Lara Eckener

Diorama of a woman exploding

Memories, Moths, and Money

I write myself notes. I leave them in my bullet journals and my writing journals and the notes app on my phone. I’ve got nests of blank receipt tape and folded church bulletins and geometrically torn sections of magazine pages squirreled away in the journals of the past. These notes are all pieces of my life. I use them to talk to myself about how I want to live and who I want to be, but most importantly I use them to tell myself to remember this, and this, and this.

These bits of writing are usually not about me, but they are very much of me. They’re stories or poems or plans for projects I want to work on down the line, reminders of the artist and writer I want to grow to be. And also, sometimes, reminders of the type of friend or lover I want to grow to be, whenever I stop being so afraid. I’m afraid of a lot of relationships these days, even the ones I have with my own words.

For instance, this is a note I wrote to myself the last time I was trying to remind me that I might already be the good and loving type of person I think my loved ones and my words deserve.

There’s a line in the sand
that curves like a rib,
arc of a bird
wheeling out from the shore,
sweep of a cliff over blue arteries.

All things with wings
can snatch the want from the wind,
so step off, heart,
cross this,
resist the urge to dig in.

This is the shore that
taught you its rhythm,
but history won’t let you
make it your home,
keep moving,
keep yourself in desire.

At every wingspan’s depression
you’ll think this was a mistake,
think this lonely fall
is all you know, think,
what’s the point of loving
the sky if it won’t hold you

It won’t hold you,
but step off, heart,
follow your purpose;
there is no shame in doing
what you were made to do.

It’s not a lesson I took to heart that time, but I will eventually. I do not always trust my future self, but I believe in her. I believe the memories and fictions and small every day beauties she carries with her will one day grow wings and that she will be able to comfortably move through the world with her head in the clouds and her coat fluttering with the moth-like creations she’s crafted and shared.

As with all nocturnal worries
one begets, one begets
until a black and grey coat
becomes beige and brown and slate
wings beading with rain, light like dew
embodying the magic that
young girls learn to yearn for
when the moon is the brightest
thing about them.

So I’m writing myself more reminders, only this time I’m doing them with focused care and purpose. This time I’m going to take a universe that’s lived inside my head for several years and let it go one small piece at a time until I can collect the sum of it into a chapbook. In the finished collection there will be poems and short fictions. There will be many characters with different concerns and priorities and relationships to the stars. Every one of them will yearn though, because I am still yearning, because the night sky is vast and there is much to yearn for.

I want to invite you to join me in seeing this through. Together we will explore different people and different pieces of my memory and the memory of the world. I’ve put together a Patreon that will house this project and hopefully many others. There’s a post on the page that explains the inspiration for this first work and talks about the stories and reminders it sprung from.


There’s a double purpose to using a Patreon campaign over say, just collecting the work here and taking requests for hand bound books from those who might want them. Many of the notes I’ve written to myself over the last several years have been about how deeply I miss my home. I’m working to move back there and honestly can use any monetary help I can get toward that goal. The other part is about how I don’t always trust future me. I want to make sure she sees both this and the move through and the structure of the Patreon will help me better plan both. I’m going to make every part of this as beautiful as I can, because you deserve beauty and I do too.

That’s another reminder. Write it down. In a year we can both come back here and see how we’ve done with our remembering.

There’s no place like here and now.

My loneliest New Years Eve on record was six or so years ago, spent with my then boyfriend in my apartment. Earlier in the day he had asked if we could go out to a club for the night (the first New Years he’d shown any interest in doing so), and I said yes, but when we compared our lists of parties at clubs that we were willing to go to none of them overlapped. I offered to compromise and pick one of his, but he just said to forget it. So we sat alone in my apartment, on the couch and then in bed. I don’t remember what he drank, but I drank a whole bottle of Rosa Regale on my own while wearing a t-shirt, work out shorts, and glittery gold flats because I needed some part of my New Years Eve to be fancy.

I have a very clear memory of perching on the edge of my bed, staring down at my sparkling shoes, and wondering if this would be our last New Years together. At the time I thought that would have been tragic, because we had had so much fun together over the long course of our relationship, that for it to fizzle to smoke that way would somehow render all of our previous romance somehow less true. It felt like it had been meant to spark and then flash out all along. At the time I believed in love that saw its way through everything and was desperately hoping that ours would. I still do believe in love like that, I just no longer believe that that was the kind of love we had. Not there at the end.

