Thank You, Dear Heart

I’ve been doing a lot of self-exploration and self-discovery lately, and during that process I’ve mostly been on my own. This works for a lot of it, but the other day I needed a little outside support, and found it from a newish friend. Her support wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it wasn’t assumed, and it was most appreciated. I am glad she was the right person in the right place at the right time. Thank you, Kira.

Thank you, dear heart
When I needed you to see me
You were there
And I was able
To let go
To feel
To be

It’s odd to think that
In less than a year
You have become my trusted
My honest
My strong
My loyal
My friend

Who should have been here
Have failed me
Or are waiting in the wings
As though their scene has not yet come

Perhaps someone who knows me
Through my history
Through my past
Could not do what you have done
Could not be what you were
When I needed that self most

Or perhaps you simply
Are different
See different
Think different
Know different
Than those I’ve leaned on before

You were there
When I needed you most
When I needed to let go
When I needed to be free
When I needed you
You were there
Thank you, dear heart


The Thanksgiving Chicken

I have told this story many times. It occurred in 2011, and was written down just recently for you all, in honor of the season. I find it hilarious, but I thought I should warn you that an animal was, in fact, harmed in the making of this story. If you dislike non-vegetarian acts or descriptions of death, please do not read any further.

The second year I worked as an English teacher in China, my American friends and I decided to have a Thanksgiving celebration. In China, it’s almost impossible and very expensive to get a turkey, so we opted to get a chicken. Everyone contributed something different, and because I had a different work schedule than everyone else, and couldn’t cook the day of our celebration, I volunteered to do some of the shopping the day before, including buying and prepping the chicken, which I would then deliver to my friend for cooking. Read more

On Love, Bravery and Equality

I like stories that require a character to be brave, and which give them the opportunity to be a hero, their own or someone else’s. Sometimes that means killing the monster, sometimes that means outwitting the evil mastermind, sometimes that means telling unpopular truths, and sometimes that means being emotionally vulnerable.

Loving is an often overlooked act of bravery, and my favorite romances show that. I am a connoisseur of stories about romances that require a little extra bravery, that in some way challenge stereotypes. Loving within our given social boundaries is hard enough, but I have so much admiration for the people who find love that doesn’t fit into the boundaries prescribed by other people.

I have a theory that most of the unhappiness in the world comes from moments of cowardice when facing the pressures of societal rules. Not that societal rules are bad in themselves. In many ways, they are our primary safety net in any interaction with other human beings. And because of this, when faced with the choice of being unhappy or of going against societal rules, it is easy to take the way that is safe, to follow the rules.

Love is never safe. Even if our loved ones return our feelings unconditionally, agree with us on everything of significance, and never betray our trust, the world does not let love remain a safe activity. Every day people get sick, die, move to new places, face new challenges, grow and change. Loving someone is one of the most dangerous and bravest things we can do, and something the human brain is programmed to seek out. And yet love is also frequently twisted and misused. Perpetrators of the worst acts of terrorism, abuse and violence often attempt justify their actions with twisted misinterpretations of love: revenge for a loved one lost, or against a loved one who didn’t see love through the same lens; jealousy and fear of losing love; or out of love of a deity, homeland or ideal.

It’s cliche to say there’s a fine line between love and hate, and I go back and forth on whether I truly believe it, but I see a parallel to the line between bravery and cowardice. I like the definition of bravery as acting not without fear but in spite of it. Both bravery and cowardice occur in the presence of fear, and in the moment of choosing between the two, that line can be infinitely wide or almost nonexistent, depending on the choices available in the moment.

And there is no clear line between the kind of person who will choose bravery or the kind who will be cowardly. Someone who always faces monsters bravely may shrink from telling unpopular truths. Someone who can outwit any evil mastermind may throw up every shield available when faced with emotional vulnerability. And yet, even when a character follows these patterns to a T, there is always room for growth, for facing up to a challenge previously avoided at all costs. That is often the greatest type of bravery, for it faces the greatest fear. We always have a chance to be braver than we were yesterday.

All of my favorite romances that challenge stereotypes also have an element of equality. I believe that when there is a perceived/constructed/chosen imbalance of power in a relationship, the love and the risk it brings are unstable as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are unhealthy, just unstable in some way. My interest in equality does not mean that all my favorite romances are about people who are the same. In fact, what interests me most, and what I am exploring in my own stories is how to weight the scales of power so that both parties come out equal, even when they both thought they were too different to ever find equality.

One and Two and Three

This is not a sestina, but the structure was inspired by them. A traditional sestina is written in iambic pentameter, and this is iambic trimeter instead. (For more on sestinas, see What is a Sestina?) This is a fun little poem that just happened when I had a sudden rush of creative juices two days ago.

Please always tell the truth
You have no need to lie
Now one and two and three
The magic of the sleuth
The falsehood that you cry
The sleuth will always see

You thought I did not see
You did not tell the truth
I’ll raise the hue and cry
To show you told a lie
I’ll be the little sleuth
And one and two and three

Now one and two and three
And what is this I see?
The mission of the sleuth
Is to reveal the truth
And to expose the lie
Your falsehood do not cry

You made your mother cry
And one and two and three
When she found out your lie
When all the world did see
You should have told the truth
When speaking to this sleuth

I would not have to sleuth
Your mother would not cry
If you had told the truth
Now one and two and three
I hope that you can see
You should not tell a lie

For when you tell a lie
You shan’t deceive this sleuth
The truth is what I see
No matter how you cry
And one and two and three
Indeed, I see the truth


Wow. I can’t believe it’s been ten months since I posted. I have been struggling with finding my voice in several mediums lately, and I appreciate finally having something to say and knowing how to say it, even if it’s short.

