Trinkets and Armor, 6: Don’t Be an Ass(umer)

I conjured the piece below 3 years ago, after an extremely intelligent and sexy and unbelievably modest wild woman invited her tribe to write a poem that let everyone glimpse into how they readied themselves before facing known troubles, and what they did to cope once mayhem had done its thing.

Last week, when a poet and friend inquired about how I dealt with a breast cancer diagnosis on top of Crohn’s disease and a busted hip and a messed-up shoulder and a bad back and… well, you get the point, I went ahead and sent him “I know How to Fall” as an answer. Later that night, after I finished reading my emails, I thought the same poem would be an appropriate response to Trinkets and Armor 6.


“I Know How to Fall”

I know how to fall
out of love in a flash,
without skinning my heart

or breaking
my hubris’ bone.

I make list after list
(five days prior to the arrival of now)
and for each item, I create ‘What ifs…’

What if my lips are cracked and bloodied,
and I can’t wake the princess with a kiss?

What if exhaustion makes me thoughtless,
and I break the crystal coffin
without seeing what lies within?

What if gut and backbone turn against me,
and I can’t take three steps
without crying twelve howls and one shriek?

Unknowns must be roused properly,
coffins are too valuable to lose.
If my nerve leaves me,
I’ll run into the woods
and reclaim it.

I know how to fall
out of love
with what’s expected—

I practice.


…and now, Trinkets and Armor 6:


Some people have turned baseless assuming into a terribly destructive art. But don’t get me wrong, my Wicked Luvs, I totally understand that anyone can be an ass(umer) under the right (wrong?) conditions. Even moi (I know! I was shocked, too. I mean, we’ve all heard about my perfection, haven’t we?). Anyway *cough*, my latest erroneous assumption has to do with something I failed to make clear in “Shame is Useless for Living (but Excellent for Senryū)” or Trinkets and Armor 5.

In that post, I suggested that I won’t have time to entertain private questions about being ill, especially if I’ve already shared the relevant information on my blog. It seems that some of my friends thought I meant that they couldn’t contact me at all. I apologize, my Wicked Luvs. I was not trying to shut you out. I might not be able to reply right away all the time, but please know that my eyes and ears and heart remain open to you (you feed my ink and grins, remember?). I assumed that was understood…  and my assumption was wrong. Last week’s message was meant for the strange (and not in a good way) souls who have called or messaged me with the sort of crap quoted below (yes, every single one of those is a direct quotation):

– “It’s okay to be scared of cancer and want it out. But rushing into severe surgery is a mistake. Search the net before you decide…” My response: You obviously don’t know me. If you did, you’ve never oozed this kind of crap my way. You should search the net before assuming.

– “Don’t give up on reconstruction because you fear the pain. Pain is easier than stares. Trust me…” My response: Like the ass(umer) above, you don’t know me either. If you did, you’d know how stupid this sounds. Trust me.

– “Don’t be forced to get reconstruction because of a man. Your body, your choice. He can have an opinion when he’s the one suffering a woman’s problem…” My response: You aren’t just an ass(umer), but also a dumbass. The first because you dare to believe that you know anything about my relationship with my Piano Man. The second because, well… dearie, you do know that men have breasts too, right? Really. You should “search the net”.

– “There’re alternatives to being butchered by a doctor that only wants your money. Be smarter. I’ve read about many natural ways to cure cancer.  If I were you, I would try things that let me keep my breast first. If that doesn’t work, you can always do the other thing later…” My response (okay, this is mostly my Piano Man’s response *he did NOT appreciate that particular pearl of wisdom*): How is betting [my] life on what some idiot has “read” about “curing” cancer be “smart”? Maybe she can try that sort of treatment on her rotted brain. Um… it’s likely that the last bit was all me *cough…*.

I know, I know… those responses were neither pretty nor constructive. This is the reason why I didn’t offer them as a reply to the actual messages. I am sharing them here, so that you can see why I try to limit chronic illness related conversations to public platforms. Not just because most people’s foolishness tends to decrease a degree (or 2) when shared publicly, but… also because if they are posted here, one (or 13) of you might assist me in offering a proper response to their madness (yep, I’m a terrible individual who takes advantage of her dear friends’ aversion to stupidity).


