse to commit to a concrete date. I’m seriously considering cutting contact until you get it done.”)? Especially people who suffer from depression and/or procrastination. Thanks! (she/her)
Versions of this question come up a lot. Without knowing the relationship or the stakes (how and to what extent is another person’s delay in seeing a therapist or a dentist affecting you, specifically, for example, and what is your standing to affect the situation, are you the spouse/partner, parent, housemate, friend, etc.), it’s hard to draw a line in a way that works for all possible situations. Maybe a story will help imagine an alternative to “emotional blackmail” or “bullying.”
When I taught media production, I worked with many students who fell behind amid accumulating missed assignments and looming deadlines, adjusting to college and a steep learning curve, and handling genuinely difficult life stuff, including mental health and executive function issues. As a new teacher I tried tons of strategies to get people back on track: being incredibly strict about deadlines [no late work accepted, period!], being incredibly lax about deadlines [Please, I’m begging you, just hand something in, I will grade it as long as you do it!], and eventual happy mediums, reminding people of missed classes and assignments to the point of nagging them, notifying them that they were in danger of failing the course and copying my supervisor to document things when they inevitably failed the class and wanted to argue about that fact, notifying their advisors and student affairs that they weren’t attending class and someone should probably check on them, referring them to student counseling and student health and the writing center and the Title IX coordinator and other resources. I tried it all, all the strategies and policies and overcorrections, and many were useful, but over time I found something that worked better than anything else to help students recover from academic struggles:
- Remove shame.
- Emphasize agency.
If a student was willing to work with me to get themselves out of gradebook hell, this is what we did:
We met, we looked at the syllabus together, we reviewed their grades and what was missing/still upcoming and tried to identify things that would have the greatest impact gradewise and as learning experiences. Then I asked them to come up with a plan for how they wanted to make up missed work and attack future work. What was most important to them in terms of finishing the class and learning what they came to learn? What could safely be skipped (low points, early exercises)? What did they think they could realistically do with the time and resources they had? What specific help or resources did they need to get it done?
If they could come up with a realistic plan and commit to it – completing what they agreed to do, meeting the revised deadlines they chose, turning in all future work complete and on time, participating in class, being proactive about communicating with me and their teammates on group efforts – they would pass the course. Once they made a plan, I would advise, support, strategize, cheerlead, connect them with resources, and do everything in my power to help them make it a workable one and carry it out. But they had to make the plan and bring it to me, I would not do it for them.
If there was no plan that would let them realistically complete the course (sometimes there’s just no saving it, and health/family/other classes needed to be the priority), we’d deal with that head on and work together on ways to land the plane as gracefully as we could. You’re gonna fail this class no matter what you do? It happens, let’s hook you up with your academic advisor so it can be a deliberate, guided crash.
One key factor was removing shame as much as possible. Often the students felt incredibly stressed and embarrassed for falling behind, even when very serious things had been going on in their lives, things that would derail anyone. But lots of students struggle. Lots of students fail the first time they try to attempt something new and challenging and come back to crush it later. One grade, one class, was not a indicator of their potential. Come on, a bad grade doesn’t make you a bad artist!
One way to do that was to listen to the students and believe them about whatever was going on. I didn’t need an elaborate explanation or “proof,” just, hey, what’s going on and what do you want to do and what do you need from me. Professors loooooooooove to joke about the parade of grandparents who conveniently die around finals time but, listen up you unfunny smug assholes, old people die! Death doesn’t give a shit about the academic calendar! It’s horrible to have to balance grief, travel, financial stress, fraught pressures with family, and all kinds of destabilizing crap and finals and feel like no matter what you do you’re letting someone down! I ended a very serious long-term relationship during grad school in the middle of trying to make a film, my very beloved grandmother died during another semester, both things wrecked me for months and you better believe it affected my work! I would rather be “conned” 10,000 times and hand out extensions like candy corn than be an asshole to a single solitary grieving or otherwise struggling person. And guess what happens when you trust people and treat them with good faith? They tell you the truth. Whereas if you shame people they hide from you, stop answering emails, stop coming to class, and delay asking for help, or come up with some embarrassingly elaborate story because they think that’s what it takes to get you to stop and see them as people. Shame is not a motivator.
