They’re Coming. They’re Here.

They’re Coming. They’re Here.

Easter passed. Where were you last year? 

close up photography of hand near window
Photo by Renato Mu on

They said don’t worry a mass awakening is about to happen. They say “its” coming. They say things will go back to normal. Then they say they won’t, and probably never will. They say it’s our destiny still yet unfulfilled. They say it takes timing, effort, to go where you need to, be who you want to be. They say you need to buy more, and guess what, everything is 50% off on the website now and clearly you’re running out of things to wear. They say that we’re not free until all of us are free. Then they say we all are already free right now and that’s something worth fighting for. We say ok declare war then.

They say we’ve built our own chains just as willingly as we’ve built our own castles. They say “no man is an island,”  but he can certainly live on one, and probably remain perfectly safe. They say we’re just a drop in the ocean – salt water cures everything. They say social distancing is hard – but necessary. They say we’ve come so far but still have a long way to go. They say shut up you are full of “toxic” positivity. They say hey you owe me 752 dollars a month for that piece of paper plus your tank is empty now go buy gas. They say goodbye and now go wash your hands. We say okay my hands are clean but my gut full of wire and brass I could do more with copper plated gold earrings that dance around my nose and hold up my chin.


grey white clouds



They say we could be building an elevator to space by now, a rocketship to Mars. They say to create a new home there. They say that’s good because now we’d be reborn as settlers but this time without a population to desecrate. They call it “a bug” but really, it’s an alien. They say it might actually help us to evolve. They say most people who are dying in America are black. They say whites hate Asians and Asians hate blacks. They say domestic violence up, but street crime is down. They say, don’t be shocked by that, and now, back to Commercial reak. They say you ought to be most afraid of the human psyche and what it can do because unlike the globe, it hasn’t been “mapped” yet.  We study those maps. We coat our walls with the mandalas of the Tibetans and wear facemasks designed by Carl Jung, we review the brain scans and take deep evaluations of what’s produced in the thymus and the cells regenerating with every deep breath and more powerful heartbeat of an intensive herbal workout. These maps of the body-mind have always been here and always will be, just as they were before. Nothing changes, even with the clock rewinds. They say most kids don’t use analog time anymore, anyways. They say this truth is binding, they say we have a soul contract. There’s no way we could use our own will to get out of it. They say it might rain today but it doesn’t. It storms. They say you might die in two weeks of cancer but you don’t. You live for 20 more years. You uncover some secrets, on a first attempt, but come back emptyhanded like a fisherman with a pole and no bait. You wish you could just be doing “a little bit more.” Hyper-drive kicks in. You can’t sleep at night. You say you’d wish for mercy by what you find out, so you come back again, so you start swimming furiously up to the shore as if your arms could never give in. They say you are weak, but you are strong. They say not to panic, but you feel like you can’t breathe. They say it feels like drowning, but still, your arms are swimming. They ask who is this “they” you are referring to exactly? They say at the end of this motivational speech that they’ll cut for Commercial break. Promise this time. They say they promise to cut copy edit for the Communist revolution. They say shit why is this thing not working? Work dammit. Who still owns a VCR? 


They say okay if you didn’t learn math in school. They say if you look like me and sound like me you’ll start winning then plus one  = guaranteed happiness. They say don’t ask kids to write down what kind of dreams they had last night when they wake up in the morning. They say listen to this and remember it’s just a blip in your brain of neurochemicals and synapses firing. They say who this  “we” you are referring to exactly? 


They say they can channel the gods and masters. They say it’s is just a light-being hologram placebo who comes down now and then to remind us all how to live. We say okay that makes sense we’ve forgotten how to live. We say we don’t feel anything. We don’t know anything. We say it’s time to get ready, to back to work. We get back to work.  We say take us when we’re ready. We’re ready. Take us. Take us to your leader. We know it’s time. Take us, already. We know. We’re ready! We’ll give you back our crowns. 