This week, T&A Warriors *slightly naughty giggles* have two options: 1. share a bit about how you ready yourself before facing known (or unknown) troubles; or, 2. tell us about how you handle uninformed (and often dangerous) advice from well-meaning people who don’t really know what they are talking about). Please remember that your entries don’t have to be about illness. I keep on revisiting this topic simply because that’s where I am right now. Write about what matters to you.

To participate in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog or a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.

Linked to Poets United.


67 thoughts on “Trinkets and Armor, 6: Don’t Be an Ass(umer)”

  1. I love this poem..I’m going to be an ass(umer) and relate it to where you are right now.There’s that tone of ‘girding your loins ‘ for the hard times ahead….practicing. Loving this…it generates hope.
    Now, as for the pesky ass(umers)…. I’m astonished that people come up with these things. I love your responses….that should teach them!

    • Readying the loins and putting an extra edge on the teeth. If there will be biting, I will make sure I get to rip a few chunks.

      Sometimes, people’s brain to mouth connection doesn’t work. That, or they are just… brainless. Who knows.

  2. My dearest Ms. M, you are so good at sharing your thoughts about Ass(umers) and their open mouth insert their foot, lack of knowledge of you. What you have had to make decisions about is yours, not an open invitation to correct your thinking or feeling on the subject. It would be like a person coming upon someone bleeding to death and the response being to offer tips on blood stain removal. Close but no cigar. And most importantly, not a hella lot of help.
    As always, you’ve written me right where you want me. I’ll take door number two on this T&A quest for the “truth of me” response. As the lovely “others” of you may or may not know, my daughter and grands were residents of my home for 9 years. Originally, we all thought that when they came back to New Mexico, they would be resting their weary abused minds and bodies with me for a short while, or as I like to tell folks, they came to stay 6 months, nine years ago. I have always been close to all 3 of them. But those nine years have cemented our relationship as so much more than just close. I have never been a grandmother. That is someone who loves the grands and sends them home. I was their home. When they moved out to begin a new adventure in life, I was happy for them but totally tortured by the loss of them in my daily life. All of that is prelude to my answer.
    When I have shared my story with folks, the advice and comments mostly shamed me for my lack of “ability to move on”, or advice that “this is your time now”. Sports fans, the last nine years of my life have been dedicated to sharing, loving and lifting my sweet family back to wellness and delighting in being with them and being a part of their lives. How does one move on to an empty heart? If ya knew me and how much I have given up for them (gladly) and how much I needed them to need me (extremely) ya wouldn’t be telling me that I am lucky to have the peace and quiet. Goodness knows there is no peace in loneliness and quiet it not all it is cracked up to be. So well meaning folks, I would much rather learn my new path with well meaning people telling me I can do this new reality, instead of making me feel guilty because my way of grieving is not their way. Or that they can’t see why I would be missing them. Sigh. Or worse, that I should be glad about them not being here. You have no idea how heartsick I am. You couldn’t unless you’ve shuffled a mile in my Oma slippers.

    • You can try to make the best of a most-of-my-heart-just-move-away situation (as I know you will), but for anyone to assume that you will see this as some sort of vacation is ridiculous. People are nuts.

  3. Oh my wicked M. How full of folly people can be. How could I begin to even speak of alternatives or possibilities on a subject I have neither endured or lived through with another.

    For me, I daily prepare for the trouble by not preparing. I am by nature a “roll with the flow” kind of guy. I believe that what will be will be and when it happens I will decide with instinct and heart. Tears and hugs have helped immensely in certain situations, and I offer the latter to you through your precious piano man.

    I never give un-asked for advice. My opinion matters not to anyone facing their own situation. And then, you are an intelligent woman. Why would some ass(ummer) think that you would blindly run off a cliff without the parachute? It at least know what’s atbghe bottom?

    Most advice I have received NOT asked for I generally just ignore with a blank look at the advisor. I am polite in trying not to snort snot in response. I sometimes succeed.

    I wear a particular shirt weekly when I fly. It says “I don’t give a (insert picture of a rat with an Ass (donkey) on a leash). It helps ward off stupid people.

    So here’s to you my dear friend. Keep your head up and your sights on target. If you need cover fire just let me know.