The students were free to peace out and take the “W” or the “F,” as a grade, but I let them know that they were welcome to keep on coming to my class and salvaging what they could even if there was no way to bring the grade up, this was still their education, their community, and they were the boss of how to handle that. I let them know I would be proud of them whatever they did; I’m proud of you for taking care of yourself in a hard situation, I’m proud of you for making a tough decision, I’m proud of you for prioritizing your mental health and well-being, I’m proud of you for asking for help, that’s not always easy for everyone, I’m proud of you for sticking with it, and hey, I’m proud of you for the times you did or said or made something really funny or beautiful or skillful or vulnerable in the time I’ve gotten to know you. You’re going to be fine, whatever you decide, wherever you go, you’re welcome back anytime.
Some left the class, relieved to have the pressure off, others stuck around and crewed on their classmates projects instead of worrying about their own, happy to get the experience and try again for the grade another time. All fine! What was better is that they didn’t just drift or slink away like students had in the past, they reckoned with the workload and their own limits and made the best decision for themselves. The others (by far most of them) RALLIED LIKE GANGBUSTERS. They made a plan. The executed the plan. They chased me down to hand in their assignments and get feedback. Their final projects were usually GREAT. They wanted to show me, themselves, their classmates what they could do.
Realizing this liberated me so much as a teacher, it’s the thing that taught me that you can care about people but you can’t do their caring for them or instead of them. Sometimes things can’t work out, sometimes people just can’t do the thing and even if you do your best you can’t prevent it or save them. Nagging, lecturing, threatening, ultimatums, none of it fucking worked so I should stop forever and save my energy. The only thing that worked was “You’re the boss of you, so, how do you want to do this & how do you think I can best help you and encourage you get it done” + “You’re not a fuckup and lots of other people have been where you are” + “Let’s be incredibly honest with each other about whether this is what you actually want to do and how likely it is to actually work.”
So how to apply this in other kind of relationships? I’m definitely not suggesting that people treat their personal relationships like classes and set themselves up as the instructor and the procrastinating or reluctant partner or friend as the student. I had power in that situation and a syllabus that laid out the expectations in advance.
What I’m suggesting is the opposite of a student/teacher relationship, I’m suggesting that if a relationship is important to you and you’re invested in it, maybe treat it like a collaboration, and afford the other person maximum agency within that collaboration. There people who are suited to particular kinds of collaboration but not others (not every buddy is a compatible travel-buddy), there are ways people can help each other and pick up the slack inside a collaboration, there are ways to play to each other’s strengths and mitigate weaknesses and still have an enjoyable, fulfilling, worthwhile collaboration without everything being a constant 50/50, but there are also things that you cannot handle for another person, they must do it themselves if it’s going to happen, and sometimes collaborations fail.
What happens, I wonder, if we treat the important people in our lives like the bosses of their own lives and equal partners in a collaboration with us, maybe we’re making a marriage, maybe a friendship, maybe it’s jazz or Dungeons and Dragons or casseroles or cheese or raising small people together, I don’t know, I’m spitballing here, the point is, what are you making and what do you want it to be like and does everyone get a say. When problems arise, ones that aren’t easily solved, what if we asked our collaborators what they want to do and are able to do, what they think is realistic and possible for them to do, ask them what’s been stopping them from getting it done, ask them what they need from us? What if we then check in with ourselves about whether the help they need is something we’re willing to do (considering that it’s possible that what we need is for them to take care of whatever it is WITHOUT depending on us) and leave it up to them to decide if the specific help we can offer is actually useful to them. “We’ve been arguing about you making a therapist appointment for six months now. I don’t want to fight, but I can see you’re struggling with this, can you tell me what’s getting in the way?” + “How do you want to handle that?” + “Would it make it easier if I made the scary phone call for you or checked in with you right after?” + “Okay, so can you do it by next week?” + (the hardest part) Accepting if it’s still not happening after all that, maybe it’s not going to.
“Removing shame” could mean interrupting shame spirals and not turning every conversation about boundaries or action into a referendum on the person and their history and feelings and traumas and barriers, i.e. Let bygones be bygones, apologies can wait, hold onto your excuses, can you help me figure out how to make this work from this moment forward?
