At the centre

at the centre of it all is this:
those tender moments replay like videoreel slides out of sync, but they are still tender.
but then I tell myself, clearly that is what I imagined, this tenderness betweeen us was me, just me just me just me just me. this moment between us was just mine mine mine mine mine. I tell myself I will never know how you felt, maybe, some of those moments were precious to you too maybe not all of them, maybe other moments that I discarded carry some sacred quality in your heart, I can’t possibly know how you felt, I say to myself but this is a lie.

you felt like leaving. so you left.

and that’s ok that’s ok it’s ok ok ok ok ok fine fine fine fine without a fight or a fuss or anything actually changing between us you left so all that means is that I really could imagine a world of moments, shared, that were in fact never real. I could in fact imagine someone’s feelings for me, have them gently correct how they feel.

so we could share gazes and touches and kisses and moments that looked like that, felt like that, where  I could see myself reflected in you and imagine that you saw yourself in me too when in fact! in fact.

those moments were nothing special to you.

how cruel then, a year later, they are still there for me.

in leaving, you know, you turned me into a liar.

Here is an important memory, i said, holding up a shared moment.
That’s not mine, you said, surprised, not mine at all.

So now here is the moment. it is no longer sweet (how can it be) or tender (how can it be). it is as crass and as stupid and as meaningless and as inconsequential as every other moment.

the littleness of what you experienced – i want that. give it to me. the smallness of it. the tininess of it. a little kernel of truth.

there was no connection. a connection needs two people.

there was only me.

the next time i feel an emotional or romantic connection, how will i know if it is real for the other person too?

i don’t know why you did the things you did with me.

maybe you were then, like i am now:



sincere and bored.

sincerely bored.

thank you always for leaving

please stay gone forever in every iteration in every new person i never ever want to see you again anywhere in anyone ever again

it was not a connection. it was not a relationship.

it was a crush. my crush. and it crushed me. and that’s ok. honestly it’s fine.

now i know that when someone looks at me that way, there’s as much a chance of it meaning nothing as meaning something. now i know that when someone touches me that way, there’s as much a chance of it meaning nothing as meaning something. now i know that when i think a connection is shared and good and true and real, it’s actually nothing.

“Was it real?” I asked.

“What is ‘real’ ?” you asked.

A year later, I can tell you that ‘real’ is staying because you want to stay more than you want to leave.

Everything else is dirty, you know.  it’s just a dirty thing, a dirty lie. Call it lust, or convenience, or “eh why not” in the aftermath.

But don’t call it a connection. Don’t call it love. Don’t call it meaningful.

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When Writing Through Suffering Becomes Suffering Through Writing

 A lot of my writing happens when the stress of an experience or situation demands I think about what has happened. A lot of my analytic writing happens when I need to answer, for myself, the questions of “how” or “why” of a situation, which in turn helps me process the feelings. And a lot of my poetry happens when I just need to get the feelings out on a page. Either way, a lot of my writing is incredibly cathartic, but there are some articles that need to be written which, when I start to write, the feelings are so unbearable that I cannot even begin. I don’t know where to begin the analytic. Thinking about where I was feels like a wormhole to a different time where the analytic doesn’t exist – only the feeling exists, and I feel I am fighting those feelings to draw out a cogent analysis. And the feeling is exhausting to contend with. How do I write plainly, simply, about my understanding of what happened, when all that happens when I think about what happened is that I am trapped in the “when” of it. It feels like time travel but in a terrible way.


Every time I try to start an article about my unbearable heartbreak: ie: why it was unbearable, what I could have done differently, how I plan to do things differently, how gender and oppression and marginalization play into power and privilege in relationships – all of it feels like the dark part of a stage, and the only spotlit area is some stupid jagged memory of some stupid shard of a moment that I just can’t… think around, or think through. I’ve always written like this though – it’s just usually the writing eases the stress. But with this experience, I can’t even write a first sentence for an analytic piece without bursting into tears. Every article dies stillborn, I sweep away those sentences into the wings. Instead, the starring role is given to  some shitty new poem about pain a year old resurfacing and pretending like it’s a new fucking thing. It’s not new. The poems aren’t even cathartic in an overall way – they are just catharsis in the moment because I tried to write analytically and instead couldn’t but the truth is I have written so many shitty poems about a man, an unspeakably short “time” with him that I still feel so cuthroat vicious about that I actually hate every single fucking poem I’ve ever written about him/us/the “relationship”. I will never forget the fury I felt when he, in the aftermath, called a month long – fling? thing? nothing? – with me a “relationship”. Milk takes longer to spoil! I screamed. It wasn’t a fucking relationship. It was nothing you fucking moron. 

Months later I saw him on my blog reading my shitty poetry about himself. That’s what happens when you tell a bitch your vacation plans and she gets a bunch of hits from Morocco on her birthday, which, by the way, as a vague point of interest was almost exactly to the day 4 months when you dumped her in a fucking cafe, but hey it was 4 weeks long so why not actually just ghost, or send a text, or do it by phone, or whatever.

10 days after I saw him on my blog, I sent him a furious letter. It was titled: “It’s a Crazy Bitchy Ex kind of letter, don’t say I didn’t warn you – we’re done, man, khalaas and all that jazz” It’s a subject line that, I’m sure, in the right moment, makes him laugh because it makes me laugh.

Also it’s a subject line that is viscerally enraged for a letter that was also viscerally enraged.

And a few days after that I apologised. And then a few days later I told him it wasn’t a relationhip, among other things, because milk takes longer to spoil. And then I apologised again. If this sounds crazy to you, it was. I was. There was a lot of shit he did too in terms of agreeing to relationship norms and then changing his mind and yeah people are allowed to change their minds, so sure, go ahead, change your miserable fucking mind – look *deep breath*:

this is the problem. See what happened here? This. This exact fucking thing. When I try to think about how despite my feelings and acceptance of what happened, a part of me is SO, to this day, utterly enraged and disgusted and not even with him – no. With myself. No, not the self pitying “oh i was so BAD and NOT good” – no. My anger is not self-loathing. My disgust is not self-loathing. I am just so viscerally angry. I remember laughing when he wrote: “The whole trying to be friends after relationship thing is pretty challenging” – relationship? RELATIONSHIP? motherfucker, you better not be talking about me. You better not be talking about some bullshit NONSENSE that spanned a length of time SHORTER THAN MILK COULD LAST.

“I feel stupid,” I said, standing on the subway platform staring out at the train at the end of an evening. We had been trying to be friends – because he had wanted that and because I still wanted him in my life. We met a day after Valentine’s Day for an evening dinner, about 3 weeks after he had dumped me in a fucking cafe. Both of us wore red without planning, and we ended up in the same subway car on our way over. The whole dinner I remember thinking I don’t know who the fuck you are. When the waitress came by at the end, I said “we’re ready for the bills separate please” without any punctuation in the middle. Eventually we were on a subway platform heading back.

“Why?” he asked. I think it was a genuine question. I still have trouble answering it. I don’t feel stupid anymore, I just feel enraged. But at the time, I didn’t have words.

He reached in his pocket for something. “Keep it,” I said automatically. He looked at me surprised, his hand still in his pocket. “I got another one,” I said. I had left my contact lens case by accident at his place on our last night.

On our last night, the day he dumped me, (“Can’t we say it was mutual?” He winced. “No,” I said.) I handed him a letter from my journal. I had written it two days ago. And even though things felt good and ok, and I was a little nervous, some dark shadow caught me that day, and I had written a goodbye letter. A pre-emptive goodbye letter, filled with a sense of love and kindness for his life, thanks for what he had showed me about myself, explicitly, I had written something like “If this ends, it will be because you walked away from it, and I already know that now. I don’t know when it will be, but if it happens, it will be you who does it.” He dumped me, and then we did dinner. I think it was his attempt at offering me closure because I think he likes to think of himself as a good person and tbh, he is a good person and that makes all of this even more infuriating. And at dinner, I pulled out my journal and handed him the letter. He read it twice, jaw tightening. “This is powerful,” he said finally. Carefully, he folded it, a neat crease in the exact middle of the page.

