Like Any Old Element

Skip a life completely 

Stuff it in a cup.

Family’s are subject to decay 

Like any old element. 

Memories become impossible burdens 

On the soul. 

People get lost in their dysfunction

In their own lives 

Myself included. 

They forget too easily 

What was once precious,

And forgo it for their own reprieve. 

Sand castles built in the afternoon 

Will have washed away 

When the stars come out. 

The waves may look like glass 

In the morning 

But at night they rage. 

They swallow sand and kelp 

And images held dear.

No man steps in the same lake twice 

For it is not the same lake 

And he is not the same man. 

Things do change. 

If I am certain of anything it is that. 

Not much can be done about it. 

No amount of denial or effort. 

You make the best of it. 

And maybe internalize the pain 

Take it upon yourself 

That the family was destroyed in a fire 

And the good times are draped in shadows 

And you are not in family photos anymore. 

And the beach grass smells like something 

But you can’t remember what. 

The sticks don’t resemble swords anymore either. 

They’re just sticks. 

And the water is receding 

And so are you. 

And if there is any silver lining 

It is that mountains don’t move at all. 

And they will always be there to cradle you 

When your mother has died 

And your childhood home has been sold 

To a couple 

Who made a sauna out of your playroom. 

And if you are lucky you will not 

Remember anything. 

You will find your solace in the moment 

In the sun 

In the wind 

Beneath trees 

And your own inner strength. 

You will live in a depression 

But create happiness from inside yourself. 

Your heart will beat stronger wherever you are 

Regardless of the sunsets 

Regardless of fig newton’s

Or fruity pebbles.

Your heart will beat stronger because you made it so. 

You made it so. 

You made it so.

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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.

A Little Less Tell (An Excerpt on Love)

The girl’s got a darkness that even the best spelunkers couldn’t spelunk. She looks like a light bulb but really, she’s a cavern, she’s the longest shadow in town, an alleyway shadow, a street lamp shadow, a shadow too shadowy for its own britches. To be more succinct, there is a place inside our protagonist that is the physiological equivalent of a black hole puckering its lips in some far corner of the universe. It’s a place that wants to be more like the stars, who radiate the kind of life-giving forces planets need to thrive, assuming they inhabit the Goldilocks zone. It’s a place, to be less scientific, that looks like a leaky bucket. You fill it up but after a while it spills out. You fill it up. It spills out. So she’s got a hole in her. Or two. She’s got a desperation about her. A mad desire for something achingly kindred, a furious need for mutual understanding, an absolute longing for Home. And the girl loves so hard it hurts. To be even more succinct, the girl loves too hard to let go in a reasonably healthy fashion. Hence the ideation at the overpass. Hence patterns of passionate love that don’t just peer over the edge of destruction, but plunge in completely.

The author supposes, having read what’s been written, that a little more showing and a little less telling might do the reader some good. So here goes:

They met on Tinder. Yes. Tinder. Anna didn’t even remember swiping right, not that Marlowe wasn’t memorable. On the contrary, she had eyes a goldfish would memorize to its dying day, eyes that reanimated the brains of dementia patients, eyes that flickered and gleamed the way a forest does at sunset. And she had cherry brown curls that fell in beach wave ringlets to her shoulders. And she had a smile. Oh that smile. It was a smile that stretched across her face like a rainbow across the rain soaked sky. It was a smile that made Anna melt, that weakened her already creaky knees, and unleashed two whole swarms of Monarch butterflies into her stomach. In terms of chemistry, theirs was volatile, the kind of mutual physiological reaction that’d set the whole lab on fire, that’d send the chemists running with their coats and panties at their ankles, yelling at everyone to evacuate the building. It was also the kind of chemistry that only the moon, the fat, waxing gibbous, and the sea, the briny briny sea, could understand. Theirs was the kind of chemistry that seemed to the exclusion of everyone else in the room, nay the world, the most important secret in the Universe.

The author will tell you that this secret is really no secret at all—that the whole point of this novel is to make the reader aware of their own capacity to get in on the action. And it’s a simple matter, really. Simple in syntax. In practice, things get… shall we say… heavy. But a lotus flower, to name a notable cliché, has got to go through all sorts of muck and sludge and dark, dark pond to get to the light. Kind of like a mole rat whose decided he’s had enough of the subterranean lifestyle. Kind of like a bear finally emerging from the Longest Hibernation Ever. Kind of like a soul awoken from an eternity’s aching slumber.

And that is what came of Anna and Marlowe. Well… at least for Anna. Marlowe’s part in this story is altogether brief. Because the author does not believe in telling love stories. Instead, the author believes that life—the real juicy stuff—happens when the heart lies in ruins, still throbbing with the ecstasy of yesterday, bleeding all over the good carpet, all over the city, searching for a new and equally significant high, all the while plunging like a lotus flower in reverse back down into the depths. So if you’re wondering what’s become of Marlowe, you’ll have to ask her, or stay tuned for some trite sequel, because this story is about Anna, about what happens when a girl falls for who she believes to be the mirror reflection of her soul, who she believes to be her destiny, her final frontier, the lone rose in her secret garden. About what happens when a girl, for all she knows, is dead wrong, and has to let go of thinking she has any fucking clue what life is about. And the story is about a Shaman who does. A Shaman whose apple pies’ll knock your tube socks right off.