Ode to my Country

because just because we live in the same country, doesn’t mean we live in the same country. there could be a multitude of experiences, within one city, one city block, one apartment building, that could be vastly different from a place a few miles away. one minute i am craving the flaky dough of a croissant — was it the one with the chocolaty filling I had on Sunday? or the Jamaican patty i had from the corner store down the road just hours before i took a nap? i love the Latin songs of the construction workers out my door — reminding me of the Baizu people who were constructing new hostel with wood beam frames who worked next to the hostel called the Lilly Pad where I would stay on the weekends, and when my father came to visit chi na he was amazed to see the women in construction, why, just a few weeks ago I was researching how to get one of those jobs, a job that typically wouldn’t be assumed by someone of my sex, i hear they pay well, cuz this girl, she’s just a preschool teacher, she’s just a nanny, she’s just browsing craigslist for female modeling jobs, just for the ones you don’t have to take your clothes off, do you see? the subtle roles of gender that we fill, that are left unspoken, uncompromised, until you see someone doing it differently:

just because we live in the same country doesn’t mean we live in the same country, so aunties, and mom, and anyone else who sees this, can you still send me packages in the mail with chocolates and cashews and unique forms of cheese that wouldn’t mold in my suitcase and even better survive in an underground tunnel case of apocalypse and in the rare case we use up all of the Earth’s resources for the coming year by next Tuesday? cuz my landlord and his lady might be excited cuz they be putting a whole foods in across the street next week but i only have enough dollars and sense to shop for brown rice at Big Lots & we stil livin’ in a food desert out there and i’m not talking about the one all the cool kids go to where they dress up in leather underpants and smoke ganja in the blistering sun of /nevada nah I’m talking about

Black Top City — asphalt — city, the one i gotta cross between me and Safeway (Se fue), i’m talking about the way u wonder at the beauty of the way gum sticks to the the stairs of the portrait gallery across from the Capitol One stadium at 12:00 midnight and somebody left a bottle of French wine there, but the President don’t like French wine, u are too busy Being in love to notice if ur dash light is on and your car battery is gonna die, and ur landlord the only one who looks out for u if something like that happens, or if security cameras are watchen u and your credit card data gonna be breeched, & then we :-*’ and then i see a rat outta the corner of my, i hear the President don’t like rats, says, some people read Tweets but i just listen to the birds outside of my apartment in the morning and u say u love how quiet it is hear and is ay thank u cuz i made it that way- you see? u say lemme take me to thailadn or france or just get outta here but i think god each morning wants me to be here, asked me to be here, just because we live in the same country, doesn’t mean we live in the same country i,

know my roommate said i can’t look away from u too many rainbos in your i’s but, i’m just trying to make a smoothie here man, can u get out and get ur own boss/ but i thank god each morning, i think he wants me to be here, asked me to be hear, wondering if i’m still here, maybe not becuase i think we live in the same country but it doesn’t mean we live in the same country gotta long way to go from this country if i’m every gonna break free mama i think they might have put me in jail for what i wrote but maybe that was a lifetime ago, u know they did that in the usa but maybe only if you were gay, but i be singing that song day by day, day by day, wondering how many hours unti i am free from once upon a time inever guessed just becuase we live in the same country doesn’t mean we live in same country 

Ode to what is owned and given


Once upon a time I had very few possessions. And in the process of owning of very little, and feeling quite a lot, I liberated myself from much undue suffering that I had haunted me for much of my life.

In each moment, I was born anew, and asked in return favor to my creator, to deliver me what I needed now, or later. I’d continue growing, sowing, and showing, despite not knowing, where I might be going next.

It was at this time that I felt the world around me so deeply. My life was vibrant, I felt healthy. I was very rich.

How did I come to see the world as such? Wanting for so little, and not really asking for much?

Before leaving for my travels, I had bought many things, and I felt sure that these many would help protect me from myself on my journey onward.
I spent the money on the things I had worked for, multiple packages of PeptoBismol and a renewed year-long prescription on my Nuva Ring, and all of appropriate clothing I would need for a dry, desert-like climate. I could fit it all into a large, red suitcase. My cat would hide in the lining. He wanted to be a part of it too.
When I arrived, the room I had been given had come somewhat already equipped. As S, the previous fellow, had left many of her belongings, and had returned home without them due to her mother’s passing.
I exclaimed with glee upon entering the room. She had left behind many things, including a French Press and 3 bags of coffee. I had made it all the way to rural China, and now look at all the delicious treats that were waiting for me in what was now my new room.

But B, who had known S or the past year, asked me if she could see the room first, before I moved my own things in.

“We have to talk to her first. See what she wants us to send back.” I had never encountered such wisdom and graciousness as this. And from my own internal suffering I wondered: How had I been conditioned to enact such a subconscious sense of entitlement?