At dinner, the day after Valentine’s day, our first and only meeting to “try to be friends”, he told me he kept it by his bed.

Months later, months of me feeling unsure if he actually cared, him making basically 0 effort to reach out, 0 effort to be in my life, 0 effort to make plans, 0 effort to set any pace for what our friendship would look like, ignoring me on my birthday but having the audacity to sit on this shitty blog reading shitty poetry about himself from Morocco, I snapped.

“Burn it,” I raged, in one of my emails to him, referencing the “powerful” letter I’d handwritten earlier the year.

We talk about objectification but not like this, like here’s a thought, like if I left a fresh apple out for 4 weeks would it still be ok like what lasts four weeks? and what doesn’t last longer? like what length of time matters? Eggs last like a month, right. Eggs. Hah, ok, a fetus of a relationship and then it was rotten!

Months later, I googled “how long does it take to fall in love?” and I saw a lot of bullshit articles for women and bullshit articles for men, but one random answer in a thread caught me completely off guard. “I’ve seen many answers, but the best answer is: a second.”

oh good. Instant tears.

“Maybe you’re a romantic,” he said, as we were heading into the subway station after our “friendly dinner”.

I was.

But I’m not anymore.

Romance requires a degree of imagination about the person that falls somewhere along the line of seeing the best of them but men are so many levels of trash that they leave women with no choice but to see them always exactly as they are, in order to emotionally protect ourselves. Men have the luxury of projecting their bullshit, seeing us as idealised figures, and women will put up with that shit forever. This, I have learned, is what most heterosexual relationships are: a man relating to his fantasy and expecting her to be ideal. A woman relating to a flawed person, because if she projects even a little, she’s fucked. it’s done. it’s over.

All women dating men are aromantic if romance is a subject position that asserts a romantic gaze.

“You’ve eroded my sense of trust and faith in romantic moments, in kindness, in reliability from partners, and in milestones […] You… have eroded my capacity to trust in moments, words, and promises. You have made promises completely unreliable.  Saying “let’s be exclusive’, like it or not, is a social contract. It doesn’t translate to ‘I’m going to dump you in a fucking week’,” I wrote in “It’s a Crazy Bitchy Ex kind of letter, don’t say I didn’t warn you – we’re done, man, khalaas and all that jazz”. Later, I read blogs by women who had been stood up at the altar, broken up with months after an engagement, dumped after “I love you”. I think about the men who have done this. How do they sleep at night?

“Did this matter to you?” I asked him. It was the morning after our last night. I asked for a last night when we “broke up” – lol. break up. how do you break up a thing that didn’t exist to begin with. Anyway, he said yes to a night with me. Actually,  he asked “Will it help?” and I said yes, and it did actually because it was like ok maybe he cares a little, maybe some of the intimacy we experienced was like not just in my own fucking miserable brain, and on some days (not today), I can actually believe that.

The morning after he answered without hesitation “Yes.”

But the truth is I don’t believe that. I will never believe that because anyone who breaks up within a week of deciding to be exclusive immediately tells me all their “yesses” were worthless. Were garbage, Were absolute trash. Were absolutely meaningless. So I will never believe that it mattered to him – not in the long term solid sense of what I thought about my “time” with him. Not in the way memories solidify and create a reality of “What was true” and “What happened” during my time with him. That’s what I describe it as, by the way: “My time with him” – yeah it’s longer than writing “relationship” but that word tastes dirty in my mouth applied to him. It tastes wrong, and false, and so UTTERLY – you know what it’s like? It’s like the feeling equivalent of counterfeit money. like, a really good replica of 100 dollars that you thought you were good for and then some shitty snot nosed cashier nasally goes “Ummmm actuallllyyy this is like…. fakkke?”Or, it’s like the exact same feeling I got when “friends” as a prank in high school, a time of intense bullying for me, sent me a secret valentine candygram and I thought someone liked me and was excited and they went “Surprise! It was us!” Because they were pieces of shit to be honest.

Or, it’s like Charlie Brown hesitantly attempting to kick a motherfucking football and that bitch Lucy just yanks it away last second like every second.

Except I’m not even self pitying about it because I’m not fucking Charlie Brown. I’m just ENRAGED. It’s the equivalent of Charlie brown kicking Lucy’s hands in the aftermath going “never fucking do that again you piece of shit”.

I’m still trying to figure out what my anger and disgust serve exactly – and maybe actually that is the article I should be writing instead of the article on the “how” and the “why”.  Retaliation. Consequence. Boundary. Room to be messy and to be flawed.

At least, I am never grounded enough  while writing the “how” and the “why”.

There are also moments where I remember how we looked at each other. Moments like that feel like a permanent wound because either it was meaningless and I misread his emotional reality or it was actually tender and he threw it away because…

“maybe you just weren’t compatible,” a voice says unhelpfully. Every time I hear this bullshit “chemistry isn’t compatibility” chorus I actually want to punch a wall because yes, I know what the fucking difference is, but if you agree to relationship norms at least do it sincerely? 

When I asked why, he said “how would it work long term? I – my parents wouldn’t accept you…you’re not Muslim…you’re so different, it’s really hard for me to stand up to them. ” Honestly, I wish I could say, a year later, that I give a shit but I don’t.

A year later, I want to scream choose your fucking parents, then. Marry them, then, I think viciously. Get them to choose a fucking girl for you, you fucking prick, marry her so you don’t do this again, how dare you implicate other people in your mess of a relationship with your parents – but of course that’s why he ended it. To not implicate me in his nonsense with his parents. But it was too late. It was too late because I have never been more confused in my life, never experienced a more staggering loss of sense of reality and trust. And I’ve been through some gut wrenching shit so.

I didn’t turn Hindu in the middle of four weeks. You didn’t turn Muslim in the middle of this week, you fucking asshole. How could you not know this would be an issue earlier?

He ended it early so that we could “preserve our friendship, because if it ends later… it’ll be too hard for us to stay friends.” That was his explanation at the cafe.Guess how many times he reached out after breakup for an actual friendship, even though he knew how hard it was on me to even barely trust that he was sincere at that point about friendship. As I cried in the cafe, he stammered “It’s already too late.”

“Too late for what?” I hiccupped. He didn’t answer. But I know now. It’s too late for friendship. He ended it too late. We should never have done anything.

“What does friendship look like for you,” I asked.

“You know… if you need me I want you to be able to call me. And if I need you I will call you too.” In that moment, I knew I couldn’t say no to that. Cool. That doesn’t sound like partnership material at all. nah. exact opposite of gf status. Coolcoolcool. Except a) friendship isn’t just about needs and deep crisis intervention – it’s also about just chatting and catching up, and b) he never needed me as much I probably needed him, and I voiced that concern. “Oh that’s ok,” he said. No, I realised belatedly, it isn’t.

The day after Valentine’s Day, I was colder, and he said: “I…feel like other guys after me will…have a harder time with you,” he said softly, seriously.

Oh good, I thought sarcastically. Yes, let’s think about how FUTURE FUCKING MEN in my life will be affected after your bullshit.

But he’s right. I am incapable of enjoying a genuinely tender, emotionally vulnerable moment if I think it will not last. And at this point in my life, there is never any reason to believe any of those moments will last.

“What did you even enjoy about your time with me?” I asked him, during the dinner the day after Valentine’s day.

“Your responses… the conversations were the best part,” he said.

“Talk is cheap,” I said instantly.

“Woah,” he said, eyes widening. He looked flustered.

Months later, when I try to talk about this, here is what I hear from people:
“Oh well…it was just a month”
“Oh well, you know, chemistry isn’t the same as compatibility!”
“You fell too quickly!”
“Guys like to chase!”

Anytime this happens, I just want to ask them: “Hi, do I look stupid to you? I mean, I must look stupid because those are entirely vapid responses so you must think I’m too stupid to have just not already thought intensely about these things.”

