A Day in Bullets

20 07 2012

Another mass shooting in Colorado knocked me off my rocker, and shaped the rest of the day. I read certain things I would not otherwise have read. Built a shrine in my room. Cried in the shower. Schooled myself in a game of soccer.

One of my favorite soccer goal-scoring memories lives just up the road from the theater.

I’ve found lately that I can only take my prayers seriously when recited in a foreign language. There is so much to say, too much for the words of my own tongue to be of any use. No orderly queue here; there’s cutting and quarreling and shoving until all devolves into chaos. Foreign words could mean anything- and so, they can mean everything.


Grief, like the bullets that so often bring it about, is a great leveler. It can unite those who would otherwise have nothing to do with one another. It can also be a force of devastating isolation. The choice is ours.

The Sound of Cry


Impending Doom

28 06 2012

The earliest nightmares I can remember were all of fire. The most vivid played out like an old side-scrolling video game as I scurried through a maze whose walls were all of flame, seeking desperately for my sisters, searching frantically for a way to get all of us out.

Not one to submit to the phantasms conjured up by my imagination and too many episodes of the Power Rangers, I claimed fire as my constant companion. We developed a strong working relationship, her and I, as I conjured her to consume an ever increasing variety of offerings and she teased me with the promise of submitting to my will. I grew to love the flames, welcoming them in to my most holy moments of grief and celebration.

This week I am reminded anew of the terror intertwined with such shimmering, ephemeral beauty. Madame Fire has danced through canyons and over ridges, leaving in the wake of her merrymaking nothing but the skeletons of those partners which could not match her whirling energies. She has come to the garden of those very gods who gifted her upon humanity. We the people flee from her exuberance.

(via: 1, 2, 3)

Jessie, tell me a story…

25 11 2011

The scene:

Breakfast at Portage Bay Cafe (where Michael and Heather and Jacquie work) with family: mom, sister, sister, adopted brothers. The place is full, and loud. I ask youngest sister to tell me a story, and she asks “about what?” This is what I say to her..

The Parameters:

I want zombies, and I want them to be the good guys. I want to root for them to eat all the brains. I want them to be so good that, when the story is over, I want to BE a zombie. This is the tale she told..

The Story:

Amanda Barbee is a zombie.

This makes Tom really upset, because he was starting to think he really liked her. He is not at all happy about having to kill her this early in the relationship. Furious, in fact. In order to blow off some steam before the mercy-killing he knows must come, Tom runs out into the streets of Seattle to slaughter some zombies. He bashes in heads by the Space Needle and squishes faces at Gas Works. He chops off legs at Golden Gardens just to watch them crawl through the sand–and laughs. Eventually he wears himself out, returns home, and collapses into bed.

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning Tom awakens to find Amanda looming over his bed. “Oh no,” he thinks, “now I really do have to kill her, or she’ll turn me too!”

“Wait!” Amanda cries. “Don’t you see, this is the next step in our evolution. We must become zombies to be freed from our chauvinistic ways!”

This makes perfect sense to Tom. Of course zombies would be freed from the scourges of kyriarchy! Is that not what we’ve been working toward all along? He reaches out to Amanda and she tenderly chews off a hunk of his flesh, infecting him with the virus that will bring equality to all of humanity.

The End.


28 08 2011

I need words tonight. Some outlet for the chaos in my gut.

Ironic, then, that I just spent the evening surrounded by friends who have seen the worst I have to offer and come back for more…and it wasn’t until I was alone that I had anything to say. Goodness, do I ever have things to say.

My therapist, God love him, tells me I am now entering the fire, the crucible, where the dross of my soul will be identified, separated, discarded. He says this as a statement of fact: inviolable, inevitable. That I’ve done it all before and know exactly what will be asked of me only makes it all the more terrifying.

