I AM WHOLE. I AM WHOLE. BY FUCKING GOD I AM WHOLE.

She was a tender angel with a pouty lip. A little cutie baby with a name she didn’t know yet. And that name was Zoey….

Something feels different today. A shift has occurred.

I feel lighter. I feel intent on my purpose.

I feel beautiful. And cute. And kind. And open to growing and learning from my mistakes.

I feel love from within and without.

I ran through the woods with the doggies, dodging from tree to tree as fast as I could.

I felt like a child. Like a beautiful, whimsical child. Something beautiful is happening to me.

I can feel this little girl inside of me blossoming into a young, self-assured woman. And I just can’t begin to describe how that feels.

Tonight, the sky was a purple ribbon. I pulled it down and tied a neat bow in my curls. I am one with the Moon. I am one with the Sea. I am one with all things.

I am really happy. And maybe it’s because I have reached a new level of depth and beauty in my personality. Maybe it’s because I sense that I’m growing, becoming whole.

I was on a walk today and I felt something creep in: a touch of magic, a taste of the divine, the world grew larger in my eyes and I felt my skin expand to new lengths; lengths that engulf all things around me: dogs, shrubs, oaks, moss, lichen, birds. Everything.

There are books in my future; financial security; and good good love. And boy am I excited to leave the past behind; always honoring the wounded girl from whom I have evolved.

She deserves so much love. So much care and celebration. What an incredible girl she is. So creative. So cute. So caring and kind. Such a big heart. My mother’s heart. She has my mother’s heart. And my father’s bravery. She is as big as the Moon, and bright as the Sun. She is the well from which I drink. The spring from which I spring. The source from which I leap into the cosmos, into my place in the Tapestry of Life.

Gosh.

I’m not going to cry because it honestly feels so good. But listen you guys. I have strived so hard to get to this place. I have sacrificed so much. Let go of so much. Allowed so much psychic pain to flood through me. And now here I am. Alive. Beautiful. Confident.

On the precipice of my great girlish dreams; the ones that filled my heart and imagination as a child, as a young girl who didn’t even know she was a girl; a girl who had accepted all that the world placed upon her small shoulders. But what a cutie. What a big lover. What a poet and a dreamer. What a whimsical little lady. What eyes she has for this world.

And I am her, and she is me. And the Child and the Adult have, after so long, become one.

Tonight I danced in the wind. I laughed to myself. And told the doggies I loved them. I am growing into a strong young woman of trans and queer experience.

And here’s another kicker: I HAVE THE GREATEST COMMUNITY AROUND ME.

My friends are all lovers. Lovers all friends. It manifests differently in each relationship. But the consistent force is an undying love that refuses to remain static, a love that grows from itself, that remains open and flowing. A love capable of smashing all barriers and engulfing all the shadows. A love that extends outward in all directions. From me to you.

And here is the simple answer to the modern problem of differentiation, resolved after so long spent searching: love yourself so deeply you are willing to go far into discomfort, into the darkness, into all the places inside of you that go bump in the night, all the places you have refused to explore. Love yourself so deeply that you are willing to be completely transformed by the sheer force, the sheer breadth, the sheer magic, and the sheer terror of the world. Allow yourself to learn and grow and change. Give yourself the gift of taking things slow. Of not rushing. See your beauty as it exists beyond the realm of productivity and finance. Be willing to speak your truth. AND EVEN MORE IMPORTANT, BE WILLING TO QUIET DOWN AND RECEIVE OTHERS’. This will transform your life. This will bridge the gaps of difference. This will enable you to see the Divine in all beings and to evolve your state of mind until it is pregnant with as much understanding as one brain can possibly handle. 

Listen:
Self-love is not easy. For it begins in the realm of uncertainty. It begins with acknowledging that you’re not quite sure how to do it. You’re not quite sure what it means. And if you are, oh my GOD I am SO proud of and happy for you, because there is no greater blessing than to know you are capable of growing, of humbling yourself, and feeling real, visceral love inside your own body.

Listen:
I am a woman. I am trans. I am queer. I am non-binary. I am androgynous. I am spiritual. I am revolutionary. I am ME.