One of my favorite quotes is by Edward de Bono:

“It has always surprised me how little attention philosophers have paid to humor, since it is a more significant process of mind than reason. Reason can only sort out perceptions, but the humor process is involved in changing them.”

This quote rearranged my mind a little when I read it, and has stuck with me. I am often surprised by what changes I see in my perception when I encounter moments of humor. In particular, I have a very dear friend who always redirects my thinking with off-hand but hilarious comments.

Today I was reminded that art can also change perceptions while watching a contemporary dance routine on SYTYCD called Change is Everything. Change is an uncomfortable process, and usually comes with uncomfortable emotions, even when the change is positive. In that routine the song, the choreography and even the quality of the movement were uncomfortable for me to witness, but at the same time it was so beautiful that I couldn’t look away. It had my full attention, and made something uncomfortable somehow more bearable because of its beauty.

I have noticed that I tend to spend a lot of time in the land of the sticky-sweet, especially when it comes to reading and writing fiction, but I am hoping that I can find more of a balance and willingness to look those uncomfortable emotions in the face and make them more accessible. There is so much potential to connect through art, and to make emotional space for each other, especially as so many cultures around the world, and most especially mine, are sanitizing emotion, or turning the emotions of others into a distancing kind of entertainment. I am so glad to see art like this in the mainstream, and I hope that these pieces that transform discomfort into beauty without diminishing the experience can help us heal some of the damage created by distancing, stoicism and xenophobia.

Masquerade Plans

I’ve been working on this story for a while, but I suddenly realized that it was perfect to post for Halloween, so I pushed myself to get it finished. I didn’t quite make it, but two days past isn’t bad.

This is a story of budding romance between two men. There aren’t any sex scenes, but there is some kissing, and some cussing. Hope you enjoy!


Cameron had the perfect plan. After three years of planning, it should be perfect. No need to talk, check. He couldn’t screw this one up by choking on his own tongue. Unfortunately, that had actually happened on several previous attempts. Simple logistics, check. Nothing that could melt, burn, or otherwise required precise timing, which he had also learned from previous attempts. Easy escape if it failed, check. He was fairly sure he could pull off the “Oh, that was you? I totally thought you were someone else” excuse. Even if it wasn’t entirely believable, Enrique would probably let him get away with it. It would be awkward of course, but he doubted that kind of awkward would be any worse than the awkward he was currently suffering.

Read more

First Date

I’m hopefully meeting someone new today. We’ve talked a little, but never met in person. I really like the little bit I know. Here’s hoping the rest is just as good!

You’ve got me planning
Planning how to primp
How to dress
What to say
I want you to like me
I want to show you who I am
This is me
Wild hair and smiling eyes
Glowing knowing I’m alive
Crazy about everyday beauty
Loving nature-made art
Not just that sunset
All of it
I hope that when we meet
You can ignite a different passion
That all this planning won’t be wasted
This time
I hope you like me
I hope I like you too

You Lured Me In. What Changed?

Content warning: This is about an abusive relationship. It’s not particularly explicit, but if you are easily triggered, you may want to skip this one.

I wrote this on July 29, but I waited a while to post it to make sure I was ready.  This seems to apply to a romantic relationship, but it does not. If you want to know more about the story behind this poem, please check out my post Do you know what abuse looks like?

You lured me in
Building on our shared history
Memories and nostalgia made you safe
If only I had known
You offered me protection
An escape from my frustrations
You offered me companionship
I wouldn’t be alone
I never expected it to be easy
But you made it easy at first
What changed?
I thought at first you did
But maybe you were already changed
Maybe the scars you gained in our years apart
Reshaped you
The scars I couldn’t see
Maybe all that really changed
Was your veneer cracking
Your twists and damage showing through

Thank goodness I was never in your power
Never dependent on the things you offered me
I may have seemed so to you at first
But even if I had been
I like to think I would have found a way
To escape

At the first sign of my independence
You became cold
Did you truly believe that I was the cause of your pain?
Did you in some way believe I was yours?
Your doll?
Why was my independence so threatening?
I am not your enemy
You did that to yourself
I tried to play your game
But I am done
I will not be your verbal punching bag
Your feelings are not my fault
And every time you tried to explain
It became clearer
That your rationale for blaming me
Was not rational at all

If you must twist yourself in knots
To feel justified
Have fun
I am walking free

Do you know what abuse looks like?

I started this post as the introduction to You Lured Me In. What Changed?, but when I realized that the introduction was becoming longer than the poem, I decided to make a separate post for it.

The poem came out of the aftermath of a relationship that went from mutually beneficial to abusive in a short span of time. A common misconception about abuse is that it only occurs in romantic relationships or between family members. This was not a typical abusive relationship. It was in no way romantic, and neither my friend nor I wanted it to be, but she and I had known each other since kindergarten, and there was a lot of history between us. I lived with her for most of a year in 2014-2015, and near the end of that time I decided that I couldn’t live with her anymore. At that time, things were still fairly good between us, but she had started smoking (again), which I have had a strong aversion to my whole life, and she was planning to relocate when the lease was up. She wanted me to move with her, but the new location would be very inconvenient for me and though I considered moving with her, in the end I decided not to. Read more

Aeschylus Wrote

I was inspired by a quote from Aeschylus, which I found here: Aeschylus Quotes

Written August 4, 2016.

“My will is mine,” he wrote.
“I shall not make it soft for you.”
And I, across two thousand years
Feel fire in my blood.
How can I be
As sure
As strong
As honest
As those words taste?
They stand so tall alone
Spread wide
Like branches
Like wings.
The beauty of the hero’s might
Woven into black on white.
How can I make them part of me?
How can I be
That thought?