she be leaves

She still makes compromises with a dead man, but she thinks she might want to compromise with you.

She thinks, and the thoughts in her mind affect the feel of her. If there is blankness in her mind, there is blankness in her touch. If there is mischief, it will pirouette from her pores, and that’s why she falls for storytellers.

She likes her touch to dance.

Tell your stories, she will float in them. Her skin will drag along yours, leaving goosebumps, tiny chapters on your skin that hold the pieces of the stories that drip from her movement.

She still tells a dead man’s stories, but they are dust now. She spins in her air– a leaf in the wind, dancing with the dust that once was liquid, that once danced in her veins. She is waiting again for that surety, for that promise, for a will that meets hers with enough strength that she bows to it, on occasion. She is waiting for a chance to have secrets again, secrets she’ll never whisper, secrets you can only feel. Secrets you can only feel if she touches you with them in mind, if she keeps you in mind at all, if she touches you at all, if she pushes you.

She is strong, and will push against you, hard enough to knock you back, hard enough to knock you down, because she is testing you. Testing the words of you, the roots of you, your bark, your bite.

Trying to find the surety, the promise, the story. Trying to find a reason to compromise, trying to find a reason to drip with stories and blossom against your earth.

The world wants to know what she’s looking for, the clouds drop little translucent microphones– raindrops designed to hold her secrets, if she would only whisper them. Sister leaves flock to her, in hopes she will write her wants on their backs, so on their final journey they can carry her seeds of thought back to the center of the universe.

The west wind tells her to keep on floating. That she is rootless now, that she blossoms in air, that maybe she always was, always did.

The east wind pushes candidates across her path, mimicking the pattern of the roots that once held her, trying to fill in her blanks. This one is made of brown, and the cracks in his bark hold grief permanently in place. He is like the other. This one leaks creation, orbs of sap sharpened by imagination. He is like the other. This one is ancient on the inside, like the other– as old as she, perhaps.

No one knows how old she is for sure. She moves too quickly, spins too wildly, blooms without thought to season– no one ever seems to want to catch her, even when she wants to be caught.

The universe asks who she wants, and she doesn’t know. She’s supposed to sign here, check this box, check that box, check any box. But she won’t. She can’t visualize a color or texture, an intent or purpose, she only knows that she’ll know when she finds it.

She’ll know when she pushes up against him, and he pushes back. When she pushes up against him, and he does not break or shudder or bend or bow. When she pushes up against him, and stories are expressed in the imprint she leaves in his skin, in the bite she leaves in his bark.

She is strong, and searching for stronger,
but there’s no checkbox for that,
and there’s no way to warn a poor sturdy root
when she blows his way.

it’s wild

My heart is the most wild thing about me, it goes where it wants, when it wants, to who it wants, however it wants.

It is a fey creature, unpredictable and reckless.  Brave, adrenaline-soaked, sweaty, manic,

happy.

My heart is the most wild thing about me, but it’s caged inside me for safe keeping.  My body is a safe cage, my mind, a careful one.  There is padding for when my heart thrusts itself against my ribs in a burst of want.  There are valleys for it to rest when it bruises and bleeds.

She is a wild heart, but a good one.
A kind one.

She loves people who do things, people who love things, people who hate things, people who aren’t people at all.

She probably loves you.

Oh yes,
you.

If you get close enough to my heart for her to scent you, she will cuddle her gruesomely-callused body right alongside you.  She will snuggle into your armpits and fall asleep listening to all your secrets, sniffing in the odors of your humanity.

She will keep your secrets, even when you eventually cut her open.  And you will eventually cut her open.

Oh yes,
you.

It’s almost impossible not to bruise such a brave and wild thing.  She has been known to cut herself open to hold more of you inside.  She has been known to bruise herself trying to break through your cage and cuddle the core of you.

And she might bruise you, too.
Such a wild creature,
such a reckless one.

Such a hungry, hungry heart.

I cage her, for her own good.  I protect her with cautious words, and careful thoughts, and lots of comfort food that line my ribs so that she will only hit padding when she tries to break through.

And she will try to break through.
She wants to get to know you better.

Oh yes,
you.

She probably loves you, after all.

 

_____________________

Hello, Best Beloveds, and new beloveds.  Tell me something about you. Your name? Your favorite color to wear? How is your heart today?

100 / remembering grandma

I remember Grandma mostly for the arguments we never had.

