when desire is an ocean

November 3, 2018 1 comment

The world is a secret, a deep sea,
brined to the brim,
and this slick curve of want
howled itself into existence,
bright as a reborn moon,
swayed by the tide of a kiss,
and then another
until breath is nearly forgotten.

A trail of hands, indelicate,
a sharp shiver,
a hurricane so delirious
it leaves fingerprints of bruises,
little marks
of longing, offered up,
a constellation
of sighs, the shuddering way
meets another,
a welcomed downing.

Here, a body becomes wine,
and we are drunk,
then drunker still,
until everything is spinning,
tongues like magic,
turning want
into mess, extraordinary
and honest, no promises,
just the miracle
of the way you dissolve
into me.

Categories: poem, Poetry, Uncategorized

around the mess

October 22, 2018 2 comments

The other day, I headed off to the vet to pick up some meds for my recently acquired cat, Thor. The tiny god of thunder needed a little care, no big. I turned down the road I normally take to the vet’s office to find a sea of police people and fire trucks, rendering the road impassable.


I’m a person who can lean too heavily on routine. I hate getting lost, even though my sense of direction is admittedly good. (Just don’t ever ask me road names, because I’ll tell you to turn at the blinky light and if you passed the sheep, you’ve gone too far.) When faced with this roadblock, I wasn’t quite sure if I should just head home and go back the next day.


And then I realized I knew exactly where to go, how to get around the mess. Sometimes, we are far more capable than we realize. So, I went off on my alternate route, based on a vague memory of a way I’d gone twelve years ago—and I got to where I needed to be. It wasn’t the way I’d intended on going, but the end result was a win.


It struck me that life is often like that. When we’re faced with a difficult thing, a detour, an impasse—we have a choice. We can turn around and run, or we can figure it out. If it’s worth it, you muddle through it. Sometimes, you might even surprise yourself. A roadblock doesn’t mean you have to quit. It just means there’s another way—you just have to find it. It might lead you somewhere weird, on the way to getting where you need to be. It might make you nervous. But things that seem impossible are not always so.


Maybe you need this reminder. You don’t have to go the way you’ve always gone. You don’t have to turn around and give up. You can take a different path. You can try a different way. You can decide that you’re more than a comfortable routine.


Bravery, darlings, is never an absence of fear. It’s not letting fear take the wheel. This is your wild and precious life. How will you live it before you leave it? Because this I know: no one regrets being too open, in the end. No one ever whispers on their death bed, “I wish I was a little more closed off. I wish I was a bit more timid.”


You get this life. You owe it to yourself to live, not just get by.

Categories: Uncategorized

a crossroads, an unusual love

October 16, 2018 Leave a comment

So, I adopted a cat on Saturday, because my best friend is amazing. She took me to get one, because it had been a little over a year since I had to put my last kitty to sleep. And it was time.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted a kitten or a cat, but I was leaning toward cat. I swore I wanted to get a black kitty, because they’re less likely to be adopted. But when I got there, looked around and met all the little fur monsters, I had to leave my expectations behind.

The black cat I saw didn’t have the right personality for me. The black kittens were far too energetic. But then there was this diluted calico who seemed perfect. She was sweet, cuddly, loving. I nearly adopted her, but she needed thousands of dollars of dental work right off the bat — and as cute as she was, that was not a good choice for me.

Then, I met Bernard, a grey, polydactyl cat ( not pterodactyl, which is what I keep wanting to say) — who looks to be part Maine Coon. He’s wee, only five pounds, and very sweet. And I had a choice to make: put my expectations aside and go with heart or not.

I went with my heart, as I tend to do, and brought him home. His name is now Thor, because who names a cat Bernard? He’s a love monster, with soft fur, and he doesn’t shed. I’ve never had a cat who didn’t shed, so I’m assuming he’s some kind of feline magic. Regardless, Thor thinks he’s a dog and settled in quiet perfectly so far. He loves to play. He gives kisses and will shove his whole head in your face for love. Basically, he’s my kind of kitty.

But this experience made me think about life, too. Sometimes, we have a plan, a way life is supposed to go. Then we’re presented with a choice, a crossroads, an unusual love. And you stand there and you think, “Okay, to the left is what I’m SUPPOSED to do. It’s what I thought I wanted.” And the other direction, “But there’s this heart space, something I couldn’t have foreseen or guessed at. It requires leaving expectations and old thoughts/ways behind.” So, what do you choose?

The answer is simple and complicated, twined together. Because there’s always a “right” answer, but it may not look right for the outside. There’s always something that lights you up and makes your heart say, “Yes, this.” But it might be terrifying. It might require you to step a different way, and that’s rarely easy.

