Mar 26, 2008

Free Time

I like that term: free time. I mean, isn't all time essentially "free?" Part of the time, I am actually getting paid for my time. I don't know if I have actually ever paid for my own time. Not with money anyways. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this. I do know that I am pretty bored at this time and this caused me to remember a very creative and informative blog: If you're bored to tears, like me, or just have some "free time" on your hands, then check it out. (No wonder people have problems learning English as their second language.)

Mar 23, 2008

Cutting Loose the Tongue: a dialogue

As a feminist icon and peace activist, Maxine Hong Kingston is one of my personal heroines. Coming from working-class family with a ghostly, yet rigid worldview, I feel that Kingston is a kindred spirit in the quest to unearth one's genuine voice.

In her first work of prose, “The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts,” she reveals through an intricate web of reality, fiction, and fable how she struggled to find her uniquely powerful identity.

In one section of the book, “A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe,” Kingston tries to understand why she feels the violent need to be heard. She tells of when her mother confesses to Maxine that she “cut [her tongue] so that you would not be tongue-tied”. She is unsure by what her mother means, because her mother often uses a sort of “talk story” to convey a truth, rather than fact. But Maxine feels very tongue-tied by her Chinese ancestry, by her mother’s talk story, and by being a female American. She cannot articulate the things inside or outside of her body. “Even the good things are unspeakable, so how could I ask about deformities?”

(To be continued...)

Mar 17, 2008


My artist husband, David, has been encouraging (read here: badgering) me to be a more professional writer. He created business cards for me. I still don't like passing them out, even though they are adorable. This blog is alive mostly because he won't let me quit. Now, he's creating a website for me. I am very scared of the website. There's a large photo of me right when you enter it. And, it exists just to promote my writing. I wonder: am I ready for this? Is my writing ready for the world wide web? I don't know. But my husband (read here: fire-lighter-under-my-lazy-butt) insists that modern writers must have a web presence. So, coming soon: or .org or something. I think we'll have it figured out in another month.

Mar 6, 2008


Autumn is the most poetic season with her wild, ecstatic tendrils blowing through the biting wind, her innocence left in dry piles by the swing-sets. Children dash and jump in her discarded childish ideals while she slowly pulls the cloak of darkness down around the day and celebrates the dances of the night. Halloween is mere child’s play when one is well acquainted with the unnatural passions of the darkness. When the light fades, the urges emerge and I am left helpless.

Nathan is in the mirror. Nathan is behind the door. Nathan is under the blankets. Nathan is in the refrigerator. Nathan is standing behind my mother. Nathan is sitting beside my father.

I have been told that my trust must only rest in God. Trust is not a restful thing. It is a squirmy, wriggly worm, which inches just out of reach. How do I trust God when I cannot trust myself?

The real problem lies in this: I do not want to hold back. This flood pushes against the dam with the force of a mighty wind. I ache to let go. I crave the release.

I look into his eyes: dark and warm and sad. When we are together, time itself stands still. I am at peace with the universe. But the universe is not at peace with me. My father stands in my face, silently condemning me to eternal damnation. My mother stands at my side, head tilted down and away. Where is my sister? My beautiful, little bird…where has she flown to? She stands with Nathan. She stands between me and Nathan.

The nights are so lonely and long. I pour all of my energy into the creation of the Christmas play. The hope of light in the darkness. The hope of innocence in the night of unnatural longing. I do not sleep. I work and write and scheme and sketch. The days turn into nights, which turn into weeks and months. The hour of deliverance is soon upon us. All of creation is in an uproar.

She stands naked and shivering, her innocence lost for another long and lonely season. She stands proud and dark, against the cold snow and ice. She stands as one with the knowledge that all seasons change and pass away. The sun always rises. Life begins anew after death. She, the bearer of God, the womb of man, the holy mother and teacher, stands alone. We merely watch, if we are wise, and learn from her faithfulness.

Nathan plays the angel Gabriel. In the play, we call him Gabe. He wears those worn, tight jeans like a rugged cowboy. His converse shoes are wrapped in duct tape; his concerns are heaven-bound. When he smiles at me, the iron gates at my heart melt like wax. I say one last word of encouragement and the curtain rises. The performance begins.

I say each line with passion and a commitment that never wavers. For over an hour, I believe the Story. I am the faithful fiancé, believing in the miracle of spontaneous conception. I am in love with the mother of God; I am the surrogate father of the Word made flesh.

The curtain falls; applause erupts. I hear my father’s voice calling the lost sheep to salvation. “Come back to the fold,” he says, his deep, quiet voice booming through the microphone. “Jesus is reaching His hand out to you. Won’t you reach back tonight.” Energy pulses through the audience. The choir sings Amazing Grace. The church is packed tonight. Everyone is looking for a miracle. Everyone is reaching upward to the heavens. Everyone is putting aside their doubt and disbelief.

I kiss him.

Beneath the lightly falling snow, in the church parking lot after everyone has gone to their warm homes, I kiss him.