Asking someone what they want to do and how doesn’t mean agreeing to everything someone wants, or putting our own needs on hold, or parenting someone else. Asking means listening, finding out how they view the problem, getting a perspective or information we didn’t have before, like, do they even want what we want and do we want what they offer? Is it realistic, does it have a chance of meeting our needs, do we trust them and ourselves to follow through on agreements, are we invested enough (do we have enough affection, energy, attachment, connection, pleasure, money, time, patience, ability) to put in the effort? There are people in this world I could probably have tried harder to stay involved with or at least in touch with, but you know what? “Hold up: I don’t actually like/love/enjoy this enough to try this hard, I want different things” was important information.
Hail Sheelzebub, we know the rest. The rest is can you live with things as they are if nothing changes? Do you like or love this person enough, are you getting enough of your needs met that it’s worth working on this more, or sticking it out even if this one thing isn’t ever going to happen? Is there a different, less intense or interdependent kind of relationship with this person that would be less tense for you, where resetting your expectations would make it more enjoyable and less stressful? Are you just incompatible here? There are people you can like a hell of a lot without depending on them or prioritizing them. If there’s no way to make it work, or you’d rather not commit the effort, stop issuing ultimatums and plan the kindest and safest exit that you can.
Updating to add, the wonderful Erynn Brook posted a thread about executive function yesterday that has lots of practical info.
Q3: How do I square advice to “be myself” and “just relax” at work with the fact that when I’m myself, I tend to mess up social cues, forget the work hierarchy, and become more openly critical of flawed policies, thus leading to angry managers? I’ve gotten fired a few times in the past and I’m super anxious about a new job. Very relevant is that I’m a woman on the spectrum in a tech field. (she/her/hers)
Where is the “be yourself” and “just relax” advice coming from? Is it a trusted source, or someone with power over your career like a supervisor, and if so, could you ask the person, “When you say that, is there something specific you mean, especially something specific you’d like to see me do?” “I hear that feedback often, and I never know what it means. Is there something specific I should be doing differently?”
Because it sounds to me like you need to stay aware of work hierarchies and find more strategic and diplomatic ways to deliver feedback way more than you need to “just relax.” So what if we thought about your anxiety and the new position as fuel for questions to ask existing mentors, friends who have a good handle on corporate stuff in your industry, people training you, your friendliest and best new coworkers, and your new boss. You’re new here! Ask questions! Adapt these as you like:
- “What do you wish someone had told you when you first started working here?”
- “I’m struggling with x and could use some help. When you run into similar issues, do you usually ask [colleague vs. supervisor][whole team vs. team lead][human resources vs. more informal supervisor chat]?”
- “Is there an org chart that spells out people’s roles and seniority?” Look, sometimes in tech and media, literally everyone is wearing sneakers and a funny t-shirt and it’s hard to tell who the bosses are just by looking. Ask!
- Where do they keep the information you need (manuals, project deliverables, style guides, policies) and who in the company and on your team is the repository for institutional knowledge and troubleshooting? Find out, and cultivate that person as your ally.
- You’re new here, ask about corporate culture stuff, too! A friend once worked in a place where his desk was far away from his team’s desks and he figured out that they all went to lunch together all the time but he was never invited along. He worried about it foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrr but real talk, they weren’t excluding him, they liked him fine, their habit for years was to verbally say, “Lunch?” over the cube walls and they forgot that the new guy wouldn’t know or be able to hear, so from their( incorrect) perspective he was the one opting out of lunch. A quick “Hey, I don’t want to crash your plans but can someone remember to ping me if everyone’s going to lunch?” conversation cleared it up. Finally.
- “If I have feedback on a work policy, what is the right venue and when is the right time to bring that up?” Good guidelines for that exist: Don’t do this right out of the gate, settle in and observe first, also, unless your boss is THE problem (as in they are breaking LAWS or endangering you or other people somehow), probably don’t go over your boss’s head to their boss or others in the company without talking to them first, ’cause it makes them look bad and they do not like it, ever.
- “Do you know if [possibly intimidating decision-maker] is more of an email-person or a talk in person-person for thorny issues?”
