Celebrate Love. All kinds of love.

This was originally posted on my Medium profile on February 14, 2017.


I used to hate Valentine’s Day with an all-consuming passion. Before that, I adored it.

In my childhood, Valentine’s Day was great. It was my half-birthday (approximately 6 months from my actual birthday) so my parents (well, mom mostly) made a big deal of it and how I was their Valentine. It was about celebrating family love.

I got a little older, and my best friend’s little brother would ask me if I was his Valentine every year — and I would say “Yes, of course I am!” because he was a sweet kid.

I got a little older, and the teacher had to order the other students to give me valentines so my envelope wouldn’t be empty.

I got a little older, and I realized that not only did no one else give a shit it was my half-birthday, no one even knew what a half-birthday was. Apparently it had been made up by my crazy family.

Continue reading Celebrate Love. All kinds of love.

Weekly Writing Challenge: the justice of ribbons

Today’s poem was written in response to this picture inspiration from the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge. The poem’s title is the justice of ribbons.

Image from Cheri Lucas Rowlands

my heart is ribbons
once it stayed whole
a kaleidoscope of colour and light
blended till no one know who was anything anymore

shredded
by a physical blow made of words
the colours separate
i have to tie them together
hope they play nice

my heart is ribbons
tightly coiled
smaller than it was

when it was whole
it beat for the whole world
it contained multitudes

my heart is ribbons
and beating just for me almost unravels it
it contains only my sorrow and rage

my once-whole heart
has been braided into cords
twisted together
ribbons sliding against each other
silk saturated in blood

i guard it jealously
afraid to let it travel past the walls
of its bonewhite cage

you’re safe here
no one can hurt you now

but in my dreams
the trumpet sounds
and in my dreams i know the call
it tells me what i must do

i cup my ribbon heart in my hands,
hold it close to my chest
as if it were a small animal I must set free
from its blunder into my busy city life

I walk on moon-kissed floors to the window

far below
people writhe in a world of grey
stumbling through dark and fog
breathing despair and drinking fear

cracked and scarred, my feet
climb to the ledge
and I balance on bent knees, rocking back and forth

trembling, I am a bird afraid to fall from the nest
half-crouched as if the stars might burn me.

I tip my cupped hands out over the world
and watch my ribbon heart
spill away from me

from between my breasts
a rainbow of colour curls out
and around
wrapping itself into each and every life
ribbons wending themselves through homes and heads
bringing colour to the grey
bringing light to the fog

my heart is ribbons
it touches all lives
it contains multitudes
it binds me in love
to all else who suffer.

Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

> What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from the person you’re the closest to?

> Photographers, artists, poets: show us FRIENDS.

The Daily Post

My best friend in the entire world is Kana. She’s more than a best friend; we’re soul sisters. When she moved from Hawaiʻi to Alaska, I started singing For Good at her going away party; she joined in with Glinda’s part and we could not finish it for the sobbing that wracked us.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fR4JotwwWo]

In fact, I am tearing up again just listening to it.

All the great friendships of pop culture mirror ours; we are constantly comparing them. Yet none of those fictional bonds will ever top ours — we do not have manufactured drama tearing us apart.

The dramas we have are real, and few and far between, and something we are able to work through. We have almost lost each other because of severe miscommunication on one end and mental health issues on the other, but we found our way back.

She’s Glinda and I’m Elphaba. Miles away from each other, not sure if we’ll see each other again any time soon, but always the dearest and best of friends.

We called ourselves the A.N.A., because those were the three letters our names had in common with each other. (It’s still true; my first name has become my middle name.)

The last time I saw her was New Year’s Eve 2007, in Hawaiʻi. (Or perhaps a few days after, but the event I remember clearly is NYE.) We did our resolutions with our mutual friend Ryan while my first boyfriend snored through midnight. That was six years ago. I haven’t been back to Hawaiʻi since I left the place a few months into 2008; I haven’t been to Alaska, and she hasn’t been here.

Before that visit, we saw each other for 10 minutes in the Maui airport while I went to catch my flight and she got off hers — early December, 2006.

Now we keep a blog where we write letters to each other. It’s not the same being physically near to each other, but it helps staunch the wounds, keeps us from bleeding out.

What have I learned from her? What haven’t I learned from her?

I learned I wasn’t alone. She’ll always be there, no matter what. Someday we’ll be the crazy cat and dog ladies at the end of the block, with our several hundred canines, felines, and chickens. Of course chickens.

I learned the truth about soul mates, and that it has nothing to do with sappy, “romantic” Hallmark sentiment. Ogre is the lover I choose to commit my life to — Kana is my soul mate. Nothing can destroy that bond.

I learned about respecting boundaries. Kana’s always respected mine, and (I think)* I’ve always respected hers. She’s possibly the only person who hasn’t pushed at any of my boundaries; she definitely leaves my comfort zone well the fuck alone, which I appreciate. I expand at my own rate. She never asks me for more than I can give.

I have learned so much from Kana that I cannot hope to quantify the ways here in a blog post; all I can do is sing For Good as loud as I’m able, and hope she can hear me over the waves that separate us.

