As my friends know, and and I sometimes share in my writing, I have a lot of pet peeves about the education system. Too many to even begin. The gross inequality in the gender/race/income gap,the way social-emotional learning and play is ignored in public schools – or overemphasized in private more privileged areas. Our culture walks in extremes, and raises its children to do the same. It makes my head spin, and pretty much every single person with a conscious out there teaching today. I’ve made…A LOT of mistakes and forgiven myself for most of them. Why? I don’t know what else to do – the system is totally rigged for its winners and losers on every front and it leaves even an intentional educator powerless.
I keep reacting against the belief that I need to “pay my dues” in my career to show what I know. So listen – I come from a family of teachers and I’ve been going to school my whole life. Then I worked in schools serving the children of agricultural farmers in rural China. Then I worked with vulnerable immigrant populations in DC. Then I got a job acting as a silly Mad Scientist in front of the children in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the entire country. I’m going to keep going, integrating these experiences, and may I be naive to say, but nothing has or will stop me in dedicating my life to the pursuit of freeing our education system and the children it intends to serve.
The thing that always strikes me the most is the children who are angels (whether you believe that literally or metaphorically 😉 😉) will usually either 1) win some type of  useless trophy for “good behavior” 2) be told the total opposite and be shamed for any form of self-expression that goes against the norm OR 3) go completely unnoticed.
Sorry, there’s no “good job” at the end of the day from most aspects of life. There’s no reason to be ashamed of who and what you are either. The internal lives of children MATTER.
Let me go on.
There’s nothing that peeves me more than hearing about “the left out one.”
Hearing teachers who say he/she doesn’t make friends well because “They went to a different school,” or “Don’t speak the same language as the other kids,” or “Just have a hard time making friends” is so disheartening because as grown-ups we can do better to teach children what really including someone looks like.
On a personal level, it triggers me a lot because many of us, if not all of us, really being “the left out one” at some point. I know for me it began in 3rd grade when I started going to a youth group at my church that I knew I could never fit into because I went to a different school than the other kids. As small as it may have been to the adults around meat the time, it was very painful to me because no took the time to understand my internal experience, validate it, and show me ways to make friends that I did not know how to relate to. I remember feeling it was my fault that “no one wanted to talk to me,” and from there on blamed myself for not having friends due to some moral issue with my personality. Now, I consider myself confident and I love making new friends, but this fear still resides at a deeper level when I’m thrown into a new situation, which I’m prone to do in my love for adventure and new experiences.
When I hear adults judging, rather than understanding the child, or encouraging the child to be “more outgoing” or just say “go play!” –  I really cringe. Rarely do they stand by the child, walk with them, and offer them ways to make friends.And I don’t care if your class as 10 kids or 55 – I’ve really taught in both extremes and it always happens!
I love being the liaison between “the left out one” and the world they want to be a part of so badly. It doesn’t take much. Just standing next to the child and walking up to a group of new friends with them can be enough. Showing them questions they can ask to show there’s no reason to be afraid of someone else, or anything really. All you need to do is ask questions. And “Hi. What’s your name?” is usually a good place to start.
It’s not that hard, but for some reason our whole life we’re conditioned to believe that it is. Now all this stuff about “healing your inner child” or “authentic relating” is popping up as a buzz word, at least among some echelon of our culture. It’s cool, but I don’t really get it totally. Maybe because it’s still reserved for the privileged few, or may people don’t realize how messed up school was in conditioning them to be competitive, separate, and disconnected from the people around them. To not been seen.   What if we tried this — Raise children who don’t have to recover from their childhoods?

It’s a Helluva Place

Thoughts at home…
Sort of having this vision of the sixteen acres of my parents’ home becoming a retreat/healing center (as my father works to complete the sauna he started years ago). A place for intentional community for people of many faiths.
This is some sort of variation of a pipe dream to start a school or to start an organic farm we bring up now and then.
I find this deep respect for my family as they are spending chunks of their retirement tending to our property as well as volunteering for a Christian mission group that works to bring Syrian refugees to the US/Canada. As liberal urbanite who seems to be surrounded by lots of fellow Trump-bashers seemingly “woke” folks, I can kind of think “well duh” but I forget all of the fraught biased politics surrounding this as they live in the middle Trump country (1)
Driving home I see a truck that says TUMP 2020 in 10 ft tall letters sitting across from an elementary school where I used to shadow ESL classes. I remember meeting kids from Mexico…China..Thailand…etc. Sort of makes me think the Latino children I worked with at least had each other and their communities to fall back on emotionally when the hate speech started to spew from the mouth of the ‘most high,’ but these kids are alone, maybe the only one of their countrymen in that town and having to see that propaganda every day on their walk to school.
(1) Ryan Dueck, “I’m Sorry, Christian, but you Don’t Get To Make That Move”       
football and crybabies 
My friend reads my blog and sends me a wonderful meditation by a Lakota grandmother but I do not play it at the dinner table. Shortly before our family prayer, I hear my father saying to my uncle and brother “I don’t get why people are such babies these days, wanting to be so politically correct, crying about how the name of the football team is the Redskins, give me a break.”
I keep a lot of thoughts in my head. It takes me some time to process things I find, and I am already conditioned to keep my mouth quiet. Maybe why I’ve turned to writing as a means to expression, as what I usually want to say is not understood, or received well, by the people around me. It’s a gift and a curse, sometimes, I’m sure.
So I’m silently replying … “Maybe they are ‘crybabies’ because of genocide..then suffered centuries of conquest, relocation, boarding schools, etc. etc. and peoples and now have to be reminded of it by it everytime they see the logo that perpetuates stereotypes (1)…not to mention it harms the brains of men, maybe even men who have DNA of their descendants with concussions (2-3)…and not to mention the ones at said sporting events refusing to stand for the anthem in act of protest and to stand in solidarity with opressed peoples.(3)”
But then again, what would a girl like me really know about football.
(3) Antonia Moore, Vice, “Footballs War on the Minds of Black Men” 
(4) Edmund DeMarche, CNN, “Kaepernick Participates in Unthanksgiving Day on Alcatraz”
social consciousness and the children and the generations and the going on 
Question: Does our social consciousness shift as we age to find “belonging” within the political consciousness of our peers the current trends of politics? (My dad going from sweat lodge builder to a more conservative view on ‘political correctness’?)
Question: Or do those remaining bits of what was not understood or manifested by the previous generation pass on to their children – like me, now caught up in my own research and my own life-playing out in some spirit lotus wrapped up in healing ‘whiteness’ as an identity and how it can be healed in order to seek more expansion and freedom for all peoples. Are we the ones left trying to sort out the parts of us we left behind in previous generations?
ancestral dreaming
We played a game at the dinner table that my mother and I made with creative self-reflection questions and the first one my grandfather picks up.
Describe heaven.
“It’s a helluva a place,” he says.
Today I’m talking to my mother about my previous school year as a teacher in urban DC, fraught with all kinds of things I can’t even begin to explain in a simple post. My mother was a teacher and so was I.
I show her the slideshow I made for a project I did with a colleague in the music-biz to try and get statues erected in DC of local women and people of color who made an impact on the city’s history. She’s editing my work. I’m showing her the slides of a local DC artist who played with folk musicians of the 60s and participated in the Civil Rights movement. “You spelled Pete Siger wrong…It’s Pete Seeger.” I know mom, I know. Typos are inevitable.
Then I show her videos from the poetry slam I attended of my old students, Latino kids who wrote poems of unity,  dreaming, how hard their parents paved the way for their world of success. One of my best friends from my old school coached the team and wrote the culminating poem. I helped her edit it.
The kids stand up and say “Unity, we stand for a better tomorrow, but now you tell me no more dreamers?”- these children descendants of a generation of immigrants denied access to opportunities before the DREAM Act and DACA. The stuff the Puppet and his minions are working to overturn. Now the bilingual children of the ancestors are on stage shouting out what their parents are still denied from saying in the public space.
Note from self: Remember this isn’t the conditioning of your white savior complex or need to prove your worthiness shown through your dedication to the children of color over other children because that is still a manifestation of racism.  This is trust that individuals will free themselves as individuals communities will free themselves as communities and this is the healing of our century that we all must take part in as a whole. I have called you to participate.
We watch old home movies of my grandparents on my father’s side. My father’s baba, who didn’t really speak English at all but he and my uncle remember telling them to eat. Standing next to beautiful flowers in her garden. Chickens running around the backyard in front of the outhouse. Always wore a babushka and a dress, they said. It’s all that they’ve remembered, they said.
I sit to wonder. What the ancestors have asked us to carry on. What they have asked us to change. What they have asked us to heal. What they are watching us be.


