Open Letter to People who Will Never Read It

::uber feely post i wrote november. posting because, eh, I’d like to give myself permission to be angsty sometimes, even outloud::

I know you’ll never read this. I know because you don’t know me. Or you refuse to know me anymore. Maybe because you’re gone, now, the forever-until-glory-if-i-see-you-there kind of gone. Or maybe you just have no access to this letter.

Anyway, it’s to you, but it’s really FOR the “me”s of the world. Those left behind, cut off, still here, away from you.

I miss you. I think about our long hugs and how you always said you’d never drop me. I think about the one-and-one-half years we spent together and how when we ended, I knew I made an awful mistake, but not what it was or how I could ever make it better. I found the program from your funeral and wondered if anyone else thinks of your every day, and chuckles about how even then we called you “Red.” I don’t let myself look at the pictures of us halfway across the world, when I trusted you with my life, and shamefully also my soul.

I still struggle with your absence. It’s been 5 years. 8 years. 12. 3. You were in my life every day, every moment, every summer, in between. We grew apart, you left me (on purpose) I left you and ran far away, not wondering for years what damage I’d done or how I could have done better.  I never thought you’d be gone, you shrugged me off through shadows and lies.

And sometimes I see you. I hear about you. I tell stories of when I held you in my heart and you held me in your arms. I hear you brought up in voices that hold wonder and excitement and – i cringe. I still struggle with how much (how little) to say.

I’m afraid, afraid that some of the people who are in my life my life will be out of my life later, and this letter could just as well be for them. Afraid actually doesn’t begin to describe it.

my name is a website

y’all,

i’m so techNOT saavy.

 

but i bought a website (domain?) because i have new writing/professional/personal goals

 

so i’m not blogging on this (listentomissritz) anymore.

 

i’m blogging at http://maritzaamanda.com/

 

yep. martiza amanda. because that’s my (given) name. even though most people call me Ritz. I’d tell you to update your google readers as necessary but that little nugget is going away, so instead just take note if-you-so-choose.

 

lessthanthree,

maritza amanda who is most often called ritz

Today I’m spending a lot of time resting.

 

In fact, after getting up to bake, driving out to a breakfast meeting with some (let’s call a spade a spade) sub-par scones (I’m on a mission and trying new recipes, usually once a week), coming home and doing some housework with my brother, I decided to sit on the couch and read. You know, with the windows open and the breeze blowing and the chicks peeping and the duckling ….not actually doing anything but I don’t like to leave her out.

But my computer was upstairs and my phone was I-dont-know-where (i try to just keep it out away unless i need it to communicate with someone on purpose) so when I wondered, off-hand, what time it was, i looked up to check the wall clock….

 

But I couldn’t see it. From where I was sitting, the hanging lamp COMPLETELY blocked out the clock. From my position, no matter how I wriggled and wrenched, I could’t see the clock. I needed to move.

 

But (apparently my only transition word for today) I didn’t want to move. I was really comfortable.

 

And I think life is like that sometimes.

 

Sometimes, you don’t want to move because you are comfortable. But you need to move if you’re going to see what you need to see.

 

And sometimes, it’s just that you’re right where you need to be, and the light graciously blocks out things that you wonder, but that would just be distractions.

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And I’m STILL Pissed that She Didn’t Like My Shoes

A long time ago, I wrote about how a random comment about my shoes took my down a rabbit trail of thoughts and assertions surrounding the topic of fashion/appearance within a physical church.

 

What I did not include at the time were a few surrounding details.

 

See, I had a pair of flats in my hand as I was walking up to the group of ladies. It’s reasonable to assume maybe I had them because my heels were uncomfortable. Like,  I can see that being something i’d do, or something a person would expect/accept from me. It’s ACTUALLY because I’d just seen my mom (we attend the same church service sometimes) and she brought a pair to me that had been left in her car. Since she’d JUST handed them to me and I hadn’t made it to my car to put them down, I get what it could have looked like.

So i get why one of the women listening leaned in and said “If you can’t wear your heels the whole time, maybe you just shouldn’t wear them at all.”