The truth is, when you choose the answer that’s right for you, it can often make you want to throw up. I mean, obviously, not in terms of cat selection, but life stuff. Life is a messy labyrinth that gets us all in end.

But you know where you heart lies. You know the way it leads. You know the direction it points. It’s possible to shove it down and continue on with the ordinary, pull expectations around you like a blanket. Only that blanket has holes in it. It’s too short. It’s frayed. It never keeps you as warm as you think.

And one last thing: sometimes, you have to figure things out as you go. Sometimes, life is one plot twist after another, and you have to decide on-the-fly. Sometimes you may even surprise yourself. When you do, you might end up with the most unexpected bit of love.

Categories: Uncategorized

Cat Friend

September 26, 2018 3 comments


Lately, I’ve been thinking about the power of kindness. I’ve been, for a few months now, making friends with a stray (feral) cat. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. He used to bolt as soon as he saw me, but he’d turn around if I called to him. Soon, he started waiting every morning on one side of the parking lot. Once I went into the building, he’d cross to get the food I’d left him.


He’s officially known as Cat Friend, which is a title more than a name. He waits for me, now, every morning. I can get within two feet of him. He comes when I call him. Sometimes, he meows at me in greeting, but only a little wisp of a squeak comes out. I haven’t been able to pet him, yet, but it’s safe to say that he’s my little buddy.


Yesterday, on my lunch break, he came running when I called. He’s started doing that too. He spends most of the day hanging around, but always comes when I call. All it took was patience, love, and food. All it took was kindness without strings, care without expectation. I think that is, in its own way, a kind of magic.


It made me think about on how such small gestures make a difference, how little kindnesses add up, making a person feel loved, cherished, thought of. The simpliest things—not just flowers or declarations, but small bits of sweetness. Not just words, but followthrough. It matters, truly.


The world is full of chaos, and I needed that reminder. Perhaps you did too.


Categories: Uncategorized

A Lifetime in Six Years

August 6, 2018 2 comments


Tomorrow, it will be six years since my mom died. It’s an unasked for tradition that my brain runs through the events of the weekend before her death, lingering in the heavier moments without permission. Grief, you will learn or will have learned, does not ask for permission. It is a feeling that simply exists, wailing of its own free will, corralled by nothing, but transformed with time. It never ceases to exist; it simply changes shape, twisting into something new. It is never something anyone can truly brace for, springing up at odd moments, without provocation or warning. What triggers the feelings can be predictable, but it’s the unexpected ones that leave me breathless. But, for this moment, I do not want to dwell in the pristine bits of sadness, whirling about.

This year, perhaps in an effort to combat all of that, I am choosing to remember the moments of kindness. Because in life, catastrophes are unavoidable, and you cannot run from the fallout, no matter how much you may try or wish you could. But there’s a lot to be said for the kindness of the people around you, who shows or steps up. In the intervening years, one person who mattered to me then is no longer in my life. While I could dwell on that fact, I won’t. A person’s absence in the present doesn’t dim the way the shined in the darkest moments of the past. For this particular instance, I am holding to the kindness.

My best friend, Kim, let me cry on her couch, drink her wine, and generally be a mess more times than I care to count—not because math is evil (it is), but because that’s not a debt I’ll ever be able to repay. Right now, reading this, she’s mentally telling me to shut up, because that’s not how we work. But I digress. Kim, after working overnight, came to the hospital and didn’t leave my side. I honestly don’t know how people exist without a best friend like her, because I would less of a person without her. She’s family. And she’s not only kind, but she’s also good. Plus, she’s seen me at my absolute worst—and seen me through it. Trust me, I’m a handful.

My insanely amazing friend Liz (and her sister Catie), who drove all the way from Montreal to spend a couple of hours at my mom’s wake, only to have to make the long trek back. It was the most amazing thing—a stunning gesture and effort, really. I mean, who does that? An exceptional human, that’s who. It was especially meaningful given that there were people who lived much closer who couldn’t be bothered. And Liz just showed up, like it was simply across town, and didn’t require a passport, a hotel stay, and an insane amount of driving. Liz is also family, and I do not say that lightly.

Lastly, I suppose, the person I don’t talk to anymore, whose voicemail I cried on (and I hate to cry), who called me at the ass crack of dawn to comfort me, and who keep an eye on me for a whole two weeks afterward. This person gives good hugs. Despite the ocean of nope between us (something that hasn’t really settled all that well, some days), I would’ve been even more of a wreck without those gestures, without the sweetness. They mattered then, and they still (even through the chaos) matter now.

