Wolf and Woman

I’ve written before – and at length – about my sensitivity.  About how at times, the world can be too big, too loud, too bright, too much.  Last night I had a chat with my (also sensitive) firstborn about what it means to be an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), to feel and absorb the energy of others, and to live in a heightened state of awareness.  Talking to him, I realized I might sometimes make sensitivity sound like a negative thing.  It isn’t.  I believe with all my bleeding heart that sensitivity is a superpower.  My Native American birth totem is the wolf, and I have always identified with that strongly. As a Pisces, empath, HSP, many of the traits are complimentary and parallel.  Recently I’ve posted several articles on Facebook about being an introvert, and until I began to receive responses I didn’t truly understand just how different my experience is from “regular” folks.  I decided to write down some positive aspects of being highly sensitive.

The title of this post is taken from a poem by Nikita Gill:

Some days

I am more wolf

than woman

and I am still learning

how to stop apologizing

for my wild.

Of course, this poem speaks to me on so many levels, but I thought it appropriate to include here.

Hearing: I hear everything, even from far away.  From a roach’s footsteps on tile to the neighbors having a laugh down at the pool at midnight. I complain about it sometimes, because for sleeping (we live in an apartment complex) it’s not ideal.   However, there’s a lot to be said for having sensitive hearing, and it has to do with more than just volume.  For example, it means I like certain tones in music and voices.   Some are sweet and melodic to me.  (Alternatively, some are quite grating.)

I hear small things in nature, like sound of bees buzzing.

I like the sing-song way the actress Miranda Richardson says “ingenue” in the movie version of Phantom. Or the way Fanny Ardant’s Marie de Guise says just about anything.

Classical music (particularly piano, particularly Beethoven) and Opera moves me to tears.

Learning to music is easy for me, and as a child I taught myself facts like the Seven Deadly Sins to the tune of pop songs.  I still remember them. (Hey, I grew up going to Catholic School, so there’s a lot of Scripture in my head.)  I think being HSP is also a contributing factor to how meaningful song lyrics are to my listening experience.  If I like a melody, but the words are stupid, I won’t keep listening.  I like a song that’s deep, that is tragic or curious or whimsical or raw.  Without that it seems pointless to me.

When I was a kid my grandfather called me a mimic because I was so good at accents and dialects.  I impersonated George Bush and Michael Jackson for laughs.  This comes in handy when learning language, as I am able to pick up pronunciation easily.  I can also hear when someone’s tone of voice or inflection changes, even subtly.

Taste: It means I absolutely delight in food. Flavors, textures, temperatures. Sweet and savory, spicy and mellow. I frequently mix textures (ideally I’d do this with every meal) so that I can have crunchy, soft, chewy, warm, sweet and bitter and cool in the same bite.

Some foods are very comforting, like smooth dark chocolate, and I can discern the subtle differences between brands and percentages.  I love a good soda for the bubbles and the way they tickle my tongue and cheeks before rolling down my throat.  A warm, from scratch Belgian waffle disintegrating into sugar is one of my favorite sensations in life.

I like hot cinnamon tea on a cool Fall day and very cold ice cream (a certain kind, of course) in Summer.  I appreciate a good burger more than my vocabulary will allow me to express.

Touch: The sun feels extra warm on my skin.  I like the way it feels on my face, especially in the morning time. I can perceive the sun’s effect on my blood through my skin.  The crunch of dry leaves underfoot when I walk barefoot on grass is lovely.    The way sea water gently introduces itself to my legs each time I walk the beach, and the grittiness of sand between my toes makes me grin.

Sensations that others might take for granted – like being fully submerged in water, or sitting with friends next to a bonfire – are extremely pleasurable to me.

When I shop for clothing, I always try them on.  They should look good, but I need them to feel good, too.  If a material is smooth, soft, and I like the way it glides over my skin, I’ll buy it.  I am particular about fabrics, linens, and especially blankets for this reason.

I like to touch everything.  Walls, paintings, animals, the mail.  I get information this way.

I need hugs and physical affection like some people need air.

Books have a certain feel.  Especially old, hard-cover books.  It makes my fingers tingle just thinking about it. One of my favorite things to do when I’m in a vintage book store is open a book and run my fingers over the type on the page.  I also like to feel the edges, especially if they’re uneven.