The House of Entheogens


She met him in October on the Georgetown campus. He was wearing a red a blue baseball cap. The wind blew it off and she picked it up. Returned it to him. They started talking about the weather, then science, and soon philosophy. Quickly, they became friends.


They spent several Sundays taking walks to the local farmer’s market to pick out apricots, then going to eat them on a blanket in the park. It was the most romantic thing she’d ever done. But they remained nothing more than friends, yet something more than casual acquaintances. After all, she had recently finished her journalism degree and worked at a restaurant part-time, and he was pursuing his Ph.D. at Georgetown. Both of them, divorced. Neither had time for dating – or at least – no desire in walking the path to another broken heart.


Once it got cold, he invited her to his house. When she walked in, she wondered why he had a rice cooker with aluminum foil on top. A device to make gold out of, he told her. He explained the whole process. His alchemy. She trusted him. He studied quantum mechanics after all.


The house was full of strange things. (No, not the kind of strange things mothers warn daughters about before they sneak away with a glass of wine and the latest E L James novel.) The kind of strange things that made her curious and ask a lot of questions.


In the kitchen he kept tiny bottles on the shelves, full of substances that looked like chemicals or powders. Others were full of herbs, leaves, and varieties of tea, with perhaps a few strains of medical marijuana in the mix.


“Entheogens,” he told her. “Meaning ‘generating the divine within.’ Or more simply put — plant medicines. They produce non-ordinary states of consciousness. People around the world use them for religious or spiritual reasons.”


“Oh, right,” she said. “I knew that….and what exactly do you do with them?


“Oh, sometimes people come to me and buy them. If enough people are interested, I’ll lead retreats where people could take the entheogens within a safe container, like a Santo Daime church, someone’s backyard in the woods, or a yoga studio.


There was nothing ordinary about him, she thought. And maybe that’s why she hung around.



“So….you’re dating a drug dealer?” Penelope gasped.


“Well, no, not exactly,” she said. “I don’t know if we’re actually ‘dating,’ we’re just friends. Anyway, he’s more of an um…urban shaman.”


“Is that what he calls himself, or did you just make that up right now?”


“I mean….I guess it’s the term he uses, but I still find it pretty fascinating.”


“Come on Nat,” Penelope reached out to touch her hand. “I’m worried about you.”


“He’s getting a Ph.D.! In quantum physics!”


“Hah….Denver worked as Noam Chomsky’s literary agent, and you saw how that turned out when I needed someone to drive me to Planned Parenthood last summer!”


“What, you prefer I date a nice normal guy? Like the guy at the coffee shop with muscular arms and the compass tattoo who talked to me about The Unbearable Lightness of Being and then asked for validation for the quality of his pictures on his Bumble profile?”


“No! No…that’s not what I’m saying. I just think you deserve someone who genuinely cares about you, Natalie. Drugs and things…whatever. I just don’t want to see you settling for someone who just who only cares about himself again.”



She enjoyed exploring his house. She experimented with the musical instruments he collected from his travels around the world, like the Aboriginal didgeridoo and Malian n’goni. She watered the twenty potted plants and herbs sitting by the window. She bought him a bamboo plant, a snake plant, and a bonsai tree, just to add something a little more ordinary to the most exotic mix.


The jars of entheogens were meticulously labeled with the common name and its psychoactive constituent:


Ayahuasca – Harmala alkaloids and DMT

Bolivian torch cactus – Mescaline

Fly agaric – Ibotenic acid and muscimol

Magic mushrooms – Psilocybin and psilocin


“When did you know you were….you know….a ‘shaman?’ ” she asked.


“Maybe as young as twelve,” he said, not noticing the glint of sarcasm in her voice. “I started out having out of body experiences. Lying in bed before I would fall asleep, it felt like my body was being submerged in water like I was about to cross over into spirit realm. Started perceiving what was going to happen in the future. Sometimes clairvoyant. I didn’t know what was happening to me. When one of my college professors gave me some of C. G. Jung’s literature on archetypes and the collective unconscious, some things started to make sense.”


He paused to take in the confused look on her face.


“Don’t worry,” he laughed, almost reading her mind. “I’ve looked into mental health issues – I don’t have schizophrenia, not possible. Doesn’t run in my family line. I believe my ancestors carried this knowledge, and it’s coming through me in this generational incarnation of the bloodline. And of course, Western medicine doesn’t have a name for these types of things. Hence, a lot of people do end up getting a mental health diagnosis. What I experience is just that – what I experience. Weird things happen from time to time, but it doesn’t dominate my life. And I find the plants guide me to what I need to know.”


Remarkably, Trevor was the most normal person she had been with, even out of her male friends. When she was with him she felt safe and calm.


“And how did you find the plants?” she asked.


“Maybe you should be asking ‘how did the plants find me’?’”


“Oh my friend,” she smiled and laughed. “You are such a mystery. I could write a whole book on you.”


“Oh? What would it be – fantasy?”


She blushed. Fantasies. She had a few. There was clearly some sexual tension between them, of course. But the two hadn’t had sex, or made love, or even fucked, or whatever you want to call it, in the time they had now known each other.


“Are you winking at me?!” she jested, then coughed. “No, you know I write nonfiction. And hard journalism.”


There was an awkward silence between them. She pointed to the stack of books on his table.


“Speaking of nonfiction, tell me more about the intelligence of plants they talk about in your books. What does it mean exactly?”