Anyway, I don’t actually remember if that was our last New Years together, or if there was one more after it, because I’m about as good at remembering timelines of events as I am at sleeping. That sadness has stayed with me though, that feeling of being all alone and untouchable–unworthy of touch–even though I was sitting next to the one person who was supposed to love me the most in the world. Was that a symptom of our deteriorating relationship or the cause? Did putting my fears into the universe make them real? Is it possible for me to project my way into misery?

My therapist has been trying to coax me into a mindfulness practice for more than a year. She wants me to meditate, but my brain keeps proving to be too riddled with ADD and anxiety to allow itself ten quiet minutes of reflection, so she’s moved on to suggesting other ways I could work mindfulness into my days. I always nod at her suggestions while scoffing internally, and because I believe her to be an intelligent and intuitive individual I believe that she knows that’s what it means when I nod like that.

It just seems so preposterous to have to work at mindfulness. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a careless person, especially with the emotions of myself and others, but I also know that I am incredibly reflective. Sometimes I’m pre-reflective. I have a lot of very vivid memories from my life just like the one of me kicking my golden shoes on NYE to watch them sparkle, because while I was doing the things in those memories I was also thinking: What will this memory feel like in ten years? How old will I be when I last remember this?

There’s me in first grade, crying in front of a boy for the first time while watching Bambi. There’s me in fourth grade, visiting my second grade teacher while my mother worked and helping her clean her desks with shaving cream. There’s me in seventh grade, hiding from bullies. There’s me in eleventh grade, arguing with an abusive high boyfriend. There’s me in my twenties, street racing and feeling so, so alive.

All of these things are with me all of the time, because when they were happening I wondered if they would always be with me. My memory is a disaster. It’s made of earthquakes because those are the things that have settled me into who I am. And when my therapist says she wants me to be mindful I slide back into these things I’ve kept and wonder how that’s ever supposed to help when every single one of these memories feels like it’s part of the problem.

It has taken me the better part of this year to truly understand what mindfulness is and how it can help me moving forward. It has taken me several months since coming to that conclusion to admit that my therapist might actually be onto something. It has taken me the last month or so work out what that will look like for me going forward, at least to start.

I don’t like to make New Years resolutions because I have never once kept one. Honestly, since that lonely New Years I’ve sort of been lukewarm on the concept of the day as a whole. But I do like fresh beginnings. I like having an excuse to look at where I’ve been and try to map out where I’m going, even though I’m into my thirties and still don’t really have an idea of what I want from my life. Mostly I’m finding that for the first time in a very long time I just want to live. So going into 2018 I’m going to try to be mindful with my life. I’m going to mind what I put into my body and my brain. I’m going to mind how I exercise my body and my brain. And I’m going to mind the time that I have so that I can work on some concrete goals that I’ve already spoken into the world.

I want this blog to be a part of that. I want to write at least 52 posts this year. I started trying to come up with types of posts so that I could make into a fancy list that would turn into tags that would let anyone who happened upon this new beginning know what might be coming, but since I don’t know what’s coming anything I put down would turn into a lie. I don’t know who I’ll be in six months. I don’t know who I’ll be tomorrow. I don’t know if what interests me now will interest those other mes.

I do expect to still be interested in reading and writing poetry and science fiction and essays about the things that make people who they are. I do expect to fall in love with albums and movies and books. I do expect to spend a lot of time at local art museums and also maybe just as much time creating visual art of my own. I do hope that I can cling to this newfound desire to assert myself, to really think about who I am and then be that person without shame. I do hope that all of the mes to come will have this mindfulness in common and use it to write out the things she’s thinking and feeling instead of just internalizing those feelings and letting them fester. (Too many feelings are like too many bottles of cider, they lead to stomachaches and anxiety spirals.)

I haven’t had a single lonely New Years since that boy and I broke up. I haven’t worn those glitter flats either, even though I still own them. I live in a real city now, in a place where it gets cold, and they’re not very warm or comfortable to wear on long-ish walks to the bus or train. I spend a lot of my winter in boots. I spend most of my time with people who love me and who make that very clear in all the ways that we relate and compromise.

Tonight I’m going to sit at my friends’ kitchen table and drink and eat and laugh and talk about our years as I’ve done every New Years Eve since I moved here. At midnight we’ll sing ‘This Year’ by The Mountain Goats as loud as we think the neighbors can stand and I’ll pass out on their sofa bed while trying to project the warmth I feel into the future. How old will I be when I remember tonight for the last time? What will I have accomplished? Will I have projected my way into love? Will I have been mindful of my desire to stop here and write about it along the way?

