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A Strand (a love poem)

When I found her hair in the shower the first time,

my knees bent as if she left me a love poem.

I wrapped my hand around it,

like I would never let her go.

I watched another make its way down the drain

and realized I was holding it like

I understood she would probably go.

Knuckles white-red from grasping so tight,

her hair-poem made fists for loving.

I loved her before

I kissed her. Which is the hardest way to fall.

All heart. The way a balloon keeps filling until

it bursts. The way a robin’s egg falls out of the nest

just before it births flight. I swallow down the yellow

yoke of her, lick her words like frosting from my face.

One little hair and I am folded naked in the tub,

knees to my chest, water drowning my grin–

wondering if she understands how brilliantly she feels

or how beautifully she knows. I curl around her questions as if

the desperation behind questions have been answers the whole time.

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I asked my son to call me Nik, out of respect

I am huge on respecting my elders.  Still, I am thankful that I grew up in a place that taught me to call adults by their first names.  As if their marriage status was irrelevant to holding a conversation with them.  As if I was a human too, and not hoping to grow into one.

A few years ago, in trying to express to my child that I am a whole person–

not just the one who picks up his dirty socks

or the one who cooks his meals

or the one who works for his shelter

or holds his pain

or tickles his laughter

— I asked him to call me Nik, out of respect.

I wanted him to see me as a person in the world, not just a person who meets his needs.

I wanted him to understand me as human and dismantle the pedestal he had built for me to serve him from.

Not because I am afraid of heights.

Because it is difficult to hold his hand from up there.

Because I am more than his mother.

Because when he declares, “This is what a feminist looks like” I want it to be because he cares about women, as humans, not because he has a mother.  Not because he is supposed to.

Because it is his truth.

Invitation to Be/live

I have been invited to church, to lodge, to pray in the woods.

To make art, to build alters for the dead, to study the Bible.

She, and then she, reads my cards and counts my stars,

she prays on her knees,

while I look up at the moon.

I have been invited

and often I go,

or come,

somehow I arrive

in these spaces

nothing feels more real or beautiful

Have you ever cried during someone else’s song of praise?

Have you ever trembled during the baptism of a stranger?

Outside of these spaces I think: missionaries, sheep, rape and war.

Capitalist communion.  Cultural appropriation.  Deflection and pacification.

 Have you ever wondered what you’re taking in exchange for offering your God?

Have you ever wondered what you’re offering in exchange for worshiping their gods?

Offering; spirituality for profit.

Even yoga makes me uncomfortable.

But to watch someone interact with their faith,

Not attend church, but to show up

This is what I have always been searching for

Waiting as a girl on church steps for

.                     my friends and their families to come out

.                     to believe in something so completely that I forget that everything fails

And then, she curled up in this communal space, front row, her legs folded beneath her,

And she took notes.

I don’t know what she wrote

But I read colors spiraling inside like the northern lights,

the kind of intensely gentle touch that heals.

Intentional

She offers it to herself.

I sway to the notes that are not for me

as the congregation sings, moves

we’re moved.

Eyes closed, lungs filled with praise.

Breath.

.                       Breathe.

.                                                Breathing fresh

air is something I cannot see.

But faith, she holds up

She reads it to me like the embrace of

a bedtime story

.                                           with a surprise ending.

Or a bright light

shining through a man-made tree,

reimagined.  Multiplied by three.

Draft 11/2/2015

Comfort Food

I just made myself one of my grandmother’s favorite foods, but I prepared it the way my mother would have eaten it.  I cannot decide who I am seeking comfort from, or for.

And I wonder if nourishing my body in the autumn will always feel like this now.  Like I watched my mother starve for three days until she died.

Today I am counting pennies and love

Have you ever not have the resources you needed but trusted that everything would find its way?

Told yourself it would all work out?

That is what my sister has been doing for over a year in planning her wedding.  And then their shared car needed new brakes.  And then they saved again.  And then they needed a new tire.  And so on.  And here we are, a month before their celebration.

I kept telling her it would all find its way and we worked hard to make that reality.  And I trust that it will.  Still, with the wedding a month away and the invites waiting until payday for stamps to be sent out and my sister in tears, I wanted to do more.  She works hard and loves even harder and deserves better than this.  So, I created a GoFundMe campaign and I posted this on FB:

“I am not sure I have ever been so nervous in my life.
But here we are.

My sister and I have both gone without food to feed our children in the last few years and we’d do it again if we had to. Maybe that is why I want this so passionately for her. Maybe that is why I am nervous.

I don’t want to get into why the stigma of sharing exists, not here, only acknowledge that it is real. Tremble in my hands real.

