Getting back on that visual arts horse. Here’s a work in progress… excuse the shoddy camera work.
And when you get angry in the night, dear woman, do you find your soul screeching? Do you find your soul screeching that They don’t know who you are?
I know who you are woman. I have always known.
You are the snake in the garden who gave mankind knowledge. You are the beautiful temple where men came to do their wanting and praying.
You have made kings get on their knees before your hot, slick ocean.
You are memory and what comes before memory; the eloquence of God and what tempted the devil.
Woman, you are (and I know).
To me, woman sounds like wormwood. Sounds like something slippery and slithery, a box with a false bottom. Stick your hand in, Brother. There’s a blade in the bottom of the box, a dead rotting thing at the bottom of the well.
Alcohol is the great polarizer, making lovers of us all, making us all go for the throat.
I’ve been the absent gardener these days, I know. I got caught up in life changes, plus the self-imposed pressure of finishing this Mad Scientist book before the year’s out.
I’ve been a busy lady, friends. I work, and type, and hunt for jobs; and I try not to get too sedentary. I’ve been falling hardcore in love with yoga these days. The deep breaths are good for someone as anxious as I am, and I find that as I get older, my flexibility isn’t quite as self-maintaining as it once was.
Also, please check out the wonderful folks at Fictionvale. They’re doing great things with digital anthologies, bringing short stories into a technophilic age. My short story, “The Calligrapher’s Lover” will be available in their next episode, so look for it August 15th.
I have poems to fill you up with, friends, if you’re still here. Thanks for bearing with me while I let the ground lie fallow. I’m back now, just in time for the tail end of summer. Let’s make some more magic.
They call you indecisive when they don’t like the choices that you make.
Don’t fall for it.
I go tender at the sight of new leaves.
Something about such tiny perfection sparks a wave of love and awe in me. Surely, we walk among miracles. I don’t talk about it much these days, but the act of sprouting, the way a seed gives rise to new life, has always been the only proof I’ve ever needed for the existence of a loving god.
I know the science of it, but I find it miraculous despite knowing the explanation. Science is miraculous, wild and weird and wonderful. Our interlocking adaptations, the niches within ecology. There are mushrooms that eat hair soaked with the inky tar of spilled oil, digest it, and spit out life again. It’s beautiful. It’s a miracle of being.
Is it any wonder I find life so sacred? There is so much to protect here.
I felt the need to draw this morning, so I looked up “woman martini,” hoping to find reference photos of, you know, women holding martinis. Instead, I found pages and pages of cartoons of women sitting in martini glasses. Apparently this is a thing. Why? Who finds this sexy?
I have a post I’ve been really wanting to do, about the rise of selfie culture, and why it’s probably not as bad a thing as it’s made out to be. Unfortunately, this is not the day for that post. I want to spend time doing actual research (citing my sources!), so I’ll save it for another week.
I’m slogging through the book, slowly but surely. Yesterday was spent doing almost nothing but transferring my chicken-scratch first draft into a computer document. For whatever reason, I just can’t do first drafts on computers. Something about the immediacy of fingers on a keyboard, I think. I type much faster than I write, but my brain needs those extra seconds it takes my fingers to scrawl out words in ink, to come up with sentences.
I’ve discovered a new world, halfway through this novel. It’s a land called: My Book Sucks and All My Ideas are Dumb and I’m a Talentless Hack. I’ve read articles written by people who have also written novels, and these articles assure me that this is not an uncommon thing.
After spending so long with this idea, I’ve become convinced that it’s utterly uninspiring. My plot seems to make less and less sense the more time I spend with it. I guess that’s what second drafts are for. I can’t wait to get at everything and rip it apart and really tighten it up.
But first, there’s still more heavy lifting to do. For now, I’m just slogging through the first draft, making rough forms of my scenes to be tweaked and polished later.
Dear god, I can’t wait till there’s an end in sight. When I finish this draft, you can bet your life I’ll be celebrating over martinis. Maybe someone will even take a picture.
