Her Balance. (14.1.19)

This piece won 1st place in the Dungeness River Audubon Center’s High School writing contest “Tales From The Trails: How Do You Connect With Nature?” on February 19th, 2014.

It was a grand moment for me, a huge confidence boost in my writing, and it is still something I am incredibly proud of.

She feels the rain touch her skin, watches the way the fog ebbs and flows around the darkened crevices between the buildings, down the alleys and around the legs of the men who exist here in the between. It wasn’t raining, the fog barely felt moist as it touched her leggings. No, the rain was just a memory fading, reminding her to renew it before it faded completely from her mind.

Her heels clicked on the pavement as she moved down the alley between the buildings on the block where she worked. The rain on her skin meant she was tired, that she needed to get away. It meant her core was failing her, that she was losing her perspective and her balance. It reminded her to go back to the place that could heal those losses.

The next day in her apartment, a person couldn’t hear silence. The fridge hummed, the traffic and the people in other apartments contributed their voices. The phone she kept with her always, when she was in the city, sat abandoned on the coffee table. Its calendar had been cleared for two weeks, so it sat silently, waiting for its next command of how to alert its owner. The owner who wasn’t there, who wouldn’t be back for two weeks.

She stood in the silent morning. She watched the trees and the sunlight mountain beginning to be brightened. She played with her breath in the cold air, making puffs of steam, trying to make shapes. She was wrapped in a simple pair of rugged pants a practical camisole under a thick flannel shirt. Her feet felt clunky and weighted in a pair of huge hiking boots. A backpack with the day’s supplies sat ready on the edge of the stairs leading off the off white porch. She envied the man who lived here, who saw this every day. She was glad though, that he went into the city for a few weeks every now and then to take in the noise and get supplies, see the movies and keep up a bit with society. Because when their retreats coincided, he let her rent his cabin, to see the beautiful backdrops to her peace.

She stepped off the porch, grabbing the backpack as she went, just as the sun touched the first tips of the trees on the mountain. She followed an old worn path into the woods next to the cabin. She never spent much time in the cabin. She made her meals early in the morning, before dawn, then spent most of each day hiking. At night she came home exhausted, and fell into bed, barely caring to take off her muddy boots. Sometimes after a particularly exhausting and dirtying day, she’ll strip down to her camisole and a pair of soft shorts before crashing into bed.

The time she had spent in these mountains, she spent learning and exploring. She knew these mountains well, and they shared mutual respect for each other. Today she walked out to an edge of the mountain where the trail looked out over a deep valley before stopping for breakfast. Then she walked along the trail as far as she could before collapsing for a rest and for lunch. Then she spent the afternoon exploring the forest. She was always careful not to blaze another trail when she explored. She made deer trails perhaps, but nothing any more invasive than that. When she first came here, she was afraid of getting lost, but as she learned about the mountain she learned that it offered dangers, but that it also offered her safety. She felt the mountain liked her. It was more than a conglomeration of living things, it was a living thing that was built out of the living things within it. And this life liked her. It protected her from its most dangerous, and taught her about it at the same time.

Between the mountain, the fresh air, the walking, and the heavy boots, after just one day, she was already feeling more balanced and centered than she had before. She settled a few minutes later in a clearing. She was leaning against a tree, tired, but happy. Content. So many people talked about saving this kind of place. But they didn’t know enough to know what to do. And so many more people had a this place, or that place philosophy, wanting to destroy the cities to make way for the trees, or destroy the trees to make way for the cities.

But she understood that it was much more complicated than that, it had to be, because people needed both now. She needed both. Her eyes drifted closed, a small smile on her face. Confident in her mountain and in her happiness.

When she awoke a few hours later, it was dark, the only light coming from a nearly full moon overhead. She could see the fog shifting around the trees and brush. It reminded her of the fog of the city, except this kind of fog was the kind that healed her, not reminded her she needed healed. She stood up in the night air, stretching her muscles and reveling in the cool dew on her bare arms.

As she slowly walked along toward the path back to the cabin, she took in all the many shades of gray and green she could see in the moonlight. The colors shifted, the leaves moved, and a light breeze made the leaves shiver with anticipation. The night was cool, but the air was soft; it didn’t sting with cold. She could hear the sounds of the forest around her, and she knew that everything in the forest was alive around her.

When she was little, the forest was the place she ran to when she had a bad day; it was the place where she scraped her knee and didn’t care because it was too much fun to be in the woods; it was the place where everything was creepy or welcoming for each mood she ever felt.