 

Shocked_and_Appalled_Cat_by_Rourke1708

 

Okay. Well. I can’t have it both ways and I’m aware of that, so I have to say that I’m glad she told me that I was doing something (from her perspective) I shouldn’t be doing (wearing those shoes).

 

Because I value accountability and I do, in fact, want it  even from people who have no place in my life(I maybe hadn’t spoken to her in a year and we had never hung out, but we’d been in the same place a lot).

 

I’m not famous and my friends are all UBER-permissive of my explorations of life, so i try to see it as a blessing when people will step in and take a risk on telling me I’m doing something they think is wrong (I’m looking at you with love, Daddio). Because then at least it’s something to think about ( i realize, now that i’m typing, that for many people in many situations, that’s just too much to think about, but i like/need to hear the experience of others).

 

 

But I was also like “SISTA SAID WHAT?!” Because if it wasn’t clear enough already in her first statement (and mama used tone and facial features to nail it home) I clarified a few weeks later.

“I really appreciate you taking the time to comment on something. It is a blessing that you care about me. But (i know i shouldn’t have said ‘but’) it sounded as though you thought those shoes were just inapppropriate to wear at all.”

“Yeah, well I did.”

 

 

And y’all, sometimes understanding a thing don’t make it any prettier.

 

I have NO idea what I replied to her because there is this voice inside me,when people comment like that, that thinks “I’m probably wrong, at least on some level, so let me take this and think and pray over it and see where I can be better.” so I usually just thank the person, no matter how much like a bozo’s i see their actions to be.

 

ANYWAY, it’s been a year since this happened, and I’m STILL pissed that homegirl hated on my shoes. Cause my heart

a) still doesn’t rest in the peace of Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf and

b) wants approval more than almost anything. (it’s sinful and bountifully unproductive)

 

 

But all of this has lead me to another place. I’ve been kicking around some thoughts lately/again/now that my body is a bit different, necessitating different styling, about dress, modesty, expression, and double standards. You know, the you-zuh (uze? ushe? usual. whatever).  And so has Jami Nato. 

 

and i really like the heart of what she’s saying. I really want to think some more on it. 

 

but i swear by my pretty floral bonnet, if this ends up interference with my sunshine intake, we’re gonna see a whole notha level of ungodliness up in here.

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Easter Egg

Weeks ago, I went to church in this patterned dress and pink cardi, and my friend told me I looked like an Easter egg. Which, she meant colors and pattern, not shape. Even though i did think maybe I looked round after that. (oblong-ish?).

 

Anyway, that phrase stuck in my head. And then last week, i thought of it again, when I (with no planning on TRYING to wear this many colors) wore the following:

no clients were harmed by the palette of this outfit.

no clients were harmed by the palette of this outfit.

 

that is the face of chagrin related to OHMYGOSHILOVEALLTHEBRIGHTCOLORSAND…oh…i do resemble and Easter egg….

 

<3. Lent is going pretty well except i had a “michael’s and coke” yesterday which sure ’nuff FELT like a sweet.

nom.

“It is the bread that the Lord has given you…”

Today was the kind of day that caused one very strong thought:

“When I get home, first thing: I’m going to drink a glass of wine.”

after I feed the menagerie, of course. Lord knows when i get home from a long day, EVERYthing is hungry. (The two tweener chicks. The three hatchling chicks. The duckling. The cat. (well behaved cat, right? to still be hungry with all those birds at home?)

i accidentally uploaded the wrong photo. and I'm leaving it. because i can. that alone in the bottom right is named "Maury."

i accidentally uploaded the wrong photo. and I’m leaving it. because i can. that alone in the bottom right is named “Maury.”

 

I saw massage clients today. I saw counseling clients. I shared some really hard moments and stories from friends, classmates, teachers, strangers…. it just felt like a tough day in the world. People were hurting and despite my best efforts at professional distance, I’m still a person, and not all of these are people I encounter professionally, and beyond that: we’re called to bear one another’s burdens and mourn with those who mourn.

 

So it was a long-feeling day. Feeling as this day has no more or fewer hours than any other, but since I just got home 16 hours after leaving, (#humblebrag?) and had a life-filled way of living, it feels longer than some others.

