Sometimes I wonder what the purpose of this blog is, because I don’t think you get enough joy from me, Les. And while trying not to be like women shamed into smiling by catcalling strangers or familiar men who don’t get that they’re upholding a double standard by asking women to smile when they wouldn’t ask men the same, I do want to be more joyful here.
Lately I’ve been sharing more pieces containing feelings of confusion, anguish, shame, or other discomfort. I’ve shared letters about dating, polyamory, my dad’s health, sex, asexuality, nonbinary living, and I’ve definitely written many more letters to you I haven’t posted. Back in August, I told you I’d write you about gender and sexuality, and some angst comes with that territory, but I’ve been feeling extra exposed and anxious about my letters recently, and that’s no good. Maybe I’ve been too personal, maybe too negative, maybe too self-absorbed. Maybe all three and then some. Probably the latter.
Regardless, I don’t want to overshadow the other stuff—all of the joy, gratitude, and relief, I regularly feel.
Because while I regularly write about complicated topics and let some uncertainty or pain appear in my poetry, life is pretty darn good.
I think I need to make more of an effort to share those joys, even if they don’t seem to directly relate to topics of gender and sexuality. Laughter is important.
Yesterday morning, giggles bubbled out of me and my coworker T as we instant messaged each other from across the office. After expressing my intense need for a hike in Forest Park to her and another coworker (including an inexplicable urge to roll around in the dirt), she told me about seeing a woman smell cherry blossoms on her way out of a grocery store that morning. This woman raised her face towards the flowers, sniffed, then jolted back with an “oh!” T laughed both in the moment and in the retelling. Apparently, cherry blossoms smell bad. T warned me not to smell them, and so of course I promised I definitely would, today or tomorrow! I have to know! As I still haven’t found a short enough tree, I’m venturing back out tonight to look for one. Someone’s gotta smell the cherry blossoms in the dark.
During my next call, which I answered choked with swallowed laughter, I found a lull in which to ask the customer, a (probably) middle-aged white woman, polite, but not friendly, if she had ever smelled cherry blossoms. I explained why I was asking, and shared why I’d been laughing as I answered the phone. She told me she hadn’t smelled cherry blossoms before either and now she had to as well! We laughed and wished each other good smellings at the end of the call. I asked her not to hold it against the bookstore if it didn’t go well.
My kind of customer service includes conversations like that. Last Friday I let a caller talk for a few minutes about whale watching in Alaska because I REALLY want to see a whale and there weren’t any waiting callers. Apparently I need to bring my average call time down about a minute but I’m not cutting out that laughter.
Les, life is a mess and that’s not such a bad thing. Sometimes I question what this [life] is for, and but the little moments sustain me as much as anything. I’ll share more of those joys in the future.
I will continue to write you about gender and sexuality. Yes, I have anxiety about my gender, the gender binary, and sexuality, and I get self-conscious about sharing that anxiety on here, but I think that’s alright. Things aren’t tidy and perfect for me or anyone else. The messy is okay. I hope it’s okay with you that I want to keep writing.
Right now I’ve got to go find some cherry blossoms.