What Comforts Me (Lately)

It’s a massive category, for sure, but in this big, broad world of comforting “things”, what would you say generally brings you the most comfort?

I’ve been thinking about it (comfort) recently, because it’s another one of those things that keeps me here, and when I say keeps me here, I mean “encourages me to remain an active participant in life.” It takes effort to die, you know… it takes time, thought, and energy to kill yourself prematurely, but it takes a lot more effort to continue living, so why do we do it? What entices us to willingly and thoughtfully CHOOSE to stay here?

We’re arbitrarily born, but then something causes us to remain here, in these bodies, on this earth… molded by seemingly senseless and undeserved sets of predetermined talents, faults, preferences and circumstances that we inexplicably find ourselves bound up with. Why? Why stay? 

I’ve boiled it – the motivating factors for my active participation in life – down to a few (times two — four) “top reasons”:

  1. People. I both love and abhor them. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
  2. Animals. They are the most magical creatures on this planet, and I ONLY love them.
  3. Art. From reading and writing to music and nature, I adore creative expression.
  4. Curiosity. I love meeting new experiences, gaining new knowledge, and going on adventures… why dip out early when that would mean missing out on SO much?


And recently, after hitting the 2-month mark of grieving Bruster’s death, I’ve been mulling over the subject of comfort. When I’m sad, or stressed, and WANTING to dip out early, what (or who) do I seek comfort from? What is comfort, and what does being comforted mean?


Comfort (n): a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.

Comfort (v): the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.


We all basically knew that, but sometimes, it’s nice to examine the phrases lying underneath a word.


Personally, I find comfort in…

  1. People
  2. Animals
  3. Adventures (from biking to and from my favorite little coffee shops to venturing into the Midwest and partaking in edibles solo, getting out of the house and my own mind affords a tremendous amount of emotional and spiritual relief)


And, as minute as they sound, I’ve noticed (5) little things around the home that have also added to my level of comfort recently:

  1. storage cubbies
  2. a water pitcher
  3. a coat rack
  4. personalized wall art
  5. plants


So… working from the top to the bottom of the list, what on earth have storage cubbies done in terms of soothing my soul?


#1: storage cubbies

I first spotted them about 6-8 weeks ago while perusing wares inside of What’s on Second (one of my favorite antique shops in Birmingham). The owner — a gentleman with white hair and sparkling eyes — had them piled on top of each other in the display window and was featuring other “for sale” items on and in them. I usually visit his shop with the objective of finding a cool black or chrome ring, some kind of Doctor Pepper memorabilia (I don’t drink the stuff, but it reminds me of Bobby), or a rare treasure for one of my closest friends, but when I saw the cubes, my attention was instantly diverted.

I stepped closer to them and located the price tag; $25? That’s not bad AT ALL, I marveled. I approached the front counter and told the owner I was interested in them.

“They’re so cool! Where did you find these things?”

“The old Parisians!” he divulged proudly.

“Ahhhh… neato! And is it $25 for… the whole set?” I asked hopefully.

“Oh, no — $25 a piece,” he clarified.

“Oh, okay!” I nodded cheerfully, slightly bummed. It made sense, though; they were REALLY cool cubes. I did the math in my head; buying one would seem silly, and two would, somehow, seem inadequate, but leaving with three would cost…


You cannot blow seventy-five bucks on some storage cubbies. Go to Target and find some five or ten dollar equivalent of them, an inner, critical, boring me commanded.


Obedient to the voice, I told the owner I’d think on it and left.


A month later, I was STILL thinking about those cubes. It’s funny — the ridiculous things my mind chooses to fixate on: rocketship-shaped trashcans and vintage cubbies.  ?

So I re-entered What’s on Second one Saturday morning and, to my delight, all of the cubes were still there. I greeted the owner, propped my elbows on the counter, and raised my eyebrows at him. “So… I definitely want to purchase some of those cubes, AND I was wondering: If I were to buy two or three of them (instead of just one), would there be any kind of discount?”

He pursed his lips and squinted his eyes, deep in thought.

“If not, it’s totally cool… I’d still wa–”


“If you bought three, I’d discount the price to $20/piece.”