For now, relax at home on your own time. Relax when you’re with friends and people close to you who know your quirks. Relax when you know the ropes of the place you’ll be working and understand how things are done there. “Just being yourself” can also be about knowing yourself (“This is just how I am, being very diligent and focused is how I relax”) and helping your manager understand what you need, for example: “If there’s something you need me to do differently, I know that I do best with direct feedback, so never hesitate to spell it out for me. I’m not a good guesser and trying to pick up on hints or nonverbal cues isn’t always my strong suit. Thank you.”
I hope this new job is a great fit for you. I made a longer thing about giving and taking feedback specifically in creative and tech environments if you’re interested.
Q4: We have a housekeeper who comes and cleans our house once a month. This is our first time with a housekeeper, so how do we make her job easier/better for her? We clean up the gross stuff before she arrives, we’re flexible on times, and we give bonuses twice a year, but more stuff to do is great! (she/her/hers)
From my past experience which I hope to have again someday because professional cleaning is a gift:
- Ask. “Is there anything you’ve noticed that we could do ahead of time to prep so your job is easier?” “If you notice something that should be added to the list, let us know.” “Are there any supplies you’d like us to pick up?”
- Clear clutter – mail, bills, paperwork off surfaces as much as possible if you want someone to actually clean the surfaces, even if it’s just putting it in a folder or tray so it’s easy to move. Cleaners won’t know where the stuff actually goes, many won’t want to mess with your personal papers, and the ones who can’t help tidying them away will annoy you when you can’t find the notice from the power company.
- If there’s something specific you want done or you want it done a certain way, say so. “Can you pay extra attention to the baseboards and ceiling fans this week?” Ditto if there’s something you’d like them to not touch, a room you’d like them to stay out of. Just say. They want to do what you want.
- If you know something is a particularly gross or dirty job this week, like you had a party or got real busy with work or your houseguest brought their very incontinent dog to stay for a few days, nothing says “I appreciate you” quite like money.
- Does the cleaner have a favorite soda or cold beverage? Keeping some around and making it clear that it’s up for grabs is a nice thing to do.
- Make sure human needs are cared for! This is something I learned from this harrowing and also fascinating essay about being a home cable installer (sex, crime, right wing politics, personal safety, and labor conditions discussed candidly within): A lot of professional service people who come to your home aren’t allowed to ask you if they can use your bathroom, if they can sit down, or if they can have a drink of water, they can accept if you offer, but the companies train them that they can’t ask. This is gross! I’m sure the questioner’s cleaner is all set with this, but if you’re reading this and planning to have anyone clean or repair or install things in your home or yard, showing them the bathroom and making it clear that they can use it, offering them something to drink, and letting them know it’s okay to sit down (and where) are just basic human manners. “If you need to step out for a second to smoke or make a call, no worries, here’s the best spot and you can dispose of any trash here.” “If you need to plug in your phone while you’re here, this is a good spot.” They can’t ask, so, don’t assume they’ll “just let me know if you need something” or “make yourself at home!.” You have to offer.
Uh….more general advice, maybe not specific to the questioner but based on memoirs of cleaners I’ve read and stories from friends who have done that job:
- Don’t be a creep?
- Clean your own sex dungeon/toys/implements (or make it very clear when you hire someone: “I need a cleaner to clean my sex dungeon,” since informed consent shouldn’t be a new idea for people who have sex dungeons). Lock up your own guns and other dangerous/possibly illegal stuff. Secure your valuables and cash?
- Be mindful of your pets and children? Make sure the people know: Indoor vs. outdoor, bitey-ness, allergies, poisons, tools & other safety stuff?
- Be friendly and polite but don’t treat the person like your new pal and therapist and download all your personal problems onto them while they are working? Respect the original scope of work (cleaner) and don’t try to stack other tasks onto that without explicit negotiation and pay adjustments? (For example, YOU watch your kids or arrange childcare).
- Be available, esp. the first time or two, but don’t hover over the person?
- Pay a living wage and do the paperwork in a way that does right by the person?