 

And when I got home, after cleaning cages and replacing food and throwing the trash and doing laundry and realizing that no matter how much I clean, I’m not going to get over this feeling, I prayed.

I said, “I’m so angry. I’m so resentful. I didn’t even know but there’s just so much in there. And I feel so lost without you.”

and I became aware that I was taking for granted that I am somehow without Him in these times. That it’s just me left to figure things out. Which OUGHT to be darn terrifying because, come on, I’m not-so-great at the fixing of things of my own volition. (Nor are you, ya little sinner. Lest ye be confused, I firmly believe we all pretty much suck without the intervention of God. No humanism here. And yet, usually, so much optimism….in Christ.)

 

I remembered that I am not without him, ever. That the very most true thing about me is that I am His. That I cannot escape his love and truth no matter how I try because I’m just not bigger or truer or stronger than He is: a truth for which I am incredibly grateful.

 

 

And I remembered something I’ve been learning this year, as I try to submit to the things I don’t like, as I try first to learn from them, not just change them. That this is not mine and I do not have to fix it. I have to follow him, even if he takes me there to that scary place,  wherever and how ever it is.

 

And I’ll come out of the desert of my grumbling and see the blessings before me and say, “What is this?” since I can’t imagine the goodness he has in store. And I’ll know, it’s the bread the Lord has given me.

Brother, Boyfriend, Boyfriend’s Brother

This is going to get confusing to some people, so I’ll try to clarify as much as possible here and now.

This is my brother:

he's really really ridiculously cool

here’s an alternate, equally thrilling angle

Spencer reading on couch

and THIS is my boyfriend

that's it. that's the grin that gets me every time.

that’s it. that’s the grin that gets me every time.

here, one with me so no one gets any ideas (you’ll see what i mean in a minute)

david

And THIS is my boyfriend’s brother (well one of the three):

this is not a representative pic of him. he generally had the same pervasive, self-perpetuating IDGAF ness that Spencer displays.

this is not a representative pic of him. he generally had the same pervasive, self-perpetuating IDGAF ness that Spencer displays.

here’s another (puppy, i need more pics with you)

first night we met, with somone else's baby (sweet sweet Teo)

first night we met, with somone else’s baby (sweet sweet Teo)

 

oh and BY THE WAY i stole most of these photos from the facebook so WATCH YOUR STUFF BECAUSE ANYONE COULD STEAL IT AND PUBLISH IT ON THEIR BLOG WITH LITTLE EFFORT AND NO REMORSE, KAY?

 

ahem.

 

 

SO, i specify with diagram the difference in the above because based on a few pieces of “things-that-happened-this-week,” I think some readers may be confused.

 

My brother, the only sibling I have, who shares the same mother but has a different father (some people call that a half-brother but what the crap, people? That’s not how family works. He’s my brother and he has a different dad) is named Spencer but mostly I call him Bubby.

 

My boyfriend, the only boyfriend I have (unless I’m feeling sassy and call my job, homework, or latest book obesssion my “other boyfriend”),  is named David. Mostly I call him lots of gooey mushy romantic things but i refer to him as “Homenovio.”

 

My boyfriend’s brother, who admittedly in non-commital conversations I have claimed as my own, is named Peter. And I almost only ever call him Puppy.

 

Last night, and i intended to say this with a little more flair, Spencer moved into the duplex where I live, making it officially just the Casa de Valle. michelle moved out in January, Shannon moved out on Tuesday.) I am over-the-moon thrilled because i love and enjoy hanging out with my brother, and since i moved out when i was 16 (he was 10) I always felt a little robbed of our childhood time together. Also, he’s a really good (helpful, tidy, respectful, considerate) roommate.

 

This means (ihopeihopeihope) that Spencer, David, and I will be spending much more time together. And Peter comes over not-often-enough but not so rarely, either.

 

So, bubby, baby, puppy and I should be hanging out more now.

 

Let the confusion (especially for those who have not met them) commence!

 

A Series On Abuse: a Brother, a Sister, a Song Without End

It seems always that the stories make the meaning for me.  Facts, numbers, logic, statistics  they all matter. They all make sense. I value them. But it’s the story that gets me, hooks me, stays and gives the numbers flavor, effects.