We’ll see.

In which there is helplessness and hope.

This post is ostensibly about a short story anthology I have the honor of having work accepted into, but it’s also about how important I think this anthology is and what it means to me to have been accepted.

UNDERCITIES: A Short Story Anthology – An anthology that focuses on queer narratives in an urban fantasy setting, featuring queer and POC characters.

I have this recurring thought about my own stories. I worry a lot of the time that they’re not relevant enough, that nothing I have to say is important in the scheme of things. Why should my words be important when I am mostly a frivolity of a person—a scared little girl who grew into an anxious woman who mostly feels helpless in the face of the oncoming future? Why should I even write these things? I ask myself. Why do I furiously jot down poetry that no one will ever read or build convoluted histories for main characters in novels that I may or may not write? Why, when the words won’t come, do I collage instead?

Why do I find such comfort in manifesting my small, awkward beauties when so often they’re only for me? If I was the last person on the planet, would I continue to leave my words splattered all over every surface? Would I feel the need to prove that I was here if there was never anyone else to see it? I think I would. Writing has always been a mechanism of hope for me and I learned long ago that even if I’m not Writing I’m writing. The words will out whether I want them to or not.

Lately, I am made of helplessness. I wake up every morning singing a little song I made up about it in my head, because singing my frustrations to myself is a thing I started doing a while ago so I didn’t shout them at others. This is not the romantic young Elizabeth Schuyler in Hamilton helplessness. This is not beautiful or desirous or even in tune. This is the overwhelming sensation of fear that is not creeping, but that is already here.

I wake up feeling helpless and I check my phone to see what new fresh horrors were perpetrated while I slept: what gag order has been signed, which environmental agency has been targeted, which group of people have been beaten or incarcerated for displaying the rebellious unrest that was to be lauded when it shook up status quo two hundred years ago, but demonized when it tries to shake up the status quo now. I don’t have to tell any of you that the current status quo is dangerous for the majority of people living not only in the US, but in the world. It needs to be shaken. I should do more shaking.

So I wake up feeling helpless. Helpless for myself and my friends and for strangers who are stronger and braver than I am and who are being vilified for it. My friends, who are from different places and made up of different ethnicities, who are mostly female or non-binary or transgendered and mostly queer, who are mostly millennials, who are mostly no stranger to being told that everything about them needs to be cleaned up and trimmed down and beaten into submission. My friends who are entirely, bravely, proudly non-compliant in the face of all of it.

I should stop singing quietly and go back to shouting loudly. I should do it for myself and for everyone I love and everyone I admire. There’s power to be had in making yourself seen and the words you use to do it. There always has been and always will be power in stories. That sounds trite, but honestly, when the day is being ruled by “alternative facts” that are little more than falsehoods spun into pyrite, what else can you do but counter with fictions that show actual truths more deftly and completely than their news sound bites ever could?

Fiction has always been a vehicle for truths and a way for those who have a hard time shouting—or who have already shouted until their throats gave out-to be heard. It’s a tradition I’ve always wanted to be a part of and it’s for that reason that I find telling stories to be a mechanism of hope. In fiction I can sing for myself and for others. In fiction I can see myself reflected and subsumed and reborn. In fiction I can find the tools I’ll need to move past this helplessness and into strength.

The main character in the short story I submitted to Undercities exists in my head because she was someone who didn’t exist outside of my head when I would have needed her most. She is made of my fears and doubts about being a bisexual woman and also being a woman with no real connection to her family’s history. At this point you can just imagine me as Molly Grue and my main character as the unicorn in The Last Unicorn. Where were you when I was new? I shout. I’m here now, she says.


No person should live in a vacuum. No person should be told by their family that they don’t exist or that they need to hide themselves. No person should have to accept a false narrative that overwrites their own lived existence, and yet, so many of us do. Anthologies like this are one small step toward reclaiming our voices and our visibility. Being encouraged to share my stories and allowed to write things that reflect my hopes and fears is one small step toward working past the helplessness.

I am very proud to have a story included in the Undercities anthology, and proud of the hard work the editors and other authors have done in promoting the voices of people who aren’t often allowed the breath they need to sing. We need each other and we need each other’s stories. Please support them when you can.