Smell: My mom laughs because I say every person has a unique smell.  I can smell people and I recognize them by scent.  (Only today did I realize that she doesn’t understand it because she can’t do it.) I didn’t know other people don’t recognize natural scents, I thought this was something we all do.  Smell is the scent most strongly tied to memory, and I am so fortunate that I can associate a myriad of smells to each of my loved ones.

I can tell when food is rotten, or when something is on fire from far away (this has come in handy more than once.)

No one appreciates a good essential oil like I do.  I love a hot Epsom salt soak with some oils mixed in.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only non-coffee drinker who likes to sit in coffee shops and inhale the aromas.

Sixth/Psychic: I am aware of energy shifts around me, so I can tell if some other entity is close.  I have been in places where I knew something bad had happened and I physically couldn’t walk down the stairs.  (I think this is good because it kept me from potential danger.)  I have met people and known things about them immediately.  I have dream visitations from deceased friends and loved ones.  I am entangled and enmeshed with my loved ones.  My grandmother calls me when I’m upset because she can feel it.  My brother and I have had incredible moments of what would be called mind-reading.  I know when people are lying, and my mother used to call me a Human Barometer, because I could tell her if a potential boyfriend was a good person or a bad person.  Empathy. Compassion. Love.  Off the charts.  Animals like me, too, so that’s good.  I like patterns and symmetry, I can see them a lot of times in nature, or art, or people.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but definitely something I’ll put on my resume (should I ever have to write one).  In Summary: HSP’s are Super Humans and sensitivity is an extraordinary gift.  I will never apologize for someone else’s failure to understand.


Timing [draft] notes to build on

The sky is a mix of blues, pinks and purples.  The sun has all but set, and Clint and Angie are sitting parallel on the bench seat of his vintage Bronco.  He had that put in just for her – or really, so that he could sit closer to her.  She was the only girl he never got tired of, and always wanted around.  Originally the old truck had separate seats with a cavernous space in the middle, without so much as a console where their elbows might touch together when they rested their arms.

The first time Angie sat in the Bronco with him, he knew he had to change the seats.  He wanted her to sit right next to him when they drove across the country, which in his mind they were bound to do.  God, he was crazy about her.  He sometimes drove with the windows down and her long brown hair would tickle his face and neck as it got swept up in the wind, and little goosebumps would raise on her legs.  Who knew goosebumps could be so sexy?  They were. She was.  Sexy and sweet and just enough of a sorceress to send him into a frenzy without even meaning to.

Angie usually sat right next to Clint, just like he’d intended except on certain Summer nights.  On a clear night like this one she loved to see the moon and stars, so she slid all the way over to her side of the truck to watch the twinkling lights in the sky go by overhead.  The stars were magical.  Small, beautiful, enigmatic representatives of the Cosmos – a tremendous unknown world that she likened to the deepest, bluest, most mesmerizing ocean she’d ever want to dive into and would likely never get to swim in.  She loved the stars like other people loved their pets or their sports teams – that is, with wild abandon and without apology.

She talked about the universe and all its inhabitants with such genuine passion, you might think she wanted to become an astronaut or fly to Mars.  But she didn’t.  She just felt connected to it, that big expanse.  The moon with her phases and the galaxies with their total otherworldliness.  She delighted in their beauty and marveled at their placement.

(((He drives her to a field. blanket the works.  Likens her freckles to stars. A galaxy yours.  It’s yours, she says.  That’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me, he says.  I promise you, I’ll never stop exploring it.

Can I change my answer?  This is my favorite.

What? The field? The stars?  Being naked?

Scrunch up her nose laugh.

She sits on his lap and he hugs her tight, the sarape enclosing them in their own very colorful cocoon… whisper/talks into his ear. Tells him they are two halves of the same star.  That’s why they recognized each other the first time they met.  That’s why they keep circling back to each other.  Why there’s so much heat.  Why her face lights up, why he gets restless.  The whole deal.  She waits for him to laugh at her.  He doesn’t.

So can I?

Can you what, Kiddo?

Change my answer.  I want to change it.

Sure.  Hit me.

