Artifacts of Adolescence

My parents moved in March. They’re in the same awesome neighborhood in Philly so my trips home haven’t lost the geography of their nostalgia. But the boxes they’re storing for me have moved, so this afternoon I found myself sitting in a warehouse styled hallway, complete with flickering lights, surrounded by boxes and artifacts of my adolescence.

I was looking for letters from my friend M. who died in December 2005. Each trip back home since then I have ventured to find more memorabilia of her and our relationship. Pictures, then clothes, and now on to letters.

In the past few days I have seen some friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time…since before I last moved, or even since before I started college. There we were, drinking good beer after good beer moving back and forth through shared memories, politics, lovers, aspirations and work. Time seemed to pass on its on accord, and I was (am) filled with nostalgia for some part of myself that perhaps is only a memory and perhaps has yet to manifest.

I have made piles of letters. Some from M. yes, and my grandparents, but others are from old friends with whom I used to write regularly. I notice phases of stationary and stickers, recognize familiar addresses and handwriting, absent minded doodles and exciting stamps from summer travels and semesters abroad. Some letters have no dates and I read them again and again searching for clues. When did this happen? Did I know then how much it might all later matter? Was I awake? Was I alive? Did I appreciate?

As I write this I am greeted with the familiar composition of my parent’s late night arguing. Earlier in the week they graced me with a soundscape of spoons hitting dessert bowls, a sacred time of ice cream and quiet conversation.

In their old house I used to have a palpable, visceral experience of memory whenever I came home after a long absence. I think it started in college but maybe it started earlier, after summers away forming friendships fueled by the intensity of late night adolescent conversation. Walking through the front door, guarded by a lace curtain, I would feel a stifling sort of remembrance of family holidays spent battling alcoholism and mental illness. A walking tour through the corners of my room, where I cultivated a talent for addictive and secretive behaviors, would lead to a sick twist of energy racing up my spine. And glancing out the window I’d be covered with nostalgia for hours spent out on the roof late at night chain smoking and talking to friends, trying to articulate my sense of self, sense of place, sense of time, sense of relationship.

There is a feeling of love in all these places.

We’re older now and nicer to our bodies. We kayak and bike, wear sunscreen and motorcycle helmets, discuss socially responsible investing and plans for our futures (we plan to have futures). The hugs are familiar in spite of the time, the goodbyes take forever, and I get home very late.

I don’t know where this narrative is going; perhaps to a place of gratitude. These relationships continue. These artifacts of paper and prose, manifestos of hope and memoirs of disappointment continue. I have so much. Thank you.

Published in: on July 25, 2007 at 9:31 pm  Comments (1)  

A Return to Veganism (Take Two)

So I sat down to write a post that rapidly was becoming an autobiography of eating. A few paragraphs in I was starting to bore the hell out of myself. The whole epic was really meant as a contextualized introduction to the announcement, that in April I returned to veganism.

The long and short of it is that I go in and out of phases of thinking about what I eat. After managing to stay vegan in college, in Australia, and on a 10 week road trip around these grand ‘ol omnivorous United States, I went back to just being just vegetarian shortly after we moved to Tucson. The truth is I got kinda lazy. I ate cheese, I watched TV, I drove a car to work, I wasted time. And perhaps I needed these years of fallow time to just rest up and eventually bore myself back into thinking about the choices I make.

A few months ago I read this article in the UU World. It more or less reminded me of all my reasons for going vegetarian when I was 12 and vegan when I was 19. I decided it was time for me to take a bit of a challenge back into my everyday life, and change how I eat.

This past week I have of course also been quitting smoking. It has been interesting (to say the least) to watch my desires for old comforts to emerge. Those of you who know me know that I bite my nails. I started biting my bails when I was six years old and my parents wanted me to stop sucking my thumb. So clearly I have a long history of replacing one comfort habit with another.

I’ve been kinda silent on this blog the last couple months. One excuse is of course being a puppy mom. Beyond that I think I’ve been in some sort of passively introspective cloud that had me worried about blogging. What is my own voice, I wondered. Why am I still so stuck in my own head when there are real things happening in the world? And why would I want to share my own revelations about mediocrity and depression on the web?

