Vol. 1, No. 3: Slobberknockers & Buttonhooks photo

TKOFranco Romero

Saturday night, January 23rd, I watch Dustin Poirier knock out Conor McGregor.

Poirier is someone you can believe in. Not just fun to watch. He loves his daughter and runs a charity for under-priveleged youth.

I watch him win and say to Monique, “I feel like we just broke out of the matrix.”

He wasn’t supposed to win. I didn’t think he could. He is my favorite fighter and I thought he would lose.


            Over the course of the next two days, I probably watch the end of the fight 50 times. Not just for the way Poirier finishes McGregor— swarming him with punches after eliminating his front leg with calf-kicks— but for the reactions of the commentators.

Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier and Paul Felder can’t seem to believe that Poirier has defeated McGregor.

I can’t believe Poirier has defeated McGregor.

Every pre-fight piece of content was centered around the question of what McGregor would do once he “smashed” Poirier.

Who would be next for “the Notorious.”

But then Dustin won. He knocked out “The Notorious.”

And he walked to the edge of the octagon to point at Jolie, his wife.

 And Jolie said, “that’s the last time you’ll doubt my husband, I swear to god.”

They’ve been together since they were in high school.

I’ve been with Monique since I was in high school.

On Monday morning, I watch the ending of the fight again before driving to work. And it startles me to realize that life can be different.

On my phone screen, Poirier walks around the octagon and Paul Felder says “are you kidding me right now.”

Jon Anik says, “Louisiana, your guy has done it.”

It’s part of the world, this change.

“Dustin Poirier has produced the biggest win of his career by a mile,” Jon Anik says.

We can change. We can.


            When I wake up on Tuesday, snow is caking the ground. It cakes the trees, the earth, my car. I think about how different last year was, trying to focus on it and generate gratitude.


            Wednesday my therapist and I talk about boundaries. She asks me to visualize how I feel when I am overwhelmed. Unable to ask for a moment to breathe. I do my best to feel like I feel in those situations.

At the end of our session, I put my hands up in front of me, facing the screen where she and I talk over zoom. I hold my hands there in this way and feel like something inside me is opening, awakening, being pulled apart to reveal what is underneath and what is better. I keep my hands hovering in the air in this way.

She asks me how I feel.

I say, “I feel good.”

            She says, “it feels good to have a boundary.”


            It’s been a year since I started therapy.


It’s been a year since I cut my hair.


 It’s been a year since I left my job at the rehab center.


            It’s natural to feel depressed when you can’t see the sun.


            Kelsey, my high school girlfriend died in the winter when I was 17.


I think about her every winter.


            I miss her a lot.


            Sometimes I take walks with her. I imagine, or believe, or pretend she’s walking with me.

I see flowers perking up through snow, or rays of light peeking through tree branches. The cold sky between the barren aspens. I choose to see her in these things.

I tell her about my life, tell her how I am, if I am happy, what I am going to do for the day.


            Thursday night I dream about being back at the rehab center. I dream that I’m there and a coworker asks if I’m worried about “Adam,” a schizophrenic client who will be admitted that day.

I tell myself in the dream, it’s ok, you only have to work here a little longer.


            I can’t believe it’s been a year.


            Sometimes I get very worried that I will not have any money and will have to go back there to ask for a job.


            Sometimes I wonder if leaving was the right thing to do. Abandoning the people there, the clients I worked with.


            Sometimes, I think that transformation can only happen slowly. That moments where we feel we’ve changed will melt with the snow in March.


Sunday night, Monique and I lay in bed together and she asks me how I feel about having a child with her. It's a conversation we have every few months. An ongoing discussion. A thought experiment.

 I say, “I go back and forth.”

I usually say this. It isn't until Monique tells me her feelings that I know my own. Such is the nature of marriage.

 She says she's back to not wanting a child. I ask why and she says it's because she doesn't want to give up her life with me. She enjoys my company too much.

I feel this way too. I think she's the best part of my life and one I don't want to share. Why divide our love?

But it's happening already. Something else is here with us.

I tell her, “if something happened to me you'd be happy we had a kid. And wouldn't it be cool? It would be half you and half me.”

She laughs and admits it sounds cool. Then we talk about how this decision is only partly our own. Whether or not to bring a person into the world. Monique points out the fact of our nature as animals. We are designed to reproduce so it's partly out of our hands.

That is, after all, why we're even discussing this. The idea of making a third person doesn't come to us for no reason.

 I say there's many things guiding us toward this decision. Culture, the religion we were raised in, our genes. All of these things are conspiring to make another person appear.

We don't really have much say, other than yes or no, we will or we will not. There's all these things outside of us pushing us toward this destination.

Are you kidding me right now.

 Things that are moving, a spark that animates the world. I tell Monique I will never be comfortable with the word God, at least I don't think so, but ask her what else that could be called.

Louisiana, your guy has done it.

And I mention that I’ve been thinking about how things can change. Trying to keep it in mind.