And oh my gosh, my loves, it feels so effing good. Like, what the heck! WHAT. THE. HECK!

So GOOD!

I would not be here now saying this without so many (too many to count) people inspiring me, informing me, impressing me, influencing me, giving of themselves and their genius to me, showing me the way forward simply by the virtue of being fearlessly their own people. WOW. WOWIE. WOWIE. WOW.

I am so blessed. So fortunate. And I am privileged (I do not so much celebrate this privilege as I do seek to understand it as it relates to the world, as it relates to those who do not have the same privileges. And insofar as I see my privileges and am willing to use them to help others, I believe it is important to recognize what I have received in this life; and there is no shortage of them, I recognize that. And I also recognize that every day those without these same privileges struggle to reach the same clarity because they literally don’t have time or space or social resources; they have families, and bills, and so many forces bearing down upon them and it is for them that I write; that I seek to become better). I am privileged in my skin color. I am privileged in my physical attractiveness. I am privileged in my ability to pass as cisgender. I am privileged for having been raised in the third wealthiest county in America. I am privileged for receiving a high-quality, top-notch private education. I am privileged for graduating high school and being able to afford University [and for the financial support I received from my family]. I am privileged for my intellect. And my ability to communicate. I am privileged in my strength. I am privileged in my familial support (BOY AM I PRIVILEGED THERE! Thank you so much to my family for supporting me. You may not understand me. You may look at my life and think, gosh do I not have the slightest clue what she’s doing but I know she is pursuing her happiness and evolution and that makes me happy. I cannot ask you to understand what you have never experienced, but I can thank you for a. trying and b. for accepting me regardless.) I am privileged in too many ways to count. But I will try to count them. And I will try to use each of my privileges in ways that build the bright world I have dreamt of since my earliest youth. I will use every bit of what I have been given to help manifest that utopia. I believe it is possible. Sure, Earth is a big place. But I believe that every human being, given the right circumstances, can find happiness and community. Sure, sure. Maybe there are exceptions (psychopaths, people with Antisocial Personality Disorder, i.e. people who are literally incapable of knowing their pure baby hearts.) But with the right circumstances, anyone can find their way to the path of love. It is only a matter of creating those circumstances (assuming you have the space to do so, and if you don’t, fight nonetheless; KNOW YOU ARE WORTHY OF IT); it is a matter of extending your platform to those whose voices need to be raised higher than yours. It is a matter of knowing you are just one small part in a much larger machine, a beautiful, beautiful, and slightly terrifying machine.

Now. This is a revelation. I feel beautiful. I feel creative. I feel held. I feel celebrated. I feel loved. I feel anxious to meet my future. But! There is a turning point in my life that involves the acceptance and dissolution of self-doubt; a turning point that involves me trusting what it is that I am capable of, what it is that I am connected to. And guess what?

There is a whole world waiting on the other side of that. There is a whole world of learning, and listening, and growing, and growing, and growing, and helping. This is all I want for the world. And for myself.

Something feels different today. Something has shifted. Something new is creeping in, enlarging my heart (not literally thank god, but spiritually, emotionally.) Something powerful, something I have been seeking tenaciously for so so long, is crystallizing inside of me, emerging from the murky muck and the cold depths, rearing its gorgeous head, shouting into the void:

I AM WHOLE. I AM WHOLE. BY FUCKING GOD, BY FUCKING GODDESS, I AM WHOLE.

And insofar as I am whole, I am healthy, I am hallowed, I am holy, I am home. Thank the Beautiful Divine.

I am Home.

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A Normal Day (An Excerpt)

For all intents and purposes, it was a normal day. And normal days, as well as abnormal days, tend to start the same way.

Open your eyes, Anna. The waterfall isn’t real. It was only a dream. And this is a normal day. A day like any other day. A day that takes its coffee black. A day that walks its dog to the park and back. A day that has yet to discover its purpose. And one might suppose that a normal day, as well as abnormal days, indeed has a purpose.