This place, and others like it, were where she came to recharge. The city had it perks, but the forest had magic. And she couldn’t live without magic.

Brilliance’s Breath. Watcher Garden #14 (19.4.23)

Brilliance trapped in beggar,

Kicked in the shins too many times,

Finally remanded from the wealthy quarters,

trudging now.

This trellis something pretty, something warm.

Something to welcome her.

She settles beneath the friendly nature on spindly spines.

Descendents of the garden here.

To breathe.

Heat Reader. (19.2.14)

I hold my hand over his chest, just until I can barely feel the warmth rising from him. He lives, still as death, half his greenish pale body covered carelessly with a thin, stained sheet. I keep my eyes on that side of him, trying to ignore the gash torn through his other hip. I start to read his heat.

There’s a growl from next to me. “Faster.”

“You know it takes patience.” I say quietly. And he knew the shackles that weighed cold and solid around my wrists got in the way of the read. They all knew.

Though, I could still read faster than they thought. I felt he wasn’t dead. I felt the treatment path. They knew about that part. that’s why I was here, a healer heat reader is useful in keeping their armies alive in the fight against my people.

They don’t know that I can read his importance. His determination, and his hatred.

This man would be incredibly hard to kill. But this time it’s not a bad thing, not a thing I will have to fight. This time it’s exciting.

My keeper tugs my hand away from his body with the shackle. “What this one need?”

I duck my head to hide the flash of excitement in my eyes.

“Take me to the doctor, I must tell him something.”

. . . .

That night I sit alone, finally, in my cell. Legs crossed on the flat sleep mat, calm. My mind races, despite my forced outer calmness.

The man lying on the table this afternoon, he hated the army, the war, his superiors, as much as I do. He wants them to parish.

When I read his heat it wasn’t life simply life, death, or rot heat. I read his heat as the leader of the resistance.

Our Resistance. Salvation.

This man, I’m excited to see better.

To see who my partner in saving my world will be.

Day’s Work, Existence. Watcher Garden #13 (19.4.23)

Sure, quick footed steps.

She flies along the cobblestones here, the river bed there.

Needs met.

Necessities acquired.

Day achieved.

The means? They are what they must be.

Move to survive, keep alive.

Consider carefully when, if ever, there is time.

Law hands left behind, reasons unseen.

For difficult duties of life, it is not so bad to live in the wind.

Justice soars beside her.

Escape. (13.6.7)

Intricate. It’s the word I think when I see anything around me. Complicated, when I think for a minute more. Connected. Always connected, everything. My life. Something I can’t see. Sometimes I can’t realize.

Intricate plans with complicated connections. It’s what I see. What I feel. What will never leave me. Remember. Memories. So many and so complicated. Always there lurking when you look.

.

So many won’t look, can’t. Aren’t capable. They sit in towers, surrounded in white. Soft, never knowing. Not quite understanding what they drop upon us from their towers is more than a line of words or a plain order. It has to be, for us who live at the feet of towers.

.

He climbs and climbs. The white is endless. The escape of the tower is necessary and imminent. But forever he will climb. It is the work of some, the goal of some, to climb. It does not matter whether you reach the end, or if you even want to. It only matters that you climb, that you try, that you reach for the imminent yet elusive escape.

This piece was originally written for the Seattle Acquarium’s Creativity Inspiring Conservation creative writing course, and was displayed during their 2013 student art reception.

The statement written for the program:

This was written as a response to a picture of a frog climbing in a white bucket, and to me it represents a struggle to change you environment, and a kind of out place sense in your world.

Births. Watcher Garden #12 (19.3.2)

This present is other’s past.

Thus those who walk here do not know the answers.

How is a garden born?

But, descendants listen.

They plant the seed, a shard.

Something new will grow.

.

Collecting old pieces,

Knowing their places,

And putting them together differently.

Buildings grown of dust, pain and imagination rise from the earth.

Crystals, shattered shards.

Flicking sunlight warped to expose color back to the star that sent it.

A shiny pile of broken pieces from the eyes above, hidden in places impossible.

Intentional, whole, useful, to the eyes that live beneath it.

Cultivate An Actively Open Mind. (16.1.5)

This piece was originally published in Voices of Youth Advocates, in their “Notes of the Teen Underground” Series in August 2016. I was 19 at the time of its publication. I still stand by the intentions and main kernals in these early essays. However, I was new in my development of my opinions and the language needed to properly express them. These pieces can be clumsy, and contain missteps.

