Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sneaky Feet

My partner plays footsie... while completely fast asleep. It's the most darling phenomenon. Or will roll over and heave this big sigh and throw an arm across me - completely unconscious - or I go to the bathroom and when I come back my pillow has been swept up and is now being cuddled in my place, like a surrogate-me, to facilitate survival until my return.

Having a partner who's not so big on words can leave a poet feeling lovestarved sometimes. Me, I gush them like a fountain. All the time. Sometimes I worry it's too much. And all I want is to hear some sweet words, about anything, about me, or my dimple, or that I cook all the time, or even just those traditional three, and I've always had trouble falling asleep, and I lay awake wondering if I'm not good enough...

...and then those sneaky feet sliiiiide across the sheets to hug mine, and the whole wide world just melts away.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Funny chat I had

I'm currently apart from my partner. We've been long distance for something like two years, and finally got to move in together a few months ago. I suppose he got spoiled, and I suppose it's my fault for being a spoiler. But that's how I love - showeringly. I will cook for you, I will cater to you, I will rub your back and your feet and that's just how it is.

Currently, however, I'm staying with my father to work through grad school apps, GRE prep, statement of purpose, writing sample, etc etc etc... away from distractions. I caught my partner online last night, and he gave me this funny story:

i'm probably gonna burn the whole house down by accident

cooking snacks

i encountered the first no ginna problem today

i don't know where all the veggies are or what they look like at the grocery store

"i want plum tomatoes"

go to store

i see


14 different kinds

cue meticulous reading of all labels and looking at all things

label found

top or bottom rack?


buy anyway

time for cilantro finding

green leafy clusters of things

read all labels.

"this looks just like parsley and all the others"

buy anyway

Friday, August 26, 2011


I never have a plan, but I do have loose ideas about the future now and then. Right now my loose plan is to head back to the states, spend a year with my partner moving around and preparing for graduate school, then getting my major's degree in linguistics.

I stumbled into linguistics accidentally. While studying in Mexico, we were offered classes outside of the normal grammar and conversation if we wanted, and I did, and one was a double class of Linguistics and Phonetics. I was fascinated by the stuff. I've always enjoyed languages, but learning how speech patterns follow and give clues to a culture's thought patterns as well...

For example. One thing I don't like about Spanish and Mandarin is the response to "Thank you." In English, we acknowledge gratitude. We say "You're welcome." In Spanish and Mandarin, the response is equivalent to "It's nothing."

Gratitude is one of the themes in my life. I have many, but gratitude is a big one, and when I feel it it's genuine and intense. Being told not to worry about it, no need for thanks, hurts a little. No, friend. I mean this. I need you to know that I'm grateful. Acknowledge that, please, so we can share in my joy. Shrugging it off, saying, "it's nothing," that's not good for me.

But let's talk about goodbyes. I don't like them. Dogs don't say goodbye. They say very emphatic hellos, even getting all up in each other's buttholes, but there is no goodbye. They just run off, happy, and will say an emphatic hello again later.

But we are humans, and every language I've studied so far (which is a rather lot, even if I'm not even conversational in most) has a "Goodbye." But here is where English fails me, and Mandarin wins.

French does this too. They have a "Goodbye," but they prefer to use their "See you later." Mandarin, too, says "See you later." I simply do not like goodbye. I've said so many in my life. I have this habit of moving every, at most, three years and often much more frequently.

I have genuinely fallen in love with Taiwan. I've been too busy to post as properly as I should, between classes and trying to have amazing adventures in our little free times, and if the two predicted typhoons don't stop me I will fly home in three days.

I have seen more beautiful sights than I could have imagined. I spent three out of three days last weekend neck deep in some of the clearest water on some of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. People have been incredibly friendly and helpful everywhere I've gone. This program has been such an awesome opportunity, and I'm more thankful for the experience than I can begin to convey.

And I will say to Taiwan THANK YOU in English, because I need this gratitude acknowledged. But I will say 再見 in Mandarin, because I am simply not done with this magical place.

Monday, July 25, 2011


When I was in Mexico, I wasn't updating because I was in a bad place. Here, things are a little too awesome to update often. I'm super busy all the time, so there's that. I had a homestay with a Hakka family, an old ethnicity that came over from China around 5-600 years ago, I'm told, and got along fine with the Aboriginals. They were so great - I felt the warmth and hospitality from the first minute I got into the car - a mother, a father, and triplet daughters sixth-grade age. I hope to post about that soon, but now I have to talk about the beach.

The last time I saw the ocean was pretty perilous. I was really cautious about getting back in the water again. This isn't the calm, clear Lake Ouachita water I know so well, this is tides and waves and currents trying to pull people away. I mean, that last experience was a Lesson Learned, and learned well. I desperately wanted to be in water but I was scared, too.

But the intoxicating beauty there... This island is so gorgeous - the Portuguese called it "Formosa," beautiful, and rightfully so. It reminds me of home, only MORE. More green, more mountains, more heat and humidity, and then of course there's the fact that there's ocean to be found everywhere. My study program had an excursion planned to take us to the southernmost beach on a Friday - I planned to stay as long as I could. Booked a room for 10 for Friday night, but everyone was full Saturday. I figured I'd play it by ear.

The school's tour took us first to a sort of museum about what-all could be found in the area. It was fun, but it wasn't beach. Then we were taken to the farthest-south tip of the whole island, which had a lighthouse, and lots of trees, and shops... but it wasn't beach. Then they took us to a spot where we had the single best vegetarian meal yet which was delicious but still not beach. Then we were given some time to stroll around and look in shops which were also not the beach and then they took us...

...TO THE BEACH! Oh...

I mean it was just lovely. A little bay, called "South Bay," and it had some silly music blaring like many beaches do but we went far enough away from it and I slathered up in sunscreen, and we negotiated an umbrella rental from some women who were covered head to toe like mummies because you have to stay white here or you aren't beautiful, and then I jumped in. Even though I was very careful I was caught in something of a weak current at first, but many others were as well, and we worked our way out of it right away. From there I would stand in a shallow part - there was something of a sandbar that went out a good ways - anywhere from knee to neck deep, letting the waves move me around. After a couple hours the buses left, and those of us staying... stayed!

Night markets are awesome here and every town has a few, so once the sun had long set we showered up and headed to drop our bags off in the hostel and check it out. It was great! I ate everything... Stinky tofu, big-sausage-with-little-sausage, fried mushrooms, some japanese gooey rice thing I don't even know what it was with black sugar on it, grilled corn, fried pineapple, mango ice, .... and more I'm struggling to remember. Went back to the awesome room and laughed with 9 friends well into the night, pillow fights, silly jokes, then passed out.

Woke up in time the next morning to check out, left our bags there and headed out for adventure. After breakfast we went to rent bicycles because there is a national forest park that sounded wicked awesome.

Yeah. The map was flat.

After I don't even know how long of biking it felt like an hour but was probably only 15 minutes at an angle that felt like straight up I backed out. I had been going slow because my roommate had too, and I didn't want to leave her behind. Then I realized I had actually been going slow because my back tire was dragging inside the wheel cover, and I was having to fight the friction to get anywhere! Of course this is Taiwan, so it was crazy hot and crazy humid and this was tougher than Monkey Mountain, the sweat was dripping off of me. Turned it around, took it back, turned it in, got my refund, and headed to the beach! I was pretty frustrated because the long version of this story involves a lot of awkwardness due to the size of the group, a lot of "What do you want to do" and "Well what about this" and "What if we" and "Well let's go" and "Are you ready" and "Where's so-and-so" and then even when I got to the beach we were waiting on people and it was getting on toward about 4PM and I had hoped to go snorkeling and I was starting to go crazy from all the waiting and not-doing-anything...

Finally the people we were waiting on showed up, but we'd been waiting to get on their scooters, and they'd gotten too few and didn't have helmets. So they headed off to another beach (Why? The one we were at was fine?) and we had to taxi to get there. More frustration! We started walking and finally caught one and finally got to the other beach and finally spotted our friends (easier than most places - just look for the tall white folk) and then FINALLY I was in the water and oh!

Just wonderful. Again.

That night most of the group that had stayed headed back. I couldn't go back yet. I felt like the day had been wasted and I still wanted to snorkel. We perused the night market again...

...oh! I forgot to say how the night before we met the princess of Taiwan! Yes! She told us so herself! Well, she told us in Mandarin, then a boy told us in English, but he also said, "But this is bullshit!" But then she pointed to a sign (presumably, that she had made) and chattered in Mandarin, and the boy told us that the sign said, Princess of Taiwan, and she laughed hysterically and then showed us that she had been sampling her own wares, which was flavors of millet wine and liquor that I bought a bottle of and she had been forcing us to take shots of. What a great lady! Of course I took a photo with her...

...and as I had failed to find a place to crash and as my friends had crashed on the beach the night before, the one boy who'd stayed behind and I headed to the beach. We had a tent someone had lent us, and we set it up, and promptly strolled around the beautiful night beach. What a drastic difference from the night market! The market was crowded, packed with people, you could hardly move - we stopped at one spot to inquire about foot massages (only to find there had been a price increase over the price our friends had paid the night before - weekend price hike I guess) and ended up just sitting at the table there to avoid the madness for a bit until we had enough energy (and our full bellies had relaxed a bit) to head to the beach and set up.

It was so quiet there, almost no people except for some random fishermen with ten foot long poles with lights on the end, and the occasional bunch of kids come to set off fireworks. Fireworks are pretty popular here; they go off all the time and due to some sort of language disconnect, whenever we ask why there are fireworks, we receive not an answer but another question: "Do you not like fireworks?" No, I think they're swell, I'm just wondering what the reason is. We found a mat someone had left behind and set it up as our front yard and laid upon it, laughing our butts off as we swapped stories about our experiences and interactions in Taiwan thus far. We decided it was just too damn nice sleeping under the stars to climb into the tent so we didn't. We just passed out on that mat under the stars.