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.

The Modern Problem of Differentiation

Listen:

I like my solitude. Loneliness is an illusion. I spend whole days alone and I’m perfectly happy with it. In fact, it’s the most peaceful thing in the world. The problem is other people. (Is it? Is it really?)

Jean Paul Sartre had it right. (Did he?) Hell is other people. Well… not everyone, just some. Those people that need other people. Those people that get their knickers in a wad when you set a boundary for yourself. But as I’ve written this piece, I think maybe I’m not seeing the whole picture. I think there is more to this than I’m aware of.

One of my best friends disappeared for three years without telling a soul. I think about that. I wonder how his family felt. I wonder how he felt, down in his core. I wonder what it means to be a human being… a social creature… with social ties and obligations. It’s just so much easier to push away from the world. To be alone. But that hurts too. Because I’m not free of empathy. I know when I’ve hurt someone else. And the last thing I want to do is hurt others. But how much say do I really have with that? Will people go on hurting regardless of my actions or inactions?

Am I capable of being a part of a community? Or do my wounds keep me from really integrating? Do they hold me back? Do they cause me to resent the people I love?

Listen:

Self care comes first. That’s not selfish. (Then again there is a difference between self care and selfishness. A fine line). Is self-care about prioritizing myself over other people? Yes, but one must do so in a way that toes the line, a way that gives space to meaning and feedback and two-way communication. I am allowed to spend time on self-care; to live in solitude. Especially! Especially when I spent my entire life denying myself in order to survive, keeping my boundaries down for the sake of others.

Sure I’m in pain, but it’s fine. No. No. It’s fine. I’m not crying. I’m not hurting inside. Let me just continue minimizing my needs for you and everyone else. (So much pain in these words. So much anger.)

The world doesn’t see me (So much fear). I knew someone once who saw me. Who loved me completely (So much nostalgia. So much pain). I miss that feeling… getting to be myself completely with another person… getting to let down my most sacred wall… getting to be vulnerable with someone I loved.

How do I pull my walls down? How do I tear them down completely and splay myself out for the world?

Listen: I don’t want anyone in my life who isn’t going to be honest and open with me. Anyone who runs off without a word; who holds my actions against me without offering any amount of vulnerability. I don’t want that in my life anymore. Because somehow in the midst of everything I started to change. I started to revert. To deny myself again. Even the person I loved most… the person that once accepted me fully… had taken to rejection like flies on a honeysuckle.

I abandon myself for this world and it only creates pain for me. Maybe once it helped me survive; helped me get by; avoid violence from my peers, from my family. But now it just holds me back.

Now I am so afraid of being myself for this world; when that’s what the world needs most from me… to stand in my power, to exude it, to live my bliss and my mission. There is no doubt about what it is.

I am here to write, to encourage others to create. I am here to build things that will last long after I’m gone; ideas, organizations. The whole kit and kaboodle.

BUT FIRST. I’ve got to find me. I’ve got to do things for me. Cause I’ve never done that before. I’ve never put my happiness before yours. So I’ve got these archetypes in me. The ‘Me’ and the ‘You.’ Always battling. Any time I do for myself, I fear that I’ll let others down. They call me selfish. They tell me I don’t care about them, or their wants and needs. But that isn’t so. I’ve just never learned the balance.

The modern problem of differentiation still baffles me, still haunts me, keeps me from finding the in between, the happy space, the perfect mixture of solitude and togetherness.

So here I am in this place. With an opportunity for real enduring solitude. And I’ve got to make a choice. Do I wait? Do I leave the mountain for the market? Or do I stay here? At this summit, cultivating my peace and my quiet? Dreaming and intending. Building for the future. I’m learning out here. I’m learning what holds me back. What propels me forward.

While the world outside weeps. And struggles. When it seems no one has considered the possibility that I have intentionally created this situation for myself. While you buy into the bullshit, the idea of a 9 to 5, a life that burdens you and burns you out. That’s not my path. That’s not what I want. Money is a fabrication and I am still stuck believing it’s an object; it’s a wall; a barrier to my true dreams. But it’s not. The barrier is thinking there’s not enough money.

When the reality is, it’s out there. The world is filled with resources. And people waiting to help you fly.

So I’m here cultivating my peace; my aloneness. And it’s brilliant. I want to share it with people really. I want people to know there are other ways to live. Beautiful ways. Peaceful ways.

I’m working on setting boundaries in a way that achieves balance and understanding with the people i care about. I’m not perfect and I’m still figuring it out. My greatest fear is that, in choosing solitude I am hurting the ones I care about. Am I? Am I hurting you?