“REALLY? Awesome!” I exclaimed. “I’ll take three, then!”


I left with three cool cubes, positioned them in the hallway at home, and then – not feeling entirely complete as a human being – asked Charlie to return the following week. “If they’re still there, please buy two more and I’ll pay you right back!” I texted.


When I got home that evening, there they were; two more ridiculously fly vintage cubes. 


“Did he remember me?” I asked Charlie curiously as I was stuffing a pair of shoes into my new storage unit.


“Oh yeah! He said that few people have the imagination to appreciate things like the storage cubes, but that you did.”


His compliment surprised me. “Huh! The imagination…”




What I like about the cubes: The colors are fantastic, the shapes are so totally retro, and they add a fun and cheerful burst of color to the hallway. I look at them every morning when I’m leaving for work, and then again each evening after returning home. I like having a place to store my shoes, but I also like the place itself. My shoes have a home, and so do I.

Plus, I can put ANYTHING I WANT on top of the highest storage cube! A candle, a plant, a box of cereal…


#2: a water pitcher


I always bring a glass of water to bed with me, and every night, I worry that – in the dark, later on, when I’m reaching FOR the glass – I’m going to accidentally knock it over and spill water all over my phone and other writing desk contents.


“We should get a pitcher of some kind,” Charlie suggested one day, and it was another idea that my mind randomly decided to fixate on.


“YES — a water pitcher. That will solve all of life’s problems!” I agreed wholeheartedly.


So I stopped into Brass Bear late this Saturday afternoon and discovered this beauty tucked away in a corner. I brought it home, Googled “how to clean pewter”, and after an interesting apple cider vinegar-wheat flour-salt bath, it’s enjoying its re-purposed role as Jace’s Favorite Water Pitcher.




How does possessing this water pitcher calm my spirit? Welcoming it into the casa has achieved three things:

  1. I no longer worry about my cellular device flooding and destructing in the night,
  2. The nozzle on the pitcher is perfectly shaped for watering the plants in my room, and
  3. The process of pouring water into a cup has become sooooooooooo muchhhhhhhhhh FUN.



#3: the coat rack


I spent five months searching for the right coat rack. I am not kidding. That’s about as much time as people spend looking for a house, or a partner, and meanwhile – as reasonable folks were contemplating these critical life decisions – I was deliberating over which coat rack was right for me.

I have a strong preference for buying clothes and furniture secondhand (for a few different reasons; a. the pieces are usually more interesting and durable, b. they’re priced well, and c. I love the idea of using/wearing something that has someone else’s memories embedded into it), so I visited thrift shops and antique stores and Craigslist posts weekly in pursuit of my ideal coat rack: one that was minimalist and chrome.


And I had NO luck. Damn all of those wooden coat racks!


“Have you tried Amazon?” Charlie asked one afternoon.


“Amazon? Ehhhhh,” I grumbled. “I’ll check it out, I guess.”


And guess what? Turns out, my ideal, soulmate of a coat rack was $89 and, to my honest disappointment, brand spankin’ new.




And what, exactly, does the coat rack do for me, emotionally-speaking? It welcomes me home each evening, and bids me goodbye each morning.
Evening: “Hey, Jace! Nice to see you! Let me take your coat.”

Morning: “Have a great day, Jace — don’t forget your coat!”


I like feeling welcome, and it’s important to me to feel like I belong. I feel like such an outsider in this world, and sometimes, that Amazonian coat rack is friendlier and nicer to me than many of the humans I interact with.


#4: personalized wall art


When Chris and I married and leased an apartment together, we furnished it sparsely, accepting donations of scrap pieces of furniture from family members and church friends rather than purchasing our own. Instead of wasting money decorating, we figured we’d save up for a down payment on a car, a down payment on a house, and fun, “indestructible” Kong toys for Bruster.


When we moved into our first house, though, we decided to invest a bit more of ourselves into the place, and as far as wall decor was concerned, we were about as basic with it as everyone else: cliche wall hangings from Bed, Bath and Beyond and World Market covered the walls. I just finished donating these unwanted items earlier this year.