It strikes me sometimes, that to say “yes” to anything means saying “no” to a plethora of other things. So it is with my job. I was feeling the need for a break, to recharge. I needed a way to have less stress in my life. Someone once described chefs as “adrenaline junkies,” and yes, yes we are. I doubt it’s the last turn I’ll have in professional kitchens, but that’s all for now, folks.
Yesterday was my last day at Babette, the restaurant where I’ve been working. While it wasn’t a teary goodbye, I felt a twinge of… something as I wiped down those counters for the last time, turned off all the lights and locked the door on an empty kitchen. A kitchen that’s been my playground and my hell and my workspace for the past year. So long, guys. You will be missed.
But a quote from a poem by Rumi struck me, as I was shutting that door for the last time. To paraphrase, “Do not grieve. Anything you lose comes back in another form.” I feel it. It’s the hope I have for the future.
This is what I think people don’t understand, sometimes, when I have this conversation with them. The conversation goes something like this:
“But I thought you liked this job.”
“Oh, I do. Very much. In fact, I love this job.”
“But you’re leaving?”
Granted, I’m not particularly forthcoming with my feelings or thought-process with strangers, but the gist of it is this: I feel very, very lucky when I can leave something I love, in order to go to something else that I love. I’ve loved all of my jobs. I’ve met some brilliant, amazing, inspiring people through my work. But in order to have all the experiences that I’ve had, I’ve had to leave many, many places.
I think it says something wonderful about both sides of the equation when things can work out this way. Amicably, with respect and admiration on both sides. What a beautiful world we’re building.
Her hair shines in lamplight, hangs down to the floor. She kisses the hands of the old.
She brews water late into the night, makes the kettle whistle in the silence, utters strange prayers through hands splayed wide like the wings of doves.
She weaves apologies into her hair and tries to remember that nighttime is not a death sentence; the sun falling below the horizon in no way resembles the executioner’s blade.
Mouths are beautiful to remind us to speak beautifully, to talk kindly and bless each other with our mouths. She reminds herself that fingers are so long and fragile to allow us to gently cup fallen birds’ nests. They’re soft so we can caress the curve of another’s body.
Hands are for helping and feet are for walking gently on this earth.
She feels like the cup of tea tipped over on the shelf, Earl Grey leaking out and pooling at her feet.
She feels like the rabbit the gunshot killed.
I’m lucky to have the father I have, though we speak rarely. He’s a bastion of strength, a serious force of goodness in my world, and I’m thrilled to have him on my side.
Big things have been happening, sweet reader. I’ve been moving and shaking things. A couple weeks ago, I said that I am tired of doing work I don’t love, for people I don’t love. Well, that has been my rallying cry for the last two weeks. The more I thought about it, the truer I realized it was. I want to live up to the future I see for myself.
Things have been falling into place. I’m on the verge of being offered a new job, in a line of work I never considered before. This job is everything I have been looking for and then some, only it came in a package I never would have recognized, a form I wouldn’t have chosen. It’s funny how life is like that.
As wonderful as this opportunity is, I’m still feeling some uncertainty about leaving my current job. I’m not good with change. I don’t like it. I’m an anxious creature, and routine makes me feel safe. Leaving the comfortable for the unknown is scary. And that’s where my dad comes in: “It’s not about the money,” he told me. “Life is too short to do work that doesn’t make you happy. And too much stress will make you sick.”
Yeah. Yes, exactly. This is where I get it from. It’s comforting to know that people are rooting for me. There are always more people rooting for us than we realize, but it’s nice to hear the words sometimes.
So, full steam ahead, I guess. Like steampunk. Expect to see a lot more of me in the coming year.
I’m rediscovering the poet and spoken word artist Stacey Ann Chin tonight. Jesus Christ. This woman speaks God into being, for real. Her words kiss you on their way past, gently coax the tears out of your eyes.
Here’s a lighter poem of hers that I heard tonight, “Tweet This, You Small-Minded Motherfucker.” All rights are hers; I just like to share.
I’ve been doing some deep thinking lately, almost in spite of myself. I took a hiatus from the world, and the world kept doing its thing. I’ve been thinking of starting a small bakery out of my house. I can’t imagine the logistics of it. A pop-up cart serving coffee and breakfast would be bomb. I’ll be thinking on it, to be sure.