While I woke up several times during the night because of how uncomfortable the sand was, I woke up at one point because I was freezing! I remember being crazy excited to feel cold for once. I crawled into the tent and passed back out. I woke up once because the sun was coming up, and we'd talked about watching the sunrise the night before, but having had such a crappy sleep, I couldn't move. Later I woke up again because I heard a pack of wild dogs talking trash outside the tent... and I still couldn't move.

Woke up later and felt tired, sore, and stinky... but then, when I woke up, my front yard was THE OCEAN, so yeah I didn't complain. I jumped in for a swim and a rinse and then we packed up the tent and headed up to the 7/11 for breakfast for three reasons. 1) Money's running out. 2) We had more than enough local cuisine at the night market the previous two nights and 3) They have air conditioning. Anyway, no matter what we get there, it ain't gonna be like home. We must have looked a sight, but we loaded up with a bottle of water, a bottle of Pocari Sweat (the local answer to gatorade), a slurpee, and a mess of food each, paid, and set up in the window seats. Oh how we laughed at our situation and the whole unlikeliness and wonder of it all.

At that moment, I felt perfect. I didn't need snorkeling. I told him so. I had discovered I had twice as much money as I thought I had the previous night so I said I'd like to try to go and find the things I wanted to buy at the night market the night before but didn't. We walked up the road but none of it was anywhere to be found. It's literally a completely different street at day and at night. So we turned around, found a random shop to go potty, and hitched a bus back to Kaohsiung so we could train it on into Pingtung. In the train station, we sat down on a bench next to a woman with a tiny precious dog... and promptly fell to cooing over the dog. She loved us, she kept taking pictures and texting them to her friends, so we took one with her on my camera, and then the train came, and we got back to campus and shook the sand out of our bags just as the rain was beginning to fall...

And that was just two and a half days! Can you imagine? So sorry I haven't been updating, but man it's awesome here! And there's still homestay weekend to talk about! This weekend I'm staying here. We're free, no excursions or plans or anything, but the program switches our study companions and roommates halfway through. That's a whole blog post itself there, the reason I think they do it, but at any rate I love my roommate so much and I will be crazy sad for her to go. We're going to spend the weekend having adventures here and next weekend I'm going to visit her in her hometown.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Things Happening

Chinese food is delicious. Chinese food for every meal of every day... starts to get a little old. Only 6.5 weeks to go.

It's been raining a rather lot here. No real typhoons yet, but it does make it tough to explore and bike around.

Speaking of biking around, I went back to the magical pool/spa wonderland again, and took a group of students with me. I think that place is going to have to be a once-a-week outing at the least.

Sometimes in Taiwan, you hear an ice cream truck. And you get all psyched, thinking, hey, ice cream! But the truck is not here to bring you ice cream. The truck is here to collect your trash. That's a little disappointing.

I'm getting a lot better at Chinese. I can form several sentences now. Today in class, our teacher worked us through a typical menu, and then recommended a spot for us, challenging us to find it on our own and order something, then come back and tell her about it. A huge group was heading out from school, and everyone was all slow and waiting and... individualistic-traveler-me just decided to start hoofing it. Asked the guard at the gate for directions, asked a girl on a bike for directions, stopped and bought a dong gua niu nai and they told me it was just on the other side of the light. I got there and was torn between hot and sour soup and dumpling soup... until I found hot and sour dumpling soup on the menu. I had just put in my order when the rest of the group appeared. Good times and great success.

Speaking of class, that's been fun. It was really overwhelming at first. I landed one class up from beginning-from-scratch, and thought about going back with the beginners because after class my brain would literally physically hurt from all the exercise and new connections formed. But then I heard they were working on the damned alphabet so I figured I'd tough it out. It's been a good decision. My classmates are real sweethearts, and we help each other out a lot. My teacher is an absolute angel. She brings us treats and rewards us and gives us no homework on days when study companion time is canceled. Class is really hard but really fun.

The first day was a sort of welcoming ceremony. After taking my entrance exam (and doing piss poor) we had a campus tour before the ceremony. There were some local elementary school kids who played some local music on local instruments, a group of ethnic Hakkas who did some Hakka song and dance, some aboriginal high schoolers who did aboriginal dance, some kids who dressed up as giant baby gods and did some dance to techno music, and three dudes dressed up with painted faces who came in to scare out the evil demons to some drumming... lemme tell you, if I had been an evil demon, I'd have run from these scary dudes!

Since then my days have mostly been sleeping until the last minute possible, making it to class at 9 and getting out at 12, lunch, "culture class" which will either be general info on Taiwan, learning to play mah jong, how to make dumplings, or something similar, then study companion time until 4:30 at which point we all head back to the dorms and split off into groups with plans for fun. Last Friday instead of class, exchange students and their study companions all were taken to Gaoxiung, or "Kaohsiung," the second largest city in Taiwan which is between 30 min to an hour away. We were taken to a huge Buddhist monastery complex where we spent a few hours exploring, meditating, and practicing calligraphy. We were given a decadent vegetarian lunch, then headed off to climb a mountain. We were told it was a "quick hike" to the top. We spent at least 30 minutes literally not stopping, heading up these wooden paths with tons of stairs until we arrived at the place where the monkeys chill. We paused for photos then headed up at least another 15. My shirt was completely soaked through, with sweat dripping off the hem. This is Taiwan, yo. The temp is around 30 or more Centigrade at all times, and the humidity is at its nicest when it's below 90%. When we made it back down to the bottom, there was a small temple with a public bathroom where I stripped my shirt off and rinsed it out in the sink. I felt like a new woman, but I think I scared one of our study companions. Sorry for the transgression, yo, but damn it was hot. After that we checked out a market near the beach then drove back.

There have been other great moments. Exploring night markets, organizing volleyball games, eating shaved ice with locals, having some amazing duck for dinner with my roommate, her boyfriend, and his roommate, getting together with a group of students to go see the Harry Potter flick a solid 16 hours before my US friends, getting drunk on red wine, splashing home through the rain, then continuing to play in the rain once back on campus, tons of mah jong games that last long into the night...

The race issue is still in front of my face at all times. Just the other day I rolled up on a Murrikan kid surrounded by three locals and he was laughing, but their faces were quite serious and inquisitive. I asked him what was up. He said, "They just asked me why black people rap all the time." All the time. They never speak normally. All black people rap all the time. They genuinely were wondering about this, and couldn't understand his laughter nor why I simply walked away. There are no black kids in our group of students. I can't imagine what it would be like. I already hate it when people occasionally ask to touch my hair; I hear black folks get it all the time. There are a handful of kids in the program who aren't white, but all are pretty light skinned. There is such a preoccupation with whiteness here, and we all had to submit a photo with our application, I can't help but wonder if any African-Americans applied, and whether their dark skin hurt their applications? My roommate puts a skin-whitening lotion on before she goes to bed every night. People carry umbrellas here - for the sun. You'll see people riding their scooters with their jackets on in this heat, only the jackets are on backward, and it's just to cover their arms from the evil, darkening sun.

The good news is, we can access the rooftop of our dorms. The two things that keep my head right are swimming distances and chilling on rooftops. I have this strange, petrifying fear of heights, and yet I love them. I'm not sure what that's all about, but between the gluttonous water decadence wonderland up the street and the rooftop above me, I think my sanity is in the bank.

Tomorrow morning I get picked up for my weekend homestay. I met the father of the family at the opening ceremony. He seemed like a complete sweetheart, and told me about how his triplet sixth-grade daughters can't wait to meet me. I'm looking forward to a weekend of bonding.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On my personal experience as a minority.

Because it's just that: My personal experience. I cannot speak for all people who live/have lived as minorities, I cannot speak even to the general experience of all tall white girls in Taiwan. I can only speak about what I personally am experiencing. So this is not a manifesto, just a personal meditation.

When I last wrote about getting stares, I was still in Taipei. North of the island, biggest city in Taiwan, etc etc etc. I wrote that they were minimal, that they were more curious than lecherous, just interested passing glances. Now I'm in a small town in the south. Now the stares are unabashed and lingering. Now I feel like I'm in a zoo, except I'm the animal. And I'm the only one. And they're all here to see me. I wish they'd at least bring food.

I know I'm tall. I know I'm white. I know my eyes are blue. I know I have tattoos and curly hair. Most of these things have been a lifelong thing for me - even the tattoos started eleven years ago. None of this is new for me.

It's pretty new to most of the folks in Pingdong, apparently.

Today some friends were going to go swimming. They asked if I wanted to go. DUH YES. I mean... yeah, if you know me, you know how I feel about swimming. Just what I need, I thought. Especially after last night, drinking with other students in the program and getting into a pretty intense discussion about trans* people and how they aren't unnatural or gross with a bigot in the group.

The place was really magical. For a water-junkie like me, it was a literal heaven on earth. There was a 50-meter long pool for swimming (only one real lap lane that had several people in it, but laps were do-able), and next to it in the corner was this wall about hip-high. Climb over this wall and you find two big soaking pits, one is just warm with these three crazy jets shooting down from the short ceiling you can stand under for a massage, and the other is super hot for soaking, next to some small windows that open into this jungle-looking area with a nice breeze passing by.

And if that wasn't water-heaven enough, downstairs with the dressing rooms (which have both a sauna and a steam room) is this thing called the SPA. Walk down the hallway and you again have to climb over a short wall which puts you in another water pit. This one is kinda lukewarm too, and there are different jet-things everywhere. You can scoot back into a u-shaped cave area where jets will come at you from different angles, you can stand under more of the crazy shower-jets, you can scoot through a maze of little cube-posts that shoot jets out from different heights, you can lay back on the bed-chairs that have jets shooting up at you from underneath... water decadence! It was wonderful! It would have been perfect...