- If you don’t like something, unless it’s UNSAFE, probably give the person a chance to fix it first (vs. reporting them to the parent company)? Like, don’t be passive-aggressive and hide behind authority or formalities, if a person is cleaning your toilet, you can look them in the eye and ask them to put things back where they found them or use your preferred brand of whatever and if you can’t, maybe you can’t hire help.
Any readers who have worked as cleaners have more stuff?
Q5: Moving! It’s so exciting and yet so terrifying. So much stuff. Do you have any words of wisdom on planning for a move, tips for streamlining the process, etc? As well, advice on “aspirational” plans? I keep trying to think how things will be “different” in the new place, and then asking myself if that’s what I want then why aren’t I making the effort to have that now? Thanks. (she/her/hers)
Hahahahaha I am not a particularly organized person so the “aspirational” part is completely out of my wheelhouse as is the wisdom.
The things I’d add or amplify from experience:
- Daydreaming and choosing things for your new place is a good use for Pinterest. I also love the book “Living Large In Small Spaces,” it’s aspirational as fuck but beautiful and thoughtful. Go ahead! Make your vision board! Think about the kind of life you want to have and how you will use your space.
- Do not try to talk yourself into living somewhere you don’t want to live. Sometimes compromises are necessary but don’t try to sell yourself on a thing you know is a bad idea.
- Living close to friends, work, things you like to do is valuable, think about tradeoffs of “cheaper rent by living further away” vs. “how much you will spend on cabs/Lyfts if you ever want to see people.”
- Scout potential locations for audio as well as good bones and natural light, both for filming and for life, and visit the area at multiple times of day. I mean it: When you’re looking at a new apartment or house, take out your phone, turn on the voice recorder and record what it sounds like for a little while, and think about what is nearby and how it will affect you. Living in a flight path? “Oh, it’s so quiet here near the playground…during the day…when the kids are in school” or “Oh, our neighbors are so friendly, and yet, they scream at each other like drunken banshees and their dog never stops barking!” are things you don’t want to find out later.
- LABEL YOUR SHIT
- There is a time for sorting through all your things and thoughtfully reckoning with your possessions and how they fit into your life and curating them as you pack. That is for the early stages of packing, weeks, plural before your actual move. There is also a time for “Throw it in a box or put it in the bin, we don’t have time to think about it.” That is for the week of your move. Do not mix these two modes.
- Friends who are organized and like helping are a godsend, they don’t have feelings about your stuff to slow them down, so “Can you come over, pack my bookcase and drink wine with me?” is a very good thing to ask for.
- Pack one box or suitcase with everything you need for the first 24-48 hours: Sheets, a shower curtain, whatever you need to sleep and clean yourself and get ready in the morning, snacks, water bottle, medications, important papers, etc. LABEL IT. On moving day, try not to let it out of your sight.
- Last time I moved I rented plastic bins instead of buying/collecting boxes and it was great – they were sturdy, they had handles and were easy for the movers to stack and carry, and the fact that the company comes and collects them about a week after you move gives you motivation to unpack quickly and not let things sit.
- I have NEVER regretted hiring movers. If you can, do it. My Chicago trusted people are here, they have moved me multiple times since 2006, I do not want to move possibly ever again, but I love them.
- Plan to have people over about a month after you move and get your place set up SOON. Do not live out of boxes/bins/storage solutions. Make it a home.
- I think it’s normal and okay to use the idea of moving as a structure for thinking about your life and doing a reset on some things, don’t beat yourself up for not doing whatever it is already!
Q6: My in-laws have terrible guest mattresses, and my back hurts a lot when I sleep on them. But we visit for a week every year. A hotel isn’t an option … Is there a polite way to offer to buy a (foam internet) mattress? Do we bring an air mattress? If I get pregnant can I use that as an excuse even though I’ll only be 2 months along. I love them but want sleep! (she, her, hers)
Whether you offer to replace the mattress or bring an air bed (or have one shipped before your next visit), your spouse should handle this conversation and treat it like a very boring, routine problem that good hosts would want to know about and deal with. “We’d love to [whatever solution you come up with to supply a new sleeping option without them having to spend money] before our next visit, would that be all right?”