These are all my favorite.  These moments I used to dream about, the ones I never thought I’d really get with you.  When we do something like drive out to an abandoned field and lie in the grass and trace freckles and breathe in the wild air and just hold on to each other and stare out at the constellations.  It’s hard to explain but sometimes it makes my fingertips tingle.  I can feel energy shooting from them, it’s like my soul reaches out a little, just outside the confines of my body, and yours reaches out too – just a fraction – and they touch.  And for half a minute we are one person, not two.  Like we’re whole again.  When they make the movie about my life, these are going to be the thing I talk about when it’s over. The best part.

Timing Notes the best part convo

“So they’re going to make a movie about your life…”, Angie started, holding Clint’s hand as her eyes traced the quilted diamonds that _____________ the length of the periwinkle hospital blanket.  The material was rough and scratchy, like an old towel that had been hung out on the line in the sun and forgotten a few days.  For a moment she remembered the old scratchy towels at her grandparents’ house.  Angie’s grandmother would always wash the towels in the washing machine, and then hang them out on the line midday to dry.  Instead of softening and blowing beautifully in the wind like the towels in commercials, Grandmother’s towels always stood stiff on the line once they were dry, and they made a little crunching sound when she folded them.  Needless to say, they were hell to dry off with after a bath and young Angie would slip into her pjs sopping wet as many nights as she could get away with it.

Angie thought she felt Clint’s finger twitch in her hand and her thoughts came back to the small, cold room she sat in now.  She wondered to herself why a hospital wouldn’t have more comfortable blankets.  Shrugging her shoulders, she sighed, and repeated her original query.  “So they’re going to make a movie about your life.  What’s the best part?” She knew he wouldn’t answer.  She hoped he could hear her. “That’s ok.  I’ll go first”, she said.




“So let’s say there’s going to be a movie about your life,” Angie said, smiling up at Clint.  They were walking hand-in-hand down the long hallway, meandering really, giving Angie time to examine each movie poster they walked past as if she were a patron in an art gallery, ______________ choosing a piece to take home. Compared to every other girl he had dated, she was so strange.  No, not strange.  Interesting.  She was always thinking new thoughts, inventing new inventions.  Creating.  Imagining.  Angie let her curiosity lead her and she had managed to preserve some of the wonder he thought was reserved for small children at Christmas time.  Somehow she inserted it into the every day things.  He loved that about her.

“A movie about my life?” Clint finally responded.

“Mmm hmm.”

“Well, that would never happen. At least not until after I’m dead.”

Angie shot him a confused look but said nothing.  As good as she was at figuring out what was coming next in a movie, Clint wasn’t as predictable.  Often she was sure she knew where a conversation was going, and he would lead her down a different road altogether.  It amused her.  She stayed quiet to let him explain.

“I’m a writer.  They don’t make movies about guys like me.”

“Uh, yes they do. I’ve seen movies about Hemingway, Tolkien, Fitzgerald.  There are plenty of movies about writers.”

“Kiddo, you’re proving my point.  One, those guys are all dead, and two, they’re nothing like me.  Or I’m not like them.  People generally like their big and famous writers to be one of two things: dead, or mysterious.  I will be dead one day, but I’ll never be mysterious.  Not like Stephen King or ________________”

Angie let her thoughts roll around in her head for a few moments before she spoke.  Clint wasn’t wrong.  He wasn’t mysterious.  He couldn’t be.  Clint had a big presence.  His drawl and swagger had a tendency to draw people close to him, and his easy way with people meant he made friends pretty easily.  The man could warm up a cold room like a wood furnace just by cracking a joke.

“Ok, so you’re not mysterious. Let’s say you’re correct about everything and they only make a movie about your life after you die. You have died and there is now a major motion picture made about you and your life. ”

“Alright. So?”

“So… what’s the best part?”

“The best part?  Of the movie, you mean?”

“Yeah, Clint.  What’s the part of the movie that people leave the theater talking about?”

They had made their way to the exit doors and as Clint flung one of them open, the bright sunlight from outside shone into the dark theater and momentarily blinded them both.  Angie put her arm up over her face in an attempt to see the sidewalk in front of her feet.  Suddenly, she felt a strong tug on her shirt and she fell towards it, spun around, and landed with her face in Clint’s chest.

“What are you doing?” she giggled.