“I have arrived! There is something I want, so thus, it is mine!”

How would this behavior make this person whose territory I had encroached upon, really feel? The one who had given up a life here in this room that had been created to manifest a felt sense of a joy and purpose, the one who took nothing into something intensely meaningful, and the one now gone to mourn the deceased? Through these things I was asked to know the part of me that also had carried such my things such a long way, to know that upon arriving, I truly had nothing, because I had not created such connections yet, as the one that she and B had developed. One that said, “No, those are her things, and I will respect the wishes of those who have come and moved along.”
I learned to take such gifts that remained in the room with stride. A set of shelves, English flashcards, toys for the children I’d soon be teaching.

I cleaned out the room. I realized I had more than I knew. There was not enough space for all of the belongings she had left behind. There was not enough space for my own.

Please, I thought. Someone come and take S’s stuff. Send it back to America now. I just don’t have the space.

But it remained there. For many months. It watched me while I struggled with teaching, and while I fell asleep at night, hurt, crying, wanting to go home and back to America.

Maybe B sent it back eventually. I’m not sure. Maybe the pain of knowing her mother’s body had departed from this world mattered more than whatever was in the case.

I would receive many more packages from American friends in the coming years. A package from my aunt with packages full of Hershey kisses and Halloween toys, National Park flashcards from my Christian church minister, a block of Parmesan cheese from my mother, postcards from my college roommate, a blue scarf from a local teachers, a nautilus necklace from the owners of the hostel where I stayed,  and eventually, once I credited it, bushels upon bushels of watermelon and pomegranates from my good friend Uncle Yang. Giving gifts became a part of a tradition I grew to cherish as well. I purchased a book of translated poetry and a blank journal for my co-fellow, D. Adorned blue beaded friendship bracelets for my two best friends who commiserated with me in hotel rooms on the weekends over cups of Oreo-yogurts and episodes of the Mindy Project.

I even departed with a saxophone, that I had since I was nine, my father bought it for me, but did I know that it was mine? Did I need three? I gave to to Yang upon parting, with the wish that one day, it could be possible, that there was a child in the village who would learn to love it just as much as me…


the cat is trying to jump over
ledges to chase birds
as himself and the one who
is protecting himself with
guttural grunts and namely reminders
that are keeping him wild
in time and space of
edges of sidewalk, grass, & garden.
now tormented by watching
birds fly free
he is alone
he will never know
the majesty of a
church steeple
or the feeling of launching body to wall
from tree
to air to black
wire with the freedom to
cling one’s feet to something
so unstable
yet still able to sing one’s song.
no, the cat only knows
the ground,
tilts his head
and doesn’t even realize,
that he’s even
chasing birds.

The desk

The desk in the briar patch
What was that about?
Something said, go that way
Walk towards that space alive
Go barefoot at that
Shoes left by
Two totem trees
Winter land covered
with dead leaves
crunching under toes
Wind pipes up
Swallows soft blows
Desk sits there all alone
Learning what is to be sought
by autumns soft rot
go ahead, linger longer
Ask not what is to be taught

Ode to Borges

borges quote edits

I am a woman, and loved-myself most regularly, although I suppose in the human dimension, we all are born as female. Let’s be clear on this, however, whether in the role of lover or the object-being loved, I am a lover of all things concerning love love love. 

Cities, I’ve seen a few, and in this case, I’ve lived in two – Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.  Born and consumed a lot of bread living at the end of a not-exactly-paved private driveway [1]in Western, Pennsylvania. Spent wo years as a volunteer teacher in Yunnan, China teaching children to read and write in English among other things — like how to dance to American pop songs, shoot a basketball and why “money” earned for high test scores should not be copiously counterfeited in order to purchase a sheet-rolls of scented stickers.


At this time, most of the learning was done by me -the teacher – and the teaching done by them – the students. Three years after returning from the journey and I’m still wondering if that’s the way things should be in the way we teach and interact with each other.  What if rather than “suiting up” for the roles we play, we spoke through the essence of our “being?[2]” We could really exchange the information that gives us the energy we crave to survive and thrive fully and satiates our curiosity for understanding shared unity that sustains our shared human experience.


I am on a journey of evolution and self-discovery. Guided by insight and intuition, I stand with a foot in the ground and a finger pointing towards the edge of the emergent.