“Let me think…Well, you can’t compare the intelligence of plants to that of humans, exactly. It’s not as if they have a rational, thinking mind, like a brain or a computer. Scientists who study plant intelligence see plants as highly sensitive organisms – rather than passive players in their environment. Plants monitor their internal and external worlds for informational and functional shifts – like changes in soil, water, light, etc. Just like our eyes have a sensory inflow from the spectrum of light to perceive colors, plants have gates of perception that allow sensory inflow from a spectrum of what is going on around them. Then, they integrate that information into their own state of being”


“Yes, now, go on.”


“When I take the plants, they can guide my body into that same level of perception. I can’t explain it well, poems seem to do the talking for me from there.” He pulled a book off of the table and turned to a bookmarked page:


It is actually a kind of dreaming

And not the kind of dreaming you are thinking about either

But a different kind of dreaming entirely

(It’s like the dreaming you do when you are reading this book)

The dreaming is the central core of what this book is about

It is the kind of dreaming that Goethe was engaged in

When he learned about plant metamorphosis

And Luther Burbank when he looked deep into the plant

And saw every environment its ancestors had ever lived in

And the same kind that Barbara McClintock did

When she watched individual chromosomes in corn shift their structure

It is the same state of mind that writers enter when they create words

It is also how Gaia dreams the world into being

And is the kind of dreaming you can do, too, if you wish,

If you decide to walk through the doors of perception

And find out what is on the other side



“It’s lovely. I love it. You know I love poetry. But let’s go back to what you mentioned earlier – how DID the plants find you?”


“Ah! Right. Five years ago, not long after I moved to the city for grad school and was living in a condo, and I had a dream that I was wandering around this big house with secret passageways behind bookshelves, hidden staircases, and a big front yard. I felt curious and elated like I did as a child discovering life’s mysteries for the first time. The next day got a lead from someone I had met randomly at a bookstore in Adams Morgan. The price was unbeatable for the city, almost like a gift from the gods.”


“Yeah, really, it’s impossible to find something these days,” she commented.


“And the next week, I bought this house. Everything you see here, the books, the jars, the labels – all already on the shelf from the previous owner. An Italian immigrant, I heard, who had passed and left nothing to his grandchildren who all live in various parts of the country and want nothing to do with his past. The plants were the passageways waiting for me to explore their world of insight. Their potential to heal us and bring us more into our true natures.”


She stared at him in silence.

“Trevor, I think you’re pretty cool, you know that?”


He laughed and went to go prepare her a coffee. “I guess you’re not so bad either.”

As much as Natalie enjoyed hanging out with Trevor, she simply couldn’t bring herself to opening up to him intimately. Perhaps is came from her unhealed past. Her first boyfriend told her about his trips on acid at 17 and became a heroin addict by the age of 22.  In her last serious relationship before her marriage, her boyfriend smoked a joint nearly every time they saw each other, which would make him fall asleep during sex. And then in her marriage — the most disastrous of them all – her husband was a physiatrist who eventually began abusing the opioids he gave to patients and had convinced her she was both anorexic and had bipolar disorder. Neither of which were true.


Natalie was never sure why she attracted these types of men into her life. Aside from the usual alcohol and weed in college, she had never really taken drugs herself. Things had not been great, and her friends never knew what she saw in these men. All of them, to varying degrees, had expressed interest in social and political change, but never really seemed to put much action behind their words. Their drug use came first.


Trevor, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care about politics at all. When he wasn’t working with the entheogens, he put all of his energy into his studies. She knew there was something different about him. They kept their boundaries, and she let the man remain a mystery.


In February, Penelope and Natalie got their nails done for Valentine’s Day. She told Natalie she has a dream where she is pregnant. They stop by a drug store for the test and sure enough –


“I can’t believe it’s going to happen. I’m going to be a mom!”