I hope I never meet someone like him again. I find dating exhausting. I lose interest so fast.  (Do I even have interest to begin with?) No one is compatible anymore because what is compatibility anyway. Or regardless of if they are compatible or not, I feel no chemistry. What is chemistry anyway? All the butterflies have died. I have broken over a dozen hearts since him. I watched butterflies die in men and viciously thought good. Good, because you deserve to feel this too.  And then after a dozen hearts, I lost interest rapidly in people, such that their dying feelings no longer interested me either.

“Why did you chase?” He asked me in the subway – not unkindly, just in confusion.

“Thanks,” I said, sarcastically. “Say it louder. I don’t think I chased – I just asked based on my level of interest – Why didn’t you say no? ”

Months later, I wrote: “If you didn’t like me enough to have me over for dinner, you should have canceled dinner like a grown ass fucking adult man. If you needed space, you should have said that like a grown ass fucking adult man. […]  Me reaching out to you to date you wasn’t me chasing youyou moron. Turns out when you like someone, you want to be around them. You‘ve never liked anyone, so how would you know what that feels like? You didn’t want to be around me haha!”

Because it’s true. He never has liked anyone, not really. He once said to me: “I’ve never fallen for anyone,” and he seemed frightened by it. I see now where that fear came from. Maybe it really is impossible for some people to love; if love is meaning, I certainly don’t know how to ascribe meaning to moments anymore especially when people leave.

I don’t know what to do with moments like us dancing in his apartment, me in sock feet, him twirling me around.

So maybe I’m one of those people now – the people who experience no chemistry, no attraction, no love, no nothing.

After him, I learned to be alone.

After him, everyone in my life could die and I would be fine.

After him, if I experience emotional devastation again, it will not be the same. I find it hard to imagine actually.

That girl is dead. And maybe that means the part of me that loved is also dead. Maybe that’s a good thing – there can be new better ways to love that I may find.

Maybe. And maybe not.

I don’t think I’m avoidant. It’s just that no one interests me, least of all men.

“Just die,” I say tiredly to myself in my room sometimes. I don’t mean myself, it’s not nearly so dramatic. It’s just the thoughts. The faulty memories.

I date people I don’t like these days because I don’t like anyone these days.

Maybe I feel frozen writing more analytically  because I already know I will not feel better by the time I finish such an exhausting piece. Maybe I feel frozen because I am not sure feeling so exhausted is worth the actual content of the piece. Maybe I feel frozen because I know after finishing it, I’ll never want to look at it again even if it’s really good, really solid, really critical. Every time I try to write more sharply, incisively, analytically considering my areas of growth, compassionately reviewing everything, all that happens are these thoughts, these moments just replay like a fucking videoreel where all the moments are mashed up and in random order.

Maybe it’s because I already worked out for myself what I need to do going forward, and, because the thinking through of the “why” and “how” has already happened, the personally driven “need” for this article no longer exists for me.

“Do you regret anything?” I asked, the morning after our last night.

He looked at me, sitting in his chair by the dining table, face serious and honest. “No,” he said. I nodded like I understood.

“Was it real?” I asked, after our dinner at another cafe, 3 weeks after we had broken up.

What is real? I thought.

“What is real?” he asked.

“I knew you’d say that,” I said, tiredly.

“There was, you know, a connection – just not, the highest?”

I nodded like I understood. “Right,” I said.

What? I thought.

I didn’t understand.

I still don’t.

Writing this did not help anything.

I do not feel better.

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An extended post mortem

some days from the past hang in the present,
a soft layer over the now
I guess all days do, technically, but I feel the
weight of some days more than others.

there are new songs i listen to sometimes
by accident that just again, like the first time,
like the last time,
tug your fingerprints from my fingers
strip your lips from my mouth
and i don’t know what to do in moments like that.

sometimes, the feeling passes , and i laugh. i say “haha but remember, silly girl you projected so much!” and “he was only human” and “you sort of just made him up and made it up” and “it wasn’t real anyway, not like deep down real” and “love shouldn’t feel like (just) like that” and “it was love but there is better love”

but sometimes, all i remember is the way you looked at me and –

everything breaks

it must a wrong memory, i think.
it must be a dream misrememberd, i think.
it must be some dead girl’s thought in my brain, i think.
it must have been my imagination, i think.

but in those moments, i just feel hung from the ceiling with a hook in my throat:

what if it was, even a little bit, real?

“Was it real?” I asked you.
What is ‘real’ anyway, I thought. What is ‘real’? What is ‘real’? 

“What is ‘real'”? you answered.

“You’re  killing something. between us,” I said.

“Yeah, I am,” you answered. Something in me is still there, in that moment. Not in a desperate way. Just in a dead way, its shadow cast across a year. “Because… because it can’t work and this way we can still be in each other’s lives. we can be friends.”

“Ok, yeah of course. Friendship,” I said, but I think you saw my heart blur in tears in my eyes.

“It’s already too late,” you said, helplessly.

“What’s too late?” I asked.

You didn’t answer. It’s ok. Everything is ok. Everything is good.  The other day i dreamt i saw your reflection in the mirror. “Goodbye” we both tried to say.

All that came out was “good”.

Somewhe(re/n) in spacetime, a girl sits on a counter. a boy stands between her legs. they are holding each other. a love song is playing. dinner is cooking. and they are looking at each other.


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This piece is one in a chronological series.
Feel free to find the others here, and to browse through any companion piece, set in the same universe.
1. Three Frenemies 2. Fall Coven Meet 3. BeingLovedAgain 4. The Fourth Witch
6. The Three Questions 
7. Seed 8. Garden Graveyard Heart 9. The Cook
10. River Witch 11. Rage
12. Reincarnation 14. Hate

5.  Memory Elephant 12. Reincarnation  13. Memory and Mudbaths
Companion Pieces
May 22 – Part 1  Stone Lady  Paper Boots  Dredge    Half Yours, Half His    Flower Seller
When You Must End Love    Talk   Scorpio Rising    Pretty Men, Stone Lady
From The Olive Pit to Gratitude  Reliability dead girl Soft Witch

I follow the sound of arpeggios across a harp, until I find BeingLovedAgain. She is sitting by the riverbank, in long plum purple harem pants, and a cardigan to match. There’s no t shirt or bra, and I see faint scars criss crossing across her chest. “It’s rude to stare, you know” she says mildly, staring across the water and skipping stones across its surface. I notice every time the stone touches the water, a note arcs through the air.

“I’m glad you’re healing,” I say, finding a patch of grass beside her. Stones sing across the river, and she reaches to tuck her hair behind her ear. Another scar along her temple. I wonder if she is showing me on purpose. I see the scar is slowly, slowly fading, and she is slowly, slowly smiling. “So, would it work if I did that?” I ask, gesturing to the stones in her hand.

“Only one way to find out,” she says lazily. I search for a flat stone. Something suitable for skipping. The air is serene and I can hear crickets in the distance, chirping like little birds.

“Tell me something,” I say, trying to decide between a pink stone and a black stone. “Why haven’t I met Hate, yet?”

“You’ve met Hate,” she says flatly, immediately.

“When?” I ask. “Is she Rage, the witch with many names? I know I called her Anger and the Stone Lady, and the River Witch – is she also Hate?”

“No, Hate is a place. Like Hel. Like Hades.” She is talking about the graveyard side of my heart, and I remember the way my heart would be garden-like some days, cemetery-like on others. For many many days – years – it was a cemetery every day. “You were living in Hate for a long time when you met Love,” she explains, turning to look at me.

“So Love is a witch, but Hate is a place?” I ask. I don’t like it. There is a dissonance there. “Shouldn’t Love be a place too then?”

BeingLovedAgain tilts her head, her gaze still trained on me. “Have you seen Love around these days?” She asks.

“No,” I say, shocked. I haven’t. I haven’t talked to her in months.

Still looking at me, BeingLovedAgain flicks a stone across the water. A harp sings.