Since our split and the beginning of my “creative makeover of the home” initiative, I have painted the walls colors I like and then hung on those colored walls pieces of art that I thought were neat and thought-provoking. The living room walls, however, I chose to leave bare.

“I’ve got two gray frames sitting out in the garage,” I told Charlie last December. “They used to hold generic printouts from Michael’s — with one picture reflecting two trees in a body of water, and the other displaying a sterile shot of a Eucalyptus leaf.” I rolled my eyes. “MY plan is to take lots of cool and fun pictures while I’m in Colorado, and then to blow up my absolute favorite shot.”
“That sounds wonderful! What about the other frame?”

“I already have a picture chosen for that one — the image of the girl in New York.”


And here they are — my pictures on the walls.




How do the pictures help? Before settling onto the couch and tuning into Master of None, Broadchurch, or Parks and Rec, I look up at these pictures late at night (aka at 7:00 PM) and remember the adventures I’ve gone on. They conjure good memories, remind me that I should be more confident and trusting of myself, and challenge me to go on new adventures. Win, win, win.


#5: plants


About three years ago, Chris brought a plant home from Whole Foods… one that the company was, apparently, going to throw away. I was delighted.

He set it up in the nook upstairs and, while I remembered to water it occasionally, he was mostly responsible for it staying alive.

When he left in December of 2015, he took electronics and music gear and clothing with him. We sold the furniture and split the profit. I kept my clothes, my two guitars, an outer space painting some friends from New York had painted, and Bruster… and the plant. 


He found a girlfriend (one I wasn’t at all impressed with) and, when she came by the house late one evening, she pointed out a few things she liked to Chris.


The next day, he was asking me if he could have the purple tapestry in the old master bedroom — one we’d purchased from Urban Outfitters.
“Sure,” I shrugged.

“She likes it,” he explained.



And then, within another day or so, he asked if he could take the plant. She liked it, too.


I expertly concealed my sadness. “Sure… just come by and grab it whenever you have some time.”


But don’t you remember bringing that plant home for ME? I wanted to scream at him.


They broke up so quickly after pairing up that he never did swing by to grab the plant, and I was so happy. I began watering it and enjoyed looking at it now and then, as I passed by it in the hallway.


In the spring, I asked Charlie to move it outside. “I think it will enjoy the fresh air and sunshine,” I surmised.


And it seemed to, but the day Bruster escaped the fence and got killed by the piece of shit motherfucker in my neighborhood, he left a strange parting gift for me: a destroyed plant. He tore off its leaves and bit at its delicate stalks, leaving the plant upturned in the middle of the yard. He’d never touched it before.

The plant was painful to look at. It seemed completely appropriate to just toss it and move forward with life — clean the yard up, and buy another plant that didn’t have such poignant memories attached to it — but I couldn’t bear to… instead, I asked Charlie to bring it back inside.

“Okay! We’ll put it back into the pot and mix in some good soil,” he offered kindly.


The plant is now perched beside the open window in my room, and guess what? Its stalks are growing new, bright green leaves. The plant was, for a good minute there, pretty broken, but not beyond repair… like most of us are, or will be, at some point (or at multiple points) in our lives.




The plant… helps you feel better? Are you sure it isn’t just a depressing reminder of Chris and Bruster?

There are times when the plant can make me feel sad, serving as a reminder of the ghostly companions I’ve lost, but more often, it’s a comforting friend to me. The plant is mending, like I am, and on gentler days, it reminds me that I was lucky enough to experience the unique loves of a wonderful best friend and an absolutely magical dog in this lifetime. They’re no longer with me, and while that is sad, it’s also okay; we’ve simply parted ways. Chris is continuing on with his journey, I’m learning to navigate mine, and Bruster has moved onto some other expression of life… I hope he cries less in this one. 🙂


So, in conclusion, if you haven’t already, try to strategically position cheerful items in your home. Things that will remind you of the good times behind and ahead, and that will remind you that

  • you are an authentic being, BURSTING with creative potential,
  • you are fun (and useful),
  • you are welcome in this world,
  • you’re on an ENDLESS and unpredictable adventure, and
  • you are always capable of healing, and when you allow yourself to heal, you become a brave and bright beacon of hope to those around you.