Without speaking, he leaned down and kissed her sweet caramel corn – laced mouth with his salty popcorn lips.

She giggled again.

“That’s the best part,” she said. “For me.”

They stood there, in the corner of the movie theater building, Angie looking up at him and Clint smiling down at her.  “Love is the best part.  It’s cliche, but that’s the best part of my movie.  Love.  Kisses. Stolen glances. Butterflies in the stomach.”

“Honestly, Kiddo, I expected more from you” Clint grabbed her by the hand and led her out into the parking lot.



The Classics

I got a text from my brother last night.  He just found out that you died.  I felt guilty.  It’s been months.  I thought he would have heard from someone, and I don’t like to be the one who calls with that kind of news.  I asked him if he was ok, and he did the guy thing and said “sure, why wouldn’t I be? I didn’t even know the guy.”  That’s not true, though, is it?   I can’t believe he’s completely unaffected.

I remember pelting each other with acorns when we played “War” with all the neighborhood kids.  How you guys were friends one day and enemies the next. The video of you at my 7th birthday party at Showbiz Pizza.  It’s funny, I don’t remember the actual birthday party, but I remember watching the VHS home video of it later.

One sunny day I walked up to the top of the cul-de-sac, in front of your basketball goal, and wrote “I (heart) Matt” in the street in sidewalk chalk.  And it’s true, I did.  In the way that I would only come to understand in adulthood, in the way that I sincerely love my fellow man, and feel compassion for him, and want him to see how treasured he is, I loved you so much.  Of course, you thought I was weird.  (No argument there.)

You guys moved away and we didn’t even speak until a frat party 15 years later, but your energy was a teeny tiny part of mine as kids, and the memory of that first crush makes me grin, mostly with embarrassment.

So many times in the last few years I told your Cancer Story to illustrate the fighting spirit and defiance that lives inside all of us, though few barely ever harness it or put it to use.  Three days, they told your mother.  Instead, you pushed on for two years.

[A side note that may only make sense to me: In Quantum Physics, scientists have found that once a particle has had contact with another particle, the two are affected by each other forever.  Even if they are separated by galaxies.  Even if they never have contact again. This is called entanglement.]

We didn’t speak the whole time you were sick.  You died before Christmas and I didn’t cry.  I am sad, for your wife, for your kids, for your parents.  Sent your dad a note and friended your brother on Facebook.  This life is so strange.

After Jason texted me about you dying, I went and looked at your profile.  I looked at the books you liked.  I wanted to find one I’d never heard of, and read about it, and find a message in it.  I chose “Where the Red Fern Grows” because of the melody of that title, and because I had no idea what it was about.  There are a lot of books one might consider classics that I have never read.  Skimming your list, I promised myself to remedy that. After reading several online summaries and reviews of “Where the Red Fern Grows”, I understood why that was the one I had chosen – or you directed me to.

At 39, you were not the little kid in the army jacket, running down the street with us.  You were not the drunken jerk at the party.  You were a man accomplished.  A husband, a loving father, a loyal friend.  I am sorry that I missed all of that. To my credit, I knew you were special when I was 7 years old. You had a certain light about you, even then.

Thank you for showing me the story you liked as a boy, about Old Dan, Little Ann, and family and loyalty and strength.  It seems the story of your life, right up to the end.  I’m going to visit your grave one day.  Not yet, I think.  It’s too surreal. You were one of us, and we are still kids.  But when I go I hope like hell to see a red fern nearby, planted by the angels, indicating that your life was as purposeful and divinely guided as I have always suspected.

“It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man’s mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just by something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.”
Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows



Misdiagnosed- A Memory

This picture (below) was taken a little over a year ago at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. We had taken Wy to our local ER and that visit quickly turned traumatic, as we were told he (95% likelihood) had leukemia.

Leukemia. Cancer. The ER doctor said words like “morbidity” and “prognosis”. I didn’t cry. I remember clearly that I, quite uncharacteristically, did not dissolve into a heap of tears. I was angry. Indignant. I came here expecting to hear he has the flu, and now you’re spouting life-expectancy statistics? I was mad. At who? I don’t know. Everyone?