 

Since I was abused as a child, and since I have always been fiercely protective of others, I had a really hard time lending dignity, grace, or love to persons who abused others (as though those qualities are mine to give). I did what many do, I relegated “abusers” to the “other” category. There were people, and monsters. There were sinners, and those people. And never the twain shall meet. I wasn’t ready to engage the idea that evil could be an attribute inside of a person, rather than the sole attribute they embodied.

 

Could I see the person inside an abuser? Could I value them?

No. Not as long as they were a they, dog-tagged like soliders known only by rank: ABUSERS.

 

As tragedy would have it, I got my story-to-change-my-mind when I was in high school.

 

There was once a boy born to young, drug-addicted parents. His parents had  themselves not been very well parented, and one may perhaps see where these things usually lead. The boy  has an artist’s eye and a sensitive heart, neither of which were nurtured. He had siblings and cousins and friends and family who loved him, but often from a place that was not enough for what a child needs. They boy had no stability and little control. He bounced around caregivers. He made poor decisions. He ran away. He expressed the accessible parts of himself because he was just a child, and what else was he to do? Whether because of his physical health issues,  his family of origin, or the chaos continually going on around him, the beautiful boy  in the broken world   lost his lustre for life,  and followed the pattern set before him.

At 17 years old, the boy did a horrific thing. He hurt someone else. A stranger. A life whose path had no connection with his own was forever altered when the boy used his strength and desire to abuse,  violate, penetrate the will of another.  He was given a prison sentence meant for an adult, but he was 17.

To me, he was still that beautiful boy.   A boy I grew up with. A boy I love. A boy who never stood a fucking chance.

The boy is now a man who has spent nearly half his life in prison. Though we were born in similar situations, in similar places, sharing blood and childhood moments, we have very different lives. But he is still mine, because though blood links may be shunned or ignored, they do not expire. In this case, I would never want them to.

Sometimes I pause and consider: What if I met her? The one whose life was forever changed by his night of selfishness, lust, aggression? Could I look her in the eyes? Could I love her and love the one who caused her such pain? Because him I cannot, and would not ever choose to, abandon.

It is his story that first and constantly reminds me that no amount of beauty in a heart keeps it from being capable of great evil. It is his story that causes my desire to intervene early and often for children in at-risk situations. It is his story that I think of when I encounter stories like hers.

There  was once a  girl with a  attitude like caustic fire.  The younger sister of the beautiful boy, her style of adaptation was every fight he did not have. With little sense and no fear, she stormed through life, as gentleness is  trait reserved for those given far more resources than those afforded to her. Her story is far less familiar, her heart far more upsetting to mine. But when she grew up and found herself held captive by her partner, it was only me close enough to come get her from he police  to whom she was eventually able to flee. It was only me, the heart-distant cousin, with a desire to love but little affection to give, who took her to a SANE exam.   And it was her, in those moments -turned-days-turned-excruciating-weeks of clarity that our “justice” system would give her no heed, it was her that reminded me of the desire to hurt those who hurt the ones I love.

In music, there are these markers called “repeats.” They signify that at the end of a piece of music, the musician is to return to the beginning of section and replay. It looks like this:

But there are all these signifies to tell the musician how, when, and why to repeat. Things that (always in latin) say “do it the first time, but not again” or “do this only at then end” or, in a move that I find very efficient “repeat this part, but at the end, change to this one.” Because without that signifies  the song would be on loop around just this section of music. Like musical pong. Back and forth. Back and forth. Again, again, always again. The musician needs those markers or the song will have no end.

Patterns of abuse, neglect, and violence are like this. They have built-in repeats. Survivors do not just get better. Children do not just learn their own way. Abusers do not turn over new leaves. At least not without the symbols, signs, or interventions to get them off the pattern of repeat.  The song of our lives is a song without end. Our children see, and grow into,  the spaces provided them. The exceptions of those who rise above of their own accord (which, i believe, may always be attributed in part to some intervention) are just that: EXCEPTIONS.

So, I’m thinking about what it means to love abusers. I’m thinking I want this song to end. I want a new song, a better one. I want a endless cannon of new songs sung on voices of delight and innocence and forgiveness. Because, how can I love my cousin, an aggressor, a convict,

and hold only aggression and anger toward the nameless, faceless perpetrators of violence I’ve never met?