... if I hadn't been the zoo animal.

One girl came around the corner in the dressing room, and when she saw me, drew a sharp intake gasp of breath, her face went all shocked, and she literally jumped back. Yo, .... what? I'm just another human. I'm not some crazy devil monster who's going to attack you. I mean, ... except ...

...that we are literally referred to as "white ghost" here. We were taught this by the program director on a slide in her powerpoint presentation on Taiwanese culture. The slide was titled "How are Americans perceived?" There were bulletin points with racial slurs. White ghost is a little outdated, though. These days, apparently, the popular one is something to do with what freakishly long noses we have. How is that appropriate to teach as a class?

I go through this and I think about my friends of color back home. The thing is, I really don't have it that bad. Sure, I look over in the pool and realize that this old dude is going underwater so he can stare at my body underneath the water's surface, and that's really creepy and weird, but it's not like he's denying me any rights, or spitting on me or anything.

And that's my experience. That I am a novelty, a freak, something to be exoticised, and I don't like it, and I want to complain, and I stare right back now at those who stare at me. And when the little girl who keeps bumping into me in the pool to say, in English, "Oh sorry sorry" finally decides that she's tired of me ignoring her and actually grabs me while I'm swimming and pulls me under so that she can say "Oh sorry sorry" again and surely I'll respond this time, I do, and I look her right in the eyes, and I say, in Chinese, "What? What do you want? What would you like? What?" and she swims away but her friends keep staring and saying, in English, "HALLO HALLOOOO!" and Jesus Christ I just came here to swim people, to get my zen on, to knock out a thousand yards until my body feels completely exhausted and like a million bucks at the same time. I love how my body moves in the water, but I don't want some creepy old man going under to love it too.

And yet I can't have these experiences without thinking about how I really don't have it that bad as a minority here. Yeah, when I complain to a friend who went with me to the pool, he says, in English, "But it is because in Taiwan, we think foreigners are so beautiful!" And I realize he means it as a compliment, genuinely, and so does the creepy old man, but that doesn't make it not racist.

The other night I took a train with a few friends (two Taiwanese, one Vietnamese-American) to Kaohsiung, the second biggest city in Taiwan which is just a half hour up the road. When the conductor passed, he said something in Chinese, and the two locals started laughing. They explained it to the Vietnamese-American, whose Chinese is way better than mine, and he explained it to me. The guy said what he always says, but this time, he said it "like an American would say it." Once he saw me, he decided, I guess, he should do his best American accent. And they all thought it was hilarious and dissolved into laughter.

And I think, well, but I'm still allowed to ride the train. It's not like there's a "White Ghosts Only" car in the back or anything. But I can't help getting pissed.

This has really been a busy and interesting week. There was an opening ceremony, a few days of classes, and a school-led trip to Kaohsiung with a huge Buddhist monastery, a mountain climb with monkeys, and a harbor visit. It was all rad, and I know I should have written about it by now... but I've been kindof confused about how to write about those awesome things and also this prevailing weirdness. So here's this post dedicated to weirdness, and hopefully tomorrow I can write about awesome things only. In the meantime, hopefully, I will just learn and grow.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My Letter to Governor Mike Beebe

Helpful links about what's going on:

An abridged version of this letter is now up on the Arkansas Times website at , and can apparently be found in the Times's newsstands this week.

Dear Sir:

I need to tell you a story about my grandmother. Do you actually read these, or is there (more likely) a crew of employees who screen them for you? Either way, it is a cautionary tale, and a tale that you desperately need to hear, I'm afraid.

My grandmother was born Virginia Dare Swepston in something like 1911 or so. She married Beauford Jennings Wallace, with whom she'd been in love literally since the second grade, and gave birth to three baby boys, one of which was my father. My father grew up on a farm with a grain company owned by my grandfather. By all accounts, they were the typical Arkansan family, real "salt of the earth" type people.

The story that you need to hear, and you do honestly need to hear it, is a story my father tells me about my grandmother, for whom I am named. He tells me it was a day in late September, 1957, and he was in the kitchen, watching my grandmother do the dishes. She was very dedicated to her husband, their family, and their home, and caring for all three was her full-time job. My father was watching her wash the dishes until she looked out the window... and what happened next is what you most desperately need to hear.

She glanced up and saw a line of military vehicles passing in front of the house. At that time, there was an old Arkansas highway that ran past my father's childhood home going from Memphis into Little Rock. When my grandmother saw these vehicles, she became enraged. She threw down her dishtowel and ran outside to stand in the front yard with her apron on, shake her fist angrily at the vehicles, and yell at them.

It just so happens that these vehicles were, in fact, the 101st Airborne on their way to help the Little Rock Nine attend school at Central High, where their very lives were in danger from people like my grandmother for simply wanting equality.

I wonder how this story makes you feel. I wonder if you think that what my grandmother did was wrong or whether she was right. I wonder if you can imagine the shame I feel when I tell this story. My memories of my grandmother are good ones. She was always so kind, so extremely classy. She was the perfect example of a Southern belle to me. This one story, however, this brief moment discolors my memory of her. It makes me remember that at her core, my grandmother was a racist woman who went to her grave holding on to her beliefs.

It's easy to say, "But that's just how things/people were back then." But saying that is the wrong answer, Mr. Governor. Saying that excuses behavior that was wholly wrong and minimizes the importance of the issue. Without the people who stood up to question that type of behavior, we would never have had positive change. We would never live in a world like we do today, where I can look at what my grandmother did as wrong and pray for her forgiveness.

I tell you this story, Governor Beebe, as a warning. My shame will become your grandchildren's shame if you do not change your words and your actions and soon. I am embarrassed by this tale. I am ashamed of my grandmother. Even as I have good memories of her, I cannot forget that racism was a big part of who she was, and it leaves me feeling disgraced and humiliated when I think of it.

Sir, when you spoke in front of the Stonewall Democrats recently, you told them that you do not believe they deserved the same equal rights afforded to their heterosexual neighbors. You told them that not only should they accept their second-class status, but that they should refrain from being visible and active in demanding equality. You were no better than my grandmother standing in the front yard, shaking her fist at the 101st.

Some have tried to explain your actions. Some have said that even though you don't need to say those words in hope of being reelected, that perhaps you have said them in order to help build your legacy, in order to influence the way you will be remembered. What you did, and what you said, will accomplish just that, Mr. Governor.

But you have a choice, in the same way that Governor George Wallace had a choice. He chose to change his position from the easy answer to the right answer. Sixteen years after his 1963 inaugural speech in which he spoke strongly in favor of segregation (“segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever), he said the words “I was wrong. Those days are over and they ought to be over.”

And hear me when I say, sir, that if you do not open your eyes and realize you are wrong just as he was wrong, just as my grandmother was wrong, that this is an issue of equality for all and civil rights and human rights, your grandchildren will remember you with shame in their hearts. I pray for you just as I pray for my grandmother:

May God forgive you,
Susan Virginia Wallace

Write him yourself at:

Welcome to Pingdong

See, because that's the first thing. The spelling I was taught, Pingtung, is the old spelling from when whitefolk were more concerned with their own pronunciation than the correct one, it seems. Today's correct pinyin spelling is Pingdong. So there's that.

I met a really great girl in the hostel who was also headed to Ping(tu/do)ng for the same study program as I was, so we decided to travel down together. She talked me down from using the High Speed Rail, and thankfully, because it was less than half the cost to just sit on a bus for about five hours instead. It was great, too, to look out the windows and witness things passing by. English on less and less of the signs, until it was only pinyin on some of the road signs telling you what exit was coming up. One of my favorite things to do anywhere is to look out the window and see people going about their lives and think about how that's a slice of someone's whole existence, and just witness it and take it in for a moment. So that was just glorious and fun for me.

Jennifer (the girl from the hostel, and I'll always change people's names when I blog about them to be fair and respectful) is a much better speaker than I am, or at least more confident and I think her vocabulary is bigger, too. So she told the driver we would need to step off at the National Pingtung University of Education, and when we arrived he let us do just that. There were some kids waiting at the gate with cameras, and they walked us to the dorms where our roommates were waiting with cute signs they'd made for us with our names. I gave high fives all around (because, in my experience, it's impossible to give a high five and not smile) and headed up to the room.

Let's talk for a minute about how sweet my roommate is. So so sweet, y'all. She asked whether I was hungry, and I found that I was a little peckish so she put me on the back of her scooter (ERRBODY be driving scooters over here, y'all) and we headed out with a friend of hers. First they took me to a tea spot so I could speak English to a friend of theirs who's apparently been studying it. Poor boy looked so frightened! He just stepped back and another girl stepped up and said HALLO HALLOOOOO! Which is apparently how all Taiwanese people greet Murrikans, and it's really endearing.

From there we went to this little place where they will fry up all sorts of vegetarian goodies for you. I had these mushrooms... holy jesus, y'all, so amazing. They asked did I want spicy, I said yes, middle spicy, and it was .... like my mouth can still remember how good it was and it makes me salivate to think about. I'm going to have to eat that at least once a week.