It was close to midnight. I called my dad. We drove home, left our older son with family, packed a bag and traveled to Atlanta to be seen immediately (around 3 am) by an Oncologist. It was a quiet car ride. I texted my Doctor friend and my Mom (who is an RN) the entire time.

In my stomach I felt sure the doctor was wrong. I don’t know how, I just knew he was. Wyatt had fought through so much just to be born. Just to be our son. He can’t have gone through that kind of hell in order to live, just to die two years later. It wasn’t possible. I believed he was well. Sitting in the back seat of my father’s sedan, I felt an overwhelming peace. Wyatt was ok. My job was to be calm for him and to gather information, so that’s what I would do.

Still, it was a tough couple of days. Blood tests, screaming, scouring Google, waiting. Sitting in the Oncologist’s office a few days later we waited to find out the lab results. Wyatt gave in to his exhaustion and fell asleep on the palm of my hand. I was exhausted too. I started giggling. I think it was that nervous kind, like when you laugh at a funeral. None of us had really slept in days.

Thankfully, Wyatt was cleared as quickly as he had been diagnosed. We weren’t given much of an explanation, and frankly I didn’t care for one. I wasn’t mad at the ER doctor and I wasn’t upset at what my family had just been through.

I remember this string of days with enormous gratitude. So much gratitude, it probably seeped from my pores. My big little guy was healthy, and all was right with the world.

This whole fiasco is on my heart today as Wyatt has been very difficult this weekend. I am reminded of how much I cherish him, and how quickly things can change. I take a deep breath, regain composure, and hug him tight. I’ll take a temper tantrum over a night in the ER every day of the week.

Wyatt and his beloved Doggy


Sometimes time runs backwards

And sometimes beggars do choose

Sometimes silence is deafening

And sometimes to win is to lose.

Rainbows aren’t always colorful

Stars don’t always shine

Sometimes lies are the only truth

The sourest grapes make the sweetest wine.

Sometimes the day feels like night time,

And sometimes we sow what we reap

Sometimes the hymn is not sung in church

Sometimes the wolf is a sheep.

Sometimes insanity grounds us

And sometimes darkness is light

Sometimes love doesn’t conquer all

Our blindness allows us clear sight.




Dear Pepper

I was today years old when I found out

“it’s you, it’s always been you”

is a line.

(From Iron Man 2.)


size zero

extra extra small

but i’m extra extra tall

on the inside


love to love to love

but I’ll fight you over

that smirk

ya jerk

classy girl

witchy, mystical, ethereal

i may wear pearls

but i’m at home in



fire in these bones

but I don’t like to be alone

so much

it’s cold

artist’s dilemma

it’s tough to write about things i don’t know about,

and i do it with some amount of humility

careful not to overstep or offend

which usually results in rubbish

it’s tougher to write about personal things,

but much more real, raw, accurate

which usually results in spectacular prose

not everything here is autobiographical

(except my disdain for uppercase, that’s all me)

writing a book right now – a novel – a fiction

it’s hilarious how much of it is drawn from real life

and how much of it is drawn from this other life,

one i’ve imagined a million times but never visited

and how authentic they both feel to me.

it’s not that one is real and one is imaginary

both are real, to me. both are me. both are.

i want to present a story that is gripping, heart-wrenching,

imaginative, amusing, compelling, magic.

to do that i have to tell my readers things i’ve never told anyone

admit to things, examine them, lay them bare

i’m mostly ok with that, except

judgement, of myself and of my work – that is myself

i think all writers feel this way, or at least

the good ones do.

karma is a yellow dress

she’s a karmic

not a twin

someone to drown you

from within

a lesser version

imitation of a star

even looks a little like

Gwen, from afar

such pretty words

paired with ugly deeds

one, two, twenty times

love has lied to me

heart is breaking

somehow still hoping, waiting

too much space

it’s suffocating

and so you’ve chosen

and so have i

dreams are nightmares

words are lies

i won’t be there

the beach, the town

i’m not a yoyo

yes and no, up and down

she’s a karmic

not a twin

she will kill you

from within

that yellow dress

i take it personally

she is not your muse

only claims to be

lie to yourself

i won’t hear anymore

i won’t be the anchor

that grounds you to shore

she is a karmic

not half of the star

she numbs reality

truth of who you are

she is a karmic

i am your twin

may your dreams be haunted

by what could have been.