And eventually I realized that the real issue is that there are still huge conversations I’m not ready to have with myself. And that is the fear that has been keeping me dormant.

Towards the end of college I decided I wanted to be a minister when I grew up. By the summer after college I had made a short list of perspective seminaries (the same list I am still working with today). Yet I knew I wasn’t ready to pursue seminary yet, I didn’t feel together enough to embark on such an intense journey.

It might be time.

It might be time for me to care about what I eat and how it impacts my body and this world. It might be time for me to care about how I spend my time, how present I can be in relationships, at work, in joy and sorrow. It might be time for me to stop waiting for the perfect time and just forge ahead – raising my voice, even as I am learning to use it.

Published in: on May 20, 2007 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

For Real

Today my friend Princess graduated from college. She made her grandma a promise that she would quit smoking when she graduated.

Princess brought her grandma to my church on Christmas Eve and she loved the service so much she cried. Tonight, at a graduation dinner this same grandma was doing sake bombs (amazing!). So, it is safe to say that I love this grandma.

Which is to say, that tomorrow, I too am going to quit smoking. For real. You are all welcome to hold me to this commitment.

I started smoking in eighth grade. I remember thinking I would hate the taste, and therefore it wouldn’t become habit. Opps. Then I thought I would smoke, but only outside, or only for a year, or only…. So, here I am 12 or 13 years later, quitting a habit I initially thought I wouldn’t ever have.

J. doesn’t think I will really do it, but I think I will.

So there.

Published in: on May 11, 2007 at 10:29 pm  Comments (2)  

growling at the couch

So, I’ve been kinda absent from my blog for the last month.  I’ve been busy being a puppy mom (and even as I type, Emmett is sitting on the couch barking and growling at a toy), and overworking at my job that apparently doesn’t have the money to give me a raise or more hours next year.  (Now the puppy is growling at the couch itself.)

I hope to start writing more soon.  There are so many posts half drafted in my mind.  In the meantime – pictures.

                      Emmett’s big head            Emmett chews a stick      

Published in: on April 21, 2007 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Puppy Blogging

Today J. and I became puppy parents!



We adopted 3 month old Emmett from Pima Animal Control, which was a less than happy place – very minimal, fairly crowded – and you know that some of the dogs aren’t going to get adopted, and then it is pretty much the end for them.   Our Emmett is a pit bull / boxer, so we have our work cut out for us helping him to be a fun and friendly dog, but also helping other people overcome their assumptions and fears about pit bulls. 


We have been thinking in broad hypotheticals about getting a dog.  We had been thinking about adopting a pup at some vague point in the future – somewhere between learning how to regularly water our rosemary bush and having kids.  We had also been talking some about our (my?) tendency to over plan major life decisions.


For instance we have no interest in having kids right now.  And yet for a whiel we had been measuring out how long to stay in Tucson since we know that graduate school will take ever so many years (and who wants to  have kids when they are in school), and then it takes a few years to start a career (cause who wants to have kids when you are makinhg your grand grown up debut in the world), and then weow, we would need to have kids cause one’s we’d be in our mid 30’s (and who wants to have kids too old).  We found ourselves somehow making life choices for the here and know based around having kids, even though the whoel point of not having kids right now was to not have to make decisions based around kids right now.


Deep breath.


We’ve come to realize that the honest truth is that we have no idea when we will have kids, cause really there is never an ideal time.  All we know is that we are not having them now.


And it turns out that maybe the timing for pets isn’t something we can map out years ahead of time either.  Cause as I’m writing this a furry little creature is napping on my lap.  

And since he is so freakin cute, I’m gonna end this post and go hang out with him.                                                                                    

Published in: on March 20, 2007 at 11:11 pm  Comments (5)  

Where I’ve been, what I’m doing

I haven’t posted in a bit and wanted to give folks a sense of what I’ve been up to.