Lovingly yours,

Aun Aqui


Puppy Paws, Broken Bones, Shrunken Clothes and Hurt Feelings

I’ve got (4) story updates to share with you.

  1. The Dawn of Tycho Moon
  2. GRAMMY DID WHAT? How the hell did she do that?
  3. You’re Getting Fat, Skinny
  4. I Ain’t Sorry, -Beyonce


First up…

The Dawn of Tycho Moon

A few weeks after Bruster’s passing, I began clinging to the interwebs, obsessively searching for another German Shepherd to adopt. I knew that this new boy shep couldn’t, and wouldn’t, replace Bruster, but I longed for a second companion myself and knew that Silo needed a playmate. At first, I searched locally — strictly in the Birmingham area — but gradually, as page after page of disappointing results loaded, I grew desperate. I expanded my search to include Montgomery and Huntsville (both of which would equal an hour and a half drive), and then Atlanta (a two hour drive), and then, quickly thereafter, parts of Mobile and Tennessee (requiring a 4+ hour drive).

I’d estimate that I looked at 35-40 different German Shepherd Dog ads total, and absolutely none of them — with their published descriptions and endearing photographs — struck a chord with me. I started to think that maybe the universe was telling me that I was moving forward too quickly — that I needed to redirect my thoughts and energy elsewhere for the time being.

Just as I was about to (temporarily) give up on the search, one weekday afternoon, I stumbled upon a recently published ad that I’d somehow overlooked and that I just KNEW was IT. Seeing it hit me like an acorn spiraling down from a tree — reading it resonated with me like the booming echo inside of a cave.

I took a quick screenshot of the ad and messaged it to my boyfriend, Charlie.

L-R: (cute) boyfriend and me

“Hey — I’m taking a super quick lunch break at work today and don’t have time to reach out to this guy; will you please get some deets and see if we can swing by this evening?”

The originator of the ad appeared to be located in Gadsden — I’m not great with geography, but I guessed that it would only be a 30-45 minute drive, which wasn’t too bad.

Charlie responded to my text affirmatively, and before 3:00, I’d received news from him that the man was okay with us stopping by that evening. I was THRILLED. I already, intuitively knew that we weren’t stopping by to just look at puppies; the one was there, and we’d be leaving with him that same night. Excitement bubbled up within me, and time began to annoyingly trudge its way forward, as it usually does when you’re anticipating something wonderful happening in the very near future.

I used mobile banking to transfer money from my account to Charlie’s that afternoon and then asked him to withdraw the transferred funds in cash, using an ATM (I haven’t carried a debit card in years — topic for another time).

To abbreviate the story slightly, we left the house at 8:00 that evening and arrived at the man’s home in Albertsville approximately 105 minutes later (who the fuck lives in Albertsville?). I was texting my grandmother – whose name is Grammy – all along the way, sharing with her how excited I was and, also, how nervous.

“Do you think I’ll know which one to take home?” I typed out in a message to her.

“Yes. Just let the pup choose you,” Grammy replied sagely.

When we were finally pulling into the driveway, a big, strapping shepherd – clearly the father – began charging towards the car, barking voraciously. I heard a man yell out an order and then watched the dog retreat.

“Damnnnnnnnnnnn,” I whistled. “That dog is gorrrrrrgeous. Just stunning.” A pang of sadness passed through me as I thought about Bruster and about how idiotic and insane that dumb-assed and evil-hearted neighbor of mine was for shooting him. For escaping from the backyard and barking. Like dogs do.

It had been almost 5 weeks since I’d lost him. I shook my head quickly and pushed the sadness down, down, down, folding it neatly and tucking it underneath my abdomen, and when I got out of the car, I reminded Charlie to roll the windows down slightly for Silo (we decided to bring him along with us so that he would feel like he was a part of the decision to add a new member to the family).

Charlie and I walked the rest of the way up the driveway, ascended a short flight of wooden stairs, stepped onto the smooth, gray porch, walked through the living room, and then emptied out on the other side of the house, where ANOTHER porch was (it was a very nice home).