Okay, you’re awake. Good. Now wiggle your toes, Anna. Look out the window. There’s a green warbler on the branch outside—it’s got a song for you. Down the stairs, a record is spinning. It is not Lil Richie. And it is not Neil Diamond. And it’s not Velvet Underground. Down the stairs, there’s a plate of eggs sunning on the table. Would you believe your friend made it for you? Would you believe she awoke with your smiling periwinkle eyes twinkling in her mind, and thought she’d do a special thing to make your eyes smile wider? You’re a lucky girl, having friends like that. And she made the eggs just the way you like: a light shower of shredded Colby jack and a quick pinch of picante? Scrambled to milky perfection. A little fluff goes a long way. And so do good friends.

Life is a series of cycles.

We’re born alone. We grow up in a family, a tribe. Then we find ourselves itching for differentiation, a new name, and a vein of expression that is wholly our own. We find ourselves wanting to stand on the feet our mama gave us, prop ourselves up like flamingos in the waxing surf. We find that the pond—this pond that once seemed an ocean—is no longer big enough for us to stretch our big ole fins (to mix metaphors). So we head out. We pack a rucksack. No more sack lunches. No more notes from mommy. Who’s my sweet girl, Anna? I hope you have a wonderful day at school filled with learning and laughs. What a sweetheart that mother of yours, Anna. What a sweetheart. Let’s forget the time in fifth grade when Suzie Bondalucci looked over your shoulder at the lunch table as you exhumed that note from its brown paper confines and read it in the shadow of your own curls.

Oh wait. You didn’t have your curls then. You were too young to know you wanted them—that one day they would become as integral to your identity as your journal and signature space pants. You were too young to shuck off the husk of other people’s ideas to assert your own truth—the truth that one day you would grow out your curls and never look back.

So anyways there was Suzie Bondalucci sniggering over your shoulder like an invisible goblin with a lit candle up her butt and a donut in her hand. And there you were, stricken with a mixture of affection and embarrassment. The latter of which was only exacerbated by Suzie reaching over you, snatching the note from your hands, and reading it aloud for the entire cafeteria.

What a bitch that Suzie was. 

Anyways now you’re in the car and the sky looks like a half-finished Jackson Pollock. The highway overpass looks the same as ever. Droll. Drab. Dreary. Gray. Stone. Slats. A rumble of cars passes beneath it like an anthill built dead center between a troll’s legs. The troll in question—the overpass—is collecting its toll as usual; nothing material, simply that for brief moments, drivers have to subject themselves to the possibility that the troll could choose to pop a squat right there on the highway, or perhaps, a car—your car—were to fly right through the barriers as if mimicking its favorite Michael Bay scene, as if rushing to greet the vehicles below, as if smashing like a child’s toy Pontiac into another child’s whole collection of coupes, sedans, four-doors, SUVs, trucks, and go-carts, Lambos, Porsches, and Ferraris—too many foreign cars to be occupying the same roadway at one time unless we were in Italy, on some sundrenched coastal town sliced up by cement serpents rushing toward the sea.

But we’re not in Italy. We’re in America. In Kansas. This is prairies, and foothills, and too many pro-life billboards to count. And it is mundane office parks. And it is suburbia. And for a girl like you, it makes no sense. You stick out like a sore thumb at a pinkies-only party. At the mall, you catch a few too many stares for one human to be justifiably comfortable. Fortunately, you’re not in the mall. You’re in your car. And you’re crying. And you’re thinking about driving your car right off the overpass into westbound traffic. Of course, you’re too afraid to do it. But you’re thinking about it.

Something About Love (An Excerpt)

Here is something the author knows about love:

Listen reader, the author doesn’t expect you to live a life as extraordinary as the Shaman’s. If, however, you do lead an extraordinary life, please give yourself a genuine and heartfelt pat on the back. We cannot doubt the importance of living boldly.

For at the core of such a life there throbs a great willingness to take risks, to take mindful and impassioned leaps of faith into the great big unknown.

Did the Shaman know the island would be there? Let’s ask him, but stay quiet; he’s meditating.

“Hey Shaman…”

One green peeper opens with a mixture of irritation and nonattachment. “What is it?” He asks with a cinnamon roll of this lonely open eye.