I am here, creating this top secret campaign for Ashley and Drew’s wedding and she sends me this text: “Its so much, my head hurts. i wish mom was here, idk if that would help anything but id feel better… Everything comes down to money and its gross and im scared to ask anyone for anymore help… I just feel exhausted and I cry all the time” and then she was trying to schedule a Biolife appointment, but couldn’t. I once drove her to the emergency room after donating plasma, it makes her so sick.

So often in her life she has been made to feel like she screwed things up and her inability to afford things is her fault. So often in her life she has been told she should be more like me. Especially this time, it just isn’t true. She works hard and she doesn’t have extra money for her wedding because she has spent it in every responsible way. She is one of my best role models of living and loving life. ❤

For me, this is not about the institution of marriage, but the desire to celebrate the beauty of committed love and partnership.

I agree with my sister’s repetition, she is blessed.”

http://www.gofundme.com/f22y4t44

If you have $5 to offer toward a ribbon for her hair or a seat for someone who cannot stand the duration of the 20 minute ceremony, your love of love will be deeply felt and carried forward into the next chapters of all of our lives.  ❤

Please feel free to share.

My brother’s hesitation

the sudden hesitation in my brother’s voice when he is telling me about loving women

the way he would talk to my other brothers about women

the way he talks to his friends

“I can’t talk to you about this, it’s weird.”

we dance around my sexuality as if it’s the thing always making everything weird

a women loving woman

Woman

and suddenly he realizes that I am a woman

.

.                                            what’s weird for him is that he respects me

My son wants a “pizza rolls not gender roles” T-shirt

I am considering getting my son a “pizza rolls, not gender roles” shirt, because no middle school wardrobe should be without it.

Except he doesn’t like pizza rolls and I am not sure that I want to endorse the advertisement of almost foodness to young people getting food choice freedom for the first time (at school lunch at least).

And “broccoli not gender roles” is just weird.

This is your official challenge to come up with a “__________ not gender roles” shirt slogan for middle schoolers.

Happy writing!

This is real life.

image

From Indian Trail to Noah’s Ark.

The offensive image is for direction,

in case you lose your way.

If there wasn’t cancer, would same-gender marriage be legalized?

Seven days ago, I quit smoking.

Seven days ago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-gender marriage.

Seven days ago, my sister shaved my head.

.

The first time I started smoking, I was a teenager voluntarily trapped in a psych ward.

The first time I realized same-gender marriage could be possible was the first time I could legally vote.  I didn’t.

The first time I shaved my head, my mother was still dying from cancer.                                                                                                She did.

.

Nine days ago, a nurse told me that I have high-grade precancerous cells inside my vaginal canal.

Nine days ago, my ex-girlfriend left me a voicemail that said: “Remember me?” She doesn’t understand that my love for her overlaps together and apart.

Nine days ago, I was growing out my hair.

.

First, on the phone with the nurse, I cried about losing my insurance to capitalism.

Then, on the phone with the nurse, I cried about wanting to birth another child.

I still haven’t cried about wanting to keep living.                                                                                                                                                                                                 To keep living.

.

Today, I had lunch with a stranger.

Radical Queer Politics and Same Gender Marriage

I just don’t get how one can look at all of these wrinkly, white haired people finally married and kissing publicly and be pissed off.

Whether it’s because one is homophobic or the mission not radical enough.

I am going to go ahead and assume I am not talking to the Westboro fan club.

Yes, there is a lot of work to do. And hopefully we will see our visions realized before we die.

But for one moment, can we stop and acknowledge that we didn’t start this journey and maybe with all of our energy and anger and hope and youth, we cannot fully realize what was lost for it? What was offered to it? What it means in so many different contexts to so many generations of queer people? People who on average experienced discrimination, or fear, like we’ve only heard of.

Working within the system does nothing to dismantle the system. Except for the system’s idea of division? Or the system’s tendency to erase and rewrite history to pretend like there was no struggle, were no people, before the latest mission showed up?

Marriage is a fucked up system, I know. But behind all the rainbow lights and tiered cakes, this is about legal rights and feeling like a human.

And sometimes humans measure their feeling of humanness/self-worth by conditioned standards. Like when you put on make-up today. Like when you shaved. Like when you went to a gendered department for clothing. Like when you said thank you. Like something everyday you breathed air. Because that’s what humans do. Because it is about belonging.

Today I heard a young woman on the radio say that young queers don’t want to belong, that they want to embrace their otherness. I thought, she doesn’t understand two things. 1. The feeling of the history of the word queer. 2. Young queer people often have some safe community these days.

I agree that queer activism is not radical enough.  I agree that marriage equality is not enough. In fact, with black kids being shot by police officers, I really don’t give a fuck about same gender marriage right now. Still, I acknowledge its worth to so many and to all of the visions I have for equality.

And I don’t need to boo someone else’s pride parade to create my own.