“Of course you have,” she insists. “Look around. What is this place?” A river as wide as the amazon, calm and still. Fish circling in the depths. Water gurgling in nearby brooks. Trees casting shade. A midnight sun hanging in the sky beside a moon. Silver trees with leaves made of glass paper. Squirrels and chipmunks and other animals burrowing for winter. Snow that isn’t frigid. Sand that doesn’t get everywhere. She chuckles. “You’re in Love.”

“Not what it felt like any other time I’ve been in love” I admit.

“No, not in love. In Love. A place.” She sweeps the air with her arm. “Congratulations. This is it. Paradise. Love. Serenity. Peace. Whatever you want to call it, this is it. Earlier… you were having trouble reaching this place. So Love came to you as a witch because she needed a voice because it would have been pretty weird to hear a disembodied voice speaking at you, right? Something tells me you wouldn’t have enjoyed that at all.”

“Is this why people pray?” I ask suddenly.

She laughs. “People pray for all kinds of stupid reasons. Never doubt people’s capacity to fuck up even the most basic concept on the planet. But yeah, if they do it right, Love answers.”

“And so… after I’m here, She…is everywhere?” I ask, amazed.

“More or less. The earth feels solid here, right? The garden doesn’t have another side anymore. The crust of the earth isn’t thin, isn’t some portal to the Otherside, Cemeteryside. The single grave that was here – well you took care of that. This place is…is life. Life. But,” she hesitates. “that doesn’t mean the work is done. First of all, the chances of a wormhole like that occurring again is very rare – I don’t think you will ever invert your heart again like that. You are building something sacred here, and that helps. But, I said rare, not impossible. So that is the first thing you must be vigilant of. The second thing -” she stops abruptly, and I think I know why. I feel a soft whisper that I don’t like in the trees and the temperature dips suddenly in a way I don’t like. In a way that feels… unkind. There is a sudden darkness, as though we are in an eclipse. This is not the magical darkness under moonlight or the playful darkness of shadows under sunlight.

BeingLovedAgain stays silent. She sits and closes her eyes, reaches for a stone and skips it across the water. It sinks. She does it again, knuckles tight, and it skips, but there is no music. A third time, and there, a few muffled tones. An out of tune piano. A muffled harpsichord. I see a thin line of blood bloom under her clavicle and my eyes widen. “N-no,” I say. Her eyes fly open. I grab a stone and send it skimming across the water, and notes fly out, strong and sure and a wall of sound, a harp the size of a redwood.

She stays looking at me with unblinking eyes, and brushes away the red brushstroke across her chest with her middle finger. She dips the scarlet stained tip between her lips. A snake tongue slithers out and I see her small vampire fangs lengthen and turn pink as they drink blood. Sunlight and moonlight, a comfortable twilight, returns like a warm summer evening. She smiles and blinks, and there is no scar, but her voice sounds tired, hoarse when she speaks. “As I was saying: the second thing is that Love came as a witch to you in a place called Hate. But now you are in a place called Love. You know what this means don’t you?”

I swallow hard and look across the river at islands I do not know, unknown landscapes of my garden heart.

“Will I meet Hate, as a witch, here if she wants to…to speak to me?”

BeingLovedAgain smiles sadly, and shrugs. “Who knows?” she says. “Maybe. Probably.”

“That was Fear, wasn’t it?” I ask. “A second ago.”

BeingLovedAgain nods.

“I thought she cannot exist where Love exists,” I say. “And this is Love, so how – ?”

BeingLovedAgain purses her lips. “It’s the way we’re talking about Hate,” she says, finally. “When you name a thing with…Fear, you give it strength and power over you. When you name a thing with Love, it’s…different.”

“I don’t know how to talk about Hate without Fear,” I say.

“They do tend to go hand in hand,” BeingLovedAgain says, wryly. “But… I think we’re already doing it, sort of. Right now.”

I am silent and staring across the calm water. I skip a stone and she sings. I skip a stone harder, and there is still music. My jaw is tight. Harder – and it sinks. I wait. The stone suddenly comes whizzing back, lands like a dart in treebark between me and BeingLovedAgain.

“You want to watch it with that,” I hear a sharp voice echoing under the water. The River Witch.

“How am I supposed to fight Hate?” I ask BeingLovedAgain, but she is asleep against the tree, stomach rising and falling gently. She’s exhausted, I think.

“Rage?” I call out tentatively.

I hear a laugh, a chuckle. “You know I can’t help you in that fight. But BeingLovedAgain is right. Hate can visit you, if you let her, call for her. Think of it like stones. Make music not war, silly girl,” her voice is like a lazy bend around the river. “And if a witch called Rage is telling you to avoid war, well you might want to take it at least a little seriously.”

“You can’t help me.” I say. “Is that a riddle? Are you saying you will help Hate, not me?”

But I already know the answer.

“Maybe!” Rage chuckles. “It all depends, you see.”

“On what?” I ask.

But I see the flash of a metal tail move like a machine snake under the water, and she is gone.


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Memory’s Mudbaths 

This piece is one in a chronological series.
Feel free to find the others here, and to browse through any companion piece, set in the same universe.
1. Three Frenemies 2. Fall Coven Meet 3. BeingLovedAgain 4. The Fourth Witch
6. The Three Questions 
7. Seed 8. Garden Graveyard Heart 9. The Cook
10. River Witch 11. Rage
12. Reincarnation

5.  Memory Elephant 12. Reincarnation  13. Memory and Mudbaths
Companion Pieces
May 22 – Part 1  Stone Lady  Paper Boots  Dredge    Half Yours, Half His    Flower Seller
When You Must End Love    Talk   Scorpio Rising    Pretty Men, Stone Lady
From The Olive Pit to Gratitude  Reliability dead girl Soft Witch

Memory is lolling in a mudbath while her friends, the Snake and the Mouse watch on. Memory’s large grey body looks totally at peace as she wiggles happily in the mud. A smile passes my face, seeing how happy she, and all elephants are, while bathing. “Don’t you dare,” I say, my eyes widening, seeing her point her trunk at me. She trumpets a laugh and sprays herself instead, grinning her one tusked smile.

“Hey Memory?” I call out. “I think I was born in the wrong family,” I say.

She sits on all four and looks at me thoughtfully with her small elephant eyes. Her ears flap slowly. “You mean your parents?”

“I think I mean all of it. Parents. Extended family. All of it. I’m just – so different from them.”

“Yes, you are different from them. Every family needs that.” She is working on her right side now.

“The scapegoat?” I ask wryly.

She tilts her face to me and shakes her big head solemnly. “The Changemaker,” she counters.

“I don’t think I’m making change,” I say, laughing. The Changemaker. It sounds like a title I don’t deserve.

“Well, you aren’t making change yet,” Memory says. “You were dead for five years, remember?”

True. I sit in the strange light of the garden. The moon hangs in one half of the sky, the sun in the other. I have never seen the garden like this before. I ponder what Memory is telling me.

“Is it true that we choose our families, before we are born?” I ask, tears blurring my eyes.

“Do you think you did?” she asks. I do not know. “I think…” she says, “You have a spirit that has always gone where you are…needed. And not necessarily where you are wanted.”

“What about what I need, Memory?” I ask, as the Snake slithers towards me, and as the Mouse scurries over. The words stick in my throat. The animals sit near my ankles.

“What do you need?” Memory asks surprised, laughing. “Look around you, what do you see?”

“Well, right now, a portion of this garden that has been generously devoted to mudbath time,” I tease.

“Mudbaths are very important!” Memory nods, ears flapping vigorously.  On impulse she rolls over and flails a bit in sheer elephantine joy. Her potbelly wiggles like jelly and it’s so cute. “Sooo important. What else?”

I laugh, enjoying the fact that she is so pleased. “Well, uh, there’s that corner now in the garden that has that seed that BeingLovedAgain was storing for a while for safekeeping…I’m not really sure what it’s growing into. The river that changes shape and depth where the River Witch and the Stone Lady live, and the clearing where the Cook cooks… and I don’t know where the Time Witch went, but she gave me her watch. And Being Loved again gave me that flower from before and the coin… and there are lots of trees everywhere, and… these really nice red brick pathways that kind of remind me of the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz, and the walls around the garden that are made of the same…and beautiful green ivy everywhere that reminds me of Christmas because of how it is growing against the walls. And your friends, the Snake and the Mouse. I haven’t seen Love around enough to talk to her in a long time but I feel her almost all the time because I never feel Fear or Loneliness anymore.”