I’d like to call it Underdog Bakery. This is what America feels like right now. We’re the down-and-out, the middle children, the dispossessed and unenthused. It’s hard out there, a hard hustle. I keep trying to find a way to go around the outside, to find a way into a more human way of living.
A sound like a bomb just went off outside. Now car alarms are ringing. Say hello to the underbelly of America. Do we need a revolution or what?
I’m thinking of calling the trilogy I’m writing “A Victims’ Revolution.” The story of the Mad Scientist’s wicked climb, and the far-reaching consequences that abuse and power can wreak.
An underdog bakery and a victims’ revolution. See where my head is at these days?
I’m irritated today.
My technology’s going glitchy, and I’ve just spent 5 of the last several hours paying taxes. I’ve had to reopen this same document twice since I’ve started typing, due to crashes. I want a cigarette and a tall glass of beer. I want a bar of chocolate and a bowl of dried cherries.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am a frazzled lady.
I stumbled onto a “Men’s Rights” blog, which included a gem of an article detailing why you should not take a woman who is not fucking you out to dinner. I believe the exact words were, “It’s a waste of money. Take that bitch out for $2 tacos instead.”
So now I’m caught up in my own First World bullshit, lamenting the fact that I have a job with which to pay my bills and a little roof over my head. I hate the term “first world problems,” (Problems are problems, yes? Can we all stop shaming each other now?) but I also hate when I get this way. So discontent, striving for the next rung in the ladder, the next piece to the puzzle that I’m making up as I go along.
Is it a sickness of the culture I was born into, to want so much?
I wish I had infinite time with which to write, gentle reader. I wish I had a quiet place to do it. I’m halfway through with my novel, but instead of being proud and feeling accomplished, I’m just frustrated that the going’s so slow. I’m just chafing at the time constraints I feel so boxed into. Paying bills, going to work, the bank, the gym. Spending time with my family, however small it may be.
It’s precious little to complain about; don’t think I don’t know. And yet… I just feel like I have so much I want to give. So much I want to say. I’m tired of doing work I don’t love, for people I don’t love.
Tell me I’m not alone in this.
Is it inappropriate – and by inappropriate, I mean skull-numbingly boring – for me to write a post about sticky lip gloss? Yes? Well then, I promise I will start at lip gloss and end up somewhere else entirely. Deal? Deal.
I have always the hated sweet, sticky lip gloss that comes in a squeeze tube. Ladies (and gentlemen), you know the kind: It was probably $2 at the drug store, and no matter what color it looks, it goes on a kind of pinky-clear. It tastes like chemical candy and makes your lips stick together.
But lately, I’ve been reaching for this stuff on my days off, the days that I wear makeup at all.
I like this stuff, as it turns out, purely for its associations. You see, it makes me think of high school girls. It makes me think of being in high school, trying to be sexy or rebellious. It reminds me of hanging out at bus stops in cargo pants, cigarette in hand, trying to look cool.
It’s a reminder of the way you felt, little girl, when sex was still new and unknown, forbidden and exciting. This lip gloss doesn’t want to be kissed. It wants you to want to kiss it.
It’s what all the girls who were cooler than you wore; it’s your life before car insurance and phone bills and PG&E-or-they’ll-turn-off-the-heat.
This stuff is a time loop, a window back to when you had braces and were immortal. It’s all that youthful bluster and heart that made you sure – so sure – that all the adults around you were doing it wrong.
But you knew better. When you grew up, you would do it different and you’d do it right.
You’d move to NYC, and you’d be a star and a writer and a painter. You’d be young and in love, adored and admired, and you’d never cry again.
It’s why I appreciate this glitter, artificial crap, even when it goes on tacky and is hell on your skin. It’s why, sometimes I find myself reaching for that tube of gloss.
This stuff is bottled naïveté and nostalgia, baby.
I’m working on a poem that isn’t ready to see the light of day yet. It’s still incubating in my mind and in my fingertips. It’s that time of the year, Ladies and Gentlemen. Spring is about to dawn, and with it, all those golden flecks of new life are peeking out of the grass. The air feels pregnant with possibility. You can scent it on the wind if you stick your nose up at the right angle.