“Did you know the island was waiting eight miles off the shore for you? Or did you dive into the salty Pacific merely hoping it would be there?”

He scoffs that signature scoff of his—the kind of scoff that doubles as a shrug and moonlights as a pooh-pooh on the weekends. “It was a simple matter of concentrated divination. Now please, I’m trying to meditate.”

When the Shaman meditates, two things happen: the koas blush and the Universe expands to play catch up.

Space is not merely a matter of the third dimension.

The brain is capable of many feats, one of which is that it can simulate the sensory conditions of visualization—anything you picture in your mind, you bring to life. If you want to imagine a baboon rubbing his butt against your leg in an effort to rob you of your cookies, and you’re able to hold the vision for a long enough time, you might just feel the fuzzy red flesh of ape cheek against your calf, as well as the profound disappointment of having lost a freshly baked batch of oatmeal raisin to a being of lesser evolutionary stature.

The same goes for space: if you can visualize yourself surrounded by infinite space, pregnant with it, a stomach full of it, and you hold the vision long enough, you will actually begin to feel it.

So space is also a matter of the fifth dimension—an inner experience as well as outer.

And one must have a healthy dose of both if they want love to thrive.

Anna never learned the value of space until it was forced upon her by her parents’ divorce. The collapse of the family unit as she’d known it left a void inside her—one that’d been previously filled by social and familial expectations, by enmeshed roles of identity, by hidden codependency.

It was not until she began living with the Shaman that she learned the true value of this most important ingredient of love.

“Love blossoms first within the Self.” He said, catching glimpses of the sunset through the Technicolor concoction in his highball glass. It looked like the Sun was dressing in tie-dye lace, swimming in a bowl full of jelly.

“Then what happens?” she asked him between sips of potato vodka and blueberry.

“That’s it.”

“What do you mean? It doesn’t go anywhere?”

“Love flows from the Self,” he said as the bowl of jelly began to spin, “and downriver the Self is there to receive it.”

Just then, the Sun began to twinkle in the upstairs hearth of the forest. The sky, in turn, blushed in six different languages. A mourning dove not endemic to the island landed on the porch. On her beak was a smile the size of a fried plantain. Anna smiled too. The time was soon at hand for her to return to the mainland.

For it is not merely a matter of creating space. One must also bring it to life—set aflame the joy of their own soul, pour it out their eyes and… One must begin to fill it with good salubrious work, the kind of work that makes a man go “whoo” when the day is done, the kind of work that cannot truly be called work if it is done with purpose. One must cultivate their space until the avocado plants are growing six feet high and the bees are having way too much fun pollenating the orchids. Cause everyone knows, all work and no play makes Jack a dull bee. But a bee that enjoys its work makes honey sweeter than a peach, and its space becomes rife with that sweet honey love.

The kind of love you can bake a pie with—a pie so good it’s guaranteed to make life at least five slices more bearable.

The Infamous Sitarist (A Quartet Excerpt)

Nevermind that it was the first quarter of the twenty-first century and no one cared about barbershop quartets anymore. Nevermind that people no longer wore pinstripes and skimmer hats unless they were making a joke. Nevermind that electro-pop boy bands had long ago supplanted the quartet in cultural relevance and style. Nevermind that there had been a time when being in a barbershop quartet meant being respected, honored, and fawned over. Nevermind that money was tight, debts were owed, and bills needed paying. Nevermind that the world was in an awful state of disarray, and no one—no one except the Shaman—seemed to have any real answers. The Cosmic Quartet went right on having the time of their 500-year-old lives.

And their stage was the Earth. Was its forests. Its hills. And valleys. The Cosmic Quartet did not need an audience, lest that audience was a field of daffodils, lest there were petunias swooning in the galleries. True entertainers to the gooey center, they wouldn’t have minded a crowd of lizards and kittens so long as they were paying attention. Still, they spent just as much time in the city as they did in the wild. Since the Cosmic Quartet was in the business of harmony, they were also in the business of balance—and it paid to balance their time between those two worlds, as secretly entwined as they were. For, despite their detachment from the social structures that bound ordinary men and women—like money—they were not ignorant enough to think they could escape the civilized world altogether. Besides, the deer weren’t too fond of wandering buskers. None spared their attention nor their dollars. Stingy bastards. Where does a buck keep its wallet, anyways?

