cherry blossoms bud
fragrant, humble, inviting
as her rose-pale lips
A friend of mine suggested that the progression of Pokémon GO! would be as follows:
1. kids play the game
2. adults try out the game
3. sick of growing adult adoption, kids drop out
4. criminals learn how to exploit the game
5. game becomes used primarily as a hookup site
Given my current status as a divorced single mom, I kind of hoped that #5 would become a reality sooner rather than later. To me, it would mean that the men I met were a) dads who are supportive of their kids; b) not the most athletically inclined but enough so that walking around collecting strange creatures was appealing, and/or c) sufficiently "geek" that I could get along with them.
Unfortunately, this has not turned out to be the case. Single men (dads or not) my age are trying to attract women at least 15 years younger, women who still want to have babies and, to paraphrase "Friends," whose important parts still point "up."
Men who are looking for women my age have no idea what Pokémon is, let alone what the whole "Internet thing" is about. These are men who are almost old enough to be my father, who know that the 30 somethings are out of their reach (unless they happen to be Donald Trump and can afford to make them forget about age differences), and who don't want to grow old alone.
I get not wanting to grow old alone. I had hoped that I wouldn't. As the first year after my divorce draws to a close, however, I am considering the possibility that I will meet my future as a strong, independent and unattached woman.
This is not terrible.
This is not the end of the world.
This is not a reality that will justify years of patriarchal propaganda that says a woman is not complete without a man.
I don't really like being alone. I prefer companionship. I like (I know, get over it) sex. If I had my 'druthers, I'd want to grow old with someone on a porch overlooking the ocean, in rocking chairs, as we argued over who drank the last of the bourbon and who was higher ranked in Pokémon Trainers (go Team Instinct!)
There are any number of far more important issues clamoring for my attention than that of my relationship status. The 2016 presidential elections, the 2016-2017 school year, the institutionalized racism in our country, the issues of gun control and education budgets and gender identity.
But for now, for the moment, I find myself wishing that my "Team Instinct" membership granted me some rights to the "Match" that is waiting for me: a catch that I have been waiting a long time to make, someone willing to brave the combat points it will take to win me, a partner with enough Stardust to earn my notice.
Gotta catch 'em all...but I will settle for the Right One.
As I sent my children with their father this evening, I experienced a wave of emotion that can only be described as acceptance. This is the rest of my life: sending my children to their father's every other weekend.
I remember reading - oh, years ago - a reflection by a woman whose custody agreement was split 50/50. She talked about wandering her house, looking in on empty beds and missing her children.
I'm going to be honest. I am happy for my 48 kidless hours twice a month.
I don't spend those hours in any exceptional way. I sleep - a lot. I watch what I want to watch on Netflix. I exercise (sometimes). I work. I clean. But for 48 hours, I don't have to worry about making sure other human beings are staying fed, hydrated, or clean, let alone productive, creative or connected to me.
I could worry about whether they're eating vegetables at their dad's - but, hey. 48 hours without veggies won't kill them. And worrying will only rob me of what teensy bit of sanity I have remaining.
A friend calls me a "Divorce Baby," which he defines as anyone in his or her first year post-divorce. I still have several months until I level up (September 24, but who's counting?) but I am looking forward to a summer of beginnings as I learn to accept my new reality.
Originally published for "Ascension," January 14, 2009.
“I need boxers,” I say to my mother hopefully. Mostly Sean gets everything new, and I get passed-down jeans with ripped pockets and shirts with armpit stains. I draw the line at underwear.
“We’ll see if anything’s on sale after I look at ties.” She heads off.
That was easy. Mom must be in a sentimental mood. UNLV’s been courting Sean with a full basketball scholarship since he won the championship last year. There’s just the formality of the interview, which is why we’re at the mall after practice, buying suits we can’t afford.
On the thinly carpeted floors in the hallway of the men’s dressing room, I stretch out my legs, turn up the volume on the iPod I worked all summer to buy. Ten minutes later, I peer under the cheap particleboard partitions to see if Sean’s done. My brother’s sitting, still in his own clothes, staring at a piece of paper.
“Sean? What’s up?” He doesn’t stop me when I open the door, reach down to grab the note.
The words stay low, stuck in his throat. “I’m off the team. Coach said it’s lucky I’m not expelled.” I tower over him. I’d kept his secret, but now. He’s in deep.
“Tell Mom I’m going to look at boxers.” I drop the paper.