She was an immigrant widow who claimed things were better back where she started.

I would angrily think on everything people sacrificed for the right to build dreams on this soil, but I’d bite my tongue on my response: “So go back.”

“Things were better where I started.” I said today, and was glad for the times I did not speak, because now I know.

Some places can’t be gone back to, once you leave–
no matter how promising the soil,

or how loved the person
who rests in it.

____________________

I’m participating in StoryADay, but it looks like I’ll be blogging without a computer so I’ll be going on my own timeline. This is Day 3’s challenge to write a 100 word post.

Have you been up to any writing challenges lately?

oh nothing

I almost shut down my blog yesterday, on a whim.  I logged in, pushed the new post button out of rote memory, and then paused.

The blank screen is so familiar to me that it rarely looks blank to me. I see the completion of its message, or at least the start.

The cursor isn’t tapping its foot impatiently, it is softly breathing, consistent in its repose.
But yesterday, it was just blank.
There was no life there, and I found myself needing to look behind the clockwork face. I went to settings. I exported the contents, titling it all “just in case”, and then pressed down onto the Delete Button.

Are you sure?
I live on the Internet, I know that no delete button would just immediately send content into the ether. I know the protocol is one final prompt.

Are you sure?
Are you sure?

Without releasing the button, I slid the cursor away.  “There’s mine fields on Internet,” my husband, Dave, would say, but this wasn’t one.  Nothing happened when I stepped off the button.  In the 12 minutes the weight of my heart held it down, wandering through memories and possibilities alike– not a single thing happened.  And in the minutes prior, nothing happened then either.

I almost shut down my blog yesterday, on a whim, and I’ve thinking about why ever since.
Thinking if it’d be different if the impulse had been rewarded with explosion.
Thinking if it’d be different if I wasn’t so afraid of that three word question.

So afraid I didn’t even want to peek into the dark
and see if it was there.

Are you sure?
Are you sure?

My husband would say that was the only sentence that could stop me in my tracks.

Is anyone really sure of anything?

In my head, I sip Dave’s coffee.  It’s too sweet, it’s too hot.  I grimace because I’ve never understood the sorts of things he consumed.  He grimaces because his coffee is artwork and my senses are moving too fast to experience them.

I lay in bed, thinking of the buttons I pressed, talking to a man who I know is dead.  His voice lives inside my head, preserved in pieces of true moments and reasonable manifestations of his opinion.   He is always 12,858 days old.  He is always dead. He is always alive. He is always unimpressed by my counting of time, or the edgier impulses of my whimsicality.

In my mind, he is holding his coffee and cigarette in the same hand.  He stopped smoking in real life years ago, but if anyone deserves a cigarette in the aftermath of life, it is my husband.

He looks young, but then, I am not so ageless as he.

“What do you think it means?” I ask him.  He tells me a story I lived alongside him.  A story about the man who lived on a sofa outside our first apartment.  We would joke some days, when the termites fell through onto our stove, or when the heater turned itself on during the summer heat waves.  We would joke that his house was nicer than ours.

At night, the man would take out a book of matches and mutter to himself. He’d light them one at a time and threaten to burn down the sofa.  He never did.  He loved the sofa. He loved his home.  He just wanted to remember that it was a home he chose, not a prison, a home that he could leave.  He just wanted to hear himself ask the question “Are you sure?” and know that he was not.  He burned his matches to taste freedom, to hear certainty, to feel fear.
To feel anything.

Everyone said he’d never burn that old sofa, but I would still worry when Dave would toss a booklet of matches his way.

“Are you sure?” I’d ask, watching the man beam a smile at us as we drove by in the morning.

“I am.” he said, “And now he’ll get a chance to be sure, too.”

Are you sure?
Are you sure?

I almost got to that question, but I didn’t get quite that far.
Whims never carry me very far.

If I want to go anywhere specific, I have to ride stories. Sturdy true stories, lined with steel buttons and fanciful lace.  If I want to go somewhere important, I have to share coffee with the people who live in my head.

I almost deleted my blog yesterday, on a whim,
but the whim sputtered under the weight of me,
and thankfully the buttons I pressed were just matches
not mines.

My cursor keeps breathing, softly, steadily, in repose.

And I am still sure of nothing–
because nothing is something I’ve seen in action.

