#2348

Since I work in emergency management, my supervisor has been urging our team to document our experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s good advice; nothing of this magnitude has happened in the recent past and it’s obviously fucking up a lot of our established paradigms. When experts say we won’t be able to return to the way things were Before and we need to embrace a “new normal”, they aren’t exaggerating. COVID-19 has shaken human society in a way even our recent megaquakes, which have literally shaken the entire globe, could do. So it’s good advice, yes. The problem is just that everything I have to share is so gods-damned bleak and I don’t want to seem like I’m whining when others have it much worse. I guess there’s wisdom in the telling, though, and I’m sure I’ll value these words years down the road, so here goes. I’ll go easy on you and start with…

The Good:
In July 2019 I made a much-needed career pivot into my dream field of emergency management. I was hired by the Washington State Emergency Management Division (WA EMD) as a Tsunami Program Coordinator, and thus my day job consists of preparing locals for The Big One. For the last 3+ months, however, WA EMD has been activated for the COVID-19 response. This is unlike anything WA EMD has faced before and so it’s all hands on deck 24/7. That means instead of worrying about being laid off or furloughed, I’m actually working more hours than ever. My team is currently on a three-week rotation, meaning for two weeks I work my normal job and then the next week I’m activated Sunday through Saturday for 7 12-hour shifts in the state’s Emergency Operations Center. Not only is the extra pay providing a much needed financial buffer (you’ll see why), I’m receiving some great hands-on experience. No amount of online or classroom training can really prepare you the way an actual disaster can, so even though I’m way outside of my comfort zone I’m very conscious of how good this work is for me. I’m also relatively healthy, at least immune-system-wise, and glad I can help the effort to keep others safe. It’s pretty surreal to be even a tiny cog in this great machine. That being said, here’s…

The Bad:
I AM SO STRESSED. Between work stress, personal life stress, and all these concurrent global crises, I am absolutely filled to the brim with stress. And lucky me, my stress always manifests as flare ups of my various chronic illnesses. These days I’m just constant IBS stomach aches, migraines, carpal tunnel pain, angular cheilitis, exhaustion that’s apparently at least partly narcolepsy, and some weird uterus stuff that I’m super hoping isn’t fibroids. It’s a lot. I’m honestly surprised my shingles hasn’t come back yet, but I’m sure it’s just biding its time. On top of that, my mental health wasn’t particularly stable going into this pandemic and weirdly enough witnessing preventable death on a mass scale because those in power care more about propping up the corpse of late-stage capitalism than saving lives isn’t exactly helping. So enter the panic attacks, severe depression, and uncontrollable dermatillomania. My wife has been wonderful, though, and is basically the reason I haven’t had an actual breakdown yet. Which brings me to…

The Ugly:
I might be more willing to find the bright side of this whole mess if it wasn’t for everything that’s happened with my wife. Just thinking about it makes me so angry I’m having trouble getting the words out so I’ll give you the tl;dr version. My wife is a truly amazing person and the world enjoys crushing her for having the audacity to be queer, Asian, and chronically ill, among other things. When COVID-19 went down she was working for a company that pretends to be progressive but is really just out for the money (what a surprise). On top of that, her position required her to be stationed in a major retail space which is considered essential and therefore never closed, nor has ever really bothered to put any employee protection measures in place. Since she has severe asthma and catches pneumonia on practically a yearly basis, my wife and I were understandably very concerned about her being in such a public-facing position. COVID-19 could quite frankly be a death sentence for her (which I think about constantly because Anxiety).

Anyway, flash forward like 2 miserable months and her employer has not only refused every accommodation she’s requested, they are actively punishing her for asking. Last week they used a note from her doctor as an excuse to cut her hours enough that she’ll lose her health insurance at the end of the month. IN A PANDEMIC. This was the final straw (she’s been taking their shit for years) and I’m proud to say she walked right the fuck out of there. Problem solved, right? Except just to twist the knife a little more, they’re refusing to give her a letter stating when her benefits will end so I can add her to my insurance plan – a technically legal but absolutely unnecessary delay that will probably force her to go without health insurance for at least all of May. Again, IN A PANDEMIC. I really can’t express how cruel they’re being without sounding like I’m a conspiracy theorist, but it’s true, and it’s happening to countless other people right now because Capitalism™. This instance just especially hurts me in particular because she’s MY people.