I looked to my right, and they were all right there: Five fully-awake and absolutely beauuuuuuutiful German Shepherd pups, struggling to jump over the safety gate in order to reach me.

I cooed at all of them, hopping over the gate so that I could sit down onto the porch floor with them. Once I was inside of their enclosure, they all clamored to get on top of me. Charlie and I started laughing, delightfully overwhelmed by our sweet and fluffy company.

Minutes passed, and the puppies slowly began to meander off, losing their initial interest in Charlie and I. It was now a few minutes past 10:00, and I knew we were running out of time. I was becoming stressed.

“How am I going to know which one is the one?” I whispered over at Charlie, my eyes scanning the pack for the seventh time as I tried to pinpoint which pup was the loner, or runt, of the litter.

I’ve always taken home runts. Bruster was easy to spot, because I couldn’t see him; when I’d entered his family’s living room in Tennessee, a small herd of German Shepherd puppies began running toward me, but my eyes glossed over all of them, because all I could hear was this soft moaning coming from the corner of the room. I followed its wavelength trail until I discovered sweet, precious Bruster, hiding between the couch and the wall. I knew he was the one. And the same thing happened with Silo, only I didn’t have to make the choice at all; when I reached out to his family via text, the owner reported that he was the only one left — the smallest one… the runt. “He’s very independent,” she’d commented. I knew he’d be perfect, too.


But I couldn’t really find the runt in this litter, and with time ticking away, panic began to settle in. Did we really just drive almost two hours to look at a bunch of gorgeous pups and leave with none of them? I worried.

A puppy who had been camping out underneath Charlie when we first arrived kept trying to get my attention, but in the process of trying to find the runt, I was slightly ignoring it.

Around 10:10 PM, the owner shook a bag of food, drawing the crowd of pups completely away from Charlie and I as they rushed toward the gate. But then I watched, in mute amazement, as one pup — the same pup that had been hiding underneath Charlie and that I’d ignored when it was trying to cuddle with me — left their ravenous siblings behind, walked back over to me, and rose up on their hind legs. I continued watching as they reached their left paw up in the air, as if asking me to take it, and my voice caught in my throat.

“Oh my god, Charlie…  it’s choosing me,” I croaked. “Just like Grammy said it would!” I couldn’t believe it.

I gently swept the puppy off of the floor and cradled it in my arms. “Do you want to go home with me, little baby?” I murmured into its ears. I glanced down and my eyes widened with surprise. “Ohhhhh, shit… it’s a girl,” I whispered to Charlie. He raised his eyebrows back at me. “Are you okay with that?” he asked.

I continued holding her and gazed down into her eyes. “I am, actually. She’s the one.”

I told the owner that we’d made our decision. His son, who was peeking at us from around the corner, peered at my arms to see who I’d chosen and then cracked a smile. “Ahhhh… so you’re going with the beast.”

I laughed. The beast? I looked down at her, the hefty baby in my arms, and then down further, considering the four other pups roaming around on the floor; she really was the largest.

And it was hilarious. I was leaving with the biggest pup, and it was a girl… and all of this was precisely the opposite of what I had expected I would do.

Tycho Moon (aka Tye Dye/Thai Food/The Tychoist Tycho/The Most Tychoist/Little Oso/Black and Tan Panda/Ty)


Tycho has been living with Charlie and I for about three weeks now, and I’m already head-over-heeeeeeeels in love with the gal. She is, for the sake of brevity: funny, vocal, spunky and fierce. She’s the first pup that’s ever chosen me, and I look forward to spending many, many years living alongside her… loving her, learning from her, and watching her grow.

Next up: GRAMMY DID WHAT? How the hell did she do that?

I woke up in my bed at about 7:00 last Saturday morning. After grabbing my phone, I realized that my friend, Ivey, had sent me a text, inviting me to an International Food Festival. I texted her back, asking for details, and then I pulled up Messenger. The first message to pop up was one from my mother.

“Gram fell during the night and broke her hip. She is in the hospital now. They might do the surgery today if her blood isn’t too thin. She is on blood thinners, so if it’s too thin, they will have to wait until tomorrow. Poor mommy. She has been in a good bit of pain.”