I trip out of the dressing room, walk down the hall, through the men’s department, onto the escalator, up, high, higher.
Originally published for "In Vino Veritas," July 14, 2009.
Twenty-two hours from San Francisco to Kathmandu. Four hours until the layover in Hong Kong. Caelin will have finished grading papers by then. She arches her back, stretching, then wiggles her toes, and catches the eye of the flight attendant.
“More, please.” She indicates the travel-sized wineglass. The remaining ruby droplets glisten in the spotlight of her reading lamp. The attendant nods from the galley.
“You realize that’s basically grape juice?” Chloe peers around the headrest as her business class bed reverts to its upright position.
“It’s a second growth Bordeaux and you know it, O Queen Food Critic,” Caelin retorts. “How’d you sleep?”
“Not well. Looks like fourteen bottles of questionable Bordeaux didn’t help you sleep, either.”
“And nervous. What if she hates us?”
“Sweetheart.” Caelin strokes her wife’s cheek as Chloe unfolds the passport she’s been clutching. A little girl with dark eyes and copper skin gazes at them, unsmiling and unafraid. “She liked us well enough before. Any kid will hate her parents at some point. Let’s just focus on getting her home.”
The flight attendant materializes with the bottle of Château Cos-d'Estournel 1989, which streams like scarlet silk into the stemware.
“Like the orphanage is going to let her come home when you show up drunk,” Chloe teases, leaning close. Caelin smiles into her spouse’s black curls. Points of light play on the surface of her wine, casting images against the back of the seat in a rosy haze.
Originally posted June 14, 2009
I failed my birthday word count challenge, and Pete wrote:
My "punishment" for you is to write a poem of at least six lines and no more than 40 lines that describes the feeling of coming >this< close to a stretch goal but falling just short at the deadline.Neither Pete or Janey was as harsh on me as McK is going to be, so I'm still in an okay place with my lack of word count. Perhaps I will rewrite the poem after I've received the sharp end of the Koala Klaws.
I chose to write a poem in the pattern of a Quatern, which, according to Shadow Poetry,
is a sixteen line French form composed of four quatrains. It is similar to the Kyrielle
True Love, Redefined One day she hopes true love to find, One soul, one mind, two hearts entwined; Somewhere out there’s the perfect guy, For Youth has set her standards high. He must be rich, handsome, refined, One day she hopes true love to find; Yet no one seems to measure up And disappointment fills her cup. The years go by, her nights grow long, Her aging voice sings sorrow’s song. One day she hopes true love to find, Her definition redefined; Simply a plain and faithful friend To see her to life’s journey’s end; For though her face with age be lined, One day she hopes true love to find. Copyright © 2003 Linda Newman
The Master's Feet Those who sat at the Master’s feet, Brothers who fished in waters deep, Threw down their nets and followed Him, Forsaking all to fish for men. The crowds pressed ‘round to hear Him speak, Those who sat at the Master’s feet, Those who he said would be a light, For others lost in dark of night. In the upper room hands were rung, When told a traitor was among, Those who sat at the Master’s feet, With emblems of Himself to eat. The Master’s mother held her breath, When savage men cried for his death, And vainly struggled to defeat, Those who sat at the Master’s feet. Copyright © 2006 James Dupy
Life’s Pulse - The Gypsies’ Song As dark-haired beauties celebrate while moving round the fire light, their slender swirling hips gyrate, and on they dance, into the night. The flames dance too, beneath the moon. As dark-haired beauties celebrate, their fathers clap or play a tune the merry clan perpetuate! Then each young man takes hold a mate he’s chosen in the ring of fire. As dark-haired beauties celebrate, their flashing eyes ignite desire. The mothers sit and smile. They know the music will not soon abate. Life’s pulse is found by camp fire’s glow as dark-haired beauties celebrate.
Copyright © 2006 Andrea DietrichAll right, so I know you've been waiting with bated breath. Without further ado (or cliches), here is my original poem.
The words themselves run high and wild,
seeking to be corralled and tamed.
This adverb is a willful child;
that noun’s impatient to be named.
By sunrise we must reach our home.
The words themselves run high and wild.
A question mark is bound to roam.
The “being” verbs have formed a pile.
Even the sun is not beguiled
as she dips closer to her bed.
The words themselves run high and wild,
resist the stories in my head.
Despite the claws, the whips, the threat,
my heart is calm, frustration’s mild.
I watch the beauty as I let
the words themselves run high and wild.