Once upon a time, my crucible was physical. A freshman in high school, I was newly infatuated with this thing called “backpacking”–you mean, using nothing but the power of your own legs, taking nothing you weren’t willing to carry on your own back for dozens of miles, you can get to alpine lakes of neverending depth, meadows bursting with wildflowers, and stars in their billions?! I’m never going home–and, even more so, with the supreme confidence, and joy, and flourishing that my Wilderness Expeditions heroes and heroines seemed to effortlessly embody. I lived summer to summer those years, with every moment between my mountainous adventures dull and meaningless by comparison. But I digress. That year, the crucible came in the form of a ridge straight from hell: 3000 feet of vertical ascent in less than a mile, after a full 12 miles of hiking under the relentless Colorado sun. Being young and in shape (and an utter fool) I figured in for a penny, in for a pound–I wasn’t just going to climb The Crucible, I was going to run up it. With 50 pounds strapped to my back. And no water to speak of.

Did I also mention I hated myself more than a little that week? I don’t remember why (something to do with porn?), but I do remember saying to myself “Tom, you may be a pathetic failure back home, but on the mountain you have the chance to make up for it. Run all the way to the top now and you will be worthy of forgiveness. Fail and you will always be a nothing, a liar, deserving of hell.”

My legs gave out beneath me a hundred yards from the top.

My therapist, God bless his soul, tells me we have but one metaphor for times like these: Gethsemane. Pleading, betrayal, kenosis. Kenosis: the utter emptying of self. There’s something wretchedly therapeutic in pushing your body to the point of collapse; hearing, and then rejecting, its increasingly strident complaints until the nervous system throws a little tantrum and you’re reminded, violently–I Am Not God.

Am I crazy enough, gutsy enough, strong enough to push until the point of collapse now, when the muscle giving up will be my heart?

If I am–what then? That backpacking trip, after a few minutes of rest and a little help from my friends, I was back on my feet and pushing onward. We summited that mountain together, me and the youth group who once named me “Quiet Confidence.” Is there a summit to my life, even a false one, a simple moment where I can stand triumphant, or is there just another crucible lurking in the distance, harder and hotter than anything I could imagine tonight?

My therapist, praise God for him, tells me he knows I will not quit. He says this as a statement of fact: inexorable, irrevocable.

Sometimes I even believe him.

Above it all?

12 06 2011

I’ve figured that by the time I land in Seattle tomorrow afternoon I will have traveled 9,480 miles via six airports in a four-week span–and that’s just with measuring as the crow flies. It probably wouldn’t be stretching things too much to double that number to account for silly layovers and the like. I won’t be  shattering any world records, perhaps, but for a homebody like me it has been exhausting. I am dying to sleep in the same bed more than a couple nights in a row (I just wish it could be my heaven mattress).

I knew I would be saving the best trip for last; what could be more worthy of a cross-county trek than standing next to the man who has been one of my very closest friends since the age of five as he vows to cherish and serve a beautiful, kind woman ’til death do they part?

contrary to what this photo would have you believe, Nathan and Sarah are not the subjects of this essay. I am. My blog = all about me!

I knew this weekend was going to be of the utmost importance for him. What I didn’t realize was how revelatory it would be for me, too.

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Magic Mirror

21 05 2011

This is a writing prompt too apropos to my current work to ignore, from a blog I have lurked since my days in Texas.

This is a challenge. For you.

Stare into a mirror for a minute.

One full minute. (Use an egg timer/oven timer/your phone to time it.)

And when the minute is up, write whatever it inspires.

Fiction/non-fiction. A laundry list of things you like or don’t like. A modern re-telling of Cinderella where she’s trying to work her way up from the streets with nothing but her mad dance skillz and pluck.

It can be anything. In any format.

Just write it.

Then post it on your blog/tumblr/bathroom wall.

You can link back here, so others can read the instructions and join in too. You can leave a comment below with a link to your piece.

But you don’t have to.

Just write it.

One minute.

And go!

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Where is home?

21 04 2011

I wrote this in front of my fireplace in Colorado; I’m posting it from my couch in Seattle. It’s a delicious tension.

The last time I was here I felt my heart turn over one frigid December morning. Blurry-eyed and groaning from sleep disturbed, I thought to myself

I am ready to go home

I bolted upright, enough adrenaline surging through my veins to do the work of five cups of coffee.

Home? What do I mean, HOME? I am home!

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