Those vegan cupcakes have kept following me. Last weekend I was in California for a training and wouldn’t you know it, a beautifully iced agave nectar vegan cupcake was waiting for each participant. Then yesterday, Princess left three little cupcakes for me and J. on a flowery china plate, so today I am once again having coffee and cupcakes for breakfast. Tip: definitely always recommend your favorite cookbooks to all your friends.

On Thursday I turned 25. I’m feeling good about that.

Petitpoussin wrote a great post on identity, which I mean to respond to in a post of my own when things slow down.

‘Cause not only has this been a birthday week, highlighted by a visit from my parents, but tomorrow is the installation service for our minister, who we will call Rev. D., who began her service to our church this past fall. For those of you who might not be familiar with the ins and outs of church culture, installation services are a big deal. Exciting and wonderful, but also time consuming and stressful in that, do we have all the details in order, and what will I wear kind of way.

And of course Sunday mornings keep coming around as well. Tomorrow morning I will narrate worship. In costume. As a 18th century illeterate mystic farmer, Thomas Potter, cause nothing starts a Sunday better than some historical cross dressing.

But first, today J. and I are going to a baseball game between the Giants and the Rockies with my parents. (Tucson hosts spring training games – though we seemed to have skipped spring, and moved right into summer – today’s high is 94.) I’m not usually the sports going type, and in the past year it has sometimes seemed like I’m not even the social type. Yet with increasing frequency the need to prioritize my relationships over work becomes very clear. I spent Thursday afternoon having a picnic at an oasis (seriously) hearing what my parents were doing in life when they were 25. And today, the opportunity to watch a game with my dad – I haven’t done that in at least 10 years, and who knows when the opportunity will arise again.

So hello to everyone reading this where ever you might be. May you have happiness and sunshine and the joy of good relationships with friends and family.

Published in: on March 17, 2007 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

On poetry, procrastination and the plane I need to catch

So, I need to leave in three hours to go to California (yes, another stay at our favorite Catholic retreat center), for a training on Pastoral Care for Religious Educators. I haven’t done my homework. We were supposed to read a book – “The Helper’s Journey: Working with people facing grief, loss and life threatening illness.” I have to say, I find myself a bit intimidated by that kind of title (so I spent the week nursing a cold with some historical fiction).

In many ways, not for the first time, this is a post about procrastination. I like my job and I like my life, so why do I put off the things that I have myself chosen to do. One of my friend’s thinks procrastination increases pressure, and that she for one produces better work under pressure. Another friend, M., thinks procrastination is a way of avoiding failure. If we are always putting things off we are never giving life are all, and if we are never giving life our all, we aren’t ever really trying and subsequently can’t ever really fail. My own procrastination style probably lies somewhere between these truths.

So, this morning, this week, what am I avoiding by putting off work and reading? Often I find that I am reminding myself that I enjoy the work that I do, that I have the privilege of working with so many people in such a meaningful fashion. That the writing I do for my job is creative and fun, that the people I work with (somehow, sometimes) gain something from my presence and performances, and my own soul is nourished working with people in the context of worship and religious education.

That I am going to this training cause 14 months ago a youth in a church a few hours away from where I work committed suicide, and of course there arose within me that wave of – what do I do? I am not prepared for this.

Who is prepared for a tragedy? Who wants the job of explaining such an event to the 16 year olds, 14 year olds, 12 year olds they work with, not to mention their parents? I went to a workshop a few years back on liberal religion and crisis. The speaker (a very witty, very irreverent nun) said the role of liberal religion in crisis was not to give answers but to create the space for people to ask, “Why did this happen” and answer “I don’t know.”

We all have so many questions. And one form of spiritual intimacy can be found in the space we create through the asking of questions, and the reverent silence that can sometimes unfold when we do not loose ourselves seeking answers.

There’s a poem that’s been lingering in my mind for several weeks (we’re using it in service later this month), and I leave you with these words before I drive up a hill south of LA and continue to explore new corners of the work that I do, and perhaps in so doing, come to some deeper understand of why it is that I do (and sometimes don’t do) the work that I have chosen as my own.

Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken winged bird
that cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
for when dreams go
life is a barren field
frozen with snow.

– By Langston Hughes

Published in: on March 9, 2007 at 7:00 am  Comments (1)  

A Poetry Saturday

I like to write poetry posts on Saturday mornings while drinking coffee. There is a part of me that wants, that needs, Saturdays to be that day of rest. But for me, in my rhythm of the week it just doesn’t work out that way. So I post poetry, and salute these Saturday mornings (and then I often go to work).

I accidentally took the graceful little volume The Far Mosque by Kazim Ali home with me from Hawaii and having been reading it all week (thank you Petitpoussin).

Y’all should also totally check out the first installment of the Creative Writing Carnival which Sylvia is hosting. It comes in yes, one, two, and three installments.

Dear Rumi

-By Kazim Ali

You’ve forgotten he other life in which
Shams-e- Tabriz threw your books into the fountain.

The ink, finally unrecognizable,
Reached for you in dissipating life.

Once I went up the mountain at daybreak, and still met pilgrims
coming down who had woken for the journey earlier.

In the tomb on not-Shams I prayed and prayed to be found.
Am I the sun inside me?

Shams will walk out the back door and never return.
You will go mad—spend years looking for him.

One day in the marketplace, estranged and weeping,
You will understand the farthest mosque is the one within,

and that the sun in the sky is not the one you orbit around,
nor the one who went out the back door and never returned.

Somewhere in the world now, every minute,
A sun is dropping over the horizon into yesterday.

At the fountain in the village square,
The books are still sinking, bereft of your hands.

Even the mountains are bending down to try and save them.
Dear Shams-e- Tabriz, Ido not mourn.

You spindle me, sun-thorn, to the sky.

Published in: on March 3, 2007 at 9:40 am  Comments (1)  

Tell the NY Post to stop Transphobic Reporting

From a post by Angry Brown Butch, which also has some food information in the comments section.  I discovered this post via Sylvia, who always has lots of good things to say about pretty much everything……

ACTION ALERT: Tell the NY Post to quit its transphobic “reporting”

NOTE TO OTHER BLOGGERS: Please link to or repost this!

An important victory was recently won in the struggle for trans rights, specifically around health care. Judge Sheldon Rand of the Manhattan Family Court found, for the second time, that the City of New York is obligated to pay for the sexual reassignment surgery of Mariah Lopez, a young trans woman of color who was denied this important and necessary medical care while in the care of the NYC foster system. The City is constitutionally required to provide adequate medical coverage for all children in its care, and SRS is a medically approved procedure, one that is often necessary for trans people. In the decision, Judge Rand wrote: “Mariah L. should be treated in order that she may go on with her life and be in a body which blends with the gender with which she identifies.”*

Fortunately, Judge Rand was far more understanding and respectful than most of the media coverage, which has ranged from iffy to downright disgusting. (This article from is the most respectful one I’ve found thus far.)

Worst of all has been the coverage from the New York Post. Now, anyone who’s familiar with this sorry excuse for a newspaper should know that it’s usually chock full of shoddy, sensationalist, decidedly conservative-leaning rubbish that they attempt to pass off as journalism, so racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are all par for the course. But the two pieces that they’ve run on this story – an “article” entitled “Free To Be He-She” and the even worse editorial, “Justice Isn’t That Blind” – are really just awful and enraging. Not only are the articles thoroughly transphobic, but the editorial also falsely paints her as a “sociopath” due to her criminal record, completely ignoring her history of activism and community service and the fact that she and other trans women of color are targeted and abused by the NYPD (see Holly’s comment on this post for more.)

The New York Post needs to be sent a strong message: quit the transphobic “reporting”! Show some respect, some decency, and some attention to journalistic standards.

I ask all of you to join me in writing to the Post and giving them a piece of your mind. Below is a letter to the Post. You can copy and paste it as is, or you can add your own touches to it or write something completely new. Whichever one you choose, send it to and (the writer of the first article.) (It would be great if you also commented here, so I can get a gauge of how many emails they’re getting.)