 

I can’t. It’s incongruent. My heart won’t let me anymore.

Maybe they each grew up beautiful l boys and storm-hearted girls with no chance. Maybe loving them, (the specifics of which I hope to write about soon) is the only chance for the next round of boys and girls in the world.

Hyperboles and Superlatives and Love

I don’t have any delusion that decades from now some unknowing interwebber will come upon my words, but should one do such a thing, I know that he/she/ze would likely have a difficult time understanding my meaning. Because we all seem to talk in the lurves and memes and srcsms of #allthethings, don’t we?

ermahgerd-jurst-ermahgerd

 

So it is that when David does something wonderful, I want to share it. And I think about posting how ERMARGERD, he’s THE best.boyfriend.ever.

Because if it’s not said in hyperbole and superlative and posted on facebook, the howpossiblyCAN it be real? Right?

 

no. not right.

hyperbole_is_the_best_thing_ever_mousepad-p144194033869156628eng3t_400

So I am taking a slight break in the series to talk about something completely different, cause

it’s my blogg-(y)

and I’ll post what I want to

post what i want to

poooooo-oooost what i want to

and you would to

if the blog be-longed to-o you.

(you can read that to the tune of “it’s my party” or you can just take the moment to solidify that I will not make sense to you. whichev. up to you, really).

 

I want to talk about how David’s love is a sweet, beautiful thing, and not say

“my boyfriend is better than yours,” (even if, as a person who spends a lot of time with people, i objectively think he might be) or

“David’s perfect,” (cause….he’s just not)

 

But instead to say: I really, more than I knew I could, love David. And he is so good at loving me that it consistently causes me, and other’s who hear/see it to pause, and say, simply, “Wow.”

Yeah. Wow indeed.

 

My relationship with this man teaches me about and points me to Jesus every day. That’s the neatly-wrapped thing you’re supposed to say when you love someone and you love Jesus, but it’s also true. It’s true that in this particular human being, I have a best friend (womp womp, so cheesy I can’t stand it) who just-so-happens to tell me I’m beautiful, and mean it, every time he talks to me. Not just when he sees me, because as he says, “You’re beauty isn’t about what you look like.”

Through David, I get reminders of how God sees me, delights in me, loves me, pursues me, forgives me, and desires my presence near his. Through dating David, I get to see just how crazy I can be, and start to change some of those mal-adaptive qualities. Through dating David, I get to have a person. MY person. The one I never dared dream exists, even though Brad Self TOLD me.

 

Which…i hesitate to say sometimes.

 

Years ago, when I was dating someone else, a trusted friend advised me to keep a tighter lid on blogging about it. “Just, don’t write anything you wouldn’t want his wife reading, someday, if that’s not you.” That man’s wife will NOT be me and I’ve thought about that for years. About things I posted, said, did, about how I gave anyone with access to the internet access to a LOT of our relationship. And how, if I had it to do over again, I think I’d do it differently.

 

But here’s the thing, if David’s wife someday is NOT me, she’ll know the same thing I know: that he loves from a pure and beautiful heart. From the heart of a servant. As though the man was made with the very purpose of being a lover in the most literal sense. For now, his love is mine to know and cherish and, clearly, exploit for the purpose of amazing pictures.  looky here:

IMG_0880

all images are by the amazing and talented Caryn Werner at http://carynnoel.com/wordpress/

IMG_0891 IMG_0912 IMG_0914 IMG_0967 IMG_0990 IMG_1040 IMG_1075

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all images from the amazing and talented caryn at http://carynnoel.com/wordpress/

 

 

And the greatness of loving and being loved by him is not in comparison to others or based in a feigned or over-stated perfection, it is wrapped up in what we all have but do not always see: the perfection of God’s plan for us.

 

And boy-howdy, am I grateful that God’s best for me includes this man.

 

also here’s an amazing version of a catchy song by a very talented couple of musicians. (that’s neither hyperbole nor superlative.) it has NOTHING to do with this post. it’s the antithesis of this post. but i thought it was pretty so, as gamma would say, “der-ya-dough”