  4. Oh my goodness, people say the most astonishing things, thinking they are being helpful. Sigh. How do I prepare for facing unknown troubles? I am doing so at the moment, so this is a timely question. I think about the two possible outcomes from the next round of medical tests and play a bit with each scenario. I have a streak of fatalism in my nature, so tend to go into resignation mode, in an effort to keep fear at bay until more is known. Bottom line, one day at a time, sometimes, is the best we can do. You are young, strong and not as tired as I am, so I know your spirit has much more vitality than mine. I know nothing – and I mean NOTHING – will dim your shine. (Though it’s okay to have days where you are just plain not feeling well. Then, I recommend fuzzy blankets and good movies. Latest good one I saw: The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s a good ‘un.)

    • People imbecility continues to astonish the best of us.

      Resignation isn’t a bad thing, especially if we’ve been proved wrong once or thrice. I’ve been known to prepare for the worse just to feel morally superior when I get to tell the negative bit of me (I think we all have some of it) that it was wrong. It sounds a bit nuts, I know. But it makes sense (and works) in mu head. 😀

      That is a glorious title! I shall check it out.

  5. If my nerve leaves me,
    I’ll run into the woods
    and reclaim it…. from all these months of reading your poems, I have no doubt you will. I wish you all the strength and power you need. And send lots of love from across the miles.

  6. This is a stunning poem, Magaly, that I will keep within eyesight to remind me to learn how to fall ‘without skinning my heart / or breaking / my hubris’ bone’.
    The list-making is so familiar, I wonder if everyone does it or is it just poets? The woods is the best place to reclaim your nerve.

  7. I, too, love your poem. I reckon it would make a beautiful song. It’s got an assuring rhythm that soothes fears and keeps hope alive. I wish my (younger self) had written this.

    At one point in my life, I suffered from infertility. The amount of unsolicited advice we received from well-meaning people could fill a book. Perhaps, one day I’ll write that book.

    But to answer your question, how did I handle the sometimes thoughtless advice. I mostly ignored it or at times I would simply stare at the speaker with a blank face. Well, because I have a delayed reaction to bullshit. 🙂

    But seriously, how do you respond to someone who says: “You can always adopt”, and I heard this a lot. Though these words seem to offer a hopeful alternative (when uttered by someone, who has never battled infertility nor adopted a child), to me they seemed to diminish the heartache and challenges we were going through.

    So, my hubby and I had to cling to each other to ward off the sometimes downright careless advice. But we also reached out for support to our loved ones, who respected our space.

    Yes your poem resonates. I especially love the ending. I also mean here the ending to our struggle. Nowadays, we lead a childfree lifestyle. And though it wasn’t by choice, our lives are rich and fulfilled by the laughter and joy brought and shared with many (I’ve lost count) children in our lives.

    And so, I say with you…

    I know how to fall
    out of love
    with what’s expected—

    I practice.

    • Some people assume the most ridiculous things when it comes to birthing children. They seem to think that everyone must feel exactly as they do. I knew, since I was very young, that I didn’t want to birth children. I wanted to care for my nephew and perhaps adopt, if I felt the need for a bigger family. Just like people would say to you that you could just adopt (like you wouldn’t have done that already if that’s what you wanted *sigh*), I would always find someone who’d say that I would regret not birthing a child.

      Sometimes, we must wonder if they shut up long enough to even hear themselves.

  8. What if my lips are cracked and bloodied,
    and I can’t wake the princess with a kiss?…………… for me, these lines certainly capture the feeling of inner turmoil, from asking a girl to dance (something quite trivial, but not trivial at the time) to a difficult personal time.

    • When we are young, nothing is trivial… and trying to get close to someone we like is one of the least trivial things ever, when we are young and our hearts are still finding themselves.

  9. This is such an exquisite poem, Magaly one that will stay with me for a long time ❤ I resonate strongly with the image of people and their foul assumptions and sometimes wonder how they harbor so much negativity. Why do people always have to assume the worst? Isn’t it better to face a difficult situation head on with power of wisdom, positive thoughts and energy?

    If one were to assume that an idea wouldn’t work then he/she would be nowhere in the world. The only way to combat despair and pain is to look directly in the face .. smile and think ‘hey you know what I got this’ .. believe me miracles can take place when there is hope and conviction. ❤

    I loved the stanza “Unknowns must be roused properly”.. and know that you have the strength to explore them ❤

    I can picture you breaking the bones of the worst possible advice and assumption of others with your ink 😊 sending warm hugs and coffee brewed with love☕

    • Some people have never met positive. Sadly, for man of them it’s not a choice. But for those who can actually make a choice and choose to focus on the worst, well… their lives must be a horror. Maybe that’s the reason why they try to make everyone else’s lives the same.