But wait, there’s more! Yeah, we’re not done. So on top of dealing with aaaallll this shit, my wife is also being regularly harassed in public because of her race. Yes, even in western Washington, bastion of progress (that was sarcasm) and home to a pretty sizeable Asian population. It happens every single time she goes somewhere and if it wasn’t for her refusal to let me come with her I might be in jail right now with several murder charges to my name. It’s the fucking worst. If the various feel-good COVID-19 stories ever had a chance to renew my hope in humanity, that chance has been thoroughly crushed. We really are in the Darkest Timeline.

So that’s a brief glimpse into how my pandemic is going. Which is great. Everything is great and totally fine.

…Oh right, I was supposed to record some of my observations, not just wordvomit about my life in particular. Uh, here are some non-me-centric observations for history or whatever in no particular order:

– Traffic is so light that someone has been doing donuts on the Narrows Bridge, which is fairly impressive.
– Traffic has also been so light that I can see the Olympic Mountains every night as I drive home, something usually only possible on the clearest summer days. So that’s cool, but also horribly depressing because that means the reason I don’t see them as often is air pollution.
– You ever think about how there are probably a lot of kids who are only alive right now because schools closed so early in the year that their would-be school shootings never happened?
– You can’t find wheat tortillas anywhere right now. Who’s hoarding all the wheat tortillas?- I hate to be all “I was right” but when Trump got elected I totally predicted a wide scale disaster would hit the west coast and he’d deny us aid because we’re blue states. I just thought it would be a megaquake, not a pandemic. So close.

Anyway. Have a good apocalypse everyone!

#2329

I ask the Oracle why I can never get a pendulum to move for me and she says, “Pendula don’t work for you because you have no sense of direction.” She describes a compass needle spinning in a wild circle, unable to orient itself to one path. It’s not a bad thing, she says, but what good is a broken compass? I don’t want all the answers, just a few. Yes or no, hot or cold, none of this come-back-later bullshit. Is that so much to ask?

#2306

I point and the Oracle removes one card from the fanned arc on the table before us. With two fingers she pushes the card across the smooth surface, back and forth, tracing a pentagram again and again before turning the card over. She nods as if its identity is of no surprise to her but the card is blank to me, a plain white surface. The Oracle’s eyes see more than mine ever will; they show her a dark ship on a dark sea, storm clouds billowing behind its full black sails. In the forefront two hands clasp, one simple and bare, the other adorned with fine jewels and intricate tattoos. The Wager, she names it, and says when you draw this card it means you are playing a game in which you yourself are the wager. I stare down at the blank card, heart racing, and wonder, Do I want to be won?

#2291

So Tanim and Daren hijacked my poor wife again. As I was falling asleep last night she said, “They’re not gone. They’re just waiting.” I asked her to elaborate but she couldn’t. A few minutes later she added, “You should buy a box with a lock.” When I asked what kind of box she replied, “Big enough to fit what you’re going to put inside.” In the morning I told her what she said, as she didn’t remember the incident, and she said she felt like they were waiting to be summoned, or something like that. Then she recounted a dream she had that night, which answered some questions but sparked quite a few more. It’s a little hard to recount because her perspective kept changing and we filled in a lot of information as we talked it over this morning, but here’s a rough outline:

The dream took place in a theater. The stage had no set design, just three closed doors against the back wall and a pedestal center front on which stood a small locked box. The box was made of a dark wood that looked almost like ship planks and seemed warped as if by water. Chriselle knew there was a “secret” inside, specifically an item of some sort, but wasn’t sure what. (She later realized the box looked like a smaller version of a chest we have in our garage which, interestingly enough, is where I found a small pocket knife similar to the one Daren carries.)

On stage were about a dozen actors, all dressed in black. They included myself, my wife, Inno (a friend of ours who perhaps uncoincidentally is someone Tanim and Daren also enjoy bothering), Mage, Tanim and Daren, and an assortment of generic extras. Mage stood with her arms crossed, just watching, and Chriselle got the feeling she was there to make sure everything went as planned. Not as if she were directing things, though; more like she would act as a stand in if someone couldn’t perform their role correctly. Watching from the wings was also a man named Pharaoh who looked like a modern-day version of Bayek from Assassins Creed Origins. He seemed to be in some sort of director or stage manager role and also wore black. (Could this be the man who introduced himself as Anubis in Chriselle’s other recent Tanim/Daren dream?)