Memory smiles again. “So what do you need?”

“I mean… I guess, nothing. I have… things I want to do, places I want to see outside of this place, but this garden is…is just in me, so it’s not as though I will ever lose this place…but everything I need is…is here, I think. I think whatever I need, I will find here, somehow.”

Memory gently says: “But your parents aren’t here.”

When I cry, it’s because things make sense, and they haven’t for so long – but I am not crying from pain. “No,” I say softly. “They’re not. And. No they don’t need to be. It would…go all wrong if they were here in this place.”

Memory gets up and walks towards me. Gently, she wipes my face with her trunk. It tickles and I sneeze from the mud. “Most people do not have such a beautiful garden,” she says quietly. “I mean, every garden is beautiful in its own way, but many gardens are graveyards, many are uncultivated, and some… don’t even know they have this space all for themselves. You have everything you need. For your family, you are the Changemaker – and change, little one, is never easy, but always always necessary, but that does not mean you have an obligation. Everything else is… up to you. You have a choice always. Love told you  a long time ago that your will has been freed. What you bring to people is up to you. BeingLovedAgain told you to wait for her always, and if she is not there, to leave. I think you are trying to know how to stay and how to leave…at the same time. It is of course impossible to be in two places at once. But maybe there is another reason you are in this family. What have they shown you so far?”

“What I definitely don’t need,” I blurt out, instantly feeling immigrant child guilt. “And I guess in a weird way, because of that, exactly what I need.”

Memory nods wisely. Maybe when elephants nod it always comes off as wise. “There are people who only learn through adversity. Maybe you did choose them, not for what they could give you, but because you knew the kind of environment you needed to excel.”

“So I’m a masochist,” I say, bitterly.

“Or, you  have an idea of how you tend to learn with no. judgment. or. self. loathing. ” She punctuates each word with a gentle but firm tap on my head with her trunk, her little eyes frowning.

“Ow,” I say, rubbing my head gingerly, looking at her. “Maybe I can change how I learn,” I muse.

“Maybe! Or!” She says brightly. “I’m full of shit, and no one chooses these things; we’re born into the families we are born into and that’s that.”

“Easy for you to say,” I mutter. “You have the coolest fam -”

“Coolest?! COOLest?!” Memory laughs, trumpeting loudly. Birds in a nearby tree scatter, and then huff their way back into branches, annoyed that it’s just Memory being Memory. “Mom makes me out of clay, breathes life into me, goes off to take a shower, tells me to guard the door, dad comes home, doesn’t know I’m technically his kid by…adoption? That part was never clear to me, and I don’t know who the hell he is, I tell him my mother’s bathing and he can’t go in, he *chops my head off in a literal fit of rage* and mom makes him get the first head he could find to replace the human head, and dad went and got an elephant head.  Not a promising start, when you think about it, in the race for “coolest family”….and it’s not like they ever asked me how I felt about the whole thing. ‘Be grateful’ is all I ever heard from them. And I rather prefer going full-elephant most of the time these days anyhow…the whole half human half elephant thing was kind of getting to me…and I mean I’m the only elephant in my family.”

“Ok fineee you have it so much worse,” I say, rolling my eyes.

“Nah, the perks are pretty cool, and that one time I ate the moon really bothered everyone,” she says giggling. “Tasted kind of like rice cakes…Kind of looks like a rice cake too….mmm rice cakes.” She closes her eyes and smiles peacefully.

I lean back on my elbows and against Memory’ s comfortingly solid body. “If I’m the Changemaker, and the past few years were the Dead Years, I don’t know what change I have brought to their lives or what I need to bring to their lives.”

“Ah!” Says Memory. “Well that is the million dollar question, isn’t it. Your will has been freed. What you bring to people is up to you. So what, indeed to bring?”

“I don’t know…right now, that’s what I’m – ”

“No, do it fast, like a memory association thing. What do you bring them? Whattobringthem? Whatyougonnabring?” She is trumpeting in my face.

“Nothing,” I blurt out.

Memory smiles and sits back on her haunches and wiggled her butt in the ground. “Well. To consciously bring nothing to a family as the only daughter…I’d call that a change, wouldn’t you?”

“Seems kind of shitty” I say. “Besides that’s what they say about me too. That I do nothing for them. Idk it just feels dirty.”

“Seems kind of neutral,” she says. “Besides maybe the change isn’t about what you bring to them. Maybe it’s just you. Changing. Maybe that’s enough? Besides dirt is great! I love dirt. I love mudbaths – in fact I’m going to take another one.” I shift away from her body and smile as she lumbers happily towards her mud pit.

Above us, the sky is still split into night and day. My garden heart is whole. There are no mouldy thoughts or terrifying questions. And I know somehow the graveyard days are over. And if Fear and Loneliness were to visit again, they must meet me in this place on my terms in the garden of witches.

But there are still questions. Questions hang from the clouds in strings of water vapour. They hang from the trees in the shape of green leaves and ripe fruits, and they hang from bird wings in soft feathers. And in Memory’s broken tusk sitting a few feet away, there are questions swimming like koi fish, always present, glimmering in sunlight and moonlight, changing shape.

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This piece is one in a chronological series.
Feel free to find the others here, and to browse through any companion piece, set in the same universe.
1. Three Frenemies 2. Fall Coven Meet 3. BeingLovedAgain 4. The Fourth Witch
6. The Three Questions 
7. Seed 8. Garden Graveyard Heart 9. The Cook
10. River Witch 11. Rage
12. Reincarnation

5.  Memory Elephant 12. Reincarnation
Companion Pieces
May 22 – Part 1  Stone Lady  Paper Boots  Dredge    Half Yours, Half His    Flower Seller
When You Must End Love    Talk   Scorpio Rising    Pretty Men, Stone Lady
From The Olive Pit to Gratitude  Reliability dead girl Soft Witch


It is time to visit the garden again. And it is time to visit that foreboding grave, filled to the brim with fresh garden soil in the corner of the garden. It is like a flower patch but filled with death instead. I know as I approach it what I am going to see on the tombstone: it will be blank as it always has been for years, despite the garden blooming around me, flowers and green vines spreading across the red brick walls and the red brick paths, and roses the colour of red bricks everywhere, even growing along the side of the grave. The grave used to be a portal to the Otherside, cemetery side, grave site. Used to be. It isn’t anymore.

Beside the grave is a woman in her mid forties. Her hair is still black and in a ponytail and she is wearing gardening gloves. In her right hand is a spade, and in the other, she holds a chisel. The grave as usual looks freshly covered. I smile, and reach out with my hand for the chisel. “I guess it’s time I got around to taking care of this, ” I say quietly.

“Well, I am the Time Witch, so wherever I am it’s Time I guess!” She laughs at her little joke. “Do you need to dig to know what to write?” She asks, a little slyly.

“No,” I say, “No,  I know who is in there.”

“Ahhh, and yet you sound so peaceful. Good!” She lets out a bark of a laugh and throws the shovel towards me; I catch it reflexively in my other hand.  “Good! Good! Excellent! But you will still need this. Better get carving, child. It is the end of the year, which means it is the beginning again! A circle ends. A cycle begins. A lifetime has ended, a new life awaits.”

I sit in the earth, with the shovel and carefully carve my name into the stone. It goes faster than I expect. But when it comes to the years of life, I hesitate. “Well you know when you were born, don’t you?” She asks.

“I don’t know what to put for when I – she- died.”

She smiles. “Everyone thinks death happens in an instant, but really it takes years. Sometimes it takes a lifetime, ha ha! Most times… you have to be reborn to know you have died at all! And did no one tell you what makes you a witch, little witch? You are not a witch because you can cast spells. You are not a witch because you hold the key to those ancient scripts written in red brick. No. You are a witch because you have lived twice in a single lifetime. You are a witch because you have had those years of living half dead and half alive. You are a witch because you know life and death have existed in you at the same….time. Maybe that is why you don’t know when you first died. All you know is you are alive again, on the garden side of your heart. Lucky for you, I am the Time Witch, and I know what time everything and anything happens.”