As of this posting there are 21 days left for funding in the Undercities Kickstarter. You can check it out here:

We’ll turn ourselves into paper and kindling, devotion and truth.

It’s been a busy second half to the year over here in my neck of the woods. I’ve been working away on several things that will come into print as we come into the new year. I’ve also been trying real hard not to talk about them too much lest I jinx something and all the editors decide to take it back. That’s not going to happen today though, because today I’m super pleased to report that the first of those projects has been released in print!


Paper & Kindling: A 3-4-1 Collection is available from Amazon in print and kindle editions! This anthology includes short stories from authors Kaitlyn SudolNicole DeGennaro, and Christine Ricketts, as well as poems by myself and art by Katie Grosskopf, Alex Griggs, and Cleopatria Peterson. (Cleopatria’s art is the best, but I’m biased, because she illustrated my poems.)

I’ve long been attracted to the idea of artist’s telephone and this anthology was created along those lines, except instead of working in a long vine-like chain what we have is four seeds with tendrils and flowers growing from each. Christine, Nicole, Kaitlyn, and I each wrote a beginning story or poem and then we all switched and wrote things based on each other’s stories. The illustrations were created in the same way. Through inspiring each other we all got to dip our toes in different worlds and stretch our voices and the result is chock full of horror, science fiction, romance, and fantasy. But most importantly, it’s full of possibility and new beginnings. As it says in the description copy: the end of one story is just the start of another.

One of my sincerest life wishes is to write beautiful things to share with the world, and I thank every one of my fellow contributors here for helping to make that possible. So if any of this sounds like something you’d be interested in reading, please pick up a copy and let us know what you think!

“We’re all going to have to learn to live with less oxygen.”

The river still runs and the leaves are burning,
regardless of this grey sky.

The river will run and leaves twist and fall away,
regardless of the value of a life.

The river will run and the leaves will fly,
regardless of a morning’s fear.

Your false family’s hatred will paint you as leaves,
ephemeral, frivolous, and made to burn,
regardless of this you are the river.

The river still runs.

I feel like I don’t yet have the proper words for my fear and disappointment, so instead, here are some words of support for other people’s fear and disappointment. If I can help you, let me know. We’ve always been in this together, but this is a good reminder of who we are and who we’re fighting.

The Destination of Touch

What is everyone you know doing right now, and where are they standing and in which direction?

I think a lot about touch. I’m a very tactile person, by which I mean I learn best by methods of physical manipulation, but also that I like to be in direct contact with the people and places that I love. No, not like, need. I’m fed by it in the same way extroverts are fed by emotional interaction. I think a lot about touch, but I no longer do a lot of touching. Somewhere along the line I’ve lost my way to these easy intimacies.

I talk about this a lot with my therapist, how it boils down to having lost the ability to intimate myself. I’m uncomfortable with existing and holding shape. I am suspect of what other people see when they look at me and some days it’s just too much. I want to disappear. It hurts to be looked at, let alone to have to touch someone and be reminded of the fact that I possess a whole, displeasing form.

To alleviate this pain sometimes I sort of just, let go. I wouldn’t characterize it as disassociating so much as I’d characterize it as compartmentalizing my experience, and the compartment where I keep the fact that I inhabit a body in is usually shoved in the back of the closet behind the comforter my mother sent me my first winter in Boston. So while I never stop-or indeed want to stop-existing, I do tend to push pause on the awareness of inhabiting.

But it’s hard to claim a voice and know where you are in the world when there’s no tether between you and it. It’s a thing I wonder about a lot, so it’s a thing that works itself into my writing a lot. In one of my current projects I’ve ended up pulling these things directly from my fear banks and putting them into a character’s mouth, because I don’t know how else to get them out in the open for proper study. “I don’t like having a body,” my snippy gay cyborg says. “It’s never really felt like I belong it.

So I think a lot what it means to touch someone. What is the emotional impact of being pressed against a stranger on a bus seat for an hour as opposed to the emotional impact of being pressed against someone you know for several minutes? Do the people who step on your feet on the train ever think of you again? Does your face or your indignant grunt get filed into their subconscious so you can show up as unrecognized dream fodder? And what of those people you do know? Is it possible to map a person from the inside out without ever coming into physical contact with them?