Tomorrow, it will be six years since my mother took her last breath. I have learned a lot since then, some things I could’ve done without. I am definitely not the same person I was before that day. In certain ways, I am stronger. In others, I am not. But in looking back, the goodness of others still breaks through the dark. The people who made me laugh, when I didn’t think I could. The people who made me feel loved, when I was aching. The people who were sweet and patient, even when I was fragile and difficult.

Love you, weirdos. And that is the lesson, really: love. Love, when you feel it, when it seems impossible, even if it is difficult. Love is the one constant thing that cannot help but light up the dark. Not simply a lighthouse, love’s more like the sun: warm, illuminating, shining because that’s what it does. It simply is, asking for nothing in return.

And one last thing? There’s something Mr. Rogers said about looking for the helpers, when things go sideways. He meant it in a larger context, but the same applies to everyday life. When life turns to chaos, the people who don’t waver? They matter. It’s a reminder, too, that kindness is a type of superpower. It doesn’t come with a monetary value, but it’s damn near priceless.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Devil Whispers

June 25, 2018 Leave a comment

You start by taking—
small acts:
a shoelace, a ring,
a tiny belt. When the crying
begins, steel yourself
against feeling—
your orders are what they are,
and what happens
if you say no? Chaos,
anarchy, danger.
No, do not look into the eyes
of children, breaking
and broken, brown
and full of grief,
do as you are told,
follow the law
of the lawless—
do not waiver,
do not bend.

Begin then by building the wall
in your heart, brick by brick,
fill up the emptiness
with more hollow,
let what’s missing
become a solid thing:
soul, trickled down to nothing,
a riverbed gone empty,
a well dried up—
this is your legacy.

You start by taking,
until you see what you’ve lost,
what you have stolen,
what blood you have spilled
in the form of tears,
putting miles between
a child and her mother,
the unquantifiable distance
of grief far, far worse—
a wound so deep
that it has no measure,
and you have done this
and lived with it,
looked at your face
in the mirror and smiled,
laughed with your own children,
held them close,
sat at the kitchen table
with your own father,
playing cards,
as if there are no consequences
for your quick hands,
your loyalty
to the disloyal—
thank you.

You have done my work,
called it good,
labeled it just. God
may have created the world
in seven days,
but look at the heartbreak now,
and see what we have destroyed
isn’t it beautiful?

Categories: poem, Poetry, Uncategorized

How Horrors Happen: The Milgram Experiment

June 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Lately, I can’t stop thinking about the Milgram experiment conducted by Yale University. It’s been a while since I’ve studied psychology, but the details have stuck with me through the years. It was designed to test obedience to authority figures. Volunteers (teachers) were assigned to “shock” a learner—a person on the other side of the glass. For every wrong answer the learner gave, they would be shocked in 15-volt increments. The teacher was accompanied by an instructor who would prompt, coercively, the learner to always continue the session, no matter what. The learner on the other side of the glass (who was always noted to have a heart condition) was, in reality, an actor. No shocks were administered in reality, but the learner did not know that. (You can read more details here.)

The study essentially showed how people became Nazis—that the “just following orders” excuse was an unacceptable justification for atrocities. Decent-seeming people were not only complicit, they were active participants, accomplices in committing atrocities. Very few participants in the experiment (the teachers, the ones doing the shocking) halted the horror show. The goading from the teacher was enough to make a person commit the unthinkable—given that they thought the experiment was real. If given the full voltage, the learner effectively died. Ordinary seeming people committed atrocities not unlike those in Germany.

I’ve been thinking about this for days, seeing children torn from their parents. I’ve seen the photographs, and I’ve read the firsthand accounts. I’ve watched the response from different person in our government. I’ve seen a lot of flat out lies. “It’s the law” has become a common refrain, except the policy was only recently implemented by Sessions. Children are currently being used as a bargaining chip (we’ll stop enacting this policy, if the border wall gets funded). Some have even gone so far as to say what’s happening totally isn’t. And damn, that’s one thorough collective hallucination, right?

There are times where people are tested, and I’m afraid this is one of them. Anyone who justifies horrible, unforgivable actions (especially those perpetrated against children) as being some kind of Us vs. Them situation is not someone to be trusted. Children are not bargaining chips. Asylum seekers are not criminals. And playing fast and loose with the emotional wellbeing of parents and minor is unfathomably terrible.

Right now, this is all happening. And it needs to stop. We can be better than this. Remember that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Don’t do nothing. If you have questions, ask me. I’ll try to help.