Dream Stones

Dream Stones
Stream of Consciousness, Ethnography, Personal Narrative, Travel, Drugs
I wrote, I wrote, I wrote, because I don’t believe in writer’s block and even though I’m an expert at naval gazing I know I need to get out of the house and be around people, but no I don’t really feel like talking to them, I just need to watch them and their habits, kind of like how I watched this dog all week, who would wake me up in the middle of the night licking her wounds, a bad habit she’s acquired just like I have of picking my ears, so I’d yell at her to please stop and blame her for the reason I wasn’t really able to sleep but eventually I figured out she actually needed me to lift her legs onto the bed and then she took up all of it but at least she was peaceful.
So I went out and I watched, I watched, I watched the whole world like I was traveling. I don’t have any money to take a trip but I can pretend that instead of those thoughts on is the path I always take and these are the same people I talk to rather to think this is the first time I have ever set eyes on this place and who are these people and what sort of culture do they have because I remember the time I went to Beijing for the first time and it felt like one week lasted me a whole year because nothing made sense but at the same time everything did because I just saw everything around me and felt free from wanting anything at all.
Dream stones
There’s a certain freedom when traveling but I can’t travel right now so I’m staying in this house with a meditation room and burning Chinese incense that reminds me of when I lived in Dali, Yunnan – the province of the Southern Clouds – and I am almost certain without a shadow of a dreamer’s doubt that in fact the people shaped the clouds descending over the mountainside with their thoughts and memories and dreams and hopes because the marble they mined from the mountain had the same look of the clouds and they sold that marble they called it dream stones.
When my father came to visit me he went to every little just so he could stare at dream stones for hours before he decided to buy a whole suitcase full and I suppose they activated something in or I suppose it was the kind of shit he saw when he was high so maybe that explains why am I sitting here at breakfast Googling pictures of Ayahuasca for my desktop background because I remember that day after church we came back and ate bagels and talked about Jeremy Narby’s The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge for hours and how everything the Amazonian shamans told the anthropologist made complete fucking sense to me and now I hope every time I open my computer I can get activated and be reminded that life is not actually this but really that and be reminded there are some trips you don’t actually have to buy a plane ticket to take. 
Bus Stop Jamaica 
Sitting next to a Latina woman sitting at the bus stop, we are both watching the man across the street putting on a tie before he takes out two cases of bottled water from the trunk and I’m trying to remember that word…corbata…la corbata de civilization, it’s something like that, something like a choke hold that puts its arm around your neck and chokes you to death when you are just a man just a simple man and you surrender your whole head to the king of capitalism.
He’s in front of a tire shop it reminds me of the kind in Jamaica because its yellow small and has some people milling about outside and when I went in 2010 with my jazz band it was the first time I could recall not knowing if I was awake or dreaming and it was the first time I could recall not having access to technology so I couldn’t call my boyfriend for a week and thank god because he called me every day ugh a way too co-dependent relationship I broke free from for a while but so I ended up cuddling with by the piano player in a hammock I couldn’t tell if it was okay to do that even though I really wanted to because there’s a certain way you can connect with people when we played music under the stars and the other piano player almost bought a ‘shroom from a guy on the beach but instead all of us when out to a trampoline on the sea and looked up at the stars and got high and thought maybe they made the shape of a cannabis leaf.
The bus isn’t coming so I think maybe I should call a car but then I remember how I noticed the people who have white skin like me who have any bit of money don’t actually ride public transportation unless they are going to work, but at some point I learned that I’ll always get where I’m going anyways and at some point I learned time doesn’t actually exist and have you ever noticed that people think they need to be stressed out in order to get anything done and have you ever noticed people here use that word productive a lot but they don’t actually produce anything and at some point I removed that word from my vocabulary. 
Your Unreliable Ethnographer  
What thoughts are mine and what are not mine? I don’t really know anymore. 
When you observe a different culture, you assume the people you watch are genuinely happy to be together. 
I picked up a biography of Margaret Mead in a free library on the side of the street today and I don’t know anything about her much other than I agreed with her when I heard she said adolescence might really just be a sham invented by Western culture so why did I ever have to be a teenager I’ll never forget my remembered my first year anthropology professor who told us that when he was in Papua New Guinea the people worshipped sweet potatoes and even ate enough of them that they women used them as a form of birth control I have an IUD and people have all kinds of feelings about it but actually I probably eat like five sweet potatoes so I think I’m good.
I went out to watch the world like the world wasn’t watching me
When I got here I joined the spiritualist subculture because I started doing a lot of Kundalini Yoga too many days of the week until my body was beautiful and blissful and I had a killer set of abs but it’s about being spiritual right not the superficial way your body looks after a year of training so after I left that community I still found myself just as disconnected from people as I was when I lived in a place where I couldn’t speak the language.
So turns out your manic pixie yoga girl thinks fondly of her favorite anarchist Christian anthropology professor who had us question multiple interpretations of movie Jesus Camp and who told me to read David Graber when he met me in the park for a beer and who had us read an article called “Spiritual but Not Religious” which always sounded good to me but it seems that anytime I really sit with myself I remember I was still raised in the Presbyterian church and turns out so was Donald Trump and so fuck you Calvinism and your theory of predetermination and welcome to the terrifying side of something I need to come to terms with. 
I’m just here. Writing in a notebook and helping children climb up on top of the statue of Joan of Arc. Remembering no matter where I go in the world, this is what I’m destined to do every day. 
There’s a man with white skin walking past some women with white skin lying in the grass on yoga mats and he laughs to maybe a woman who is his wife and says “Look – I could do that, just lie there” oh to just lie in the grass for a moment off my feet, it would feel so good, oh it would feel like I’m going home.
Now watching this couple a smaller man maybe of Asian descent and a woman with brown skin and I’m not sure if they’re not a couple couple but the very adept yogi man doing handstands is helping this taller also beautiful woman try one for herself and you can tell it’s hard for her so then he shares his watermelon with her and she looks nervous sort of to have this gesture of human kindness but at some point in her life someone told her to just follow her heart and for some reason she thinks to share some fruit right now just really feels right and good and loved.
Later I see her dancing around with two white flowers in her hands in sort of a freedom dance and she’s I wonder if this like a mating dance she’s thinking of that yogi guy from earlier and how he helped her with her handstand.
Drum Tribes
A lot of the people here have different colored rainbow hair as I imagine the Capital in the Hunger Games while on the inside I know they are caught up in an Arena of the heart, competing with each other to be sexier, slimmer, more booty shaking style smooth. 
There are two drum circles and one side people say these are the real musicians who are commemorating a man who died and on the other side people are just banging really loudly and there is a guy playing a drum set and from this statue I can just see everything and it’s the best seat in the house and I can hear feel smell taste the palo santo burning 
A woman with blue-colored hair is dancing and banging on a pot with a spoon and dancing with a guy who was spinning sticks with the people who reminded me of some traveling clowns I met in Argentina once who could juggle and had teardrops drawn under their eyes and the girl with blue hair is having fun and looks like the way I felt in a dream once. 
A man with white colored skin is playing djembe pretty well and sitting next to him a girl wearing a black wide-brimmed hat with a button on it and she’s cute but looking kind of bored so I wonder maybe she’s a poet so I’ve noticed a lot of girls around here wear hats because so a few months ago I bought a black hat to make me feel like a New York Patti Smith or maybe a New Mexican Georgia O’Keefe and to make me feel like maybe someone would pay attention to me while I read poetry.
I buy a cold homemade drink from a girl with brown skin wearing a black value hat selling juice from a cooler and it makes me have to pee and I can’t believe there is only one public bathroom for all of these people plus I don’t want to wait in line so I go back to observe the human phenomena even though it’s not going to leave and will still be here once I return but I keep feeling like I need to see more feel more be more do more
I check my phone to see when I can catch the metro and I start to walk towards it but I can’t even last that long, and when I walk back and I girl walking with a boyfriend says I like your outfit! to me it seems like a friendly version of anonymous female-to-female catcalling, so I go back to the park to pee under a bush and it reminds me of that friend in college who insisted of peeing every time we went to the park to drink or get high and I walk back to the stairs and see this interesting inlet in the stone stairs and two women ask me if I’m looking for the bathroom because apparently this is where it used to be and I say no I just find it interesting looking, I just peed anyway in the bushes and they don’t reply back so is that appropriate for their culture I don’t know. 
When I get back the drummers pause for a moment of silence for the man who died and I wonder is this how the tribes pray together? I’ve never seen anything quite like it except for in this temple of air. 

Ode to 艾 and 爱 (Ode to Ai and Love)

— I’m not doing the quote full justice, and there’s much more I want to say on this but here is the story for now —
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.

How to Get Lit

Lately I’ve been caught in
     the right way to hold your breath, how to meditate, how to stop the mind
     the right way to cleanse your liver, what to eat, when not to eat it
     when to go to bed, how cold to make your shower, what to put in the bath, what scent to wear
     how slow to dance, how to be a woman, how not to be tamed, how to be domestic
     what gave me acne, how to make it go away
     if I start smoking weed and cigarettes does that make me okay?
     i just asked the dentist if fluoride can close my third eye
     but my gums are bleeding! oh me, oh my!
     should I drink? do my armpits stink?
     is it okay to ask out a guy? or is it better to just sit around and wonder – why?
     be with the mama moon on your period or keep the IUD?
     but hey – if you get pregnant just don’t come to me!
     must I feel guilt when the Beibes comes on?
     or can I claim Despacito as my new favorite song?
     just live life by the fly, but please – don’t cry! it makes you seem weak
     you don’t want to loose your own winning streak
     drink bottled water, or don’t, just recycle the plastic
     hey look – you’re fantastic!
     do you compost? Throw your paper away?
     would you vaccinate your kids or raise them on an apple a day?
     do you ever how your gay friends have to pray?
     when so many rights are taken away?
     by those people who can split their heart into three?
     shoo away the Mormons at their doorstep but practice their own form of polygamy?
     I’m sorry to say, as I take a breath in
     I don’t really believe in original sin
     I sort of believe we are all just fine as we are
     all chasing that wish on some shooting star
     so join me perhaps in the “the Way” if you will
     because these self-punishment talks are not really real
     between vegan and kosher and old gluten free
     there’s no right way to do it
     I’m just simply

Inner Writer: What Does She Need?