They’ll say some stuff, if they need a reason they can say: “Spouse is a very picky sleeper these days, and we love to come see you so it’s worth the investment. Thanks so much for always putting us up!” It’s okay to frame it as a recent problem (“picky sleeper these days“) vs. “your mattresses have always sucked” if you think that will help the medicine go down.
You don’t gotta be WITH CHILD to want sleep. Do it! Or rather, get your spouse to do it!
Q7: Fiancé (he/him) and I are getting married later this year. For Reasons, we’re only inviting a few people (6-8, I forget exactly). One of the friends he’s inviting (she/her) is someone I dislike – she calls late at night and talks to him for hours, and my very anxious brain interpreted that as “she’s into him!” I 100% trust Fiancé and know he would never cheat, but how can I handle having her there? (they/them)
I realize with a very small wedding, a guest you dislike can’t fade into the crowd the way they can in a bigger group, but to me this is more of an ongoing fiancé issue than a guest- at-one-party issue. The wedding is the wedding, she’ll say congratulations, you’ll say thanks, you’ll eat lunch, you’ll be married, the sun will set and rise again. “My partner is up all night every night talking to a lady I don’t like and I’m having to think about how much I trust him and constantly try to squash down my jealous feelings to the point it’s making me dread my own wedding” is a much bigger deal.
It’s quite possible she IS into him, it’s possible she’s not, she’s obviously an important part of his life with all the late night calls and being one of the chosen half-dozen for the guest list. You trust him to “never cheat,” but something is bugging you about this whole situation and it’s time to figure out what that is really about and also talk to your fiancé honestly about it. How often are these late night calls happening? Is this something that’s going to happen forever? Did/do you have an expectation (possibly an unspoken one) that the intensity of these chats would fade out, esp. with the upcoming marriage? Does their intimacy with each other include you or feel like it excludes you? Is she frosty or rude or weird to you when you do interact? Does he know you don’t like her or have you been hiding it in an attempt to appear chill? Get to the bottom of that, so you can enjoy your big day even if 1/8 of the group is not your favorite person.
Q8: Do you have poetry suggestions for dealing with loneliness and aging?
Recently I’ve been struggling to feel that I’m loved/enough, even though intellectually I know I am. That’s exacerbated by not fitting neatly into boxes of Adulthood Success while my friends start checking those boxes (marriage, kids, etc), and nerves about being alone forever (less about not having a romantic partner than a fear of community being harder to hold onto as time goes on) (she/her or they/them)
Here’s a gut-punch from Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who wrote one of my favorite post-breakup jams. In a similar vein, Flood: Years of Solitude by Dionisio D. Martínez hits that melancholy note. What The Living Do by Marie Howe is about grief for someone who is gone, and the work and discovery of surviving a loved one. You can hear my beautiful friend sing it here (and buy the recording here).
Ilse Bendorf’s Catch A Body is one of my favorite poems about connection, wanting connection, being vulnerable in search of connection. Jennifer Moxley’s Dividend Of The Social Opt-Out is a perfect one for introverts and the delicious freedom of occasional solitude. Pull out to the cosmic level with our beloved Dr. Sweet Machine and You Are Not God’s Sparrow. Lucia Perillo’s Dangerous Life is an ode to survival, to self-sufficiency. Or check Patrick Rosal’s Brokeheart: Just Like That for the lines:
"And just like that everyone knows my heart’s broke and no one is home. Just like that, I’m water. Just like that, I’m the boat. Just like that, I’m both things in the whole world rocking. Sometimes sadness is just what comes between the dancing... ...I can’t pop up from my knees so quick these days and no one ever said I could sing but tell me my body ain’t good enough for this. I’ll count the aches another time, one in each ankle, the sharp spike in my back, this mud-muscle throbbing in my going bones, I’m missing the six biggest screws to hold this blessed mess together. I’m wind- rattled. The wood’s splitting. The hinges are falling off. When the first bridge ends, just like that, I’m a flung open door."
Wendy Videlock’s I Have Been Counting My Regrets is a fun one to go out on.
That’s my top-of-mind anthology, the readers are gangbusters at the poetry recs (“There are enough ballrooms in you…”) so I expect great things!
Thanks to everyone for their kind patronage and questions, I’ll have another batch of questions up soon. The next round of open submissions will open on or around June 14.