Because that’s the problem of dis-inhabiting, isn’t it? You start to evaporate off emotional maps just as surely as demolished structures disappear off physical ones with each new update. The past is a constantly moving and hungry thing. The further away your last encounter with a person gets from the present, the less of an impact it has on them. And the point of dis-inhabiting is to not have to have an impact on the people around you, or indeed at all, if you don’t feel comfortable leaving one. It relieves just a little bit of the stress of existing, for certain meanings of ‘relieve’ and ‘exist’.

And how is each oriented toward the sun? And where is each located in their own mind? That is another map.

A couple weekends ago I and a friend went to a performance of Nichole Canuso’s The Garden. I knew going in that it was interactive and that there would be movement involved. I was a little anxious about the audience size of four, because it’s harder to blend into the background when there are so few people, but mostly I was curious and expectant. I love watching people perform and I love art of all kinds and the conversation that springs up between a person and an object or event. I took the headphones they gave me, followed my fellow audience members into a room surrounded by gauzy curtains and filled with soft light, sat in a random chair, and went about the quick work of turning myself into a receptacle.

The show is, well, it’s delightful and wonderful and all sorts of other adjectives. The show is both a high wire and a net. It asks for your trust and gently pushes at your mental and physical boundaries until suddenly you have a breath of a moment to look down and realize that there’s nothing but air beneath you and it’s your decision whether to float or fall. At one point during the performance I actually gave another one of my fellow audience members a literal gentle push, when prompted to of course. I did a lot of things in the confines of that space that I would never do outside of it with respect to interacting with strangers.

It’s the prompting from the recordings that I’ve most wanted to discuss in the week or so since the event, but I haven’t really been able to find the words to do so. Even this attempt has gone all wriggly and wrong. Every time I feel like I might reach the end of the tether this show turned me into the thought slips away. Every time I think I’ve got it I’m circled by another question and have to stop to consider it some more.

How much should we trust art and, by proxy, the people who make it? Is the intimacy inherent in the artistic conversation a false one? I feel like most people are familiar with the aching feeling of unrequited love. Do some of us learn it from objects and events before we learn it from other people? Is that the destiny of every museum goer and play watcher? How is it different when the art can watch you back?

THE GARDEN 3 minutes from Nichole Canuso on Vimeo.

There’s a portion of the show where I was instructed by the headset to sit on a bench and take the hand of the person in front of me. Earlier in the performance I had been instructed to offer my hand to other people and to let them guide me, but those had been performers, people with whom the social contract between artist and audience was obvious. I stepped into their space and offered my time, attention, body, and trust up to them and in return they molded my experience into something crafted with care. This person in front of me in this moment was not a performer, he was another member of the audience. I looked into this person’s eyes for the first time and then, as I was told, I took his hand and started to softly trace his palm with my finger.

There is nothing in my life as a creator and consumer of art that could have prepared me for that moment. As I touched this man the recording asked me to think about how many hands I knew very well, how many palms I had memorized. The answer is startlingly few. The last hands I knew so well left me close to four years ago now and I have been avoiding getting to know any other hands since. I wondered how many hands most people know and if I was deficient. I thought about all the hands I am afraid of that I should have been comforted by and all the hands I have been avoiding that I so desperately want to know.

I traced and I traced. For a full minute I traced and waited for the recording to let me do anything else. What would this man have done had I refused my instructions and instead sat for a minute staring down into my own hands? I don’t know what his recording was telling him to do or if it warned him about what I was about to do. Would my refusal have made a difference in his experience? Would he have felt annoyance? Guilt? Shame? Did he feel those things anyway? Was he curious about me? Or was he also trying to process how his body had suddenly become an anchor for his spirit instead of something he merely wore around, an incidental artifact of being? I didn’t even notice when all my anxiety and embarrassment fell away. It’s almost as if, when I pushed him off afterwards, he took it with him. I had been worried that he would think I was a crazy person, but I also knew that he had instructions of his own and he too had let himself be made into a receptacle.

This is what life is like, of course. Things happen around and to you and you just do your damnedest to make your choices your own, but sometimes it’s impossible to separate them from circumstance. Sometimes you’re just sitting on a bench, or in a coffee shop, or in a movie theater, staring at another person and waiting for them stop being a stranger. When is the changeover? Is it with the exchange of names? Or laughter? Or physical intimacy, either platonic or romantic? Right this very moment, somewhere in Boston, there is a man who I will probably never see again, but with whom I deliberately shared a small intimacy. I still don’t know if that thought is comforting or stressful.