I’m still tirelessly drawn to the ocean. I find myself there more and more these days, like I used to. The salt air calls to me. I feel more whole, breathing it in. As if it bathes me and washes me clean.
I don’t talk like this anymore, for fear of sounding like one of them, the walking dreamers, the careless sleepers. Anyone who talks too much and does too little, who judges and harms their fellow man with their judgments.
But there is something about possibility that is undeniable. And if I judge my fellow dreamers, maybe it’s just because sometimes I’m scared our dreams will never come to term. That they will be stillborn, and we will be left in the dark.
Have another poem instead.
Dirt-eaters, tired sleepers,
Brother, are you strong?
Got a blast from the past here. It’s a piece that i wrote a year ago, from a former blog that I used to keep. I found it and really liked it and thought I would share it with all of you. Enjoy:
kill any of the parts of yourself that seem familiar but aren’t wild enough. kill anything that wants to hold onto the shit that you own. you are small. you are so goddamn minuscule that it’s a miracle that you can even be seen. fuck it, you’re small so be brave.
you’ve got a heart that beats
run and make it pound til you can feel the pressure from your blood against your arterial walls. hear it wailing in your ears. it hurts, doesn’t it?
good, that means that you are alive. kill the parts of yourself that want to do you any harm, cut them out of you with a sharp knife. satisfy your bloodlust; hurt yourself by denying yourself self-harm.
if you are a destructive motherfucker then use it to build. build in reverse. if you’ve got a horse that goes only backwards then turn its tail towards home.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, guys.
It’s a slubby, slouchy, work-from-home kind of day.
The people in my life have been slowly domesticating me. From my mother’s voice that I hear in my head as I reach for the dirty socks I’ve worn twice already: “Hope, put those down! Do not wear those again!” that makes me dig, instead, through my pile of clean laundry until I find a matching pair of new socks. To my boyfriend insisting that yes, it is okay to own more than one pair of shoes, and hiking boots don’t go with everything. In fact, they go with almost nothing, unless you’re going hiking.
I look through the Yelp directory to find some cafe somewhere that will give me a pot of tea. Nevermind that I don’t like Yelp. Nevermind that I want coffee.
Flashforward to where I’m sitting in a coffee shop. To my left is a guy writing lines of code, nursing an empty cappuccino cup. Across from me there are two women who work at Twitter, bitching about their jobs.
And then there’s me. Tangle-haired, wearing boy jeans, combat boots, and sticky-sweet lip gloss. My arms are a riot of tattoos, dirty hair ties, and scars from old kitchen wounds. I’m scratching away in a notebook I found in a trash bin a year ago because I forgot my techno tablet at home again. My high school self would be proud. Hell, I am proud. Some days, anyway.
My fingers go numb again. I’m getting the beginnings of carpal tunnel in my wrists from all the work-related chopping and dough-rolling. On the bright side, I can break down a case of onions in nothing flat.
I feel like a harried mother most days, squirreling away all the little scraps of time I can find just for myself. How will I ever finish this novel? I can never finish a cup of coffee before it gets cold, just like I can never seem to finish a blog post without at least one change of venue.
I know never give you pictures, never let you see what I see, so here’s what I’ve got: a view from my window on this glorious day. It’s not Paris, but it’s where I am.
The sun is sticky-hot and sends its love, as do I.
Do you ever have those days where nothing goes right, despite your best intentions?
Those are the days when the parking meter eats your quarters, and you find out at 9 a.m. that your headlights are on. “Oh shit, did I leave those on all night?” you ask yourself.
The answer is probably yes.
On days like this, you start the day trying to give yourself every leg up. You wake up early, maybe even comb your mop of hair for once. You even grab a granola bar as you run out the door. Bright-eyed, you go to face the day, only to realize: This is not my day.
There are days like this. There will always be days like this, when “I got this!” quickly morphs into “I don’t got this!” Days when you feel more like a hot mess than any sort of, you know– functioning, capable adult. When even the milk in your coffee curdles, maybe just to spite you.