SUBJECT: NY Post: Quit the Transphobic Reporting!

I was angered by the Post’s coverage of the recent Manhattan Family Court decision in favor of Mariah Lopez (“Free to be he-she,” February 25, and “Justice isn’t that blind,” February 27). Both articles were deeply disrespectful of Ms. Lopez’s gender identity. By referring to her as a “he-she,” a “wannabe woman,” and, in the editorial, using her old name and incorrect pronouns in direct violation of AP style guidelines, the Post has clearly demonstrated that it is more interested in playing to societal prejudice towards transgender people than in following good journalistic practices and treating trans people with the respect that they deserve.

Additionally, the articles’ sensational treatment of this story ignored the fact that the ACS is required by law to provide medically-approved treatment to children under its care, and that Ms. Lopez was indeed a child under the care of the ACS when she initially sought transgender health care, including sexual reassignment surgery. Ms. Lopez was denied access to a necessary treatment that is widely approved by the medical community. Judge Rand’s decision will hopefully ensure that no other child, trans or not, will be denied treatment in the future simply due to prejudice.



* Partly in anticipation of certain questions, I’d like to clarify that I don’t believe that SRS is always a necessary part of a trans person’s transition. Transition can mean all sorts of things, many of which are not medical or surgical; it’s all about what one feels is right for them. I think it’s important, actually, to get away from a medicalization of trans-ness, because that often leads to people passing judgment on who’s “really” or “fully” trans or not based on their medical history. Which is, of course, complete bullshit, given that not everyone chooses – or can afford or access – the same treatment.

Published in: on March 2, 2007 at 11:50 am  Comments (4)  


For Liz and for petitpoussin.

Thursday. Coffee grinding, music playing, conversations to my left and right, keys clicking. Change being counted, newspaper unfolding, coffee grinding ceases, and rain. I could be anywhere.

How often do we stop and listen?

Wednesday night, awake with eyes closed, just before dawn. Rain, the chirping of the coqui, the rustle of sheets, and, in the morning, what is this, a rooster? Yes, a rooster, then later a siren, and more rain.

I first heard the term “soundscape” when I was in college. The concept is exactly what you are thinking – the sounds that form a place. Like a landscape, soundscapes start as compositions of the “natural” world and are layered with the auditory impacts of human presence. Your beautiful view of the beach is intruded upon both by the industry blurring the coastline and the really loud tourist that you somehow hope you are not becoming.

I have been visiting a friend in Hawaii for the last few days, so I am a bit behind on blogging. Last week the NY Times magazine ran a piece on the auditory loss of biodiversity and a man has devoted his life to recording so many “places” that we are in danger of never hearing again.

I read this piece on one of the three planes that it took to get me from the desert to the tropics, and the story stayed with me as I encountered places that were new to me, and yet reminiscent of other places, by not just sight, but sound. And not just sounds I had heard before, but sounds I had heard of, sounds I had expected to hear, and others that came as a surprise.

Saturday, the crunch of glass like rocks, beginning their slow path to soil, beneath three sets of hiking boots. Waves pounding against rocks. A helicopter. The hiss of lava falling into the ocean. Excited gasps and the click of cameras.

Friday. So many birds, waterfalls, more waves still – the Tropical Botanical Gardens. And then Karaoke with old and new friends.

Sunday night, we stop to look at the stars. A silence of sorts, my own exclamations, and the hum of the car’s motor. Sunday afternoon, snorkeling, hearing my own breathing, the movement of water, my muted “ohs” which vibrate through the tide pools as I float only feet away from a sea turtle, living reef, schools of fish.

A couple speaking in Spanish, a blender, a child’s footsteps running, keys clicking, classical music playing, loud announcements, planes landing, the beep of an EZ-Go, and the crunch of fast food filled paper bags opening and closing. Where am I now as I write this?

And tomorrow, what sounds does tomorrow bring?  What sounds now mean home?

Published in: on February 26, 2007 at 9:56 pm  Comments (1)