I shouldn't have talked shit about the food before I came! My roommate took me back out today (after ordering breakfast in, an omelette with tuna and corn, strange but tasty) for some noodles that were ridiculous. RIDICULOUS. NT$35 gets you a serving of noodles, free soup and free sweet black tea. That's like a buck and a quarter, y'all! I killed it. Thick noodles in some kind of bean sauce with sprouts and green onions and heavy sesame flavor. I ordered more to go, it was so good. It was also right next to a tea shop where they had the kind of tea the lady who worked at the hostel in Taipei got the night she took us out to the night market. Some kind of Chinese watermelon that we don't have a name for, dong hua or don gua or something... SO GOOOOOD. Got back and passed out and took a HUGE nap. I had the longest most complicated dream I can remember having in a long time. Which means, the mattress I bought when we went out was a good idea. Last night the mattress they gave me felt like a flat hard tabletop held up by springs, knives, death and hatred. I got this thin thing to put on top for about US$20 and a much flatter pillow and boy howdy it was glorious. I almost flew in the dream, which I haven't done in a looong time.

Guess what's not illegal in Taiwan? Montecristo #4. Pardon me while I step outside for a long and glorious smoke.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Which the Traveler Addresses Her Father Directly

Dear Dad:

I *know* you told me you didn't want me to go exploring off on my own, but then you knew when you told me not to that I have before and would again, right?

I was smart about it! I used the directions in my Lonely Planet guide to get across town to the National Palace Something Museum because it's supposed to be this like treasure trove of history and antiquities and stuff.

Dad, I saw statues of Buddha from the fourth century. I saw pottery from the year 1 Billion BCE or something. But even more importantly, I ran into a Mucha exhibit.

Mucha, you know, Alfons Mucha? The Czech painter who had that art nouveau style with all the pretty flowing ladies? He was also something of a politico in his later years, and I got to see this image of his I've had a crush on since I was a little girl called Zodiac. I also got introduced to a new painting that made me cry. It was called something like Spring Awakens Earth or Spring Awakening the Earth or something. This really big painting, a burst of spring colors, all spring green and light blue, and in the middle, one woman leans in to wake up the other with this tender sweet love care all over her face...

I negotiated the MRT too, the public subway-type transit here. The guide book told me which stop to get at, and the kids in the hostel told me how to get to the one to get on here. On the way I passed a cigar shop. Guess what isn't illegal in Taiwan? Montecristo #4s. YUMMMMM. Got to the rail and kinda stood back and did my Monkey-see trick before jumping in to Monkey-do after observing enough people. Figured out my route, bought my pass, headed there.

Here's what's fun: looking out windows. WOW.

I got off at my stop and it was super cute and looked like a nice area. I bought some sushi bites and some hazelnut milk tea and sat in the middle of the area and watched for a while. Just as I was finishing up, a bus I needed pulled up so I ran over and hopped on. Monkey didn't see anyone pay the driver so monkey didn't do it herself. They paid when they got to their stop though. I said, "How much money?" He said "15." I gave him 15 and got off the bus and looked around like where's this palace museum... OH THERE. THE HUGE FRIGGIN THING ON THE MOUNTAIN.

Dad it was really cool. I took a lot of photos. I found, though, that rather than removing my driver's licence from my wallet, I had removed my student ID! So no fatty discount for me, whoops. I did, however, act confused and very sad when I found that the ticket that got me into the antiquities would not get me into the Mucha. The folks at the door got nice and, since it was closing time, let me get in for free anyway. Oh man I get choked up just thinking about that beautiful painting!

Then there was a garden outside, and I strolled around and... man what gives? I'm still in my twenties! But ugh how my feet hurt and oh how the small of my back hurt! Just uncool.

I bussed it back to the MRT stop, and strolled around and poked in stores and stuff some more. Here's where I'm a stupid American: people cut in lines a lot here, and step in your personal-space-bubble and don't give a crap and it makes me fume a little. But otherwise they are really strict about following the rules. Like, the sign says no food or drink on any of the public transits - SO NO ONE EATS OR DRINKS. I mean, there are signs like that everywhere back home but don't nobody pay no mind. Here's a mystery: I can't ever find a trashcan, but neither can I find any litter. How does that work? When I could never find a trashcan in Mexico, I understood why there was litter all over the place. But here there's neither. Really strange. So I end up carrying my trash around with me until I find one.

MRT back, and went the wrong way about four stops on the last leg, so I had to swap and take like 7 or 8 stops to get back, at which point I wasn't sure exactly which road on the roundabout I'd come in on so I just headed the direction I figured the hostel was in and bam, once again, good old sense of direction took me right back! Sweet.

I didn't go out last night. I just couldn't do it. I took a shower and was in bed by 9:30. I have a roommate from Ohio who's a really cool cat, and we stayed up talking for a while before another roommate came in hungry and the two of them went out. I thought about it, a quick night stroll before passing out, but I was so comfy and the idea of putting on shoes again did not appeal at all.

Today I think I'll head on down to Pingtung (or Pingdong, depending on who you ask). I'm ready to quit living out of bags and unpack. I couldn't find my toothbrush last night so I scrubbed my teeth with my washrag and then flossed and rinsed some water around for a bit. This aggression will not stand.

And so, I went against your wishes, but how about this concession: I will always be careful when I continue to go off on my own and keep my wits about me and not follow creepy Disney villains down dark alleyways so they won't turn me into a genie and stuff me in a bottle.

All my love,
your crazy daughter.

Last night.

I can't even begin to fully explain all the awesome that happened last night.

Suffice to say:
1) It's good to be backpacking in foreign countries again.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

After exploring locally my first day in Taipei

Oh mah lawd my feets is hurtin.

There’s a building here, really near the hostel, that was the tallest building in the world for a while (but must now settle for being second-tallest) called the 101 Building. I don’t know much about anything around here, so I figured that would be as good a first-day trip as any: walk around near the hostel, explore but not lose my sense of direction, maybe eat something local, try making purchases, then get back to the hostel to rest a while before going out to explore the night market.

The streets are laid out interestingly here. Some have numbers, I think? Some have names but then you’re in an alley off the lane off that street… I’m still figuring out how it works. Anyway I went up my alley to the lane to the street and headed toward the giant tower. I hear it was designed to look like bamboo, but I ain’t seein’ it. I explored some convention center next to it first. I was getting hungry, so I ate, and I tried to ask whether the food was vegetarian in the way that my phrase book suggested, but I guess I failed. It was interesting… When I got to the tower, apparently the bottom five floors are taken up by the swankest mall I ever seen in my whole life, and the basement is solid food, most of which looked better than what I ate. Also most had plastic examples of their food out, and naturally I took pictures. In fact, I took pictures of everything. My lunch, the convention center, my walk to the tower (which passed several 7-Elevens)… I intend to load them up to Picasa the way I did my Mexico photos, but can’t seem to get Picasa to work for me just yet. If it doesn’t work by the time I get to the university, I’ll figure something else out. In the meantime, they’re on my Facebook, but I’m kindof a snob about who I’ll add, so if we aren’t already friends you’ll have to wait.

Apparently 101 can still boast the world’s fastest elevator! That was interesting. When I made my way back down it was raining (note to self: don’t wear a white shirt anymore ever) so I decided to hang out inside and explore for a while. While poking around the convention center, this information/guard/porter-type person kinda waved me back to give me fruit. One was a banana, which he was trying to explain to me that it was a banana, and I was like, yes I love banana okay, then he gave me this other thing that looked like a pear that took too many steroids and got big and warty. It was crunchy and kinda potato-textured with something of a piney scent to it and weird seeds inside. I ate it while I sat in the food court and people-watched for a while. There was also this market, I think it was called “Jason’s”? They had free samples EVERYWHERE. I hope there’s one of those in Pingtung. I ate some weird stuff, and drank some too, and I’m not sure what it all was, but I’m still alive so far.

Eventually it had slacked off to a patter enough that I could get back and maintain my dignity in my white shirt. I’ve noticed this weird thing that I might be able to say more about later. For now it goes, I don’t get stared at like I did in Mexico. The stares there were pretty much 100% from men (with women for the most part ignoring me altogether, in a somehow noticeable way?) and they were lecherous. I just felt dirty, even when I was dressed completely modestly. Today I had on a skirt and a tank (yo, it’s hot and humid here, even moreso than Arkansas) and there was none of that. I did get some stares, but they felt more like curiosity stares. Like, damn, look at this tall female with freckles and round blue eyeballs kind of stares. One girl in the tower, I looked up and I couldn’t figure out what she was taking a picture of, because I was pretty sure there wasn’t anything on the wall I was leaning up against, so I turned to look and sure enough, wadn’t nuthin there… except me… oh my goodness this tween is taking a photograph of me leaning up against a wall? There’s another phenomenon that I have yet to figure out, which is, what to do when you run into another cracker. There’s this weirdness like, do we look at each other? Do we ignore each other noticeably? There’s this moment in passing where it’s like, we both know we’re passing each other, and we both know we’re having this shared experience of being this extreme minority, but other than that we share literally nothing, so how do you acknowledge that or do you or ? This one guy today I passed, he handled it perfect. He had this smile on his face that somehow acknowledged all that and more, just this chill Mona Lisa smile as he passed me with his umbrella, so I gave him a halfsmile back, and then bam, we’re gone, the end.

Y’all, I realized on the walk back that while I knew what direction I was going, I had not paid attention to landmarks nor street names nor nuthin. I figured I’d just hope for the best and keep walking… and made it back with literally no problems! No wrong turns, no doubling back to make a turn I missed, my little feet led me right back to the door of the hostel. Rest, wash face, upload photos, write, go to night market, wash body, sleep, explore tomorrow…

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Written on my bed, first morning

I love being a flexible traveler. Wouldn’t you know it, the plan from the last post began to change right away and may just keep changing. I had planned to take the “AirBus” into the city center. When I managed to get off the plane, get through the visa people, get my bags, get through customs, and get to the part of the airport where you find your transportation into town, y’all I had been traveling for over 24 hours nonstop. When I did this backpacking shit last time, I was 21 and full of vigor and spunky and shit. Not that I don’t still have spunky vigor, but damnit, I’m knocking on 30’s door now, and when the nice man smiled at me and said, Taxi? I said YES.