I stare at her, and swallow. “So tell me. When did I die?”

She fishes in her pocket, and pulls out a small gold locket with a small gold chain and flips it open. I see her staring intently. I see a soft warm glow emanating from the object, and lighting up her face like a torch under a chin at a campfire.

“Is that a watch?” I ask. She does not move but looks up with her eyes, ancient and young all at once. In her pupils, I see the reflection of a face of a clock, with too many hands to be reasonably possible, whirling like a little sun, blurring. Along the edges are numbers, letters, and many shapes. They grow larger in her eyes and I see photographs and videos of people go by.

“Watch,” she says, her eyes drill into mine; in her gaze I see gears and memories swirling like pages in a yearbook, faster and faster and faster. Dizzy, I blink, and she holds up the watch. I see a scattering of dates across its face. June 2012, July 2013, Winter 2014, the numbers and letters whirl and fall to the ground like autumn leaves.

I swallow and turn to the grave.
“Is there more than one body in there?” I ask.

She is quiet and serious. “You are a witch because you killed the dead. Over and over actually. And you are a witch because you killed yourself and were reborn in a single lifetime; suicide is a cardinal sin after all. So in a way, you have known Death and cheated Her, and well, now you’re a witch. But here’s a question for you. Does it matter what date you pick for your Deathday?”

I smile quietly and lean against the headstone. I stare at the grave that has always looked too full and fresh. I feel tears against the corner of my eyes. “No. No it doesn’t matter.”

“Aha!  ha ha, “she cackles like a hyena. “So what date does matter for you?”

I turn to the tombstone and see what I have written. My name. The year I was born. A dash. I laugh. “That was a mean trick,” I say to the Time Witch.

“Not mean at all! Fear is mean. Loneliness is mean. And they have not visited you in a very long time, have they? I am only…very funny,” she says thoughtfully, and laughs again.

Without hesitation I kick it over as the Time Witch claps with amusement. The stone crumples into ash, dust, then nothing in the ground. With the spade, I begin to dig, no longer afraid of what I am going to find, no longer afraid of anything.

When I find the bodies, I feel only peace. There are nearly too many to count. It is alright. I am not overwhelmed. I dig them  up and lay them  out.

“Wow,  nice work,” says a new voice. A new witch is standing against a tree nearby. She is wearing dark red lipstick that looks black in the moonlight, and a loose dress.

“You look like Cher,” I say, laughing. “Or Morticia.”

“New year’s eve,” She says smiling at me. “Felt like dressing up.” In her eyes, I see pride.

“Do I know you? Have we…met?” I ask suddenly, seeing her pass something easily between her fingers. An almond. I squint and see many rings.

She smiles a half smile. “You don’t need me to be a child anymore.” BeingLovedAgain steps out from the shadows, and holds up the almond. No. Seed. She looks like me. Exactly like me. Goth me. Ok. I can live with that.  “I told you long ago I would hold onto this. It’s now…time. But there is something you must do first. And you must do this properly. With intention. With wisdom. With kindness. With yourself.”

I look at the bodies, the many clones of dead me, me past, the many me I have tried to be. They look peaceful. I smile, look at the trees around me and lift a hand, cleaving one from the earth around it. With my arms raised, I separate the trunk and branches, cleave the top off like a broccoli head. I close my eyes, then open them again and move my hand, remembering an ancient spell:  “Where the hands go, the eyes follow. Where the eyes go, the mind follows. Where the mind goes, a spell is cast. And when a spell is cast, the deed is done.” The firewood lies in a pile in the empty grave. Once I move the bodies over the wood, I am ready. I feel the fire curl in my chest, a small flame with a small wick. It feels like breathing again.

“Goodbye,” I say and feel the flame rush from my lungs; without blistering my throat, my breath sets the pyre on fire.

“Goodbye, and thank you for your patience, your time with me. Goodbye, and I am sorry. Goodbye, and it is a good bye. Rest in spirit and in love,” I say, softly, watching the flames rise from the grave.

I hear them breathe finally and faintly, a last breath as the bodies shrink to nothing. After many hours the pyre has burnt to ash, the bodies a part of the soil.

BeingLovedAgain looks at me, hands me the seed. I see it’s sprouting a little. “A different story?” I ask her.

She nods.

“How did you get it to sprout?” I ask.

“Like any seed. Put it in water and set it in the dark. And cast a spell,” she says.

“And” says the Time Witch, who has been watching silently up until now, “give it time.”

I place the seed in the grave – no. No longer a grave. Just a very special part of the garden. I place the seed among the ashes of my dead bodies, cover it gently with soil.

“Today,” I say, looking up at the Time Witch, who nods slowly holding my gaze. “Today is the date that matters. But…if you’re the Time Witch, can you do one more thing for me?”

“Maybe, for a price,” she says. “I don’t set the price. The balance of the universe sets that price.”

“I want those years back,” I say. “The Dead Years.”

The Time Witch looks at me thoughtfully, then grins wickedly. “Hah! Cheated Death so now you want to cheat Life!  Oh what a game. What fun! She will be so annoyed.  And if I love annoying anyone, it has to be Life itself!” She takes out her watch and winds the clock back. Tossing it to me, she shouts “Take your years, and be damned ha ha! You are a true witch tonight,” she cackles. She turns to leave, and as she walks away, I hear her words. “You are a witch because you do what you want. You are a witch because you take everything you need, even Time. You are a witch because you live as you please, but remember Child, to please your Self well.”

I catch the watch and at first, nearly drop it; it’s as hot as a coal from the fireplace, but cools quickly. And as I open it, numbers stare at me: 27 in red fire against the gold. Slowly, the 7 shivers like far away buildings do on a hot day, and changes, redder, brighter, a deeper scarlet as it shifts its shape:


I look at BeingLovedAgain. There is work to be done, and her slight nod tells me she knows this already.

Behind me, I hear the familiar trumpeting of an old friend. Memory, the elephant tickles the nape of my neck with His trunk. “Well!”

“I’m ready,” I say, laughing, and turning. “I’m – woah” She lifts me up with her trunk and places me on her back and I land with surprising ease. “I’m ready,”I whisper, looking up at the night sky, the moon, the stars, and my breath as it creates a little fog in the winter sky. In this places roses can grow in the snow. In this place anything can grow anytime.

Everything in my mouth tastes like life.

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i woke up today in a dream with
a wand between my lips like a rose stem,
like a flute ready to be played
and in my eyes, each, a two way mirror where I can see myself
and in my mouth i could taste rosepetals struggling
to bloom out out out of my lips

i coughed and with my hands
caught the stem and pulled flower after flower
out of my throat like a magician’s kerchief trick

i stared at the thorns in the stem, ran my tongue
across my soft lips, swallow, feel no puncture,
feel no blood, blink and see myself sitting there,
whole, silent, true.

a truewitch’s spells are neither
hopeful nor fearful

a truewitch’s spells are
only truth and often need
no words to take their shape
make their story
in the world

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Resolutions for 2018

My practice of writing resolutions (see 20132014, 2016, 2017) has been completely invaluable to me. This past year was incredible and eye-opening in terms of not only learning more about myself and people around me, but how to exist in relation with myself (my many selves), and with other people. Last year, I opened this introduction with saying that I was living with depression and anxiety. I think I’m officially recovered from both depression and generalised anxiety disorder in very marked ways, and I know working within a growth model framework has been so uplifting. 