We talk about the weather as if it is the only thing that has happened to all of us. When really almost everything that has happened to you has happened to someone else who felt they were alone.

Touch can haunt us. Exceedingly good touches and exceedingly bad touches alike leave ripples through our futures, create behaviors, and form emotional mazes we’re not even aware we’re in. When I was seventeen I was forced and coerced into a slew of sexual encounters by a boy I was dating. Someone I had chosen to trust even though I shouldn’t have. The trauma of those encounters taught my body to fear and recoil and want to flee.

Many years later I was in a dissolving long term relationship with another man. What I had once assumed to be solid ground became shaky as he and I both grew and changed. Cracks appeared all over our relationship. In those moments when things became uncertain and I most needed the comfort of physical contact, my body started to dread it in a way my mind was unaware of. The old terror seeped back in, even though this man had never hurt me physically and never would. This showed in many small ways I couldn’t decode at the time, but the most disruptive of them was the night panic.

When a person is asleep they are vulnerable. At the time these panics started I was sleeping in very little clothing if any at all. I would cuddle up next to him, skin to skin, and cling. Sometimes the nights went as one assumes they should. I felt safe with the person I loved and their warmth was a comfort. But sometimes their warmth was a warning and I would wake in the middle of the night in a blind panic, terrified of being touched and used, of my body being improper and shameful as I knew it had become in the months of those initial traumas. I would scramble out of bed to put on clothing, any clothing I could find. I would inevitably wake up fully as I was digging through the dirty laundry basket or wrestling a tank top over my head. Then I’d sit down on the floor and breathe and try to remind myself that I was safe and everything was fine. That this man loved me and wouldn’t hurt me and that my body wasn’t the liability I still feared it was deep down. But for as long as we were together it kept happening, so I guess I never really convinced myself of that.

It’s taken me the better part of eight years to understand that this fear and that trauma are connected. In hindsight it’s really very obvious. One of the terrible first experiences with that other boy that I remember most vividly happened in my own bed in my parents’ home and sleeping has been a gamble of a prospect ever since. Once a vulnerable area proves unsafe we shore it up. These days I sleep lightly if at all. Small noises wake me. I have night terrors. And I’m afraid to get to know someone, to invite them into my bed, for fear that I’m still broken and they’ll see that. I’m afraid to truly and intimately touch people, but I just did in the name of art and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

Lately my body hasn’t felt as heavy. I don’t want to claim that The Garden is the impetus for this. As I mentioned earlier, I’m seeing a therapist and she’s been trying to get me to acknowledge my physical form and push out all the shame it brings me so that I can feel comfortable in it. It’s been rough going. But I do think that art has always been a vehicle for catharsis and that The Garden was a glimpse around the corner at how simple just existing can be when you open yourself up to it.

There’s a portion of the show, the portion the quotes between these sections was taken from, where you’re asked to think about your place in the world and then think about it in relation to the places in the world where all the people that you love are. It asks you to consider their physical placement and their mental placement. I am often standing on the corner outside my office building, but I’m almost never standing on the corner outside my office building, if you know what I mean. I’m always elsewhere, and so very often those elsewheres are places of fear and shame and escape. I don’t want to be on the corner. I don’t want to be anywhere at all, and this way of thinking isn’t fair to me or the corner.

I moved to this city because to me it vibrates with a positive frequency. It’s true that I no longer wanted to be at home–driving over the same streets and going to the same restaurants and sleeping in the same bed where I once inhabited the world with the ex–but it’s also true that there are a hundred things about this place that make me feel like I could become the truest version of myself. It’s in the quality of light that changes with the seasons and in the city streets that might as well be wind tunnels and reflected in the friends I already had and the ones I’ve made since. I don’t want to compartmentalize my existence. I don’t want to merely inhabit. I don’t want to keep being lonely. I want to live. To live one must be aware of their place in the world. To live one must be an open and willing receptacle. To live one must be tether and anchor and wave all in one.To live one must know where they are, why they are, and how they are.

I don’t want to be afraid of myself and everyone else anymore. I don’t to miss out on contact. I don’t want to view hope and the gazes of others with the same terrified suspicion. I learn best by touching, and if I’m going to continue to grow, I need to take the gentle prompts from within me and outside of me. I must allow the terror to slip away and then turn to the door to watch the dance happening just over the threshold and join the choreography when beckoned. The world is large, the maps are full, and there is always someone beckoning.

Where are you? Where are your thoughts? How are you feeling? We always have these maps with us.