Let’s enter into this play together. Explore the possibilities of our latent potentials. Walk to the edge of the liminal consciousness.  Create and configure the containers that can hold a “we-mystical”[3] Heart. Drink the sap from the up-tapped Wisdom of our Being.

If you’re interested, I invite you to back to the start.


[1] Made of gravel and mud that my father hand-plowed most winters and friends refused to drive down come high school for fear of getting stuck, resulting in a definitive break in my psyche after childhood days free-range roaming the woods and making friends, both real and imaginary, that never showed hinderance to pot-holes filled with ice as a deterrent to the solemnity of friendship (see my unpublished drafts for Buzzfeed article titled 13 Reasons Why, I, a Millennial from rural Pennsylvania, am Grateful for the Invention of the Internet)

[2] adrinne marie brown. Emergent Strategy “Less prep, more presence” p. 42

[3]Albere, Patricia. “We-Mysticism: The Church of the Space Between”  She writes “The movement of We-mysticism involves leaving the external world behind, not to retreat  into a private inner world, but to  place all of your attention on an interpenetrating reality that exists in the space between.”

Ode to 艾 and 爱 (Ode to Ai and Love)

Today I went to go see Ai Wei Wei’s “Never Sorry” at the Hirshorn Museum.  It’s been over five years since I’ve seen the film. To be honest, at this point I define my life by “life before I went to China” and “life after I lived in China.” Most ex-pats who have lived there for any extended period of time might agree. The place changes you. I was curious – how would I feel about the film this time?

When I saw the movie five years ago, I went with a group of four Chinese teachers my father had dragged along with us. I respect my dad so much – for years Chinese teachers have been visiting his school and he always connected with them so beautifully – inviting them to dinners, Christmas, taking them shopping for groceries, and supporting them just as humans who needed to be seen and understood. Of course, having a bit of a radial edge, he always wanted to dig deeper into their experience. What was life in China really like? Were they a part of the Party? Were they religious? What was life like for their grandparents during Community rule?

So he took them to the film. Big mistake? Maybe. They yelled at the host leading the Q&A after the film. He was also Chinese. He originally came to the US to get his degree in engineering at CMU, but started learning about Chinese history in the 20th century, and switched his degree to nonprofit management. He had been working as a coordinator for wealthy Chinese high school students coming to the US. When I asked him afterwards what the Chinese teachers were saying to him he said, “They think Ai Wei Wei is a nobody, not important, worthy to be ignored. They are still so brainwashed by Chinese propaganda.”

When I saw the movie today, I noticed people in the theater laughed a lot at Ai’s antics. He is quite a hilarious activist, a modern day jester if you will.  There’s certainly shadow side to Ai in this context. He makes those privileged in the US feel safe in our complicity. To  feel good that we “aren’t” China. We are here, in a museum watching an activist film, for free, on a Sunday. I probably watched the film the first time in similar fashion. Amazed, fascinated, curious and in awe of the man. Knowing that “over there” people lived in repression and thankfully we had free access to art, music and culture. A dangerous dose of some American exceptionalism I was born into: the illusion of pure free expression.

My viewing of this film this time around was much more…human.

I cried much more than I laughed. I sobbed seeing schools destroyed by the Earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008, due to shoddy construction of “tofu-brick” buildings in schools in poor areas; meaning, tuition funds go to a fat salary for an official comes before the price of a student’s life in a safely constructed building. I cringed at the moments when Ai sat in the hospital photographing himself wearing a bandage on his head after being assaulted by the police. The audience laughed, but here I saw a man in pain, trapped in a cage he could not escape, no matter how humorous his approach.

When I came to Washington, DC in 2013 for an interview with Teach for China, I remember heading over to Hirschhorn afterwards, alone, to see Ai’s “According to What?” exhibit. Always was my favorite museum after all. I saw the backpacks of every student killed in the Earthquake lining the ceiling, the names of dead children lining the walls, read aloud by many different voices.

Knowing, in my heart at the time, these students and families would one day be a part of my own world. People I connected with, played music with, shared meals with, attended religious services with (Yes! religion exists in China!), talked about love and relationships with, danced with, cried with, spent the night in their humble homes with.

Today I sat shocked, at the lengths an artist must go to in order to humanize himself to the Other.