Yesterday, I almost deleted my blog on a whim.
And nothing exploded,
And nothing exploded,
And nothing exploded.

The matches burnt out in my hands,
and nothing burned.

4 life lessons from firehouse 531

Slow is Fast.

Everyone wants everything done as quickly as possible. It’s human nature. Be healed now. Be ready now.

But if you let events spin you — if you become a creature of reaction — things end up taking more time and resource. Instead, go slowly be methodical, and pay attention. Rushing doesn’t get you where you’re going faster, it only trips you up and tangles you in your boots.

Have faith. You’ll get your gear on. You’ll arrive on scene. You’ll overcome whatever you need to, and you’ll do it fast.  If you allow yourself to go slow.

 

Some Things Need to be Tied Down. Some Don’t.

Before the engine speeds away, some gear needs to be harnessed with every knot and buckle imaginable. Other items can just be wedged in between and counted on to stick around.

In life, it works the same. Some things require conscious effort.  Focus on those things rather than worrying about the things you’ll carry with you no matter what your speed or mission.

 

Train, Prepare– then Improvise.

In my time at the firehouse, I only went on five calls and none bore the slightest resemblance to the next. The best we can hope for is that our training and preparation allow us the stretch of mindset needed to see us through our improvisation, so we can adapt and overcome.

 

Write the Most Honest Narrative. Then, Share It.

The narratives we tell — the stories we keep alive — set the groundwork for future training and preparation.

Even if you don’t have the chance to benefit from it, someone might.

Tell your truth, and then let it free.

 

___________________________

It’s Year 4 of Rarasaur Blog, so I’m going to share 4 Lessons I’ve learned from a variety of places and people and experiences, and how I apply them to life.  These are some of my favorite takeaways from working as an inmate firefighter.

Firehouse 531 is made up of great guys who worked through a variety of situations, and you can send them cards and letters whenever you’re so inclined.  They take care of us in there, despite the bureaucratic hoops they have to jump through to do so.

California Institute for Women
Attn: Firehouse 531
16756 Chino-Corona Road
Corona, CA 92880

ec-cars3

Do you collect life lessons, too?

life by number

If we were having coffee, I’d probably invite someone else along. That’s the mood I’m in today, though that particular characteristic is my second worst socializing trait. I like to invite others along. Unless I’m specifically asked for one-on-one time, I can make even just a cup of coffee into a barn party with just a few clicks and swipes.

Someone should really take this phone away from me.

My first worst socializing trait is my tendency to add a question mark of possibility to finite plans. You want to meet for tea today? Great, we’re set. Oh, did you say today because you thought I was free? Because I’m free tomorrow, too. Also, did you say tea because you’re worried that I’m drinking too much coffee? I’m not, I’ve dialed it way back. Did you say tea because you forgot that you wanted to try that juice place around the corner? Or were you just really feeling tea today? Did I want to change the plans? No, I was just asking.

I really was just asking.
Someone should take these question marks away from me.

They say a curious mind is a sign of great intelligence, but I wonder about a curious mind unfed.
Mine is unfed.

I’ve suddenly realized that the last two years of my life have put living on hold.

I think it’s a good thing that I’ve wake up to it, shaken out of it. It’s time to see animals and walk on beaches. It’s time to count the stars.

I saw the moon last night, or the night before.
She was full.
A curious being, fed.
A curious being, glowing.

I’ve lost my glow along with about a million other things, but I don’t have time to count losses when there are so many wins that need tallying.

I like to count.
I like life to count.
I like to give myself the things I like.

So I’d invite a friend to join us for coffee. Maybe I’d invite someone who could be a friend. Maybe I’d invite someone who once was a great friend, but their heart got caught on one of those stars I’m so fond of counting.

You can invite them, but of course, most can only make it back when the star falls, and their wishes come true. It’s an odd-shaped truth that most wishes take us back to where we were, in some way or another.

I’m a little bit funny about odd-shaped truths. I like to leave them where I found them, and then count all the many times I stumble upon them again.

I like to count.

_______________________

What do you do when you’re feeling depleted of input in?

choose your own coffee adventure

red-1

My family would keep calendars on the wall for months. There was always a reason. Dad liked the flowers on top of the April calendar. Mom wrote an important number on January 10th. My little sister ate July and then we would forget about August by the time we came to it.