Hold that thought. Have I ever mentioned how much hope I take from the kindness of strangers?
A homeless man told me this morning that I needed to back my car up or else get a parking ticket.
“Thanks man, really appreciate it.”
“I’m here every day. I see what they do,” he replied.
So, there is that. Human kindness; looking out for each other in this big, old, crazy human family. It’s nice to know that even when I’m a hot mess, other people aren’t, and they will watch out for me.
And I will watch over them when it’s my turn.
Happy Sunday night, lovely people of the world.
What I’m drinking tonight: Grapefruit vodka with a splash of citrus seltzer water, garnished with candied cherries because I am a sucker for sweets.
The above was about as far as I got last night while trying to type a blog post. After that, I’m afraid the vodka and the day caught up with me, and I fell asleep at my computer (which was in my bed, so no worries!) I’m not really a fruity cocktail kind of girl. I like straight whiskey and dirty martinis; heavy dark beers, deep wines, and crisp rosés. So I consider last night’s drink the popping of my girly-drink cherry. It was clear, cold, pale pink, and delicious!
Since I’ve started driving, I find myself drinking less, but drinking at home more often. I don’t necessarily mind. There are a lot of cheap, bad liquors out there, especially on the bar scene. Plus, I am just enough of a recluse to not feel like rubbing elbows with my fellow men most nights.
Now it’s daytime, and I’m on my second cup of coffee.
I feel like there should be a progression to the coffees a person has in a day. The first one—when you wake up bleary-eyed and fuzzy-headed, and if you’re like me, you still haven’t eaten breakfast—that coffee should be sweet and creamy and pleasant. The sugar and the fat from the cream will pull you through the morning slump and get you energized for the work ahead.
The second cup, that’s when you start getting into black coffee. Any more sugar and cream, and you will probably feel sick. So this one is probably better off steaming hot and bitter. Good coffee helps. It’ll wake you up, and the bitter bite will help stave off the mid-workday blues.
If you’re just drinking a ton of coffee at home on your days off (I do this sometimes, too. No judgment here, loves.) then really, all bets are off. Drink away to your heart’s content. Maybe throw a splash of Bailey’s in there while you’re at it.
Some days, I am a lazy fucking writer, but most days I am an efficient goddamn pastry cook. I told a stranger what I do for a living (I cook), and he told me not to feel too bad about it. “Of course I don’t,” I told him. Why would I?
I am very good at what I do, and I have always found mastery attractive, in myself and in others.
Reading other people’s blogs gives me inspiration to write my own, especially if I disagree with the things they say. There is some dissenting voice in me that refuses to be silent.
Sometimes other people censor us, tell us to be quiet, that we are stupid and wrong. Sometimes the people who say it are the ones we love the best, and then it’s confusing.
Sweet readers, love your lovers and kiss your families goodnight, but fuck any voice that tells you to sit down and be silent. Speak as long as you have something to say. Let that sweetness perfume the world.
We are our own harshest critics, our own greatest detractors. But if you don’t believe yourself, how will anyone else? If I don’t believe myself, then how will anyone believe me?
I’m not the vulnerable confessor you think you remember. I am becoming something else entirely.
Okay, everyone, let’s talk coffee.
Now, I’m not a coffee snob by any means. Or at least, I don’t like walking around thinking of myself as a coffee snob. I can drink dollar donut shop swill like the best of ‘em, and cheap, shitty coffee has its own charms. I’m not knockin’ it.
But as with food, wine, and liquor, I love a good cup of coffee. I have my preferences and you have yours, but this is what good coffee is to me: Mellow, with rich chocolate notes, not too acidic, and pleasantly full-bodied. With just a little cream and sugar, please.
Coffee is a social drink. It’s what ties us together. I can go out and get a cup of coffee (or tea, for you less caffeine-minded) and sit and work out in the world, surrounded by others who are working too, a kind of invisible camaraderie.