The various actors moved and spoke yet there was no discernable plot and everything was completely silent. Inno and I seemed to be trying to tell Chriselle something from across the room but she couldn’t figure out what. Then Tanim came up behind Chriselle and stabbed her in the right side with the very audible sound of a blade puncturing flesh. He seemed completely unemotional about it, almost as if he was running on autopilot or acting on another’s orders. (As I was about to bring up the fact that this could symbolize the wound in Christ’s side, Chriselle had the A Perfect Circle lyrics “It’s not as if you drove the hateful spear into his side” come to mind, so that seems significant.) Red blood began pouring from the wound and as it fell everything it touched began turning red as well; her clothing, her skin, the floor, the walls, the other actors. Everyone, everything, red. Everyone on stage seemed frozen at this point, or like they were patiently waiting for something. Then the bloodbath began.

Chriselle pulled a knife from her pocket which unfolded into a long, machete-like blade with a serrated edge and began violently beheading the unnamed actors on stage. When she finished with them she went into the audience (also all wearing black and equally motionless/emotionless) and continued hacking off their heads with the heavy weapon. All the while the wound in her side bled freely. As she killed, Tanim and Daren began walking toward each other in slow motion. When they were just a few feet apart, right next to the box, they stopped. It seemed to Chriselle as though one of them was going to open the box but the other didn’t want them to (though she wasn’t sure which was which), and then the dream was interrupted and thus ended.

If I’m Tanim and Daren’s scribe, their high priestess more or less, does this mean they’ve chosen Chriselle as their oracle?

Or maybe they’re just opportunistic jerks.

#2248

They say the world of the dark sisters is all shadow and that is why only in the light of moon or flame may they appear in ours. If that were the case, I would never spend a moment in daylight again. I would shun the day and wake only once moonlight or candlelight could call you forth. I would only ever want you by my side, even if that meant I’d never feel the warmth of the sun again. Your presence would be worth any sacrifice. I would wait every day, every night, every heartbeat for you to step forth from your dark world. No matter how long it might take, I would wait. I will wait. I am here. Sister, will you join me?

#2231

I have watched the moon rise over blue-white mountains
and the sun set in a pool of glittering fire
yet still you are most beautiful

I have listened to water falling through green canyons
and thunder quaking in the bruised sky
yet still you are most beautiful

I have tasted cold, clear water fresh from glacial streams
and ripe blackberries warmed in the sun
yet still you are most beautiful

I have smelled the sharp salt scent of low tides
and the perfume of apple blossoms on the wind
yet still you are most beautiful

I have touched the rough bark of ancient redwoods
and stones formed deep in the earth’s core
yet still you are most beautiful
yet still you are most beautiful

#2203

So I’m minding my own business, just a Container Store full of nicely labeled boxes and jars and tubs and cubbies and storage cubes and vacuum seal bags all sitting prettily on their shelves and display stands with the shrink wrap still on, and in she walks – cursed Pandora with her clever fingers – and open she pops all my carefully organized containers and out pop all the things I’ve hidden away in them, hoping to never see again in the light of day: my various anxieties and angers and fears and shames, bad memories and unwelcome realizations, guilt complexes and mother issues and latent mental illnesses (oh my!), how they come flying out in a hurry, and there she stands in the middle of the maelstrom with a mild look of apology like sorry, but it had to be done, and oh my troublesome Pandora, I’m not mad, I find, not really, because she’s right, it’s time I actually went through all the crap I spent thirty years shoving into boxes and jars and nooks and crannies and you get used to the chaos, she says, and I figure she’s probably right but that doesn’t make the disaster zone look any less overwhelming.

