Sunday, December 18, 2016

Santa Baby

Dear Santa,

It's been a rough few years, I'll be honest.

It's been sixteen years since my last confession, 30 since my last wish list.

A hundred since I last slept well.

In thinking about where I must be on your list... I'm feeling pretty even between naughty and nice. Sure, I've done a few things against my better judgement, but life has already dealt me the coal that I earned in those transgressions, and I've lit it up. Paid penance for my sins. And there were times when I've been nice, or mean for nice reasons.

You know what I mean.

You should know my chimney's stuffed up, and I think the HOA has welded a cap over the top, what with the wind storms here on the bluff. The same thing has happened to my heart, unfortunately. I've tried to seal it off, to batten down the hatches during the emotional tempests, but it seems feelings are getting in anyway.

So you shouldn't have any trouble.

This year, I'd love for you to explain a few things to me. No need to gift-wrap, just tell it to me straight.

You've done some miraculous shit before, and I'm not talking about the flying reindeer or the tricks of quantum physics that appear to allow you to gift all the Believers in the span of a single night. I can't tell if you're ubiquitous or scattered, but you do seem to get around.

I'd like to know how we got here – this election, this defection, this eruption of evil. I'd like to know why there isn't a food bank collection at the grocery store by my house, why there was a man in his pajamas walking home last night in frigid temperatures. Why good people can't get or stay pregnant. Why no one is doing anything about Aleppo. Why the truest source of news these days is Saturday Night Live.

What I'm supposed to do with my life.

I'm wondering what kinds of cookies it will take to get a solid answer out of you, or if I have to sit on your lap, or if you even still exist.

How did we twist this story around you anyway? Isn't there a virgin somewhere below, laboring, scared shitless in a barn full of livestock? Isn't the real story a cascade of miracles that started with a woman giving birth? I imagine Mary crying out, as I imagine I would, Sweet Baby Jesus make this pain STOP.


The whole thing is perverse, if you ask me. Heads up: the Holy Spirit will come upon you? That dirty bastard. I'm pretty sure that's still a crime in all fifty states. Well, at least for the next month.

English and the double entendre ruin everything.

Or maybe that's my dirty mind.

Dear Santa, even Jesus gave up when he was three years younger than I am right now – how do you do it? How do you persist, in the face of Scrooge and the Grinch and the Zombie apocalypse in Washington? It's got to break your heart to fly through the smog, to leave sick children in the dust, dropping plastic crap fabricated by toddlers in China under the shrine to environmental destruction.

I'm sorry, I know I'm circling the drain here. Let me be frank.

Santa, baby, what we're all wishing for this year is a recount. An asteroid. A miracle.

We'd even settle for the second coming.




Friday, December 9, 2016


I drove past the cemetary on the way to the airport today. The air was so clear, warming from the desperation of the cold – the beauty that has kept us inside for the last few days. And I blew a kiss. I don't always, sometimes I drive right past, but your memory is dancing all around me these days as I consider working in the world of addiction, returning to California. As my best friend is burying her brother, who shared your struggles. I called 911 two days ago, after a mama locked her little in the car in 10 degree weather. It wasn't a panicked phone call, it was calm and calculated, because I don't know how long it takes a fifteen pound baby to freeze to death, but I know that it was more than twice as warm the night you did.

I don't know how long it took – how long you were down before you were out. Whether you suffered or simply slowed as your blood turned to ice. In the dark, cold month between the anniversary of your birth and the anniversary of your death I often wonder what song was playing in your mind, what images were dancing in the fog of your last breath.

Where you've gone.

Why your memory returns without warning.

How to forgive myself for our last meeting, when my attention was lost in a triangle of men, when I ran away into the arms of someone who didn't deserve that kind of reward. I wish that I could go back to that moment and say something – anything – worthy of a goodbye. Or better, something that would remind you that I still cared, even though I wasn't sure how to say so.

I'm cautious with goodbye now, cautious with saying what I mean, even though it isn't culturally appropriate to do so, even if it has lost me some friends or affections. Even if it closes some doors, this is something that I've learned from losing you.

My driver this morning was named Jesus – auspicious, for sure – but also a harmonic of you.

The sweetest Gethsemane, birthday buddies. My lost boy who slipped through my fingers.


Dear Jon, I wish I could have saved you. That's my sickness, the shadow side of my gift. A lesson I didn't learn until it was too late. Something I had to relive to truly learn, a darkness I barely escaped.

This year I'm going to learn how to drive a stick (again); I'm going to say goodbye with compassion and the fullest expression of honesty that my tiny body will allow me. I'm going to write a book, and in it, I'm going to call the chapter about you Buford, because that's the word that keeps your memory alive in me.

I'll keep blowing kisses, keep remembering.

Because my curse is loving too well, too often, without the ability to disentangle my heart from the places it's been.

And this year, that will also be my gift.