He leans against the van, his coat zipped up, scarf wrapped around his neck. I am hard and aching. I yearn to pull it all off and touch his chocolate skin, but I only kiss him lightly on the lips. Sweet, tangible lips. He says nothing. His eyes are angry. His hands are full of unanswered questions. I only want him. He pushes me away.

“Don’t ever do that again.” Quietly aggressive, he turns his back to me and climbs into the bitter van. I get into the passenger seat. I force my sight towards the window. The houses pass like train cars. I am not moving. Everything is moving past me.

Christmas morning brings sweet smells of cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. It is just the four of us this morning. The few presents sit on the coffee table. Mom lights a few candles. It is four a.m. Grandma calls and wishes us Merry Christmas. Did we receive her hand-knitted hats and scarves? The phone is passed around. I feel dead inside. The rejection sits in my stomach like a canon ball.

Dad reads the Christmas story. We sing carols. Aunt Mae and Uncle Kurt arrive at noon. Mom and Aunt Mae fix a huge Christmas dinner with turkey and ham and stuffing and greens. Abigail curls up in the window with the new book I gave her: “The Color Purple”. Dad and Uncle Kurt play chess. I pace back and forth. I bother Abigail so she keeps losing her place. I finally help in the kitchen, cutting the turkey. We eat dinner and then play Win, Lose, or Draw. Abigail and I win.

We bundle up and take a walk around the neighborhood. Dad is too cheap to decorate our yard. He declines the invitation to walk with us, making up an excuse that he needs to work on his sermon for Sunday. The neighbors have lights galore, plastic Santas and reindeer that glow, big blow-up snowmen dancing in the wind. The snow from the night before is just a mere dusting. Others are outside, walking off the holiday calorie fest. We greet each other. We even wave to the atheists next door.

I am consumed by the big, bad wolves: hurt, jealousy, rage. My house is shaken by the huffing and puffing. Abigail asks me if something is wrong. I hold her hand and squeeze.

Wise, old nature herself cannot understand this pain. I call up my ex-girlfriend and ask her out on a date. Meredith O’Connor agrees hesitantly. I know that I hurt her last time, giving the excuse of self-imposed monk-dom as reason to break it off. I fake it all week. I fake the laughter and the excited banter over French fries and hamburgers. I fake the coy interest during the sad, holiday movie. I don’t fake the soft kiss on the cheeks. I close my eyes and pretend she is someone else.

The mask falls away on Sunday. I spend all of morning service, searching for his face, longing for his distinctive shuffle, the way his body relaxes against the back wall. He never shows.

He calls two hours before youth group. We meet at his favorite coffee shop. We hide in the back corner, sipping green tea.

He apologizes for the miscommunication between us. I admire how good the forest green sweater looks on him. He confesses his mixed feelings, but that he feels it is against God’s will for there to be any sexual feelings between two people of the same sex. I admire how long his legs are. He assures me that our friendship will make it through this trial by fire. We must die to our fleshly desires. He quotes Saint Paul. I adore his voice. I agree wholeheartedly, but only with my spoken words.

Mar 2, 2008

She woke up sad. Inexplicably sad. Bright sunlight shone through both bedroom windows and she pulled the blankets over her head. She wanted to sleep, but she wasn’t tired. She heard her husband in the kitchen, banging and clanging. He must be in a good mood. It made her sadder. It’s Sunday. She should be happy.

Later, she decided to walk. The weather website said it was supposed to be warm, perhaps as high as 40 degrees with a slight chance of rain in the afternoon. She wanted to ride her bike, but that would take too much effort. She’d have to pump the tires, low from disuse. She might even have to sand off the rust. The wind was calling her. She put on a hoodie and kissed her husband. “I won’t be gone long.”

Where should she go? It was depressing. She missed San Francisco. Everything was in walking distance. She knew where everything was. If she didn’t want to go far, but still get a decent work-out, she could walk up the steep hill to Grace Cathedral. She could sit in the park and watch the dogs or read. Nothing was in walking distance in Chicago. The library was closed. The lake was still half-frozen and cold.

She walked to Sally’s Beauty Supply. The manager asked her if she needed help three different times. She liked to browse. She liked to look at every single hair color. She liked to read labels. No, she didn’t need help…was it because she was white? Most of the store carried things for ethnic hair. She finally chose a small conditioning packet for color-treated hair.

Outside, spring was loud: cracking ice and dripping water. Her feet got soaked because she couldn’t jump completely clear of the puddles. She didn’t mind. She could forget everything as long as she was outside. She forgot to be nervous. She forgot to be concerned. She forgot about her lists and piles and things to do.

She got home rather quickly despite her wandering feet. She breathed deeply through her nostrils, out of her mouth. She wanted to stay outside, but it was still too chilly to sit still. Her heaven would be an elaborate tree house, like the one in Swiss Family Robinson.

She weighed her options: hide in another book? She had just finished The Subtle Knife yesterday. Or maybe watch a movie? Boring. She was almost out of alcohol. Despite the many drinks that night before, she couldn’t get rid of this feeling. Why was she so fucking nervous?