#2092

there are some things i can only write about at very specific times, like when the moon is just a sliver in a sky the color of my freshmen year of college or the afternoon sun is slanting just like it did that day in eighth grade, when i’m driving the old back roads home from a theater that hasn’t changed at all in twenty-five years or listening to a song i wrung all the emotion from while i walked endless circles around campus late at night, but even then i must hurry to capture the fleeting, fickle moment before it passes and i am left too weary to write another word, too empty to perform another grand resurrection of my old ghosts and demons and long beloved spirits, and in the morning or the next day when i go back to reread those scribbles i’ll just be disappointed anyway by how impossible it is to capture such ephemeral experiences, so i’ll think why do i even try, why do i bother robbing graveyards, and then i’ll ctrl+alt+delete my way out of all memory but today’s

#2075

I know you wonder whether I miss how things were before, whether I would go back to the time when you were merely a concept, a theory, an idle wish during long, lonely nights. You think it must have been better when my imagination shaped you into whatever, whoever, I needed in the moment, when you were so abstract I could hang no real expectations or desires on your shoulders. But darling, that makes no sense. Can I hold a concept during thunderstorms? Can I nap on the couch next to a theory? Can I laugh or cry or sing with a wish? No, no; nor do those things have freckles and favorite foods and a Harry Potter obsession. They didn’t write letters to their own concept, theory, lonely late-night wish and they didn’t reach across the gulf of cyberspace to take a chance on a stranger. Those years of longing shaped me, yes, and I would not trade them away easily – but neither would I forsake you to return to them, not when you are where they were leading me. I would not trade our present or future for anything in the world.

#2008 – I Got Gay Married!

I, Elyssa, take you, Chriselle, to be my wife, my best friend, and my love. I vow to encourage you and to support you; to hear you and see you. I vow to make you laugh when you need to laugh and hold you when you need to cry. I love your determination, your immeasurable patience, and your unapologetic geekiness. You bring out the best in me and embrace the worst. Together, we make a very weird, very beautiful little family. I am yours in all things. This I vow to you.

Fifteen years ago, when I was just fourteen and in 9th grade, I first listened to Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer and imagined… someone. A girl, nameless, faceless. We held hands in my daydreams, maybe danced together under twilight skies and string lights. I wasn’t sure who she was or what I wanted from her – I wouldn’t know for another eleven years, but in all that time she never left my thoughts.

Just yesterday, I walked down the aisle with that girl to this song at our wedding. Why I am so blessed to have found her I will never know; all I know is that I have been given the chance to share my life with her and will do everything in my power to make our shared life something beautiful. I never imagined myself dating, let alone getting married to my soul mate and building a weird, loving little family together. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know we’ll face everything together with trust, kindness, and a dash of cynical humor.

#2007

Dua Bast,  Goddess of Family and Home! Bless this marriage and keep safe the family we build together. Lend us the strength to be loving and kind even in times of turmoil.

Hail Inanna, Lover and Beloved United As One! Bless this marriage and help us to stand strong against those who would judge us. Lend us the courage to stand hand-in-hand for all the world to see.

Dua Wepwawet, Shepherd of the Path! Bless this marriage and guide us safely as we embark on this journey together. Lend us the patience to face whatever life’s road may ask of us.

Dua Bast! Hail Inanna! Dua Wepwawet!

#1888

Holy Shit My Girlfriend is Awesome: An Essay

It’s February, which means Valentine’s Day, which means an overwhelming amount of heteronormativity being shoved in our collective queer faces. What better time, then, to write about the woman I am fiercely, ecstatically in love with? This is the classic story of awkward-asexual-girl-who-has-never-dated meets awkward-bisexual-girl-who-has-dated-too-many-bad-eggs. On Craigslist.

Our story doesn’t actually start in May of 2014, when Chriselle and I first started communicating via email. It starts years before – in early childhood for Chriselle, and early high school for myself. Being the budding queers we were, we found ourselves unknowingly following the same path to self-discovery. She habitually wrote letters to a mysterious figure she called her Stranger; I wrote longingly about an undefined girl I called Shakespeare’s Sister, after Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Years before Chriselle and I ever met, we both imagined this perfect person whom we wished would come into our lives.

Fast forward to 2014. After years of internal sapphic angst, I woke up one morning and thought fuck it, I’m going to post something on the Craigslist w/w forum. So I did. It was super vague and focused more on my search for a writing buddy than a romantic tryst. Chriselle answered and we hit it off immediately. We flirted, bonded, and eventually I asked her out – with about a thousand butterflies whirling in my stomach. From there, the story follows the lesbian U-Haul cliche embarrassingly close. We bought matching rings on our second date, were talking about marriage by the second month, and had rented an apartment together by the ninth. 44 months later, we’re engaged and planning an October wedding. Gross, huh?