      Yay! coffee.

  10. I love how you have taken your illness (or whatever you want to call it) by the throat and warned it not to mess with you. That strength of purpose is great Magaly for this will surely help you to cope with all the procedures that are planned for you.

    • I figure that I can either strangle its advances, or it will kick me until I can’t breathe. And I do enjoy the whole being alive bit. So, there shall be throttling.

      And you are right, at least in my case, facing things straight on helps me every time.

  11. Your words are cherished — the poem is bursting with a silent power (which includes all shades of strength and vulnerability as well). That ending is stunning.

    It’s sad that people give unheeded advice, assuming things and deciding that they know better. One should stay silent rather than offer their self-proclaimed, unhelpful wisdom. I love how you have reacted to them, making things crystal clear. It’s your decision whether you want to partake in any conversation or not.

    Wishing you the best, as always.

    • I think that every now and again, people just need to feel the silence with words that keep them from screaming. I almost hope that’s what it is. The alternative is too terribly sad… and infuriating.

      Thanks a million for the wishes.

  12. Ugh, all those wellmeaning patronizing people. As if you were unable to research your own problems and possible solutions. Sorry you had to read these. Do you need 💩 pictures to send in reply? I’m sure we could start a collection.

  13. I remember the awesomeness of that poem from when you first released it. The image of falling without skinning a heart always stuck with me. Re-reading it made me think that flexibility and being able to pivot when life throws you a curve ball really ought to be more widely celebrated as virtues to cultivate.

    I’d have to say I’ve learned to grin and bear most stupid advice, especially if I know that it comes from a place of genuinely wanting to help. But if it involves my kids in any way, and its coming from people who should know better by now – yeah, your responses are much more civil than my expletive laden ones have been. Maybe I should work on that.

    • I always appreciate the ones I know are really well-meant. I just nod a lot and thank them. But the ones I can feel are just a front to… who knows what, those drive me nuts. Maybe I, too, should work on that. 😀

  14. I have fallen, over and over, but still don’t know falling at all. “Unknowns must be roused properly,” as this poem reminds, and I feel in it both the alarm and the calm. Thank you for protecting yourself–so many of us speak to hear ourselves without thinking of who the words are for. Thank you for the passions you turn into art. Anything you need, ask.

  15. Your words are strong, Magaly. You don’t take crap from anyone. I love your fierce spirit and your fierce poetry. Keep it coming! And keep the ASSumers at bay.

  16. “I practice”….Yes, I think most of us do. In real life and spiritual, and love, dreams, we all practice falling whether we know it or not. We most of us are battling with something, all of the time. We just aren’t always aware of it because we are so caught up in our own battle(s). I like your response to the ass-umers. I have been an ass-umer in the past, as have we all. Intentionally or not, we have all been there and done that. I like the wisdom in words and the fiericeness of them. Keep it up Magaly. You are going to need it. And don’t ever hesitate to take that assumer down. Let loose the dogs of war.

  17. An amazing poem–it reminds me of the brave and clever heroine that I often wish to be (and mostly am content to imagine rather than live) and, therefore, a good and needed call to action, even if that is just remembering to say thanks for such a great read.

  18. An inspiring post – every aspect of it (though the poem is particularly impactful). You articulate some wise approaches to adversity. Bravery, I have long believed, is proceeding into that which can be overwhelming … but, nevertheless, proceeding – knowing how to fall. Serenity and peace to you, Magaly.

  19. One of the many reasons that I love cats so very much is that they never feel the need to offer presumptuous, unwanted, ignorant advice. *sigh*

    As a fellow maker of the lists, you already know that it is my default activity for dealing with troubles ahead. My method of mitigating the damage from uninformed advice would ideally be spending some quality time with a cat, but failing that, I’d focus on the best, most beloved people in my life, until the others recede into the background and become white noise. ❤ ❤ ❤

  20. Advice freely given is not always the generous gift it at first appears. *and just so everyone is clear…I would have hunted down the pretentious bitch who suggested you are so weak and feeble *and that you Piano man is so uncaring* that YOU would humbly submit to ANYTHING due to peer pressure , and given her a free sample of “how to cope with pain”*. They truly do not know you or your man my Wickedest of Witches XXX

  21. God the enjambment of those first two lines, what an unexpected wallop. To fall is precipital, but to fall out of love is a tumult. Like falling out of life. With “twelve howls and one shriek.” I’d say be well, but add, find some ice for the swelling!