I sat up in bed. What the fuckkkkkkkkk, I muttered, blasting off a message that asked her to call me right away. More than a minute passed, which was too long, so I called her instead.

“What HAPPENED? Do I need to come up there? I can be there in five hours,” I began.

“No, no, no… it’s very sweet of you to offer, but Grammy doesn’t want company. She’s on a lot of pain meds, so she’s sleeping a good bit, but when she is awake, she’s miserable,” Sierra relayed sadly.

“So what happened?” I repeated impatiently.

“She fell asleep watching christian television last night,” Sierra began, “and when she woke up later on in the evening and realized that it was still on, she got up, out of the chair, to turn it off. She didn’t realize that her leg had fallen asleep, so when she stood up, she fell down, and when she fell, she broke her hip,” she concluded sadly.

“Wow,” I breathed. “That is insane.”

So the past week has really sucked for Grammy. She spent four days in the hospital (where the only nurse she liked was “a girl your age with tattoos — she seemed like your type,” Sierra reported) and was then relocated to the rehabilitation wing of a nursing home, where she is presently undergoing physical therapy for the next 10-14 days.

I keep reminding her that she is irrevocably scheduled to visit me in 6 weeks and needs to be fully recovered by then. I’m hoping the trip will serve as motivation for her to exercise consistently and regain her mobility as quickly as possible.


10-year-old Rose and 25-year-old Jace: “My Grammy’s so brave.”


It’s funny, though… the thoughts that start racing through your mind when you hear of someone you like or love falling ill, or being afflicted by what you would imagine as a near-death experience. When I first read Sierra’s text message last Saturday morning, I immediately pictured Grammy playing with Bobby and I in the pool when we were kids; baking biscuits with us in that tiny, moldy, and blisteringly hot kitchen in Florida in the summertime; and walking with us (because she couldn’t drive) until we reached the city fair at the park down the road one fall in South Carolina. I began imagining her upcoming visit — seeing myself stocking the refrigerator with buttermilk and the cupboard with coconut macaroons (her favorite foods and beverages that she, for religious reasons, denies herself)… I envisioned taking her and my mother to the best cafes in Birmingham and sitting on couches with them in those places, asking Grammy questions about her childhood, her early adulthood, her already half-a-century-long marriage and even her thoughts on “the afterlife” — why she’s so excited by the prospect of a heaven, and how she’s able to unwaveringly believe in something when so little proof of it exists. Our minds operate so differently, and the lives we lead are so contrasting, but she’s always been one of my closest friends, and the (honestly) most magical person I’ve ever known.

I remembered and imagined these things and worried that maybe, making memories with Grammy was over… I pre-mourned the dark possibility that I might not need to purchase these forbidden foods and beverages after all.

But after speaking with Sierra and realizing that Grammy wasn’t dying just yet and that she probably would get to, while muttering disclosures such as “I normally wouldn’t be doing this”, drink the buttermilk, eat the macaroons, and visit the parks and cafes, my anxiety quieted itself a little. But then again, who knows. I could trip down the stairs, break my neck, and die LONG BEFORE July 2nd even rolls around. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The lesson in short: Test the awakeness of your legs out before rising up out of chairs and deeply love the good people in your life while they’re around. They won’t always be there, and neither will you.


#3/4: You’re Getting Fat, Skinny

Whew. Here we go.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for years. There are seasons in life when I hardly notice it at all, and others where it’s the dominating presence in my life. At the height of Chris and I’s marriage, when we were truly happy together, I weighed in at 140 pounds, and then, as our marriage slowly declined and then ended, I lost a good portion of the weight I’d put on when we united, dropping down to 105 pounds.

As Charlie and I have dated (on and off) for the last year and a half, I have found meals to be enjoyable again, and recently, I’ve discovered that the size 2 pants and shorts I could fit into last winter are too snug for comfort now. I slipped on two different pairs of shorts this morning, both of which were too tight to be reasonable, and I sighed heavily at the news, reprimanding myself for letting myself go — cursing aloud all of the oven-baked burritos, plates of spaghetti with mozzarella sticks, and “organic and healthy” desserts.