I think I would love Chriselle no matter what, because of fate and soulmates and stuff, but she also happens to be someone who deserves to be loved for a thousand different reasons. She is passionate, altruistic, and unfailingly honest. She is intelligent, literary, and refreshingly open-minded. She is sarcastic, unapologetically queer, and one of the biggest geeks I have ever met. She is a dedicated daughter, a loving sister, and an extremely patient aunt. She is a beautiful, curvy, brown-skinned immigrant who is tough as nails and won’t back down from a fight (physical, emotional, or moral) she believes in. She works a job where she watches animals die every single day, and yet she always goes back because she can’t stand to not do something for them. She is more confident than she knows, and more capable. She is, above all, a truly good person.

But there’s more. Those are some of the big, overarching reasons why I love this girl so much, but some of the smaller, more specific reasons are just as important. I love the way she cackles when she kills someone in Assassins Creed. I love how irrationally angry she gets when I mention Paul Revere. I love how she can quote the Harry Potter movies by heart. I love how she calls her beanies “bonnets”. I love how she supports my various weirdnesses. I love that we can have long, in-depth discussions about anything from morality to Lord of the Rings. I love how she gets super loopy whenever she is sick or has taken pain killers. I love that she puts like a million sugars in her tea. I love that sometimes she forgets the English word for something, and only remembers the Tagalog one. I love that she drinks soda instead of hard liquor when she’s had a bad day. I love that she cries if you give her a gift for her dog. I love her freckles and her wavy hair and her callouses. I love her tattoos and her piercings and the little scar on her eyebrow.

I’m not naive, and our relationship isn’t perfect; we have our share of struggles just like everyone else. At the end of the day, though, a lot of those struggles come from us loving each other too much, instead of not enough. And no matter how neurotic or disappointing or frustrating I can be, I know nothing will drive Chriselle from my side. We may be planning to say “for better or worse” in front of our family and friends next fall, but we already made those promises to each other three and a half years ago. We spent so many years searching for our Stranger, for our Shakespeare’s Sister, that we won’t let anything come between us now.

#1860

I keep trying to write something to show you how much I care something so beautiful and heartfelt it rivals, no, surpasses that which touch communicates wordlessly. But look, already I’m falling back on grandiose phrasing, anxious to craft each phrase to perfection. You’ve said before my words are like strawberries and cream. Are these words that simple? Are these words that humble? I don’t think so. Why is this so difficult?

but it’s not going well I guess what I really want to say is: I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m one filament away from breaking from my body completely. I’m sorry it’s so hard for me to be present sometimes. It’s not you. It’s never you. It’s just me. Did the ancient oracles have such trouble drawing their minds back to earth? I don’t know. So, I’m sorry.

as you can see I mean, what I really want to say is that I think our love is perfect. It’s not so dramatically passionate or foolishly tragic that we’ll go down in history with Romeo and Juliet and all those other star-crossed lovers, but who wants to be star-crossed anyway? I like our life. I like the lazy mornings, the video games, the joking and teasing and cuddling

because none of these words are perfect What I think I’m trying to say is that I never knew love could be like this. I knew you could love someone so much it hurt, but I never realized love could also buoy you up, make you feel weightless and free. I never knew love could make you feel timeless, either, like you have always been and will always be living within that perfect moment.

and you deserve perfect. I guess I should just say: I love you.

#1835

when the storm surges and the waves crash, I will be your rock, I say
and you reply, but rock erodes until it’s no longer recognizable as what it once was
I do not argue, because that is true; even stone is not eternal

but you forget I have studied the earth, its cycles, its processes
and so I know that while stone is not eternal, its matter is
and can neither be created nor destroyed

if your storms weather me, I will become sand on the ocean floor
and perhaps from there the earth will push me up against the land
or perhaps drag me deep beneath its melting crust

either way I will transform, become a mountain once again
and when the wind and rain and time begin to carve me away
I will welcome that change as I welcome yours

#1740

When I first imagined her, only ever out of the corner of my eye, she was nothing like you. She was pale and fragile, like someone made out of glass and rose petals. I don’t know why I saw her like this, so demure and ethereal, when I felt no pull to that model of femininity. I suppose my subconscious had absorbed too many of society’s fairytale princesses with their skin white as snow and their lips red as blood. And that was fine for a time, to imagine her clothed in spider’s-silk and dew when she was something I never dared touch or hold. And how could I? I would have shattered her delicate form.