Inner Writer: What Does She Need?
“Who is your inner writer and what does she need?”
So I wrote to her, and in faith, she guided me.
  – An invocation – like to a lover. Where are you? Come to me today.
  – Space – like a date, focus on your needs. Have plenty of food and water.
  – Some inspiration from anything – a music video, a conversation, that will come in and go out.
  – No fear to be vulnerable and open. I am an observing, observing your thoughts.
  – Usually no music – I like the vibes of nature or the sounds of humans or the humming of buildings. If there is music, make sure it’s instrumental or in a different language and tunes into the rhythm of your own words.
  – Relaxation into the entire body.
  – Honesty and trust.
  – A little warm up exercise…just to undo the top layer and get deeper.
  – Some spell checker, because let’s be real, grammar and spelling have never been your friend. Those traumatic moments from teachers and parents that planted perfectionism in your bones. (Blessing to the goddess of Julia Cameron for freeing me from such!)
Meeting my inner writer is like meeting a long lost lover. I can spend hours in her presence. I can laugh and cry with her. She tells me things I never knew that I knew about myself. When I discover them, I feel whole.
She is very particular and will operate only under certain conditions. However, once you have her caught for just a few moments, she will come out to play and forget about the passage of time at all.
She has all kinds of ways to remix the world. To take from the past and turn it into the future. To look at a photograph and unravel its meaning. To dig into the unknown places of history and question them. To take a real wound from love and turn it into a made up story, that makes the hurt not seem so bad after all. To write a poem that rambles on and no one understands, but she feels good every time she sees it.
She gets resentful when she is not seen. But doesn’t matter because she stays cooped up in the house a lot anyway, wearing a vintage silk robe she got a thrift sale. She imagines some dame from the early 20th-century wearing it while she smokes cigarettes off the balcony and says words like “darling” and complains about the unbearable heat in this city.
She likes coffee shops, even though she knows you shouldn’t be drinking coffee anyway, bad for your hormones, at this age. Most of them nowadays are for people who need to “get stuff done” and race on with the world. When the inner writer is in a coffee shop, she imagines them like the something from Revolutionary Paris, although she doesn’t know much about the Revolution or Paris, she just lives in that notion of romance and freedom.
Maybe it’s something like the coffee shops you sat in from the French Quarter in Shanghai or Hanoi in Vietnam – in a secret alleyway, full of with small nooks and crannies for antiques to hide. The oldness about this place brings a meeting of worlds that is comforting. People came here just to sit and talk once, and come up with ideas, with nowhere to go and nowhere to be. A cup of coffee that doesn’t brag about its name, or size, or special latte combination. It’s mixed with something like condensed milk or egg white. No whipped cream on top. She could sit here forever and be the Buddha with froth overflowing from the lotus flower. The energy of this discovery brings this lasting peace that calls to meet the feet on sidewalks and in botanical gardens. Please, take me on a stroll, darling.