I returned to the closet, threw the stupid, shrunken shorts onto the floor, and began sifting through hangers, trying to find something baggy to wear so I wouldn’t feel as self conscious parading about in this 120 pound body.

Near the back of the closet, a pair of orange, corduroy pants caught my eye. I smiled a little as I pulled them off of their hanger, remembering that Charlie had purchased them for me – secondhand – during a pop-up fundraiser event at work one day last year. He’d brought them home proudly — these bumblebee-covered corduroy pants — and when I’d tried them on, they were too loose to fit me properly.

“But I still love them!” I’d gushed. “And I’m going to hold onto them — I’ll probably fit into them someday,” I added jokingly.

“Andddddd I bet someday is now,” I sang to my room, accusingly. I slipped them on and, sure enough, to my simultaneous delight and despair, they did fit. Perfectly.

“Whelp. Guess you’re a size 6 now,” I announced. “Congratufuckinglations, Jace. Hope you’re happy with yourself.”


Then, before leaving the room, I paused. A scene had begun playing across my mind, pulling from a memory I’d stored maybe three months before.


I was in a dressing room at Nordstrom, trying on nine things so I could leave with one or two of them. In the dressing room next to mine, a mother was trying on clothes, and I could hear her children — there were two or three of them — there in the room with her, handing her items to slip on and then fixing her discarded items back onto hangers. One of her comments had bugged the shit out of me.

“Oh mama, that dress looks so PRETTY ON YOU,” her daughter raved.

“Ugh. Maybe it would, if I was skinny enough. All of this Chipotle’s gotten me so fat… go see if you can find a size 4. This 2 is NOT going to work.”


I had suspended my movements, an overpriced Free People t-shirt halfway over my head. “Being a size 4… makes you fat?” I wanted to scream at her. “Do you want your DAUGHTER thinking that, when she’s a size 4, or 8, or 12 or 1600 someday that she’s ‘fat’ and unattractive? What the HELL are you thinking, lady — thinking out loud like that?” I paused. “And don’t you DARE blame Chipotle for your chub!”


I shook my head at her through the wall, feeling slightly sympathetic toward her negative self-image (because I could relate), but mostly, I was frustrated and bewildered that she was instilling her daughter(s) with such horrible ideas about beauty and weight.


Present day, this morning, wearing an adorable pair of size 6 corduroy pants in my bedroom, I felt ashamed of myself for being ashamed of myself. Wasn’t I treating myself just as badly as that lady had been treating herself (and, unwittingly, had been training her daughters to treat themselves)?


I walked into the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror, and shrugged. “You have to know that you aren’t actually massive — you’ve got issues, and you know who they stem from. The pants are cute, and you’ve got an orange, cropped top in the closet that will go nicely with them. You’re healthy… that’s what matters.”

So I put the top on, told the pups goodbye, and slipped out of the house. I stopped by Whole Foods on my way to Urban Standard to say hi to Charlie.

“Oh my gooooooooodness — you look SO CUTE,” he raved. “You look like you’re from the seventies!”

“Those are cool pants,” his co-worker agreed.

“I love your outfit!” another friend commented as we passed each other.

“Love your dress — or, outfit, whatever it is!” the cashier complimented me.

“You look cute,” someone I didn’t know at all offered as they passed by me.


I was surprised and delighted. Wow… I guess I don’t look totally awful.


Thirty minutes later, I parked my bike at Urban Standard, threw my backpack onto my couch, and then approached the front counter to order a latte and a side plate of tofu.

“I loveeeeee that outfit,” the barista exclaimed, eyeing my pants.

“Awwww, thank you!” I smiled at her. “The whole outfit is secondhand,” I added, as a note of interest.

“REALLY? What thrift shops do you go to?”


We spent a few minutes chatting about it, and it was really nice. Before today, although she’s checked me out at least a dozen times before, we’d never shared more than two words.


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Sooooooo wear clothes that you feel good in — try to stay away from tight-fitting things, because they’re constrictive, which isn’t good for your circulation. As a sidebar, while I like wearing all black outfits 9/10 days, donning cheerful, colorful clothing on occasion can serve as a good conversation starter.