Monster Story

Back in February I went home to visit friends and family. I spent part of my time wandering through familiar parts of my old city with people I love and unsurprisingly ended up in a B&N flipping through books and prattling on about whatever. One of the books we picked up had a monster in the front cover. He was quite dapper and quite feathered, which are two of my favorite traits in a monster. My friend said, “write me a story about him.” So because I do what I’m told, I did.

This is that. Actually, I think this is the start of that. I want him to go after the girls, to stay with them and slowly turn back into a person, or maybe watch one of them turn into a monster. But there are other, more pressing things to write, so we’ll stick with this small victory for now.

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Tree People – The Inception

This is a reposting of a thing I initially wrote and posted to Tumblr several years ago. It’s a little bit prose and a little bit poem and was the very beginning of what has become a bit of an obsession with tree people. It was inspired by the lovely work of Lotte Hobbes.

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I know what you are, Kavinsky said.

(Crossposted from here.)

I spent the ages of 18 to 25 or so in cars and parking lots with boys. And other girls too–I lived with one of the girls for about a year, I still frequently wish I’d kept in touch with her–but my car club experiences were dominated mostly by boys with thin chests built of bravado and mouths that bubbled insults and boasts like spring swollen rivers.

Over the two days it took me to read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves I’ve had almost as many nostalgic, indulgent thoughts about those boys and their cars as I’ve had about the characters I’ve come to love. I was a very different person then, still becoming. (I guess my breath, by definition, means I’m still still becoming). I was a lot like Ronan, though admittedly my violence was restricted to words and walls and the stupid, stubborn pipe of my cold air intake.

I was a lot like Ronan, and I have known a lot of Kavinskys.

I often talk about wanting to teach myself to run because it’s the closest I’ll ever get to flying, but my memory knows that’s not entirely true. The closest I’ve ever been–may ever be–to flying the way ravens do has been sitting in the passenger seat of my friend’s Honda S2000, top down, wind pummeling my hair as we did a buck twenty through the sticky hot central Florida night. Nights like that are printed indelibly on what I’ve become. Drag races and street races and autocrosses, smoke pouring from tires and slipping NOS hoses, alcohol and weed and adrenaline. Those are things that have made me feel like I was soaring even as my feet remained on the ground. (Or on the poor, abused clutch pedal on my ex’s truck. I never have been overly competent with a stick.)

But like most people, I also spent that period of time trying to figure out just who I was and who I wanted to be. I opened my big mouth when I shouldn’t have. I stayed quiet when I shouldn’t have. I was too quick to shrillness and too slow to learn how to calm a racing heart. I tried to blend in and mimic behavior, practice and homage, because that’s how you learn to do something, right? Even becoming.

There was a phrase people used to throw around on the boards and at meets. Only fags wear white shoes. It was a phrase that made me uncomfortable and that discomfort, the way I couldn’t put my finger on it, was a second secret of my own. What their words meant was that a pair of hideously ugly white rims were never going to improve your car. What their words did was reinforce a tight, sinuous brand of homophobic misogyny that was cutting off circulation to my heart and my brain. Derision and deflection so often have the same voice.

Ronan’s gradual becoming in The Dream Thieves is a thing of wonder to me in a book spilling wonders. It’s a story I desperately wish I could have had at twenty, because no matter how certain you are you’ll finally reach a destination, some journeys are just better with a well-creased map. There’s a certain amount of grief in growing, to be sure, that no map will help you avoid, but there’s also a limit to how much grief you take before you start reverting again.

Maggie Stiefvater has managed to capture the balance of that grief remarkably well. She created a character whose main desire was to be true to himself, who fought with others and his own dreams for the privilege of becoming, and whose reverb shook my fingers on the page just as Kavinsky’s bass shook everyone within hearing distance of the Mitsubishi.

In Ronan Lynch I see speed and asphalt and anger and truth and the creeping, adolescent feeling that you could crawl out of your skin and leave it behind if you tried. There’s a subtle grace in his character that I’d still like to see more of, even though it’s been some time since I had to answer the questions he’s so recently thought to ask. Thank you, Maggie, for creating a character who I could see my young self in so perfectly who was allowed the time and space to discover his sexuality, but not allowed to disappear into his sexuality as if he were a cipher.

Becoming is a constant process, but the creases in Ronan Lynch will now continue to remind me where I’ve been. That too, makes me feel like I’m soaring.

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