Body Image/Exercise/Healthy Living
similar goals as last year because they’re good and because I’ve been meeting most of them! A happy face beside each one I achieved, because rereading it this year actually made me smile as it’s something I have “figured out”  🙂

  • Food Goals:
    • Keep track of what foods I eat and eat 3-4 small meals a day.
    • Drink more water! use the Loblaws-glass-bottle as a measure and consume  4 of these per day.
    • Use the 40-30-30 plan with myfitnesspal to help
    • Cut my caffeine intake by sticking to tea and trying to avoid coffee as much as possible
  • Exercise Goals: this is proving difficult to maintain due to the study schedule i developed last year as part of my academic goals. For now, this section is on hiatus due to just not having enough time
    • Incorporate walking into every day –use the gym at work!
    • Work up to running for 30 minutes, 3 times a week
    • (I lost about 10 lbs last year out of my goal of 25. I’d like to continue on that track while putting on muscle): Diabetes, hypertension,  and heart disease run in my family; there is a serious concern of me developing these issues from a genetic perspective.
    • Strength train for arms, core, and sides, using the exercises learned from last year
      • Start with simple stuff, using body weight, at home, work up to more intense exercises
      • use the  “health” goals I came up with this year: feeling better in clothes, sleeping better, feeling stronger, fitter, having more energy, doing more without feeling so tired.
    • Incorporate an evening workout plan of fifteen to twenty minutes of bodyweight strength training for an at-home regimen
  • Writing/Planning Goals:
    • Write 1 articles per week and as many poems as needed (hah, I wasn’t even close with this goal this year, – it was originally 3 but I’ve cut it down to 1 article per week. Hopefully I can maintain that standard)  I learned that this kind of regimented form of writing didn’t work for me as well. What did work for me was the goal below: writing when the mood strikes and committing to it. Writing with support as part of a team (see below) also helped a lot so I want to maintain writing groups, writing circles, writing events (as part of my creative and academic goals)
    • Keep a journal, and a pen, on hand at all times
    • Use my phone calendar/google calendar to continuously plan 🙂 –> I was on top of many things this year such that it’s just a part of my life now I think 🙂
    • Submit articles to online/print publications, maintain my blog 🙂 –> I achieved this goal and actually had the highest ever views and visitors  and actually am working part of a team at at nuance, a digital publication 🙂 🙂
    • Continue my work with nuance and other publications! 🙂
  • Sleeping Goals: (el oh el – well something had to fall by the wayside this year and I guess my sleep had to go! I need to work on all of this; I am noticing my sleep has reduced significantly due to studying and working but i am aiming for a midnight-five am cycle) 
    • Continue to sleep at a regular time; when fluctuations happen, seek to correct them with better sleep hygiene practices like:
      • lights off after 12pm
      • use soothing music if I have to
      • use melatonin if I have to
      • up by 6am
  • Body Loving Goals:
    • Relax my jaw more🙂
    • Try to love my body more, whatever weight I happen to be at, and accept it. I find this super hard to do and I need to think harder about my fatphobia. It was particularly negative this year…. 😦 I am not sure why and will work on this goal.
    • Work on corporal flexibility to strengthen mental flexibility – incorporate fluidity in how I live because water can’t break🙂
    • De-stress every night through conscious loosening of tense muscles; identify and work on specific muscles that are tense
    • Continue to be aware of who affects my body and in which ways; listen to my body about how to respond to people – Remember that the words are already on my tongue – I just have to read them out loud without muddling from my brain or my ~feelfeels~🙂 🙂 🙂 – This year, I finally learned how to say “no” to things that harm me, to people that cross boundaries, to firmly and compassionately say no to things that I do not want or need, and to still maintain relationships, friendships, and work through issues. Not always, and not perfectly, but with a greater sense of who I am, and I want to continue saying no to things that I do not want, because these “NO”s are actually yesses to other things. 
    • work on seeing what I’m saying “yes” to 🙂 
    • I learned a lot about my spiritual goals this year and how I exist in relation with people – and it’s tied to a lot of how I feel in my body but also how I feel in my…sense of Self  – I hope to continue a body loving practice that maintains this spiritual sense
    • Continue to be conscious of my posture🙂
      • go for massages
  • Hair Goals:
    • be more diligent about oiling my hair at night -2-3 times a week 🙂 move to incorporate castor oil in addition to coconut
    • do not wash hair more than 2-3 times a week (this strips it and kills it) :)*smiling as I read this because my hair is bomb this year* – hair was *amazing* this year
  • Build a self care regime that is not based on material rewards, such as: hair care, doing groceries, cuddling my cats

Relationships/Self ImageI am truly stunned at how many of these I’ve met, excelled at, and really improved on this past year! A happy face beside each one I achieved, and am continuing to achieve! (two happy faces indicates that I’ve been “getting this” since 2014) 

  • Trust/love/accept myself more – trust others will too🙂🙂 and also push myself in kind, encouraging ways to continue to grow! To be honest, when  I wrote this last year, I was broken up with shortly after these goals were listed so it’s kind of interesting reading them now. I do trust, love, and accept myself more – including my flaws, without enabling them. I want to continue accepting myself from a growth model framework where I can improve on my flaws and understand that others are also in the process of doing that
  • Be hopeful rather than skeptical🙂🙂 (I am actually so proud of achieving this goal – it has helped me tremendously in addressing my depression and anxiety. See:
  • is always interesting to see what worked in the past and what did not. Hope like this does not serve me anymore, but neither does skepticism. What I learned last year was that you neither need to hope for a high or be skeptical of a high, or be wary or afraid of a low. I refuse to live my life like a sine curve; there will be no peaks and troughs anymore. What I want instead, and what I work for instead, is meeting people exactly where they are at. My goal for this year is to see people clearly, see myself clearly, work through the fog of intention (good or bad), fear, anger, and other masks people have to see clearly what people have the capacity to offer, and what I have the capacity to offer. I am interested in bridging work, and boundary work: walls and bridges are made of the same thing – the red brick of my heart, and I finally understand how to do this work better.
  • Value myself more – trust others will too  This goal has changed. A lot. Valuing myself means not only what I wrote below from last year, but also: knowing innately that I am no better and no worse than anyone I encounter, that we all echo a sense of the same spirit. Valuing myself has a process now, and it looks like this: Respect, for myself and for others – which is that deep knowledge and sense of everyone as worthy of everything good. Then, not to trust that others will offer me this but to see clearly if they do 🙂 And to move to people who do and to move away from people who do not.
    • From last year: What does valuing myself  look like? It looks like listening to my own body about situations – unease in my belly or tears in my throat – or warm feelings of affection and wanting to reach out in my fingers
    • Valuing also means prioritising my own sense of who I am
  • Express hurt before it’s too late…and value my own hurt for what it is rather than thinking I ‘shouldn’t’ be or don’t ‘deserve’ to feel the way I do.🙂 I have a different goal in place of this one now: I have achieved the goal of accepting my feelings, but I also learned that I don’t need to express my hurt every time. Sometimes, it’s clear where people stand.
  • Be open to resolving conflict in a way that works with everyone involved; meet people where they are at!
  • Continue deprioritising/decentering romantic love.🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 while also valuing other forms of love more
    • Once I gave up the “quest” to be seen as romantically loveable, I stopped struggling with extreme bouts of loneliness.  But I think I was confusing loneliness with some sense of lack of self worth which is thankfully being fixed, because instead of looking to be seen as loveable, I no longer see it as a measure of my self worth. ––> holy shit, so, at the time I wrote this, I had *some* idea of how I was feeling, but not a very clear idea of how deeply rooted the notion of loveability and self worth are. Going forward, I have realised decentering romantic love has been useful not because I am NOT loveable (as my earlier article states), but because so many different forms of love are accessible to me, and for all forms of love to work, that feeling should not slip into attachment
      🙂 see:
      And this way of approaching loveability has been better for me and has actually made me cherish  good friendships, my own alone time, a lot more
    • enjoy and cherish my own time, and the time I invest in myself🙂 🙂 🙂
    • if the situation arises, learn to accept small moments of affection without freaking out, and without necessarily seeking them out – this has been a concern this year so that’s something I may need to work on too. This was a huge concern last year, because of how I was approaching this idea. The truth is, when people say “go slow in relationships” they mean “go small” in relationships at the start. Small moments of trust building, and seeing if trust can be built, is what creates a safe emotional foundation for romantic love to blossom and be really held. I have felt love before, but that love quickly slipped into attachment
  • Continue trusting my knowledge, abilities, capabilities more – and invest in these more!🙂🙂
  • Feel deeper
    • No. Horrible goal. REMOVING THIS GOAL. Emotional feelfeels are not really my key to understanding the world around me – they’re nice, and they’re important, but they’re not my go-to for making my life better. At best, they give me temporary like 4-min anxiety laced cuddly feels, and at worst, they give me straight on panic attacks. No thanks. (2014)
    • update: yeah this goal sucks forever. Feelings aren’t the miracle path for everyone – but I’m leaving it here because of the ways in which people are pressured into “valuing” their feelings all the time. No. This doesn’t work for everyone!  Leaving it in to remind myself to NOT DO THIS
    • update: yeah this goal STILL sucks FOREVER. feelings are fickle and honestly, advice telling you to feel deeper probably focuses on attachment rather than observation of feelings (Dec 2017)
  • Continue appreciating good friends more – and more often.🙂 I want to do this more this year, and I think I’m getting slowly better at it!
    • this includes showing care in the way they would like to receive care! 🙂
    • Continue maintaining ties with friends.🙂
    • Build a “present” practice – be present for friends  in ways that show care, especially for those more marginalized than myself:
      • material support: cooking meals for them, helping them clean up their place, cash
      • emotional support: being there for them when they’d like some company, recognizing that they also have a lot to offer and may be shy so open that door more
      • crisis support:
      • presents. literally. around holiday times, if I can afford it, to show my love and appreciation for having them in my life and for existing.
  • Give people as many chances as feels “natural” or which meets my own internal equilibrium for an ‘even’ relationship so long as there is commitment for growth and better from both parties and so long as there appears to be something both people are bringing to the table
    • this used to be: “give people a second chance and no more” but I’m at a point where I can invest more in some people, gauge a situation better and with more nuance!
  • Approach people, life, and events from a “growth” model perspective🙂
    • I am focusing so much on growth these days, of my self, of relationships.