  22. Practice, practice, practice. A fierce, powerful poem, and woman.

    “If my nerve leaves me
    I’ll run into the woods
    And reclaim it”

    Only a woman who knows her mind and will not be silent in the the face of foolishness, could have written this amazing poem. Yay, Magaly!

  23. Let me just blast through both of those options without wasting words.

    1. Facing troubles. I just power through. There is nothing else I can do.
    2. Advice from do-gooders. I just sort of sit back in silence and put a sleezy smile on my face, which says everything or nothing, depending on how they want to interpret it.

    But what…I say what…is wrong with crying 12 howls (or 13) and a shriek or two if it solves the issue?

    You’re a trip, Magaly. One of a kind. As Martha says..”Thats …well, you know!..:)

  24. I love your poem! I love your words! I love you 🙂
    As for those other people, I don’t know? I really don’t know?
    (Something happened on August 11th for me, that I decided to change my diet completely and the first reaction I got from someone close to me was, you’re going to fail. I didn’t say a word and just smiled. They are coming along now, which is good, but I have learned, you have to live your life for you, not other people. That might sound horrible to alot of people, but you have to take care of you!)
    Keep being you! Love your beautiful soul and never stop smiling that wicked smile of yours 🙂
    Big Hugs 🙂

    • I want to be surprised about the horror that is for someone close to you to simply assume (and tell you!) that you are going to fail at something you are just trying (especially something important. Sadly, I am not surprise. Like you, I have no idea what’s wrong with people. They could say, “It’s going to be hard” or “It might not work, but if you think you can do it go for it”. They can say anything that doesn’t translate to them just being plain nasty. Maybe they don’t hear themselves when they open their mouths to spew that kind of wrong.

      I shall keep on smiling and so should you. You, my sweet Stacy, are loved. And about your new diet, I would say something you already know: it will certainly be hard at times, but… you are a super-strong soul, so you will do what you must.

  25. Love you my friend. I think it has a lot to do with co-dependcey when it’s someone close to you, because they don’t want change. I have been going up and down with my weight all my life. What someone looks like, I don’t care about, it’s their soul! As long as they are happy, that makes me happy. I just realized I wasn’t eating for me. I didn’t even know what that was? Many of times we go through life, not evening knowing who we are. We just know from what other people have told us.
    I know this might sound like a lot of weight in a short period of time, but since August 11th, I have lost 16 pounds and I am not hungry!
    I might share everything on my blog. But, for me, I just really looked at everything I was eating and what would make me crave more, or put the weight on.
    I still have 129 pounds to go! LOL! But, I will get there when I get there!
    I feel great! (I was starting to get pains, like I had when I was in the hospital and I didn’t want that! The universe was giving me signs!)
    Magaly, I can’t even explain, even from a week ago, how much I have changed. I have grown so much since 2012! Sometimes, it’s hard, but I’m still going! I don’t know where I’m going, and this is fine! All we are is this moment and I’m going to keep putting love towards that moment!
    You, never stop kicking ass girl!
    Big Hugs 🙂

    • When we stop living and doing and eating and pretty much being for us, well… we lose ourselves. I remember all that time back when you decided that enough was enough… I was proud of you then and I am proud now. Getting to know and love who we are is an ever-going process. If we learn to enjoy it, happiness is possible. Even peace. And a treat or three. 😀

      Huge kisses!

  26. I think you just ass-whipped the crap outta those tossers… imagine if they give advice & insights like that to someone that can’t recognise a pile of shit until they are sinking in it!!!! Deadset drongos tbh! Ohh… how do I handle handle uninformed advice from well-meaning people a slice short of the full loaf pretending they have the insights of Yoda? Well I try not to erupt, say ‘well that’s your opinion’ and put a big black marker though their name once a safe distance away! 😉 The End xox

    • I’m right with you. There are so many dangerous Yoda wannabes out there. We can only hope that, as you say, recognition happens before the stench drowns everyone involved. And yes, one can hope for very big black markers that set clear boundaries.

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