My language, eloquence, and beliefs are continually refined, and hopefully my writing mirrors that improvement now.

For this piece in particular, it doesn’t really matter what the book was or what the complaints were, My points are still applicable in some cases. Of course there are many circumstances where there points are void, and as always exceptions to this rule. A large exception to point out here is Nazis. Nazis and their opinions can fuck off into the sun unequivocally. As can anything Nazi adjacent.

Something to keep in mine about me and the writing of this piece. It was originally a very curse filled rant, which I amazingly had the self confidence to work on, edit, and submit without melting. A bit of that confidence now would be lovely.

This iteration is lightly edited for typos and clarity only. Enjoy.

Student To Student: Cultivate and Actively Open Mind,

I wrote this open letter – perhaps a bit of rant – to students and educators in response to the overly negative response to the only book all incoming students were required to read at my college.

I went to college a week early, to participate in a program where we learned about civic engagement, civil disagreement, and discourse. The week focused on listening to others, on finding similarities on both sides of arguments, on analysis, on constructive critique, productive disagreements, and discussion. The activities we did and the ideas and discussions we had because of those activities were so much more enriching then what I saw in the general population of the campus, especially on social media, during the rest of the quarter.

Because we were encouraged to speak with an open mind, to listen instead of formulating our next sentence, because we were not simply liking or disliking something, we were discussing it; we were actively trying to get information about the topics and learn about them. Because we have a space where it was safe to be open to someone changing your mind with something new, that week was an incredibly expanding and educating experience.

After that first week I was really disappointed in the type of conversations that were happening during orientation week on our introductory reading assignment. A few students complained about the book, then a few more, then everyone was, and soon the book and the author were unanimously condemned with no further discussion.

It doesn’t matter what the book was, this practice of complaining without substance only closes you off to the material and to any kind of discussion. It creates a habit of not listening, and not actively trying to learn. Especially if these empty complaints come from a place of difficulty in understanding, that kind of habit does a great disservice to you and everyone around you, because it creates an atmosphere where students are expected to be or even praised for struggling. It encourages the students who are understanding or enjoying learning to not do as well, to act like they don’t understand, or to hide their success.

Instead of encouraging all students to strive for understanding and for growth, this atmosphere creates a cycle that produces continually less learning, less understanding, and less discussion. Students aren’t encouraged to get help when they want or need it, or to discuss difficulties in a productive way.

There are far more effective ways of expressing and dealing with difficulty in understanding the subject matter, struggles of dealing with the way it’s written, or mistrust of the information presented than complaints. When you chose to leave yourself open and actively try to learn from anything and everything it ultimately gives you an impressive opportunity for growth.

We as a culture, especially on college campuses, should be aspiring to improved educations and praising active learning of all kinds.

By complaining about our text, its author, the writing style, its presentation, and the typo in the first chapter, you’re not only setting yourself up for failure later in the quarter, in this case (and many others) you’ve also completely missed the point of the book. The point being that we need to be more aware of what’s happening in our country and our world. It’s simply calling for people in this country to be more actively engaged in our community. It doesn’t matter if you agree with the author’s points, or how they demonstrate this point. That’s not important in this moment. The point is simply that there is a lot going on under the surface all aspects of our world people should try to be more aware of.

That should be a point that everyone in college agrees with.

And in regards to you who complain about the presentation, the research, the length, the style, etc, why just whine about it? Create something out of those weaknesses you so readily point out. If you think it should be better, make it better. Don’t think the examples relate to the idea? What do they relate to? And how would you have supported the original idea? What evidence would you use? It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the idea. It’s harder to support an idea that you disagree with, and you’ll learn more from the exercise of switching sides for a moment. Think the book should have been three pages? Write those three pages. Read them. Then learn from those pages what you missed while complaining about the length of the book.

Don’t succumb to thinking only what those around you think. Even if you agree, challenge. Converse. Discuss. It will, at the very least, enrich your understanding of why you don’t like something, – or why you do like it. And it just might give you a much deeper understanding.

Of course you will run across assignments that really are quite dumb and don’t really have a useful point, but if you go into every single assignment in the mindset that it will be stupid and will automatically warrant being complained about, you’re not going to get nearly as much out of your education – whatever form it takes – as you would if you went into each assignment or topic or conversation with an actively open mind and some level of self awareness.