In the cities, the quartet took up residence wherever they could find it—most often hostels and work exchanges. They spent their days on busy street corners and park squares serenading passersby, sipping kombucha, and accomplishing vocal feats that would’ve made Mozart laugh and cry at the same time. Since morally they were above the red tape of licensure and permission that street performers normally had to navigate, they’d long ago become adept at forgery. Although, they rarely needed to prove the legitimacy of their act. Their sound could hypnotize even the most fascist police officer. Throngs of humans passing by could not help but fork over their Hamiltons. Their boaters couldn’t float with all that change in the cargo hold, so they’d built a collapsible trunk and painted the inside a gaseous emerald nebulae with something important to say. If they weren’t careful onlookers occasionally tripped over the trunk while peering in. For the Quartet it was just another draw, another loose tentacle strewn out for the innocents, a way to hook ‘em. It was one thing to attract the crowd; it was another thing entirely to keep them interested. But they did and so their days in the city were spent earning their way back into the woods to captivate their true audience—the endless river. And their nights in the city were spent getting stoned and drunk and dancing to the raucous ragas of their accompanying sitarist, the infamous Divit Madhup.

Divit had been a child of the sitar for as long as he could remember. Of the entire quartet, he was the only real Indian. The others were given the same title in error. That is, they were from the Caribbean—a different sort of Indian altogether. Blame Christopher Columbus for the mix up—among other things.

If you’re wondering why he’s considered infamous, it’s because the President once invited him to the White House for an evening with the Indian Ambassador and a collection of diplomats. It was November. Snow had arrived early to the party. And the District of Columbia had a look on its face like it’d just seen the Scariest Ghost Ever. Why the President had decided to host such a gathering in these decidedly frigid climes, one will never know. It was November and Divit had to catch a last minute flight from Majorca to make the event. He was not without his grumbles for having to oblige the Leader of the Free World amidst his seasonal hibernation on the Spanish island. In Washington, it was thirteen degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of negative seventeen. In Majorca, hoopoes were sipping mai tais, yachts were still in the harbor, and the Sun was so red, it looked like God was eating watermelon over a particularly azure plate of sky. If the Mediterranean were a sea horse, Majorca was its eyeball—an island bearing an awful resemblance to a twenty amp fuse or a mounted mule’s head; there, in a cottage so close to the sea it could fall in, the sitarist spent the summer and autumn months manufacturing LSD as pure as a baby’s heart.

Usually it was ritual for him to come back to the states for Christmas, despite his not celebrating it. Indians still adored Jesus and he was just the same. The Holidays were a time for bringing people together, a time for gratitude and true joy. And that was just what his acid offered—a real, bona fide chance to rip through the veil and find out what really mattered. Whether it was due to the coming celebration of Mr. Christ’s birthday or the arrival of a new year, when seekers were anxious to wipe the sleight clean with a rag made of clarity, to Divit Madhup, Christmas meant peak appetites for acid eaters, and the hits went like hotcakes at IHOP on discount Wednesdays.

But, the White House invitation—a formal bit of parcel, too formal for his tastes—got stuck in the mail and didn’t come until three days before the gathering was to be held. Needless to say, Divit hadn’t the time to secure a proper flight back—one that would allow him to carry a thousand eight and a half by eleven sheets of freshly dried blotter paper on board. So he had to come back the old fashion way—in coach, with three large vials of lysergic acid diethylamide tucked securely in his rectum. Because of the late notice, his plane would not touch him down in Washington until the afternoon of the event. He would have been in the clear, sporting a red tuxedo, black bowtie, and a mustache with four different kinds of curl, had it not been for the unanticipated turbulence of the flight. That day, the Atlantic had a tummy ache and heavy clouds were assembling by the hundreds to watch her lurch. The storm caused the plane to dip hard at one point, which in turn caused the sitarist to clench his butthole a smidge too tight. In his haste he’d forgotten to seal one of the hidden vials and the unexpected clenching caused the cap to pop right off, sending two ounces of acid surging into the absorbent folds of his digestive tract.