The end of the green line

The end of the green line
At the end of the green line, Sonia swooped Mae into her arms and carried her out of the train.
Strollers were too sleek, expensive, and took up too much space on the train. Leave those for the couples from the northern suburbs, with spacious yards and gardens. She used a back sling, like the one her grandmother used to carry her through the wheat fields. She chuckled to herself – some kind of people we are Urbanites who desire to return to something that felt pastoral. Who are we kidding? The strap pushed too hard against her collarbone. Yet a part of her preferred to carry her baby from here to there, always knowing where she was, never letting the weight of Mae leave her, as if she was still a part of her womb.
“Mama!” Mae said, chubby fingers reaching for her mother’s dangling earrings. 
“No!” Sonia scolded, craning her neck away from the baby. She held her right hand up to block the baby but in doing so, knocked Mae’s pink face mask to the ground. Mae started to laugh.
“Don’t smile!” Sonia commanded, slipping the loops of her facemask back around her baby’s ears. “The smog might get in.” 
I have to protect that smile. Yet she hadn’t see it in weeks. Actually, she hadn’t let Mae out of the house in over a month, since the Great Fog. And when they were in the house, Sonia still demanded that Mae keep the mask on. No faith that air purifiers, 20 yen piece of shit. Maybe her father took the mask off when he stayed with her. She shuddered at the thought of it. She shuddered to think about it. How he chose the raise the child was no business of hers, but if she could take control on how to raise Mae on her time, she would.
I have to make up for the mistakes of my past. The mask that led Mae to get the tumor in the first place. She never wondered why did I choose to move to this dreadful city? Or why did I choose to marry that man, but rather Why did I choose to even breathe in this air at all? That she could have controlled.
Five years ago, when she was in college, most doctors did not think the masks did much good.
They might have blocked 20% of particulates, like small ones that came from motorbike exhaust or small cars. Why bother? she thought, and her friends agreed. After coming from the countryside to one of the biggest cities in the nation at one of the most exciting times of the century, why cover up shiny red lipstick and straight white veneers with a piece of foam? How else would he have been attracted to me? she wondered. 
Yet the research started to catch up with the realities, and the robotics department had developed the NH-720 mask model. It was a monster of a mask, with a long tube sticking out like a hungry anteater and making a small hissing sound. News sites reported hundreds of young children having nightmares about being snatched by mask-wearers. Unlike previous models, this one was guaranteed to protect the user from 99% of particulates in the air and its ergonomic design gave the user instant air almost as clean and pure as an oxygen tank.  At first, the frightening design drew no customers, but when the WHO announced near deathly levels of smog about the descend on the city, able to kill elderly citizens and children alike in a mere instant, the device flew off the shelves. The panic saved the city billions in lung cancer and other medical care costs. How else were the citizenry going to listen? Those who used it loved it. “It’s like I’m walking in a cloud!” she remembered from an old man in a commercial, although she wasn’t so sure what a “cloud” was or what it was supposed to feel like. “It’s like the feeling you get after having sex,” her friend once told her.
The NH-720 faded in popularity with the youth, but those sensitive citizens didn’t mind, and would rather risk public scrutiny for wearing something ugly than risk their own lives.
She felt the worst when he wore it in public. On their walk back from school she remembered hearing her friends whispering – “How could she stand to be seen with that mole rat…” Although in public, they all pretended to love him and his endless sense of humor. Most of all, she missed the way he used to lean down and kiss the tip of her nose at the street corner when they wear waiting for the light to turn green.
She looked up at him, under the streetlight and raindrops.
“Why did you wear it?” she asked him. Longing brown eyes staring back.
“For her,” he’d say, holding Sonia’s belly with his warm hand. “For her future.”
They were unmarried but hopeful that a hasty elopement would throw off their relatives when the child arrived only eight months later. Two lovers, crazy mad an anxious for love, they booked tickets to a small island in the east and even bought each other platinum Peruvian rings at a foreign goods dealer. But the night before the flight she lost it, and she lost him too. A whole college romance gone in one night when he woke up and saw the blood stained sheets. He blamed her, she felt. She came back from the bathroom and saw the NH-720 laying in indentation the mattress with a note saying “Use it.” 
She didn’t leave the room for five days. Her friends brought her fresh fruit from the vendor across the street.
“It happens,” the tried to tell her. They’d all lost a child in one way or another by now – by their own choice, or by accident.
“It’s not uncommon.”
“He wasn’t one to stick around anyway.”
Even after all of that, she never questioned the quality of the air. The skies of the city began to clear up the year after she graduated. The Crystal Revolution (or so they called it) brought purity to the city when a man found that simply holding a vacuum cleaner to the sky would suck out bricks of pollution, that could then be recycled to build houses for low-income villagers who were rapidly moving to the city’s outskirts. Along with that, small changes in regulatory committees reduced emission by 50%. That year, she began to fall in love again, time with a high-society real estate mogul, who wasn’t afraid to explore their deep passions under the red moonlight on the streets. She promised to herself she’d never loose him, and five months later they wed.
Many considered rain on a wedding day an auspicious sign, but the toxic muck that began to fall out of the sky could only be considered disastrous. Whatever so-called “Crystal Revolution” that government touted for half of a year, was eroding slowly as Natural Helio sources were being tapped from the sky, relating a slow leak of Biotoxin into the air stream. The plan was quickly abandoned in favor of previous coal burning. But this time the government didn’t let anyone know, for fear of violent uprisings. The burning would be such a shock to the cities skies that climate experts were bribed to call this hazy weather not smog but “The Great Fog.”
Not everyone bought it, of course, but not everyone really seemed to care. Those who had lived through the smog-filled says could sustain another. After all, the economy had been much better. “At least we had jobs,” popular editorials would say. The wheels of the factories began to turn, with more fury than ever before, and the so-called “revolution” was forgotten in a fortnight.
Thankfully, Sonia didn’t need to work with her husband profits coming in, but she found herself bored as a childless housewife and set out to work part-time at a clothing boutique on the riverside plaza, earning her a tiny commission to freshen up her own closest. All the tight-fitting jeans would go by the wayside when she found out she was pregnant again. Her husband never knew about the first loss, but he didn’t need to. After all, it already felt like a lifetime ago, and she had moved on.
Despite the government admitting very little about the environmental changes, pregnant women still fell into the “sensitive” category and were advised to wear masks. The N-720 had a newer model, the WPX-515, which didn’t come with a long protruding nozzle, but even that was only worn by the elderly and disabled, occasionally by friends of hers when they came down with a particularly bad cough that they’d attribute to accidentally smoking too much pot at a particularly devious dance party. She would slip on her cover daily, only to take it off and stuff it in her pocket after work when she went to pick up a street-side snack. Her proclivity for red lipstick had waned, and the mask did make it easier to breathe, but she had never adopted the habit of slipping it over. With her increased appetite from the pregnancy, she found herself stuffing her mask in her purse pocket more and more.
When Mae was born, the doctor told her she had a benign tumor and had to be taken away immediately for surgery. Sonia had never imagined she’d feel such an immensity of loss again in her life. Her husband had been called away by a business emergency only days before, but quickly rushed back to the hospital. He found her too tired to weep and she collapsed in his arms.
She would have held him forever in that moment. The doctors brought the baby girl back three days later, a now seemingly healthy child who had to take a daily dose of medication in the foot to assure no new growth would appear during her infancy. Sonia almost got pleasure giving her baby the shot, hearing her cry reminder her how the little girl fought so hard. “This is so you can live,” Sonya would whisper in her ear. There was no way she would let another one leave this world on her own accord.
But another man? Perhaps. For it was only five weeks after Mae came home, that Sonia found a pair of red lacy stockings rolled up in her husband’s laundry. She certainly couldn’t fit into anything that small of a size. And there was no room in her life for him either. It was time she cut away anything she couldn’t make love her.
Divorce papers were filed, although he still wanted partial custody over the girl. Fair enough, she’d thought, yet she’d still spend sleepless night anytime Mae was out of her arms, so eventually she begged him for more supervision hours. He conceded but took away his portion of the child support along with it. Mae’s schooling would be paid for, but Sonia would have to work.
She started a job receptionist at an accounting firm, giving her normal hours and childcare during the day. Most days she felt like nothing more than an invisible pillar of sand at the office, flipping through lifeless days in front of a computer screen. When there was a lull in the paperwork, she’d search for things she’d always wanted to know about – clouds, scuba diving, the Third World War, the possibility of Alien life – until nagging client would interrupt her daydream flow.
On a particularly slow day, she found herself typing
    birth defects
Causes, symptoms, the endless pages, and scrolling. She’d even carry the search into the subway on her phone when she’d pick Mae up from daycare, and into the house at night while cooking dinner. For the next few days, she read. And when she couldn’t find what she needed (the government censored at least 80% of image content) she’d order virtual private network software that would allow her access to sites from London and Taipei. Mae, now a healthy child at home, was fine. But still, Sonia couldn’t help but wonder. “Why twice? Why me? Why did the doctors never say anything?” How unusual how her friends had said “This happens all time” and “We’ve lost one too.” What about the mothers on the street? The ones she walked by with blind, longing eyes?
“It’s not just me, is it?”
Her investigation grew deeper. She started at the childcare lobby when she went to pick up Mae after work, just casually asking another mother how her baby was, recording their long conversations on her phone, typing up notes in when she got home. Long days became sleepless nights, interviewing mothers in hospital waiting rooms and pulling out bibs at the laundromat. She had never felt so exhausted yet energized by anything in her life. The desire to know, the desire to want more. The whole time, Mae by her side, wrapped in a small bundle on her back. Protected by a mask.
She simmered down, and spent the month of sitting in the house, never leaving, and finishing her book. “The foreign press will be all over this.” This world deserves to know. “So this is how they decide to solve our population problem? More bricks in the air for better houses in the East?” She told her boss she would telework but as the days went on perhaps there was less and less for her to do and before she knew it he had put her on part-time. It didn’t matter much since she had enough saved up to feed the two of them and didn’t have to pay for Mae’s daycare. Finances were the least of her concerns right now. After all, she was sure money would pour in from foreign investors interested in her data and she’d be set for life, if not granted asylum in another place for at least two years while the commotion settled down.  
She sat down and began her first email to the Guardian:
“Five years ago, I dare not ask what the smell in the air was – but now I know. And that smell, is the desire for a massive death. The desire for money.” 
A loud knock at the door awoke Sonia from her stupor as her stack of notebooks fell from her lap to the floor. Who the hell could be visiting me? She lost contact with friends, lovers, and family.  Her heart stuttered. She clutched her chest to look around for Mae, who had crawled away to the corner and was kicking at the baby mobile on the floor.
She opened the door. Longing brown eyes, with an emptiness inside.
No longer did he have the boyish charm of her college days, the scrawny legs and the wide grin and playful gait. Last she heard from her old classmates, he had entered the military and achieved some high ranking position. Now, standing in her doorway, towering over her with the eyes of a man who had touched death.
She breathed in to speak, interrupted by the sound of heavy boots pounding on the cement stairways. Eight other men in blue uniforms and black masks slipped into the doorway. He pulled on his masks on and ready to give them an order.
“What is the meaning of this?” Sonia stammered as she reached down to pick up Mae and cradle her into her chest.
“You’re under arrest.”
“For….for what?”
“Divergence from state priorities.”
He slipped Mae out of her hands with gentle and tender touch, despite the aggressive tone of his voice.
“You’ve been missing work. Your boss knows why.”
Sonia felt her entirely become limp, wanting to curl up like a fetus on the floor.
“She’ll be safe with me,” he said, as he placed the baby girl into a large yellow backpack and turned down the stairwell.
She crumbled to the floor, sobbing and holding herself; in as much pain as if she was missing a limb. The remaining officers took hold of her wrists and ankles and zip-tied them together.
After all of this, all I have researched, all that I have come to know about the plight of a mother on the city streets, what will become of me?
And at once, they picked her up and threw her over the balcony, into the density of the smog-filled night.
Story Inspired by the Life of:

Simone’s Diary

(***trigger warning – graphic sexual imagery)
I feel so delicately intertwined with him, like a fly caught in a spider’s web. In the web of all life, she believed, lead people together, even into entrapment and venomous harm.
April 7th
It’s been a week since I’ve seen you. I expected you would call me today, but it appears that you are out of town on a business trip to the coast of Southern California.
Instead, I called my cousin, Maryanne, who isn’t really my cousin but the daughter of my aunt’s first husband, who killed himself when he jumped off the side of a bridge in the 80s. We don’t talk about that.  Maryanne comes over with a J, and we sit on the front porch. I tell her I’m not going to smoke because of the interview tomorrow, but I do anyway. We start to discuss things like how miserable we are at our jobs, the weirdest sex positions we’ve done and how the pyramids in Egypt align with the stars in Orin’s Belt. I tell her a read a book by an Egyptian author recently for my translation class. As always she nodded her head and scrambled to change the subject and not focus my college education. I know she resents me because of it.
“Do you remember Aladdin?” she asked me.
“Yeah, sure, but that’s in Saudia Arabia, not Egypt…”
“Remember the time where I put your Aladdin Barbie doll next to a hamster cage, and he bit it’s nose off?”
“Yeah, Mom thought that was pretty horrific.”
“She never let me forget it.”
“And do you remember the part when Jafar traps Jasmine inside of an hourglass? At the end of the movie.” 
“When she can’t get out and she is crying for help? And then Alladin comes and breaks the glass so she can escape.”
“Yeah. You know, sometimes I felt like that.”
“Oh yeah?” When I reveal something about the how I feel to Maryanne her eyes perk up, as if she wants to know more about me to confirm that something I feel about myself she could feel too.
“I never told anyone this, but I used to think about sex before I fell asleep. And not the usual kind of sex. After seeing that movie, all sorts of torturous devices came inside my head. I couldn’t fall asleep without thinking about it. I used to think of a woman inside of a spider’s web, the spider’s silk slowing wrapping around her body so that a man could later have her. I never really knew what it meant I just know I used to think about it.”
“Yeah, yeah, kind of like subliminal advertising. It gets in your head and makes you think things that you don’t wanna think.”
“I never told anyone this either, but our godmother’s son used to touch me, while we were playing video games. I was only nine when it started. I don’t know for how long it went on. Maybe I was only seven or so, but I think nine. He was thirteen. I remember sitting there with a controller in my hand and his arms wrapped around me, feeling me. I forgave him. I remember a voice in my head saying ‘Maybe he doesn’t know what he’s doing. ‘Maybe he thinks it’s okay because someone did it to him.’ I thought my parents would be angry if they found out, so I never told them. ‘Maybe it does feel good,’ I used to think. I learned to forget about it so quickly. He used to invite me to play board games with him under the covers of his bunk bed. I remember thinking ‘Maybe if I asked my little brother to play with us, I would be safe.’ My brother shielded me. But then there was this time, I think at my dad’s work, in the childcare room at his office, and he pulled me into this rocket ship made of cardboard and pulled down his pants. All I remember was his Ninja Turtle underwear, and maybe something happened, maybe it didn’t, I don’t know…I guess I’ve blocked it out. It stopped, I think one of the teachers walked into the room or something. I remember wanting to tell my mom so badly about what was going on, but I told my best friend at school who convinced me I had to say something, so I did. My mom was shocked, but I don’t think she ever told my godmother.” I started to cry. “I know I shouldn’t feel bad right now, but I do. I don’t know why. I shouldn’t be wasting our time together telling you about this…sorry, yeah, I don’t know why I’m telling you about this.”
“You’re not wasting our time together.” Maryanne sat there pulling in a big puff of air from her the J. “I just think that it’s pretty fucked up.”
May 22nd
You asked me out and took me to my favorite art gallery where they had poetry and jazz and paintings and everything in the world that I loved, maybe, including you. We took a walk back in the cold, and you gave me a piggyback ride and I could tell you wanted to kiss me but we had to pee, so I said I had the keys to the store where I worked and where we met. Maybe my boss would be mad but she would never find out if I didn’t tell her. You kissed me and said come over, then you drove me home while the radio played a song I knew, and I ended up on your soft mattress, and I made the bed the next day after you left for work and you texted me later to say thank you. I went to work late. I think my boss was mad. But I didn’t care because I felt so happy.
June 30th
While on vacation you asked me to send pictures of the beach. I sent you a picture of a face I made out of leaves I made while talking to my father on the phone and then a picture of me wearing a mermaid’s dress made of scales. You replied hm, that’s sexy.
Today went for massage because I felt like it. I thought about how men always get tricked into a happy ending massage. After the masseuse had left I noticed the size my tits in the mirror for a bit. They used to be so firm and perky when I was in shape, but now they seem heavier and rounder. I pose in the as I imagine a pin-up model would.  I go into the bathroom and give the happy ending to myself.
July 31st
I came over hungry even though I already ate dinner and devoured some peanut butter cups you had leftover while you taught me to play chess. We watched the news, and you said wow shit is seriously messed up out there, cops killing people. I said Maybe they shouldn’t carry guns. You said Yeah, but we don’t want cops who are pussies you know. Later you ate me out on your kitchen counter-top beside the chess set.  In the morning you left for work, and I ate the rest of the peanut butter cups while I watched TV alone. You texted me to tell me you ran into the homeless lady that we fed and housed a few weeks ago outside your workplace on the other side of town. While watching TV, I learned something about those indigo children on Ancient Aliens. Then I read an entire book by Herman Hesse. It felt good to be fed by you and be given the to keys to your empty house.
August  14th
Let me tell you a little bit about the way we have sex. I don’t feel like I need a shield with you. You talk about things I use to fantasize about often, like getting spanked or choked, saying please before I came or do anything you asked me too. It scares me a bit, and I think you know it. I had a boyfriend who used to do things I never asked for but he’s in the past.  You changed your tone a bit one day and instead started saying “May I touch for my own pleasure?” and honestly I had never felt so liberated by a question. To be used for your pleasure and knowing you would be pleased by it without having to communicate that.  Knowing I could use you back too in any way I choose.
You asked me How do you feel when you watch porn? I said that I don’t. I used to I always felt kind of gross afterward. You said Yeah, me too. That’s why I don’t either anymore.
It never felt like we had a separate transition into sex. It was foreplay, all of it. I would look at your body, all of it, even the light bluish glow that surrounded you from the motion light from the house across from my window.
I had a lot of beliefs about myself that would simply disappear from my mind. 
“I’m nothing more than a sex puppet cashier from the store you frequented.”
“Sex with my ex- was better.”
“I’m only attracted to your material wealth.”
“I never really thought I was sexy until you said it.” 
You clung to me afterward. We moved to separate sides to sleep then embraced in the morning. You asked me what I dreamt about, and I always told you. Sometimes I dream about you and sometimes about you and your mother. And then I asked you what you dream about and you just said Your dreams were strange. I made your bed again after for you after you left for coffee with your friends. I sat on your porch and read a book that my mother sent me in the mail about love while I combed my hair. 