Here’s the thing:

My solitude has never been more important to me. It’s a sweet little silk cocoon that I have weaved with the help of people who believe in me. And it sure is a blessing to have this place as a home base. The pillar around which my river flows. But I’ve yet to understand how to navigate the two poles of my life: Me and You.

I’m still learning how to love myself and what that means. Mark said he doesn’t do things because he loves himself. He just loves himself and lives his life from there. That’s it. There’s no secret for him.

But I’m not there yet. I don’t love my body. I don’t love how the world sees me (or rather how they don’t see me). And I wonder if that’s my fault–that people don’t see me because I don’t show my true self… because I’m afraid for whatever reason. So I go on hurting. I go on finding that the only time I feel safe is when I’m alone.

I learned a long time ago that I needed to deny my needs for others; to hide them from my family and society. Couldn’t be a girl when that’s all I wanted. Couldn’t be a writer when that’s all I wanted. And the pain of that still haunts me. The abandonment still eats at me.

And the answer to the modern problem of differentiation remains a big fucking mystery. The only mystery worth solving.

Except maybe it’s not so much a mystery as an obvious truth: that I’ve got to be myself. That I’ve got to solve this mess inside myself. Write. Cry. Heal. Take walks. Cook. Laugh. Be honest and open. Do my hair up nice once in a while. Show myself to the world. Put myself fully and completely into everything I do. In every moment.

Unapologetic. Liberated. Me.

And in the process maybe I’ll learn the difference between being/finding myself and being selfish. Because there is a difference. And in figuring it out, perhaps I’ll learn important things about boundaries… about my boundaries… and your boundaries. In the process, maybe I’ll learn how to navigate these strange waters. And if I’m open enough, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two from other people.

Sure, Sartre. Maybe Hell is other people. But maybe Heaven is too. Maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. And if I can’t solve the modern problem of differentiation, how can I ever hope to find the truth?

 

 

 

Like Water in a Drain (Quartet Excerpt)

Contrary to later reports, the triceratops was not born in Persia, let alone in the turquoise mines of Khorasan. It was given to her as a gift. A birthday present from an aunt. Small enough to hold in one hand. Big enough to crush a toy soldier’s musket. Under the beast’s bandanaed foot, the lieutenant gasped for his life. His cries reached all the way to the kitchen, into the ear of Mrs. Thoreau who was just then busy with a salad of bell peppers and mushroom. Mr. Thoreau spent more time at the office these days. The blinds were drawn. And slivers of sunlight, the amber kind, like the sheen of a dried peach, were falling in a flourish onto the carpet; they illuminated Anna’s curls, made them glow, made them sing, made the dust mites dance in the beams. This room was once the dining room, where family dinners took place. Now it was a playroom, full of multicolored toy bins placed against the wall opposite the window.

“Mommy, will you come play with me? You can be the Triceratops.”

“I can’t sweetie,” her mother said from the kitchen, “I’m making dinner for everyone. Can’t you play by yourself?”

Anna was six years old, just shy of June. She had a round, pouty face, and blue eyes, whose ostensible affection was only partially veiled by pupils that drew you in like vacuums; and by a short mop of curls that had yet to learn the value of a spiral. There was a natural intelligence and precocity about her; a child apt to cut through the world’s crap. Triceratops in her right hand, Batman in her left, she turned and faced the window, all three feet of her. Outside, a wind had taken up residence on the front lawn. Steadily, Anna looked out over the hill, past the oak tree in their yard where her brother broke his arm, down the street, past the garage door at the end of the block, the one her father’s minivan crushed when the parking break failed and it rolled from one driveway to another, past the wooded rooftops, the moussed-up hair of suburbia, past Indian Creek, the green leaved tree line, and the highway congested with cars. And one could guess by the horizon’s color, that someone, maybe an angel, had spilled a giant bucket of rutabagas into a vat of yellow curry paste and splayed it across the sky. On and on, she looked until it carved off into nothing, like shavings in a disposal, like water in a drain. There where the Earth fell into the void, she played her imagination game. The sky became a vast Japanese painting. She dotted its face with high arching mountains, eagles and beavers, with streams that gurgled the way honeybees dance, and beehives brimming with the Queen’s jelly. If her mind were any indication of her future, she was destined to remain afoot, restless, head in the clouds, a nomad without home, searching for it past the horizon, past the sun, in the blank space, the negative space. But she would find things there, too. Her self, for one. We cannot discount that. We cannot discount that those who seek, inevitably find so long as they want it bad enough. But! If they don’t know what they want… well then… they will get a little bit of everything, a taste of the whole pie whether they like it or not.

“Twenty two,” the Shaman said, breaking Anna’s reverie. She was staring open mouth out the window, a tiny bead of drool making its way to the table. Outside, the island channel shimmered through an open glade. “There are twenty two different types of pie crust,” he continued. “Twenty-three if you include the Zwieback Triple Pastry. My personal favorite, if you don’t mind me saying, is the Alabama Golden Flake.”