Sometimes I laugh, remembering her as I watch you. You could not be more her opposite, though you and she are one in the same. No fairytale princess, you; you are my warrior goddess, scarred and calloused, tattooed and pierced, muscled and curved. You’re not snow white or blood red, you’re black, brown, amber, bronze. No one could lock you away in a tower or fell you with one bite of a poisoned apple. You’d cut off your hair and use it as a rope; you’d trick the evil queen and defeat the huntsman; you’d befriend the wolf and run with him through the woods. You’re like nothing I ever imagined, like no one I dared hope for. My knight. My warrior. My goddess.

#1733

these days I tag everything
queer and pagan
because there’s no untangling them now
the hunger for skin is the hunger for blessing
and the surrender of body is the surrender of soul
and all the doors are open now
and all our arms are open now
and all the paths are open now
thus love is worship
worship is love
and I am yours
and hers
and his
and theirs

#1728

Like wheat from the chaff, we have sieved out those who could not understand; the leader who was a coward; the brother who was an oppressor; the unremarkable others who could not recognize the truth of divinity. There are not many left who are privy to this inner world anymore. Only one, really, and she saw clearly from the beginning. She saw to the scribe’s inner heart, past the Sun’s mask, through the Moon’s shadows. She understands the necessity of the Great Round, the ever-turning Wheel. She understands the necessity of blood and steel. All the rest were merely placeholders until her arrival and in her wake the memories of them fall away. Good riddance.

#1726

Justice. Justice, not just. Not just her hands or his hips. Not just his lips or her mouth. Not just one voice; not just one body. Not just the scribe. I think I understand now. You are gods of cruelty, and so I look for cruelty from you. You are gods of punishment, and so I do not look for praise from you. I assumed justice must be the falling sword, the heavy heart tipping the scales. I never imagined… I never dared wonder for a moment what it might be like… in a world of impossibilities, that was the most impossible. Is my heart, perhaps, not as heavy as a feather? Or for me did you, if only once, slip your thumb onto the other scale? A scribe doesn’t expect recognition. A scribe doesn’t expect thanks. A scribe doesn’t expect justice. Forgive me, then, for seeing mockery in mercy. There’s so much to believe in… even myself. But I think I understand now. Justice, not just. Not just her hands or your hips. Not just your lips or her mouth. Not just one voice; not just one body; not just one soul. Not just the scribe. Never just. That’s the meaning of justice.

Thank you.

#1704

In my dream I am Tanim, unhappy crown prince whose only joy is found in my lover and bodyguard Daren. Even this bit of peace is wrenched from me with the death of my father as the royal crown passes to me. In his wake the country is left in turmoil and I have no choice but to set aside my own desires, take up the heavy crown, and lead my people. Yet all is not well even then, and on the day of my coronation rumors spread that rebels seek to attack the castle in retaliation for crimes my family committed hundreds of years ago. When a panicked servant seeks the royal party out on the lake’s island pavilion with word of a direct assault, I have no choice but to send Daren to investigate, the one one in my court I trust implicitly.

The choice is my downfall. Even as he disappears over the hill the servant turns on me, panic replaced by cruel glee as he reveals a sharp little blade. I realize my terrible mistake and reach to draw my sword as I jump back, but it’s too late – the knife cuts deep into my torso and even though I try to call out to Daren as I fall, my voice is barely a whisper. Somehow my lover must sense the trap anyway, or perhaps has been enlightened to the falsity, because only a brief moment of the servant’s triumphant snickering passes before he turns in terror at the sound of Daren’s enraged howl. The bloody blade is little use against the gleaming sword and the skillful one who bears it, and the servant collapses before he can parry or flee.