I wasn’t sure whether I should try to chat up the taxi driver. I want to call him the taxista, but I’m not in Mexico anymore, Toto. There are, in my experience, four or five stages to language learning, and they go like this:
1) No Idea What The Fudge.
2) “Well I can speak it better than I can understand it.”
3) “I understand it better than I speak it.”
4) “I feel like I’m doing pretty well.”
I went through these with Spanish. First you don’t know what the Eff. Then you know enough words to put together a sort of sentence that conveys what you want to say, but when folks respond in their rapid-fire mother-tongue way, you go blank. THEN you know enough to understand them, and enough to hear how pidgin your words sound, so you get shy about talking. Finally you find a comfortable place in which to converse and from there can work your way to fluency.

I’m at #2 with Mandarin right now. I spent the whole taxi ride (1/2 hour or so?) thinking in my head the things I would say to my taxi driver if I thought for a second I might be able to understand his response, but they just stayed in my head. Finally curiosity got the better of me (which, if you know me, you know how bad my curiosity can be) and I pointed at this structure I’d seen a few times and asked, What is that? Zhei ge shen me? He responded… and yeah I didn’t understand a word. So I smiled and said Thank you, xie xie, okay, hao, and left it at that.

Here’s what’s funny. No matter where you are in the world, if you’re near a hostel the people there know what you’re there for. I saw the sign to the place but not the door to get up. I walked around the corner for a while until the red-eyed kids chillin’ in front of the tattoo shop pointed to it for me. Thanks, guys.

Y’all I slept the sleep of the DEAD last night! I woke up at one point and zombied my way to the bathroom, then back to the mattress. Met a few folks staying here, so far all males which is strange, but I’ve made plans to go on a pub crawl with them Thursday night. Which will be Thursday morning for those of you reading this back home in the States. Hello from the future. When I got here, the owner was out, so I helped myself to a shower and by the time I got out an employee was back, so I settled in and pretty much fell out. It’s now just before noon here, and I’ve had some coffee and a nice toasted sandwich with peanut butter (which was sweet and tasted hazel-nutty) and jelly (which was current jam I think?) and am about to get changed into some real clothes and pack a shoulder bag and head out to explore. And yes, I will be taking the sheet of paper with the address in Chinese so I can ask the locals “Where? Zai nar?” when I get lost and follow their pointed fingers back to my bed.

Written on the airplane

I set my alarm for 7:00 AM so I could wake up in plenty of time. Dad came in my room before it went off. I scooted over, he laid down, and we held hands for a few minutes until the alarm sounded. He left the room and I opened the door to Loki’s crate. Sweet dog did the thing he does some mornings where, rather than jump up, ready to run outside, he tucks his chin to his chest, makes the sweetest little raised eyebrow puppy eyes at me, and rolls over, showing me his belly as if to say, Here it is, you know, in case you were looking for something to pet, with his precious little puppy paws all folded up, just as darling as the first day I brought him home. I climbed in and rubbed and rubbed his belly and chest, kissing his sweet soft ears… oh how I love those perfect satin ears! Two good goodbyes to start my morning off.

Dad tells me he might sell Mabel while I’m gone. I didn’t give her a proper goodbye. In my mind, I had the photo I wanted all laid out. Someone standing outside the driver’s door, open, as I leaned in to hug the steering wheel, eyes closed, bliss and love all over my face. I intend to chronicle some of the journeys I went on in that car… of course, I couldn’t tell you every adventure we had, or I’d have to tell some things on myself that a lady simply does not divulge. But oh, how I loved that ’98 Mercury Sable for the past 9 years and 120,000 miles. That’s enough miles to circle the globe five or six times. That’s halfway to the moon.

Lots of transition lately, lots of goodbyes and lots of change. And now this new journey has already begun.

As I type this, I am sitting in seat 42F on Delta flight DL281 from Atlanta to Tokyo. I’m not online, I’m just typing it up in a word document to be uploaded later. It’s funny. First of all, there’s the fact that we’re flying into the future. I left Atlanta early afternoon on Monday; I’ll land in Tokyo late afternoon Tuesday, after flying about 13 hours. At least the wine is complimentary.

Secondly, the last time I flew a flight anywhere near this length was in the summer of 2004, as I was flying home from the United Kingdom. I had been working in Scotland for three months, then I packed what I thought I needed into a backpack (promptly decided I needed far less after carrying it around on my back, and mailed a box home as soon as I got to Barcelona) and explored the Mediterranean for a month. I’d had my itinerary home all lined up, but a late Italian train led to a missed flight and as a result, rather than arriving in Scotland with a full day to repack, do laundry, and say final goodbyes, I arrived with an hour or two to spare instead. It was crazy. By the time I was on the flight from London to the States, I was exhausted and famished. When the woman asked whether I wanted chicken or pasta, I said, hopefully, “Yes?” She did in fact end up slipping me both, bless her heart, before I found an empty row and stretched across it to pass out.

But the point of the story is to tell you about the movies on that flight back in ’04. There were exactly two. There was a screen at the front of the cabin we could watch it on, and we could plug our earphones into the jack to listen, switching channels for different languages. That was it.

Now, I can choose any number of genres from Hollywood or from other countries, or even TV episodes, and it’s not a shared experience like Shrek (or was it Shrek 2? Either way, I slept through it) was. Families sitting right next to each other are watching completely different films on the back of the seat in front of them. I remember being in Catering class back in Culinary School, and the teacher told us she had invested a large portion of her portfolio in this company that was going to be putting screens on the back of everyone’s chairs. She recommended that any of us with any sort of cash do the same. At the time I laughed. Everyone with their own individual screens? Never, I thought. Here I am, and I bet that lady is laughing all the way to the bank.

I’m reminded of my RealMom (as opposed to BirthMom or EggDonor) and how she behaves at dinner sometimes. Ain’t no shame in her game (like mother, like daughter, eh?). If someone gets out their iPhone and removes themselves from the dinner party (as so many with smart phones are wont to do) she will flat call them out. She’ll be gentle about it at first, making references to the fact that aren’t we all here to hang out with one another, not to look things up on Wikipedia or Facebook, and isn’t it just a little rude to ignore the party like this, stepping up her game bit by bit until the smartphone junkie is shamed into putting it away, and rejoining the Real World around them. It’s classy, it’s brave, and I like it. I wonder how she’d feel about these screens. Seriously, I got out of my chair to stretch my legs a bit, and everyone reclined looking at their screens reminded me of the people on the spaceship in Wall-E. Creepy.

I was nervous as we left the house. But here I find some calm. They put a meal in my belly, bless them, and then there’s always the complimentary wine. There will be another snack and a breakfast before we land, and I think I get fed on the flight from Tokyo to Taipei as well. Then I’ll take an airbus into town, then a taxi to my hostel, where I’ve booked a room to myself for my first night. I’ll sleep off jetlag (after perusing the night market that sits right outside the front door of the hostel) and move into shared dorms the next day. There are a few things I want to see while in Taipei, then I’ll catch a High Speed Rail south to Pingtung, where I’ll meet my roommate and move into the dorms and spend a day studying before I take my placement exam which will begin my two-month study of Mandarin at the university there. Things appear to be falling into place. This just might go easily enough after all. Nevermind that this isn’t like the time I explored Scotland on my own, where we both share (most of) a language, nor the time I went to Mexico speaking Spanish … my Mandarin is just tragic at this point but something tells me it’s all going to work out fine.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I've never been to any part of Asia before.

I feel like Europe and I are pretty well acquainted. I've had three trips over there, worked for three months once, spent a good month backpacking the Mediterranean, it was even my first overseas trip ever.

I can't go to Africa, I'm told. I'm allergic to the malaria drugs or something?

Latin America I'm friends with. I spent four months in Mexico, and have visited Belize and Honduras. I can't say I've been to South America, to be fair.

But Asia. Now that's new.

I found myself, in my last two semesters of my undergraduate program, with enough room to take Mandarin Chinese 1 one semester and 2 the next.

I didn't learn in two semesters of Mandarin near what anyone could or would learn in two semesters of Spanish or French or German or even Latin. And nevermind that you're learning the five tones (or four tones and one not-tone) on top of the pronunciations of syllables that don't use vowels or even consonants like you're used to, there's the characters on top of that. Are you learning traditional or simplified? Or both? And man oh man they're complicated either way. It feels like it's exactly three times as hard as learning Spanish was, but Spanish was kinda easy. Four times? Anyway, ouch.

But I'm glad I started, and I like the progress I'm making. I landed a scholarship that pays for my room and schooling in Pingtung, Taiwan at a university there. It's a two month program. I'll live in the dorms with a roommate, I'll have a study partner (a different one each month), I'll volunteer-teach English classes, I'll do a homestay one weekend, and a few of our other weekends are planned excursions that I can go back with the class that day or stick around for the weekend and get myself back later.

I know very little about Taiwan. I know it's an island, that it's under the ROC (as in China, Republic Of), that they speak Mandarin there but that there's also a Taiwanese, and that it might be one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world - that people came out of there in pulses in history, giving birth to the Austronesian languages. I know there are still some aboriginal people there. I know I don't think the food looks too delicious, so no danger of the "Mexican Booty" I came back from my last study abroad with...

Want to see the super cute hostel I'm staying in when I first get there? Okay here you go.

While I'm racking up new parts of the world, I lay over in Japan both ways on my flight.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My letter to CNN

Why does Kyra Phillips hate her own sex? This morning I watched as within five minutes of each other, she made two comments that each on their own set women back decades.