I can call up a friend and say, “Hey, whatcha up to? Want to grab a cup of coffee?” I’ve given up sleep some nights by going out for coffee with a friend, having a latte at 9pm, then stayed up til the crack of dawn. Worth it? Maybe. It’s almost never about the coffee and almost always about the company.
Walking down the grocery store aisle the other day, I was blown away by the huge selection of pre-bagged coffees, most of them chain-brand deals. Maybe my inner hippie is showing; I really hadn’t been in a standard grocery store in a long time. The Bay has spoiled me. But looking at all these coffees, I can see the allure. Part of my brain is going “Ooh, hazelnut. Oh, vanilla crème. It’s only $4.99, that’s good.”
It’s easy to get distracted, as if a price tag was the only thing that mattered. It’s so easy, even when we know that pesticides are terrible for us, that we’re fucking the Earth over, that the five dollar bag of coffee is not even going to taste good. Even for those of us lucky to have good jobs, the bills stack up fast, I know. It’s tempting to reach for the good-enough and cheap, and sometimes I do. Fuck sainthood, of the crunchy-granola variety or otherwise. I am not a perfect hippie. Not even close.
But I have my moments, I suppose, like we all do.
My favorite coffee in the whole world comes from a little coffee roastery just a mile or two away from my house. I was introduced to this organic Peruvian blend when I was a barista slinging lattes in a cafe that carried it. The roastery is family-owned and small, and the coffee carries a stiffer price tag, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the best cuppa’ I’ve ever tried.
In my heart and in my belly, I’d like to support them, instead of getting lured away by the whiff of a bargain.
Life’s been eventful the last week or so. Maybe sometime I’ll tell you about it. That’s just to say, I know I’ve been awful quiet.
But dearest readers, I have a confession to make: I am a quitter. In the last ten years, I’ve started learning three different languages, with varying degrees of success and proficiency, but I’ve always quit because I’m afraid of speaking up. Afraid of being corrected, shy of looking foolish. A jester, I am not.
And that’s why writing has always been my perfect medium.
I can sit here, in a decrepit donut shop drinking bad coffee, and if I feel like it, I can say the most perfectly incendiary things. Because I never have to see those words hit their mark. I may hear about it second-hand, like, “Hey, I got it. Thank you for saying it. It’s what I feel.”
And sometimes that feels good, and sometimes it just makes me feel shy.
It’s what I want out of my work, to articulate the things that others can’t, or won’t. I want to tell a story and breathe life into that feeling you had the first time you touched a woman’s body, the first time you touched a man’s body. I want to talk about the time your dog was put down and you were only twelve. What that felt like, all that rage and pain and sorrow and anger.
I say this a lot, and yet I still can’t seem to say it enough. I will keep talking until I get it right, gentle reader. Until we are out of the woods, or further into them. Whichever you prefer.
Let’s have these conversations. Show me where your scars are, what makes you burn.
You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.
I have a story to tell. More specifically, I have lots of little stories to tell. They’re the familiar ones. You know the ones I’m talking about. You know them as well as I, maybe even better. Stories of feeling small and afraid, of feeling angry and helpless, of feeling happy and in love, or of being grievously rejected.
We know these stories. I believe they’re imprinted deep within the human collective consciousness. My story is your story, and vice versa.
I’m going to keep talking, faithful and kind reader. Through this blog and my books, I will keep talking. The world is dark and grave sometimes, and the path is narrow and steep.
Follow my voice.
I will build this world around us and cocoon us both in it, reader. Follow me. Believe with me. Be with me.
I write the most when I feel the least heard.
I write the most raw, brutal, cracked-open shit when I don’t feel understood, when I try to speak up and the world around me says, “Shut up. You speak in too much feelings and poem and melodrama. You feel too much. You need too much.”
Like I speak a different language. Like no matter how I try to explain myself, I am sitting in the world of men speaking in yips and howls, in chirps and growls and tears. I write, then, because I am trying to learn how to be good to myself. The written word is the process of learning my own mother tongue, learning the art of transcription.
I’m turning the rabid speak of my internal dialogue into a language the other animals can understand. I am teaching myself to say, in my own language and to myself, “Speak, woman. I am here, and I can hear you. When no one else hears, I can hear you.”