By the time the plane hit Washington, he’d sweated right through his tux, his mustache was playing tricks on his nose, and the stewardess was looking more like an alligator with overripe grapefruits for bosom. A lesser man, in his shoes, would have pulled the emergency door and jumped with an invisible parachute to his death. But Divit, sensing first the peculiar shift in the contents of his rectum, then later the familiar sensation of onset, when his thoughts started spinning the other direction, and his brain felt like a throbbing furnace in his skull, and all he wanted to do was laugh his way to Heaven, buckled his seatbelt and forced himself—as much as such things can be forced—into a deep meditation. Upon landing, he’d gathered just enough sanity to retrieve his carryon from the overhead, just enough composure, as he was exiting the cabin, to smile and say thank you to the pert-breasted gator at the front of the plane, before running like a spooked penguin right for the restroom to empty his bowels of the vials and his in-flight lunch.

Wasps (A Quartet Excerpt)

It was Saturday morning. The cat could be heard peeing in the litter box. The fan could be heard whirring. Sunshine was standing at the Front Door with a bouquet of freshly picked daisies. But everyone was too sleepy to let her in. This time seventeen years ago, Anna’s mother was in the kitchen humming Joni Mitchell and making Belgian waffles. For reference, Anna’s hair was a short crop of curls then, an afro that had yet to find its true mirth. Sink water was enough to fix it up then. Nowadays she’d reverted to her favorite childhood aesthetic: ball caps. She would say, there’s too much hair and not enough hours in the day. She would also say, I’m lazy. Fast forward to the nowadays, to this day in particular, this Saturday morning, when a wasp was hovering in the window, and her itinerary was collecting dust on the dresser top—next to the bottle.

Once when she was four, or was it five, she and her mother attended some outdoor luncheon on square lot of grass adjacent to a busy street. There were balloons. And fried green tomatoes. And fresh lemonade. And there was a wasp also in attendance, a wasp with a stinger that looked pregnant, with legs that hung like black strands of frayed spaghetti, with wings that flapped purposefully. And the wasp was hovering a little too close to young Anna. She thought her mother would save her, would come running to swoop her up before the wasp did what she thought it was going to do. But her cries were muffled in the wind. In the jibber jabber chitter chatter of the moms. And the thrum of passing cars. The wasp stung her on the arm when no one was looking.

The closet in her second house had a window that faced out on the street, an upright rectangle of a window with a nondenominational cross intersecting it. At night moonlight snuck through the blinds and died on the carpet floor. Sometimes she’d find dead wasps ensnared in the bushels of cut pile yarn. Using her tools, she’d perform autopsies on the corpses, not to figure out the cause of death, but rather to get as close as she could to that which frightened her the most. It gave her power knowing the wasps had succumbed to the forces of nature while she went right on living, sleeping snugly in her bed while they mysteriously died in her closet. She never touched the stingers though. Legend had it, they still stung. She wouldn’t take her chances finding out.

Two wasps and a third wheel honey bee landed on her bare thigh one autumn afternoon in Colorado when the sky was falling at an imperceptible rate and strange cosmic things were happening in her love life, strange forces that seemed to flow through and envelop her completely.

Karma- you don’t get it when you want, but there’s a bank. 

The wasps didn’t budge when her eyes opened. She’d been deep in meditation. Deep in the pursuit of silence, when she felt the tickle of their landing and a wave of fear rippled through her whole body. The heart began beating like the hands of the Shaman upon the snake skin djembe. The blood pumped like a river on Adderall. The muscles tensed like a chameleon gone cricket watching. The words fight or flight did not register in her brain. In fact, words had no place in this moment. Her brain was a pot of butterfly soup. Her lips formed an obsequious smile that seemed to express praise for the wing’ed creatures atop her thigh. Rather than jump off running, or call for mommy, she remained perfectly still, at which point the fear had a change of heart and exploded into an energy for which the word ecstatic was a meager descriptor.

Remain still in the presence of your fear, and you will find joy.