Hello my dears,
I am writing to you as I pack for Camp NaNoWriMo, a virtual writers retreat where aspiring novelists from around the world gather to bash out 50,000 words of fiction in a month.
That's right! I've committed to writing a 112,500-word novel in a month. And to reach my goal, I am going to need all the encouragement I can get!
There are a number of ways you can help me along my way.
Just like sponsoring a marathonner, you can donate on my behalf as I write toward the 112,500-word goal. I'll receive some truly nifty prizes for my fundraising efforts on behalf of The Office of Letters and Light, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that hosts Camp NaNoWriMo. Your donation will help provide free writing resources for even more kids, teens, and adults around the world!
I have a sponsorship page set up here:
Or, there are a number of inspirational items in the online Camp Store (store.lettersandlight.org/merchandise) that will help get me through the month. You could send me a Camp NaNoWriMo Care Package full of campy encouragement, a Camp NaNoWriMo T-shirt declaring my goal for the month, a Campfire Mug to fill with writer fuel, or a poster for my writing nook.
You can find these and other writing supplies at store.lettersandlight.org/merchandise.
Thank you so much for your support as I write my novel.
Wish me luck! (And hope that I don't get poison ivy.)
I will have my Macbook Air, my notebooks, and not much else. I will write and write until my little fingers fall off. Then I will sit in the hot tub. Then I will write more.
When I underwent this challenge in 2009, I used a fantastic network of support to encourage my writing. If I didn't meet a daily goal, I received a "punishment" from these friends.
As I set myself a new task this year, I ask for similar support. If you are up for being a cheerleader, giver-of-punishments, or just general rubber-necker, please let me know. I would love to add you to my team!
written for the 2012 Lascaux Flash Fiction contest
by Aerin Rose
The trailer’s lit up like special effects from an old UFO movie, shining lasers through the trees, onto the barn, into the chickens’ pen. The truck’s gone, leaving a flattened circle of mud. I float into the kitchen.
“Hey, Sam. I told Ms. Winston today that extraterrestrials are vegetarians.” The alien’s eyes chime, missing nothing as he skins dinner for the men. Sam points a greenish finger at my arms.
“Don’t worry, it’s just marker.” I pull Sharpies from my backpack. “Ink. See?” The lines on my pink skin are black with silver stitches, reinforced, holding everything together. “Ms. Winston”—fourth social worker since mom left, the only one who’s made me swear to tell her the truth—“said I looked like a Tim Burton character. She might be a keeper.”
The metallic echo of those words zooms around my brain, a lost ship trying to find port. Something that happened . . . couple of years ago? Yeah. The kitchen. Breakfast. Uncle Jasper and my father. “Not like her whore mother.” “No, she’s a keeper.” Oh. After the first night.
I study Sam as he finishes with the blade. His shiny skin has turned dull like snot: we both hate the cutting, the oozing, the fluids. His eyes sing, sounding like a unicorn or church bells. The knife glows, a redneck light saber. I hear the chickens screech and the truck wheels in the gravel.
The truth I will tell Ms. Winston tomorrow is that aliens don’t burst at the seams. They shatter.
The Fire Blessing
by Aerin Rose
Shadows of the fire wards shimmered gold and crimson in the flames of Lillith’s hair. Firebird, salamander, dragon - we’d bonded during the infinite expanses of time I’d spent tangled in bed with Lillith. Now they peered out, one by one, in silent goodbyes. I avoided looking at her as I worked my earthen features into the shapes Yahweh suggested.
"I guess it could have been Undine.” Lillith’s voice was lukewarm.
“The water elemental as mother of humanity?”
“I guess not. Nor Sylph, either.”
“We’ve been through this, Lil. I’m going. Help me with my torso.”
She slid her hands beneath my arms and lifted. Although I’d melted into her heat countless times, that lava skin now felt acidic against mine. As my waist lengthened, ribs grew to support my new frame.
“You shouldn’t have to change for this animal.”
“Adam. His name is Adam. What do you want me to do? Who should go instead?”
The words kindled between us; we both knew Yahweh had asked for the fire elemental. For her. She was the first to turn away.
“I’ve already received the blessings of air and water,” I said. “Now the fire blessing.”
The incandescent salamander appeared in a burst of sparks on my hand. His bright tail gripped as he bit my finger, flint to touchstone, fire scorching my blood.
“I will always love you.” I raised my eyes to hers a final time. “But I can’t forgive you.”
My lover whispered, “Eve,” and I was gone.
(Aerin Rose: With thanks to Fritz.)