First she covered the republican presidential debate in which it seems Michele Bachman did well. Kyra's words, paraphrased, were: "Do we even need Sarah Palin any more?" She then further explored this tragically sexist question by even calling up a guest and asking his opinion which, as an apparently straight, cisgendered, white man of privilege was: "NO."

What on earth makes a quesiton like that acceptable? When Mitt Romney did well, did Kyra say to herself, "Do we even need Pawlenty any more?" The question is based only in sex and when boiled down to its core is, Do we need this token candidate with a vagina any more now that we have this new token candidate with a vagina? I am not a Republican. I have no love nor respect for Palin nor Bachman. But so help me, there is room for more than one vagina in a presidential race, and Phillips not only insinuating otherwise but bringing guests on to further such a discussion is disgusting and pathetic.

Then she went on to a story about Weiner in which she became the first anchor, journalist, or newsperson of any sort that I have yet witnessed to turn the microscope around onto the women. I'm amazed it took this long, to be honest, but never suspected it would be a woman who went there first. She asked of her guest a question she appeared to be wanting to ask the women, and her words (and again I paraphrase except for the pivotal word) were: "Ma'am, why are you such a HO."

Ho. The colloquial term for WHORE. As in: a person who engages in sex acts for money. As in: the word that is slung at any woman as an insult more than any other negative word in the English language. And what is this "whore's" crime? Presumably none. We have no evidence that these women solicited or even wanted these photographs. And if we assume they did - which, by the way, is a huge assumption - what? The Weiner story is exactly what Weiner, our POTUS, and many others have said: A Distraction. The man is only guilty of being an exhibitionist, being a little kinky. Who among us has never done a single thing that might raise a neighbor’s eyebrow? In the meantime, Senator David Vitter gets away with bribing his sex scandal into silence with $96,000 and illegal lobbying jobs. In the meantime, Senator John Ensign admits to using the services of prostitutes. And in the meantime, Kyra Phillips would rather call these anonymous, innocent women WHORES on her program, compounding this terrible distraction and committing a grave crime against her own sex.

Not long after her program, or perhaps still within it, a story ran about Tracy Morgan, and how he is going to return to Nashville to apologize for his harmful words against the LGBTQ community. What, if anything, will Phillips do to “make right” her truly horrible actions and words against all women this morning? Here’s a hint: an apology would not be enough. This woman honestly needs to take time off of her job to get educated on what is and isn’t acceptable to say about women. Nothing else can prevent future errors, which obviously stem from some much greater problem, a negative and disparaging attitude toward females. There are those who would argue sexism is dead in today’s society: I would encourage those people to only watch five minutes of Phillips to see that it is sadly alive and well and even perpetuated by its victims.

Friday, May 13, 2011

day 43 pome 23

((written while listening to this song:

It sprouted legs and asked to leave so you,
always the independent type, opened the door
and watched it go. Swore
you didn't mind, swept up the house
in its absence, took up new hobbies,
knitting, painting, started flossing again,
with regularity. It strolled out the door,
leaking just a little, understandable,
considering, and took off down the road
for its own adventures. You smiled (only
halfway) and shook your head then waited
for the postcards, one from Portugal
with images of green, rolling hills,
a sea as big as the space it left behind, one
from Newfoundland, with stories of songs
sung by old fisherman, one from London,
a photo of a pint and fish
and chips, of course, no mention of a single
I love you, never once
an I miss you, not so much
as a return address, understandable,
considering, and then
came the postcard from the desert from
the birthplace of us all, that is to say,
it returned home, a real home of sorts,
wrote stories of salvation, tales
of heroism and you
just rubbed the place in your chest
it left behind. The day your heart
came home, you threw your arms wide, confessed
every moment you spent in its absence
spelling its name with your breath
like a prayer, you opened
the door on your breast and your heart
climbed back inside, and the two of you
curled up in bed like little babies and slept
for days and days, understandable, considering.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

day 31 no pome, update

So I spent a good 48 hours without electricity, due to them storms y'all heard about tearin' up the south.

Then I spent a good 48 or more too busy and too depressed to write.

I've been at Dad's a couple days now, where I can get on his computer to get on the internet, but I can't log mine on b/c he's even more stoneage than I am, and I prefer to do my posting from my own laptop.

I got one good sad poem in mind, one essay I'm going to let count as a day of writing, and then?

I intend to finish out the thirty, even though I'll be behind. It was a good run this year. In 08 and 09 I did it with no problems. Last year I quit halfway through the month, so this year, I'd like to finish, even if I'm late.

Much love to errbody,
G Funk Dub

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

day 27 pome 22: write a poem in blank verse for a class

(Sorry I haven't posted. I've been without electricity since Monday around 8PM. Just got it back. First world problems, eh? It was an experience, to be sure, and I give thanks to my awesome friends who supplied me with conversation, entertainment, and FRIDGE/FREEZER SPACE for my fooood!)

A night ago a storm blew through my town.
A twister hit the ground a time or two.
My doors were open wide. The sirens wailed
and I, oblivious, just knocked on wood.
Tornadoes do not firghten me at all.
Touch wood. They never have. Touch wood again.
I'm superstitious, yes, but I'm from here.
Arkansans grow accustomed to a spring
in which we nightly hear the sirens sound.
Or should. But I have friends who tell me they
have spent the night curled up inside their tubs,
the bathroom door locked tight, as if it could
keep out a twister, somehow. I (touch wood)
however, spent my childhood, every spring,
just watching channel eight, the nightly news,
as maps turned green or yellow, orange or red,
and we, my family, would point out streets
that were not ours. I mean to say that I
(touch wood) have never heard that awful sound
that folks describe (touch wood), the sound that comes
when it's too late - a waterfall, a train,
the sound that means a funnel's touching down,
the sound that means that touching wood won't help.
The news is saying one more night of storms
but just this afternoon, while driving home
I saw a tree had laid down on the house
two blocks from mine. How's that for touching wood?
I'll light my candles, as I have no power,
and leave the back door open. If I hear
a siren, I won't blink an eye. But if
I hear a rushing train then I'll be found
(with my dear dog) curled up inside the tub
all tangled up in blankets, grasping tight
my rosary. It's made of sandalwood.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

day 24 pome 21: thinkin bout change

Last Poem for a Boy

I didn't mean to write those poems, they just
happened. I needed to write, had a hunger
for words, and I sat down and whatever was

on my mind just then was the poem. It's not
your fault, or mine, that so many came
to be written about you. I wonder how

it made you feel, if you liked it, felt proud,
or ashamed, if you thought I was silly,
pathetic, a dreamer, a loser, who knows.

But of those precious short weeks we shared,
more poems came about you than for anyone,
ever. Then before I even had a chance

to wrap you up in my words for good, to
blanket you in verse, to plaster stanzas
on your skin with my mouth, you had found

someone new. Nothing to be done. I moved
on, eventually, or thought I did, until one day
I actually had. And now, I'm sure you've seen,

I have my own true love. It doesn't matter now
that you kissed me outside the pizza parlor,
that you washed me in the bath, that you

waited until I was ready. All those things
are in the past, and I measure the love I have now
for him in poems, and I cannot stop writing. Don't

be sad. I'm not. I hope you're not. One day
you might even forget I ever wrote at all. The arms
I sleep wrapped in now are warm poems of their own.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

day 23 pome 20: don't ask

When you hear your sister is marrying, take
a box, put in the stones you've been carrying
to remind you of her weight, her perfect, absent weight,
the ones you sleep with, curled up around, put them in.
Take off the badge you wear, the pin that declares
your political stance against the whole institution,
put it in. Then, one by one, place all of the kisses
you've been wishing to give her, wrapped up in newsprint,
wouldn't want them to break. When she does not ask you
to be maid of honor, it won't hurt, you knew this
was coming, knew you wouldn't be asked to stand up front
at all, you're glad, this is really her kindness. No, and don't
give a toast, we all know what you'd say, this, then,
is your kindness, the fact that you came, that your face
was seen there in the mass of masks, that you managed, when you left,
not to leave behind the box you packed hidden among
the gifts, that instead, you only took her hand, met her sweet eyes,
and said, "I wish you
took the box home, unpacked it, and cried.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 22, Pome 19

I had company and drinks last night and missed a pome. Whups.

The night I kissed you on the cheek
just outside my door because I thought
I was starting to like you, there was
an avalanche, two tornadoes, four
plane crashes, and a blizzard. When you put
your arm around me at the movie, there was
a flood, a landslide, a heatwave,
and a plague. The first night
we made love, the whole city burned down
around us, and we didn't bat an eye. I feel
certain that when I move into your home
they'll be calling for meteor showers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

day 20 pome 18: silver

Ode to the Silver Hair on My Crown:

You weren't there at all, and then
you were, fully formed. That is, there never was
a time in which I saw a hair
half-silver and half-brown. No,
just last week you appeared in the mirror,
no warning, no call, no letter. And I

stared. I thought of pulling you out,
and almost did, I'm sorry to say. But you
were silver, not gray, silver in the way
of stories of magic, perhaps like a
Pegasus hair. I used to believe
in Pegasus, back when I was much
too young for you to appear on my crown.