I Ain’t Sorry.

Oh, it’s the same old thing, you guys; you already know what I’m going to say… when Chris and I separated, I wanted to stay friends, because we’d been BEST FRIENDS for years, but he was hurt and needed time to heal. So we were casual friends and I decided to set him up with someone I knew he’d click with (sure enough, they did), and while I anticipated that, with this new love interest, he might push me out of his world a little (he has a tendency to fixate on whatever person he’s in a relationship with and dismiss everyone else), I was truly sorry to have that suspicion confirmed.

I’ve tried, for months, to let go of our friendship, but I love him so deeply that it’s felt impossible to do so. Finally, a few weeks ago, I texted him, outright telling him that it hurt my feelings that he didn’t want to keep up with me anymore… that he never wants to grab lunch, or coffee, like normal, “real life” friends do, and that he doesn’t even care to know what’s going on in my world. “It feels like I’m just hanging around the outer cusp of your social circle all of the time, waiting for you to notice me, and you never do,” I messaged, baring my soul to him.

He responded nicely but honestly… saying that he didn’t have time to focus on anyone but the girl he’s with (bullshit) and that he just can’t be “the kind of friend” I need right now. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I did it, and that evening, I had a dream about Chris.

In it, I was standing outside of his car, crying and waving goodbye. He got out of the car to hug me… knowing, I guess, that I was about to head off somewhere and that he wouldn’t be able to see me again. I was about to board a plane with Charlie, I think; who knows where we were going.

Just as I was about to tell Chris that I needed to cut things off with him entirely so that I could stop missing his friendship, he said something hurtful but necessary.

“You’re just always so sad and serious,” he whispered disapprovingly, shaking his head at me.

I looked up at him, finally — with an aching heart, and a sense of relief — realizing that he really didn’t care about me anymore… because even if someone IS sad or serious all of the time or is partially, temporarily broken, if you care about them, if you love them, you still GIVE a fuck about them.

I hugged him goodbye, for the last time, and walked away, leaving one of my shoes — from my favorite pair of Vans — in the back of his SUV. I don’t know how it got in there, or why I didn’t bother to just walk back over to his car and pick it up.

Charlie and I boarded the plane.


When I woke up the next morning, Charlie quite interestingly informed me that Tycho had removed one of my Vans from the storage cube I keep the pair in downstairs. She’d dragged it underneath the ottoman with her. First time she’d ever done it.


I smiled at his report. “Huh… I see.”


I’ve never been much of a Beyonce fan, but from what I’ve heard, she is BAE, and when I caught up with an old friend a few months ago, she insisted that I listen to a few tracks from Bae’s new album, Lemonade, with her.

I was taken back by how talented an artist Beyonce is — I really should have checked her out before now, I know — and one of her new songs in particular, made a big impression on me. It’s called “Sorry, I ain’t sorry,” and if you’re somewhat prudish (like I am), you may want to just listen to the audio and ignore the video portion of the song. This track brings me to tears, every single time I listen to it: “her heaven will be a love without betrayal…” or end.


Middle fingers up
Put them hands high
Wave it in his face
Tell ’em boy, bye


I explained it to Charlie this way: “It’s almost as if I grew roots standing there, hovering near the window and waiting for him to show up… but now, I’m elsewhere in the house, through with gazing out the window but still leaving the door unlocked in case he ever needs me.”

That’s the somewhat shitty thing about me; I love people unconditionally, even when they don’t give a flip about me. I’d take a bullet for that dummy in a heartbeat, like I would have died for Bruster, Bobby, or, presently, Melissa… but the recipient of this undying love can’t spare thirty minutes out of his day to grab a coffee with me once or twice a year. *Shrugs* *Pretends to be unbothered* *Starts planning a yummy and distracting dinner instead of feeling the sadness of unrequited love*

I don’t get it, but I’m done trying to understand that mind. I’ve got puppy dogs who love me and know where both of my shoes are now, so…



Still fuckinnnnnnn here,

Aun Aqui