I have an odd relationship to time. My year flipped over while I wasn’t looking. I think childhood habits would have had me content to keep living May. A year from turning myself, a year from his death, a month before I fought a fire, three months before I was actually free.

I am actually free now.
In the freedom, there are stories, and they’ve been piling on themselves. If we were having coffee, I’d ask you to tell me what you’d like to hear about, and I’d tell you all about it.

Here are the story fragments, there’s a poll at the end. Fill up your cup, choose your own coffee adventure… what have you been up to, Best Beloved?

 

red-2

He never had good eyesight while he was living.  He couldn’t tell the difference between myself or my sisters, and we looked so different that people were often startled we were related at all.

Remember that, he’d say, when I die.

He believed he’d be allowed to guide me, he believed he’d look down on me from up above, but he never had good eyesight, and couldn’t imagine a life where he did.  He liked knowing me by my reactions, by my laughter, by my movements– he never cared to know how I was shaped.

He said he’d whisper wisdoms to me, and sometimes I find them in someone else– someone similar enough to me that we are friends, someone similar enough to me that I could see how he would get confused.

A few weeks ago my friend had a funny dream and I never said anything in response, I didn’t know how to tell her that he’d often talk to strangers thinking they were me, and that it didn’t stop, even after he died…

 

red-2

My heart is too full of holes to hold regrets, my soul is too full to hold my stories in.  I like to talk about the stories we can’t talk about.

I like to talk about my skin, and how it feels things.  I like to talk about my heart, and what it warms to.  I like to tell the stories that peel away the layers of me that cover my naked self.

I like to be naked…
red-2

On the Internet, we found a place to grow imagination, not just wield it.  The power of growth is not always something you can see.  You can not always measure the buttons that could have been sticks that might have been swords that yesterday were manifested on the back of a real life horse.

It is a word, a meme, it is a keystroked story that is carried continent to continent, and though you don’t get to see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful, as powerful as the sticks that you once held in your backyard.

This new generation has not lost their childhood, they’ve expanded it, and it needed expanding because my own was so small that it barely existed…
red-2

Let me introduce you to the patriarchy.
Let me tell you about the ideas
that tell boys not to write poetry.
Let me tell you about the embarrassment
that would wash over faces when people realized
“all” my husband did was
create.

Let me introduce you to the patriarchy,
that smothers the boys
as purposefully as it suffocates the girls.
Let me tell you how it sparkles,
and how it shines,
and how even though it wears the blood
of a thousand severed hands,
it is still so hard to
throw away.
Let me tell you how to smash it.
Not even diamonds
are forever.
red-2

I feel like inventing something.  We used to do projects and call them “Ra-Son Labs”, we were always making things, doing things just to do them.

Dave would tell me that when the world finally made his brain explode, I should find myself someone to be around who would never ask why I was putting together puzzle pieces upside down.

If they don’t get it, he’d say, they don’t deserve you.

Everything about that story explains why I found myself on a dating site for all of a day.  They say if you’re looking you don’t find things, but I’m not the sort to walk around with my eyes closed.  I am always looking, for every possibility.

This morning I checked the clouds for signs of snow.  It’s August in Southern California, but it’s good to keep your eyes open.  It’s good to watch.

They say a watched pot never boils, but you know what else never boils?

Water that is never put on the stove.
red-2

On July 4th, I released my book of poetry, Sack Nasty. On July 24th, I hosted my own book signing– and company launch, alongside my guys, Matt, Anthony, and Bill. On July 28th, I started the editing process for The Upside Down Tree. On August 1st, I found a note from Dave, written years ago, with a 30 day challenge he created so I could get used to Instagram. On August 2nd, I started that challenge called #Somethingist and have seen so many wonderful submissions that I’ve cried. On August 4th, my podcast “Frightfully Wondrous” got listed on Itunes and Google Play for your easy listening. On August 5th, I went to BlogHer and met a million amazing bloggers, approximately.  On a Facebook Live, I called someone’s hotel roommate their bunky, so that should give you a pretty good glimpse into my current level of PTSD.  I’ll be launching a web series soon, where we talk about really big topics.  The first one is about shame, discrimination, prejudice, and privilege, so of course I used a lot of spoons.  Maybe the next one will be about PTSD.  I want to cover topics that we stumble over.  I want to Rarasaur them.

On August 6th, Rarasaur blog turned 4 years old.

In 21 days, I turn 32 years old…