The dream switches, then, and I am suddenly Daren, kneeling at my slain prince’s side as I try desperately to staunch the flow of blood. The wound is too deep, though, and I gather him into my arms as I call for the boat to the brought to take us back to shore. As petrified servants row us back toward the distant castle and its skilled doctors, I watch Tanim slowly bleed out onto the boat’s wooden bottom. There’s little awareness left in his clouded eyes but I speak to him anyway, pleading for him to stay with me, to hold on, to be strong. Soon my entreaty turns to angry despair and I’m alternately cursing the heavens, swearing the Fates won’t take him, and begging that if need be I’ll give anything to keep him safe, if only some deity will come to strike the bargain.

A light flares over my shoulder and I turn to see a woman standing in the boat amid the somehow unseeing servants. She radiates light, her entire being crafted of the cold white of the full moon, and around her neck and brow coils a serpent like ram’s horns. “Why have I been called?” the goddess asks in a voice both thunderous and silken as her blazing eyes stare down at us.

The dream switches again, then, and I am myself, no longer crouched in a tiny boat but kneeling in a pool of clear water, my head bent and lips pressed to the cool surface. Beside me my girlfriend lounges, and as I lift my head she asks, “Is one of them here?” I know somehow that she asks about the snake goddesses and I answer that I’m not sure, for I don’t yet know if the goddess who appeared to Daren is of a real-world pantheon or from the dream’s medieval world. My girlfriend nods and responds casually, as if recalling a sweet nostalgia, “Briar loved them, but I never knew what the Sixteenth Person was.”

And then I wake, truly, and lay in the warm dark with the name Inanna on my lips.

#1702

This summer will mark fifteen years that I have acted as scribe for Tanim and Daren. I still don’t know what to call them; are they ghosts who wish to be gods, or gods who wish to be ghosts? Remnants or fragments or the only true story, the one true mythology? Whatever they are, men and spirits and gods and demons, I have given every aspect of myself to them. Body, mind, heart, and soul. If the red string of fate truly exists, then it binds me as surely as a collar and manacles for which there is no key. I am a willing captive, though, honored to have been chosen by these forces who could once have haunted the great masters of literature and music. There is nothing else like them in all the world, in all of history. There is only one Lord Sun, only one Prince Moon, and I bow to them as scribe and devotee. No other will walk this path; it is mine alone, through darkness and light, fire and ice. It is mine alone, until my last breath – and perhaps beyond.

#1688

You think you don’t know who I’m talking about in all these poems and longings, but you do. I called her Shakespeare’s Sister (and still do, though I know her true name now) but you call her something different – or maybe she has no name to you, maybe she’s too ephemeral to hold a label. Either way, you know her. She’s in that song you love but never feel right listening to alone. She’s in that book you’ve worn to tissue paper from rereading but would still lend out in a heartbeat. She’s in that piece of art you saw once and can’t get out of your head but you don’t know why. She’s the one who first made you think maybe holding hands wouldn’t be so bad, or putting your head in someone’s lap – but only with the right someone. She’s the right someone for all of those dreams, for midnight star gazing and weekend road trips, for lazy Sunday mornings spent in bed and rainy evenings spent curled on the couch. She’s the right someone for everything you want, so maybe you dream about her all day because you know she has to be out there somewhere. She’s the right someone for you and only you, so maybe you try your hardest to never think about her because you’re sure she won’t ever be real. You write letters to her. You write poems about her. You doodle her in the margins of your notebooks. See? We’re talking about the same person. I found her first in the musings of Virginia Woolf and the music of Sixpence None the Richer but that doesn’t mean you didn’t, couldn’t, find her somewhere else. You’ll find her whether you look for her or not – and she’ll find you.

#1660

I used to imagine us walking through cities late at night, hands clasped and hair flying in the wind. I don’t know why; I’m not a city girl. I don’t even like them, really. They’re bright and noisy and full of people, and they assault all your senses at once. But cities at night have this foreign, almost alien beauty I’ve always found alluring. Cities at midnight, or maybe four AM, they’re transformed into a living darkness dressed in bright jewels of light. They’re free of the daily cacophony of work and play, leaving every sound amplified in the silent darkness; the scuff of a shoe, the flick of a lighter, the whispers shared between two bent heads. Cities at night, they feel anonymous and magical, like anything is possible. We could have been transported anywhere – Bordertown, Riverside, London Below… even the city where two men meet their entwined fate over and over again. I guess that’s why I imagined us running through dark, slumbering cities and leaning over rooftops to gaze down at the glittering landscape below. You felt ethereal, mysterious, impossible and unbelievable, and you needed a setting to match.