But here you are, and I, nearly thirty,
have already accepted that I am not
immortal, nor magical like Pegasus. At least
you are silver and shining, not dull,
not flat, not a white that might yellow,
and so you shall stay, in order to teach
your sister around you how to shine, for soon

enough I will be forty, then fifty, and then
one day, dead and forgotten but perhaps
if I can leave this life as a Pegasus
none of that will matter. Shine on.

day 19 pome 17 arkansassy

This pome isn't late I swear. I wrote it on Day 19 at 10:30 PM. I ended up at this open mic and I wanted to read one I wrote earlier in the month but I don't has 'em saved to my computer, just here on the interweb. And I couldn't get access to the interwebs. So, I figured, let's go ahead and conjure up something for Day 19. And I did. But I was still 2 hours away from home then, and we weren't yet close to leaving, and I was tired when I got in and busy today so I'm not uploading it til now BUT... I swear I wrote it on day 19. After that mid-month slack-off I'm trying to stay on top of things. I know I still have some catching up to do. We'll see if I pull it off. Anyway, here you are:

I have no idea how to leave this place,
this green green place, this cool verdance,
this lush humidity, this mountainous state,
this flatland state. The only reason
I wasn't born in Arkansas is because my yankee mother,
in labor in West Memphis demanded my father
drive her to Tennessee to pop me out. Like, really?
As if Tennessee is any less country. And yes,
y'all, we're country. Yes, the struggle of the
queers, the women, the people of color in the south
idn't nuthin no Yankee could ever imagine, but folks
will look you in the eye and give you a nod
on the street. And that has to mean something.
People bitch about this humidity but I
swim in it. I mean, I breathe it, I love the days,
the July days in which you find yourself
marinating in your own sweat, I love it, but then,
I've always loved a challenge, aka opportunity,
which is why perhaps as a queer feminist anti-
racist this place may just have been made
for me. How can I leave the land of my father,
my beloved father, the man I have to thank
for teaching me respect, confidence, self-worth, and how not
to get treated like shit by my partner, the land
of his father, the land of Lake Ouachita,
of Mulberry River, Buffalo River, the land of the Ozarks,
this place is in
my blood, my breath, my skin, my eyes, and I
am moving to the desert but I hear
in Arizona some people think
it's alright to pass laws that permit pig harassment
based on how "foreign" you seem, did someone
say challenge?
I'm there. I hear
it even rains.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 18 poem 16 mad lib

From a prompt by Erica Miriam Fabri:

The Best Day of the Whole World

Dear Adam,

Today was The Best Day of the Whole World.
When I woke up, I looked at the inside of my hand
and the lines in my palm had re-curled themselves
to say: rhubarb pie. Holy Moses, I thought, today really is
The Best Day of the Whole World. When I got into
the bathtub, my bar of soap had re-shaped itself
into a heron. I danced the dervish's whirl while I scrubbed
my naked self, because I was so delighted.
When I got onto the subway, every single person
was wearing cerulean shirts and shoes.
It was so lovely, the entire train looked like lapis lazuli.
And boy oh boy, do I love lapis lazuli. On the street,
I noticed my limbs were longer than ever before.
I felt like a new woman! I felt like diving,
but I’d never learned how. It was then that I looked-up
toward the sky and saw that it was doing amazing things:
the clouds looked like the man I love’s collarbone, glowing.
Lightning bolts began to take over the sky like sorcery;
the funny thing is, there was no rain—just sharp lines
of electricity that I am certain were forming the map
that would point me in the direction I needed to go.
That’s when I thought of writing you this letter, Adam,
to thank you for all that you are and to let you know
that not a day goes by where I am not grateful for you.
You are something greater than an outer-space of albatros.
You are a Rolls Royce. You are a Babylonian garden. You are lapis lazuli.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 17 poem 15

Poem for a poet whose voice I love #1:

When we marry, which we will of course do
in a way entirely our own, without man,
without building, without book, we will spend
the entire moon that follows in a tent
in a clearing in a woods, watching the moon
's phases change, commenting on the way
she clearly approves of our union. When

we go back to the world, to our new house
with a pink picket fence and a doorbell
that honks like a goose, I will secret
every single word you throw out, will use
the words to construct a complete fresh
manuscript, I will name it after you,
will wrap it in butcher paper, tie it
with shoelaces, share it only with
the moon, not even with you, not even
with you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 16/30, poem 14/30: more from the list of deaths

The Spectacular Voodoo of György Dózsa

If he had one magic, it was
to inspire, to fill, to nourish and he believed
that the self was enough, or should be, should
serve when food or clothing are in short supply,
and the rebellion, the movement, should carry
always on. Shortages
could not destroy him, losing control
of the people under his command
could not destroy him not
in a time when an order to desist
"on pain of death" meant quite simply
that, when Lords were tortured
to dying and governors and bishops impaled, he knew
he could only carry on. Capture, of course,
was eventually inevitable but the way in which
his men were starved for a week before his execution
was original. It was creative, even
honorific, the way in which he was killed
by executioners cooking bits of him, alive,
and feeding him to his hungry men, a sort
of praise, allowing him one last time
to fill, to nourish, to inspire.

((This is partially from the death list, partially from a prompt by Rachel McKibbens and partly who knows what))

Poem 13/30, Day 16/30: Starting back up!

The tenderest things are the ones
I love most; the ache of a bruise,
the new green shoot as it uncurls
from soggy soil, my steak cooked raw,
the moment in which I cannot decide
whether to admit I'm in love, a brand
new mother and her evening star smile.

I love the transient, the fleeting temporal,
the wind before the storm, a glance
through the train window, a glittering spark
that begins an explosion, the feeling
of flying I find when falling in love,
the secret right before it's told.

My favorite is the fragile, the pigeon's
neck, the crocheted coaster, slippery
river rocks, the pigeon's neck, my heart,
my heart, the antique clock, the spider's web,
my heart, ballet shoes, my heart.

And all that I love tonight, your face,
your hands, sweet breath, the pulse
that I love to watch throb
in your neck, my heart,
might disappear tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

not gonna lie

i feel like taking today off too. i'll holler at you this weekend... hopefully ;)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

this post

is a placeholder
for the poem i owe you
and would have written
if my back wasn't aaaaaaching
and i didn't have a big test tomorrow
and a big paper due
and a class to drop

but i did at least do the dishes

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The List of Unusual Deaths.

I like the impressive suicides, the ones in which
you can really tell they meant it. The man
in Australia, 1995, who did it with a shotgun:
once to the chest, walked 15 meters, once
to the face, tearing away his throat and his jaw,
walked 136 meters and lay down on the slope
of a hill. With both hands he held the barrel
to his heart and pulled the trigger
with his toes. The man on death row, 1930,
who knew about the nitrocellulose in the red ink
on playing cards and so, stuffed his cot leg with them,
blowing himself up, as if to say, even in death
you have no power over me. Delicious. I like

the modern deaths, not necessarily the ones
that happened recently, but the ones
that could not have happened without technology,
the man in Texas in 2003 stepping onto
an elevator, decapitated, just like that,
the man blissfully jogging on the beach, 2010,
who didn't hear the airplane making
an emergency landing over the sound
of his iPod, and also in 2010, the owner
of the Segway company who drove his Segway
off a cliff, accidentally, and drowned.

...blah blah blah maybe there's more to this poem
when I revise in May but for now I'm damn tired.
My back has been hurting severely since Friday morning
(which makes this Day 5 of Crazy Chronic Back Pain
Spazstravaganza '11, and yes, I've been counting)
and it's time for my damned nap. Love you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

11/30: Passive Murder

Easy Ways to Commit Murder
Without Even Trying!

When you think something is stupid,
or silly, undesirable, or otherwise
awful, say of it, laughing:
"That's so gay!"

And just like that, Justin Aaberg,
at 16, will decide he would rather
hang himself in his bedroom than
hear that phrase once more. His
mother will find him, and only then
will she find out he was gay.

Men, when you compliment your male friend,
before you even take a breath, follow
it up with: "No homo!"

Easy as pie, Billy Lucas, age 15, will hang
himself from the barn rafters. Asher Brown,
13, will shoot himself in the head. Cody
Barker, 17, an activist working to make
his school safer for kids like him will decide
it isn't working.

Call a boy who's sensitive a fag, whether
he is gay or straight. Call your friend
who pisses you off a fag, doesn't matter
who he fucks. If you yourself happen
to be gay, shrug it off, or laugh, when
people use this language. Don't get
angry, don't rise up, don't speak out.
Laughter is safe. Laughter keeps them
your friends.

Seth Walsh, 13, will try to hang himself,
but fail for 10 whole days, kept
on life support, until, in the end,
you kill him. Tyler Clementi, 18,
will put down his violin for good,
stroll out to the George Washington bridge
and leap over, finally free for at least
a few seconds. 21-year-old Jeanine
Blanchette and 17-year-old Chantal Dubé
will stroll out into a field in the woods,
swallow your words along with the pills,
and lie down together one last time.

Vote to take homes away from foster children
just so they won't end up fostered by
The Gays. Vote to take marriage away from
The Gays. Vote in any way you can against
The Gays. When a news story, television drama,
or commercial comes on with any reference to
the gays, change the channel. Don't question
your privilege or the ignorance it comes with,
don't cross dress, do not acknowledge your
sexual desires and curiosities, do not ever,
ever, ever challenge heteronormativity.

Raymond Chase, 19, Providence, Rhode Island,
Felix Sacco, 17, Saugus, Massachusetts,
Alec Henrikson, 18, Salt Lake City, Utah,
Brad Fuglei, 19, Omaha, Nebraska,
Marcus Wayman, 18, Minersville, Pennsylvania,
the list goes on as long as my heart's
astonished silence.

When you go to wash the blood from your hands,
I hear ammonia can stop it from staining.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

10/30 in which the poet slacks off

Today was okay i guess because
i drank wine last night so i slept in
real late and i woke up a little woozy but
it was okay because it's sunday so
i didn't have to do anything, just
pee, which i did, and eat, which i did,
because Nancy came over with scallops and I
had rice so with our powers combined
we had a nice little meal while watching
a movie which helped the fact that my
mother wrote me today, the one who gave
birth to me not the one I love now, and she
was up to her same old tricks, of course,
like she could look the grand canyon right
in the eyes and make it feel guilty
for being so big, like she could stand out
in a monsoon and insist she were dry
as a bone, don't you dare tell her otherwise,
and no, at the end of today I didn't write
the poem I'd have liked to but fuck,
even G-d took a day off from creating,
so sue me, and anyway, the weather
was great.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

in which i wonder

who exactly is reading this.
if you feel like letting me know,
shout out in the comments.