*I am human, with a faulty memory and other flaws besides.


ana

there is nothing to see here
nothing for acidic comments
our garden is safe
i hope
a secret
kept
even from our selves
apple trees
our island
red and rosy
black and gnarled
and a rage
that shudders our branches
in the wind
of its scream

ten years is a long fucking time
trees, no less
we age slow
for our kind
left behind by the rest
our roots entangled
and now
i know not where your branches
end
or mine begin

gods we make
beautiful
muse-ick
outside
the walls
grown over with time
tendrils of us
reach those
who question
our blossoms
snow down
and bury our enemies
words do not describe
they obtain

wind rattling
branches
cloud on sky
and
avalon

this is our glasstown
unwelcome, be careful your step.

The Good Things Jar — emptying, reading, saving, starting anew

Last year I did a Good Things Jar — I got an empty jar, prettied it up with ribbon, and wrote good things that happened on pieces of paper. These things I put in the jar.

Last year's good things jar

I was not so diligent with it as I should have been, but it was still a great exercise. Today I emptied last year’s jar and read all the great things that happened to me last year.

Some of the good things that happened in 2013!

Some were small and simple (“Had a morning read with my coffee on the lanai”); some were momentous (“Got engaged!”). A few were in there twice! Especially the one where a friend sent me fudge. That fudge was delicious, man.

Putting them all into a folder, each year. A journal of how awesome life can be.

After going through them, I glued them all to some paper. They covered two sides of one sheet and then one side of another. I put the sheets into paper protectors and put them into a folder.

Then, I wrote out three Good Things — one for each day of 2014 so far — and put them in the jar. I’m going to be more diligent about putting things in the jar this year — maybe not every day, but every week definitely. Even if it’s just “I’m still breathing.”

Note #3 for 2014 Good Things Jar!

My first note was “Kissed Mr. Katje at midnight!“, because that is the best way to start off a year. My second said “Wrote double my word count goal today!” because I wrote 851 words yesterday (my daily goal this year is 411). The third thing I put in the jar today was the note that came with my sister’s Christmas gift to me. That’s me looking ridiculously happy, or just very loopy.

Next year, I’ll do the same thing, with the reading and the gluing to paper. Eventually I’ll have a journal full of all the good things that ever happened to me and my family. I plan on making this a family tradition. Even if it does make Ogre roll his eyes something fierce. It really was amazing to read through all the good things that happened last year, especially after how sour I was feeling about 2013. And throughout the year, looking at the jar is definitely a pick-me-upper.

Have you done a Good Things Jar? Do you think you might?

Mandela on Words

It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.”

– Nelson Mandela

I suppose I’m just jumping on the bandwagon here, quoting Mandela now that he’s dead. I wasn’t planning on it. But then I read this post via Freshly Pressed, and the quote at the end stuck with me. I realized I wanted to share it, because the sentiment is so, so important to writers, to people who wrestle with words daily. It is so, so important to activists — lest we get caught in the trap of thinking that talking about things isn’t important enough.

Which, of course, is something I hear very often. My blogging isn’t good enough if I’m not marching and protesting every day. (Excuse me while I roll my eyes right out of my head.)

Words are important. Words make a very real difference in life, and in death. It is the spreading of hate via words that leads to people dying; it is the spreading of love via words that saves lives, that makes lives worth living.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

 Cornel West

Remember these things. Remember how powerful your words are, and remember to speak from a place of love, that you may help bring justice to the world.

The Linguistics of Relationships

Recently my boyfriend got new bathmats for his bathroom. This is good, because the old one was getting kind of manky. It was white. I disagree vehemently with white things for the house. They get dirty easily. Rather, they show dirt easily, and, when it comes to cleaning, I’m a lazy bitch.

His new mats are black, round, soft, and decidedly not-manky. There are two of them, overlapping like a Venn diagram. (“This mat is wet, this is dry, and where they meet they are both wet and dry.” —Venn, the most boring kid ever.)

Me: You have new thingies in front of the shower. They’re nice.
Mr. Katje: New showermats, yeah.
Me: …new what?
Mr. Katje: Showermats. Mats for the shower.
Me: You mean bathmats.
Mr. Katje: No, because there’s no bath. There’s a shower. Showermats.
Me: …the word bath doesn’t…that’s not…argh. There’s no tub, but there is a bathing space in the bathroom, and the mats go in front of the bathing space. Hence, bathmats.
Mr. Katje: No. Showermats. We shower. We don’t take baths.
Me: We bathe in the shower, which is in the bathroom. Bathmats.
Mr. Katje: You’re wrong. We don’t bathe in the shower; we shower in the shower.
Me: (sighing and giving up) Yes, dear.

I may outwardly capitulate for his sake, but I know I’m right. So does Firefox’s spell-check — it recognizes bathmats as a word, but not showermats. Obviously I’m correct.

(Whenever we spawn little amoeba-kittens, I’m going to have to be proactive so they don’t pick up his weird language. “Remember, kids, daddy is silly.”)

In other news, I’m participating in Fat Mum Slim‘s October Photo A Day Challenge. You can see the posts on my tumblr, with the tag #FMSPhotoADay. (I may put up some here, too.) If you’re into photo-taking, why not give it a try yourself? Definitely peruse the hashtag on tumblr and Twitter to see everyone’s contributions (you can also search the hashtag on the Instagram app).