#1654

Tell me how I can help you understand. I want you to understand. I need you to understand. I need you to see things, even if just for a moment, through my eyes. Our eyes. Other eyes. I need you to see there are myriad strings attached to me, each different and equally valuable, equally unbreakable. A delicate gold chain for the Mother, a ship’s rope for the Godmother, a guitar string for the sisterlover. For one of you, a silk tie; for the other, a wire garrote. Pull as you might, you won’t snap these connections, only yank me off-balance. These bonds are no betrayal to you, don’t you see they’ve always been there? If I have only recently found those on the other end of the lines, that doesn’t change the fact that the lines have always existed. No love is a threat to you when any love only strengthens my capacity to love you all. The others understand – can you not understand as well? I have wept and bled for you – how can you doubt me?

#1636

time moves differently with you and the graveyards which two years ago were all fresh turned earth and polished headstones are now full of weeds and crumbling mounds with names too weathered to read, and the lurking ghosts once poltergeist-powerful are nothing more than dust orbs and tricks of the light we dismiss with a laugh as we go on our way

#1630

If I could send a message back through the years, the interconnected webwork of memories and dreams, what would I tell the girl I once was? If I could reach back to that sixteen year old hunched over a keyboard in the dark, spilling out poems to an impossible ideal, what would I tell her? Would I warn her about the person she’ll lose, and mourn forever? Would I nudge her toward a different college major? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think I’d risk changing the future, the present, the path between the two. Too many butterflies flapping too many wings. But if I could pass a message back to her, I think I’d show her just a brief glimpse of this moment: of laying in bed while a beauty smiles over the rim of her guitar and a cat naps in the velvet lined case; of singing along, tentatively, because she wants you to and you want to make her smile. I think I’d show that sixteen year old her poems aren’t in honor of some impossible ideal but a living, breathing beauty who’s somewhere writing poems for her, too.

#1621

I think I like you, little warrior, with your fierce eyes and eager mouth, your callouses and tumbling locks. You have the heart of a wolf, the pack hunter determined to serve its role, defend its alpha. You have the mind of a swordsman, always on the alert for danger, ready to protect the beloved. You make love like an acolyte in the presence of her god, a knight pledging to his king. I could see you on board my ship, sailing the dark seas alongside myself and my godcrew. I could see you in my chambers, burnished skin and supple curves. Yes, I think you more than worthy of Us, to have come so far so boldly. So, little warrior, little wolf, are you brave enough to sail with me?

#1616

Are you gods without temples or holy books, or are you lovers without bone and blood? Is this polytheism or polygamy? Am I an unfaithful devotee or an unfaithful companion? If love is the earth within which grow the seeds of jealousy, tell me truthfully so I may tend my garden accordingly. No love should be sacrificed on the altar of another, and I have devotion enough for all who claim me. But I know love to be a fickle thing, easily angered, and I would not wish to incur the wrath of patron or paramour. Am I foolish to think I can give all of myself to all of you? That one heart, one soul, can be promised thrice or more? I am a vessel overflowing in the wellspring of love… can you not all drink from me together as equals?

#1610

My religion supports marriage equality. Surprised?

To be more specific, my patron deity supports marriage equality. My goddess is a goddess of joy, of love, of freedom. My goddess is a goddess of equality. My goddess is a goddess of victory.

My goddess is Bast, Lady of the Truth, The Light Bearer, and She celebrates with me today.

Last Saturday I did a tarot reading with Bast and asked Her what the week held for me. The first card She chose was Justice, followed by The Empress. Linking them, the Eight of Wands. Justice, love, and a great journey uniting the two.

I didn’t know what She meant then, but I do now. She was telling me today’s ruling. She was telling me today would be a day of justice, of triumph, of balance and equality. She was telling me we would rejoice today, Her and I both, because She loves me and cherishes my relationship. My love for my girlfriend is beautiful in Bast’s eyes, and when we are happy, She is happy. So today I wear proudly my goddess’s symbols and give my thanks to Her for blessing this joyous ruling.

Dua Bast!

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