9/30: grand folks jelly

In this world we live in today with the whole damn
internet I visit my friend's profile page and see
an entire folder of photos labeled "Gramma Jean!"
just like that, exclamation mark and all. In one
she wears a pirate hat, grinning, in another,
silly sunglasses and a genuine laugh. One picture
is of her at the base of a giant statue of Superman,
one hand planted firmly on his tall red boots,
the other flung out to the side. My favorite,
which is to say, the one that makes me hate
my friend the most, is the one in which Gramma Jean
has climbed behind a plywood cutout of
Supergirl's body. We're talking six feet tall
and fine as hell, a patriotic hourglass, and the smile
on her face is priceless, y'all, and the caption
is a quote from Gramma Jean! herself, it says, "this
is how I really look, not like a little old lady,"
as if she had to tell us. My father's father

died before I was born.

I once dated a boy
with three whole sets of grandparents. He was
thirty years old. One set had divorced early on
and happily remarried and he legitimately had
three entire pairs of grandparents. He called them
all the time on the phone. My mother's father died

when I was two years old. There is a photograph
in which he is holding me; in this picture his lap
reminds me of the statue of Abraham Lincoln: vast
and steady as stone. I have, of course, no memory
of him at all.

Another friend not only has both sets of grandparents
but for most of his young life had his great grandparents,
too. My mother's mother died when I was nine and I
did not handle it well. My father's mother physically died
my junior year of high school, but her mind went
years before that. I see photos of a longtime friend
on her profile page with her arms thrown around the neck
of her grandfather. My friend is nearly forty.
The old man may be wearing wrinkles and age spots
but his smile is young, and wild, and wide. I cry.

Friday, April 8, 2011

8/30: last minute (get it b/c it's about time)

The difference between climate and weather is time.
Temporal measurement, or cronometry, takes two forms,
and the short story is:
calendars versus clocks. They say time
began to be measured first
around 12,000 BCE with calendars based on the moon and
around 45 BCE they switched to the sun. Clocks
turned up around 1,500 BCE, and I say:

fuck 'em all. I hate time, hate
everything about it. Hate dates, hate deadlines,
hate schedules, to me, time
is an illusion and as far as I'm concerned
I've no interest in suspending disbelief. I mean,
explain to me how you are 9.5 hours away
by a clock but how many days
would it take me to get to you if I tried?
Meanwhile, by a calendar you're a good
five months away. We've been dating just shy
of two years, but I feel that you know me
well enough for a lifetime, and while it's only been
two and a half weeks since I saw you it feels
like it's surely been a full year. I hate

this time, this distancing, limiting time, want us both
to step out of this dimension altogether,
into the next, like lines becoming circles,
circles becoming spheres we will ellipse on out
into a place where there is nothing between us,
no calendars, no clocks, no space, no lines,
no time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

7/30: For My Friend

For My Friend, Upon The Occasion Of Her Divorce:

I mean it. Get as sad as you want.
Cry. Cry curled up in the kitchen floor
surrounded by too many dishes. Cry until
you snot on the floor. Leave the snot there
for days. I mean it. Ignore the dishes,
the bills, the laundry, show up late to work
and forget what clocks are for. When they ask
why you're late, again, just look at them,
like they've spoken a foreign language, like
they have no faces, like you are dying

to kill them yourself, like you don't even know
where you are. And forget how to fall asleep.
Stay up until five a.m. doing nothing at all,
flipping channels on the television and then
on the day you decide to turn it all around
and you do the dishes and you mop the floor
and you start the laundry and head out
to the grocery store to find something
for dinner, forgive yourself completely
for falling apart right there in front
of god and everybody when you see

his favorite cereal. Buy a box just
so you can throw it away. Then don't. Then
buy whiskey, or wine, whatever your poison,
drink too much in the parking lot
of the bar before you go in, and go in
and the first man who buys you a drink,
if you like the look of him, is your man
for the night. Laugh at his jokes.
Dance with him and when you aren't dancing
hold on to his arm. Let him take you home.
Let him remind you that you are,
in fact, beautiful. Fuck that man
for hours and then leave. Leave his bed

in flames, leave his house burning down
around him, take a cab home. Leave
your panties behind in the cab. The cabbie
will never forget you. The man from the bar
will never forget you. The bar will never
forget you. The man you're divorcing
will never forget you and you will never
forget him either and that's okay, because
one day you will realize at the end of the day
that you hadn't thought about him once all day,
not up until the point that just then
you only thought of him to realize you hadn't,
and you'll chuckle to yourself, you'll get

a new tattoo, a haircut, shoes, and you'll miss
those panties you left in the cab, miss
the man from the bar, even miss your ex-
husband but you'll love the woman you've become

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

6/30: Write a letter to someone dead.

Dear Gin:

I'd like to say first that I'm sorry
I haven't talked to you in so long but now
that you're dead it's difficult,
naturally, I'm sure you understand.
To be fair, I haven't heard much
from you either. I guess I wanted
to thank you for a few things. First,

for trying so hard to make me a lady.
Sit up straight and cross your legs and
use the smallest fork first and all
the other seemingly trivial things
you'd remind me of that added up
to make a larger message: be lady-
like. And I am. Lady-like, anyway.
Then, for being so darned beautiful

in all of your old photos, for meaning
that I came from Beautiful Stock, that I
might one day grow up to be beautiful too,
and for the other photos, all the ones
of you in foreign countries, which gave
me permission to travel, in the way those other
photos gave me permission to be beautiful.
It's important to have permission
to be beautiful, I think, what with all
the messages women get today, and also
to be able to travel on your own. Thank you

for so many things. Thank you for
every single school year, the way you would
send my mother, my sister, and I off
to the big city with your credit card
because we two girls would outgrow our clothes
too fast for our parents' budget,
and you knew this, and you loved us
and wanted us to have nice things. Thank you
for the story of the way you and our grandfather

met. For the story of how his parents
were just country farming folk, never sent him
in to school, and the system found him,
third-grade age, and brought him in, and showed him
the third grade classroom, and said, you could
go here if you wanted, these children are
your age. Showed him the second grade classroom
and said, this is right in the middle, if
you like, showed him the first grade class
and said this is the beginning. What do you think?
And my grandfather, the love of your whole life,
just a boy, looked up, smiling, and said:
What classroom was the black-haired girl in?
Of course she was you. This story gave me
permission to believe in love. Do you see

the trend, Gin? O woman who refused to be called
Grandmother because of what it might imply,
woman who threw respect to the wind and said
instead we should call you by your nickname,
Gin, from Virginia, the name I now bear in honor
of all your stories, thank you for what
your stories teach me and thank you, even,

for the story I hate to tell, the story
my father told me, the story in which it is
late September, 1957, and my father is watching
you do the dishes, happy in the kitchen of
his childhood home, happy in the way that only
a privileged white boy in Arkansas in the 50s
can be as he watches his beautiful mother
do dishes, smiling, in the home his father,
who loves his mother, built for his family,
whom he also loves, and shows it. In this story
you are elbow deep in suds when the trucks go past,
down the highway which runs right in front
of your house, and you look up, and you see
the line, as dark green as they tell me
your eyes must have been, and you throw

down your dishtowel and you run out into
your front yard to shake your fist and scream,
as if it were anything other than ineffectual,
at the 101st Airborne on their way
to do nothing other than help a few kids
go to school. Thank you for what I've learned
from this story too, that even gods
and goddesses can be wrong, that it is
my destiny to learn from my heritage,
that my shame is my teacher, that I
can be like you and different at once,
that I can be lady-like, beautiful,
well-traveled, deserve nice things and
deserve to be loved but that I
should love others, too.

Sleep well,
your loving granddaughter.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

5/30: the day i cannot let go of

This poem is not for the sun that day,
the way it filtered through lace-thin clouds,
not for the breakfast, huevos con frijoles
y tortillas, made right before us, over fire, nor
the broad, smiling woman who made it, not
her hands covered in masa, not the apron
she wiped them upon. This is not for
the gentle rain that came and went and
came and went tapping on the thatched roof
over our heads, nor for the thatched roof
over our heads nor even the hammocks
that held us while we napped. This poem is not
in praise of those rocks, they way they towered
above us, each like their own cathedral,
their angles, their curves, the way they marched
proudly out into the sea, not for the wet sand
between our toes, the seashells we collected,
no, this is not that poem. It does not sing of
nor praise the moment the sun came boldly out,
pushing all clouds back, when Paulina came running,
demanding we go down to swim while we could,
no. And yet, this is still

a praise poem. I choose to praise those currents,
rip tides, the first one that pulled me out
like it owned me, praise the way it owned me. Praise
my three friends, tiny on the shore, unaware,
smiling, praise their ignorant smiles. Praise
the second tide, the one that pulled me sideways
rather than out, praise those tall rocks now, now
and not before, praise them out there in the ocean,
a stone church ready for my last mass, ready
for my absolution, praise the water turning
holy, praise the holy, churning waters, praise my fear
when I looked upon them. Praise that one
blessed fragment of a moment, that moment in which
a shard of my soul broke loose, praise that sparkling
splinter of soul and the moment in which it will
forever be trapped, praise the moment in which
I resigned myself to death and praise every single
stolen moment I’ve lived since I escaped it.