Between the things you tell me, I suppose you are seeking freedom for yourself too. I have a question for you. If you too are a seeker, who knows God’s power constantly and asks God consistently for guidance, and with whom I feel God’s love considerably, why do you still reject anything that resembles intimacy?
August 20th
After work, you said I want to take a walk with you. I took you to a log I liked in the woods. You said I can’t help but feel like something is missing between us. I said Yeah, Maybe we need to end this. I straddled the log, and then I kissed you. You said Okay, maybe we can keep trying for a little bit and see where this goes.
September 18th
Took a bath in your tub after your house cleaners let and you left and read this DH Lawrence Poem.
The profoundest of all sensualities
Is the sense of truth
And the next deepest sensual experience
Is the sense of justice.
Then I tried to send you a picture of me naked in your tub, but I don’t think it went through to you.
I never read DH Lawrence before today, but he reminded me of my uncle who wrote a book about him.  When we traveled together, he would look at the advertisements in the airports and tell me which models were also porn stars. I asked him how he knew that (because I didn’t think he had the Internet) and he would say Well, I’m a man so of course, I know that.
November 11th
It’s a holiday, and I text you Do you have the day off?
     I am about the head into the woods.
     I am in the woods right now.  I said. Come chase me down.
     Let me know when you’re out of the woods. In the meantime, I’ll come try to find you.
     Okay, see you in the meantime.  I wrote. But then I changed my mind for some reason. I write I mean, see you then.
Ten minutes later I saw you pass me in your red sweatpants and we went down to the river together where we sat and watched a little boy skip stones into the water. I held you on a rock where we sat and I said I think my high school boyfriend may have emotionally and mentally abused me and you said If I ever had a kid I’ll name him Nico like the boy who was skipping stones.
December 11th
I had a dream that you put a ladder against my window and climbed in. You joined me on my bed on the floor and cuddled with me amongst my pillows. You seemed safe and cozy in my arms. You put your head in my lap and cried started to confess everything to me until you changed to topic to my mattress and said I’d like one of these too. Even in my dream, I remember thinking how That’s so like you, to change the topic to a material object like the mattress before you got real with me. And then to put everything you desired in the future tense, and never think of the having of it now.
So I just said Thanks for coming over.
January 4th
When I remind you all shadows need light, you asked me Okay, what do you mean by that. We suddenly hear two cats screaming, and we look out the window to see on a patch of grass a black cat and a white cat staring at each other waiting to see who will back down. You remind me animals never hold on their fight or flight response.
January 20th
I brought you over and said maybe we should end things and you said maybe we should just be friends without sex. You said that You’re really messed up in the head and I asked you how. You said it’s hard for you to see women as people not just sexually.  You said Your mother never said anything nice to you.
I said that reminded me of a story I heard once about a man who watched City of God and then couldn’t get the thought out of his head that he wanted to kill his wife for months so he started meditating so he could stop thinking about it.
I thought That sounds like something I heard my aunt say about my uncle and why he never slept with any of the women he worked with.
February 2nd
You held your palm to my head one morning while I verified the meaning of the soul.
“Your soul is that part you loved when no one was around, when you were free, when you did the thing you loved for hours and felt like you were lost, could never get out of it, felt like you were at peace, like your parents didn’t even exist, and you were pure.”
You said do you know what that is. I said Yes, of course, it’s writing and working with children and I can never doubt that.
You gave me a hard kiss, like the kind of kiss that says damn I love you, and then you hurriedly wrote something down in your notebook.
I got dressed. For some reason, I couldn’t find my bra. I walked out, and you said I like your bright red pants.
February 4th
On your birthday you sent a car for me. I could taste a bit of alcohol on your breath, but I liked how you weren’t sober like usual.
In the morning you asked me Why are you bothering to stay here with me? How do you not find me annoying? And you looked like you wanted to cry for the first time.
I said because I guess I care about the people in my life. And you are someone that I care about. I am there to emotionally support them.
I thought When I met you I felt my whole heart open. I draped myself living room couch unable to move and my roommate saying I’ve never seen you so happy.  I wanted to listen to voicemails to hear your voice and now I have it hear.
A month ago I decided by the end of the month I’ll stay or go. We decided to be just friends and not sleep together, but did we really decide that? Now you want to open up even more, but your mother never loved you, you never felt whole as a child. I thought What’s that all about? what the hell am I supposed to do about that? I spoke to you in a way I had never spoken to anyone. I never told you I made a promise to myself to fall in love this year and maybe that’s why I’m still here.
February 22nd
I came to your house to retrieve the bra I left and watched you do your work. I sat across from you at a safe distance and drank the water you offered me. I don’t believe we leave the things behind by accident, a part of us always wants to come back to claim more than the object itself.
I’d listen to you type away furiously. I needed to sit near you. I needed to read all you had written, some critical report you had completed yourself. Seemed to me to be more about the economic fate of some developing country with no option to opt out.
You began to massage my wrist delicately  Suddenly I knew why were hurting me. I said I need to talk to you. I need you to see more.   I asked What value am I to you? You said I don’t know.  I thought maybe I am just a whore to you. I said Look. I really like you. Look. You are hurting me. I couldn’t even look at you. I started to cry. You said nothing. I asked you What are you thinking? You said I’m thinking I’m worried I’ll run into you again at the store where we met. I said You know I don’t work there any more. You just stared at me. I said Why are you looking at me like that? You said Well, Why are you staring at me? I said I’m sorry for taking you away from your work. I thought Why the fuck am I apologizing? You said You don’t need to apologize. I thought I just want you to say you love me. You said I’m glad you were brave enough to do this. I said I need to leave now.
At the door, you stuffed your hands into your pockets so tightly that your veins were protruding and you hung your head down. You asked me Do you want a hug? I said  Yes, I do. I started to cry over your shoulder. I said Look, I know you are a good person. I thought I don’t know how you managed to be both an abuser and my healer. You said Tell me how I’m a good person. I said You think about it. I thought You know it’s not my duty to heal the depth of self-loathing you’ve had last April. Your roommate was coming in the door and I didn’t want him to see me so I left right away.
When I got outside, I folded myself in two on the stoop next to your house. I started crying. In the dark, at least ten people walked past me before a man wearing ragged clothing stumbled past.
“Yeah, the same guy just did that to me too,” he said.
He moved forward a few more feet before turning over his shoulder and looking straight at me.
“Do you think we need to go back there and tell him how we feel?”

In Your Eyes Now

I am in your eyes now
Fall out through some and valleys
Fall into that lost space
I am in your eyes now

Falling for formations
Motion set to pass
For I am in your eyes now

Rising sun and rising moon
Set apart and set too soon
I am in your eyes now

Too late to find a friend
One with motion, one with end
For I dream too much
And able to say as such
That I am in your eyes now