Spiritual Goals – this is a  category I decided to add last year  based on my growth from last year, and practices I’ve started to adopt. Last year came with a lot of spiritual awakenings that have bled into other areas of my life in positive ways, and I now have some clarity with how I want to pursue these goals.

  • Prioritise an attitude that centers equanimity when it comes to feelings: Value joy as much as sadness. And in so doing, recognize that feelings are fickle but not without value in telling us what our boundaries for good treatment feel like. I don’t ever have to settle for less than I deserve. 
  • Resist attachment, and focus on love. What do I mean by this? I experienced a life-changing heartbreak last year. Something in me truly died but it was a necessary death. Something in me knew that something had to change, something had to give way, something had to be burned away, and something new: stronger, fiercer, prouder, nobler had to rise from the ashes. My depression and my anxiety existed in a framework of worldly attachments to ideas of success, capability, competence. These external attachments drove a sense of self worth or lack thereof. An “A” meant I was doing well, and was worthy. Romantic love meant I was doing well and was worthy. The lack of these things meant I was not doing well, and was unworthy. All attachments are rooted in this simple idea: that what is outside you should necessarily have an impact on what is inside you. Love doesn’t do this. Love is the opposite: what is inside you will always have an impact on what is outside you. Often, after heartbreak, we feel our soft and vulnerable parts spilling out. We create an armour to hold that all in. And with each heartbreak, and blow to our self esteem, we build a stronger armour while staying wounded inside. And it’s a vicious cycle: people cannot let people in, they become guarded, more hurt, more prone to attachment than love – usually the idea that someone else can save us from ourselves. But I read something which I can unfortunately not find again (please let me know if you find it), that made a lot of sense to me: the armour should be inside. The flesh and softness should be outside. And that way, we present authenticity, love, kindness to the world, and we keep our boundaries close. Keep your “yes” close, and your “no” closer. You cannot build bridges without boundaries; bridges without boundaries are cities collapsing in on themselves. Boundaries define not just what you keep out, but what you let in. This year, I don’t want to be attached to anything. But I want to love myself and others as best as I can. With this idea, it’s easy to see that love is in a sense, attachment to a higher Self, a deeper Self, leading to deeper peace and attachment to worldly markers of prestige is always going to be dependent on the outside world.
  • Recognise that the movement of events, feelings, people is part of the flow and balance of life. Reflect on why people leave from  a non-traumatised place, and instead from a place that seeks to understand each person as moving in their own journey and through their own needs.
  • Seek to appreciate the balance; do not cling to individual feelings or people, but take note of what I am committing to, and to make it clear that that for people to stay in my life, they must also show commitment. Seeking commitment and security is not clinginess, it is kindness for everyone involved. Seeking commitment from a place of self worth rather than fear of abandonment is also not clinginess, it is a desire to foster security and love in relationships. And if that commitment to kindness and being there and growing together is there whether in relationships or friendships, then open up to vulnerability, love, trust, and friendship with equal appreciation for what all of these can bring.🙂
  • Move forward without looking back; accept the present (this goal was so important for two years running; I need to focus now on HOW to move forward in productive ways.)
  • Remember why tamasic actions, beliefs, and intent rank ignorance and indifference as much as ill-will; there is a spiritual cost to inertia
    • Do not fetishise pain, my own or others 🙂 –> I finally stopped doing this this year, after a lot of hurdles.
    • Love myself from a place of deep compassion that expects the best from myself and forgives myself when that is also not met – and love others from this place as well. 🙂
  • Sit with feelings and accept them as simply an internal storm that will pass.
    • This approach to feelings has been much more calming for me. My feelings do not define my reality any more than anything else. Feelings are fickle and do not define my core.
    • Pain can end just as quickly as joy if I let it, but peace is a more eternal joy that is accessible. If depression is eternal numbness, attachment to the world as a marker of who I should be, and an unhealthy navel gazing, serenity and joy is eternal joy of a softer kind, an appreciation of balance, and attachment to a Self that is constantly learning, growing, and Becoming
  • Work with the universe more
    • Continue being more giving, working harder, and being kinder, and receiving more 
      • Give in ways that draws on the same Source when I give to myself and which does not deplete myself; Give to myself first 
      • Focus on “L”ove and “S”elf more so than love and self.
  • Adopt a “gratitude” model 🙂
    • this prevents chasing after new experiences/goals in a way that disregards the present
    • being grateful for what I have allows me to envision a future where I will be grateful for what I have then; it is a model that respects the present
    • meet people where they are at and also take joy in the small moments of connection without expecting more while still having standards for good treatment. Take note when people suddenly shift in communication, behaviour, capacity. Check in. But there is no need for unconditional gratitude to a single person, or a single act; what is necessary is unconditional gratitude as a way of existing in relation with the world
  • Start a meditation routine
    • revisit and incorporate visualisation techniques
    • Develop a way to welcome mornings, and to invite night as a way of accepting the day and its events at the end of every night
  • Begin a spell-book/ritual book to develop routines that structure the day

Personal and Professional Development Goals: Work/School/Volunteering/

  • Continue excelling at work
    • revamp my program 🙂 –> continue to do this
    • meet and excel at work-related targets 🙂
    • build community contacts and network efficiently and strategically :)Volunteer with organizations that have similar political/social aims! (I find I do a lot more things for money tbh, and I’m ambivalent about volunteering when I have so little time – still I’ll leave these open)
    • Canadian Blood Services
    • St Michael’s Research
    • Women’s Shelters
  • Study for the MCAT (I did this, but my concussion really interfered with studying last year) – aiming to write in July
  • Apply to MPH 🙂 Done! Hopefully I get in… but who knows 🙂 And it’s ok if I don’t. The goal was to apply, so it’s met
  • save $$! – see personal budget plan, maintain budget plan from last year/improve upon it
  • Tutor anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, toxicology, basic health sciences to students 🙂 (this was an unexpected goal that I just kind of did last year that I want to continue)
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Image result for prince of persia spike death
one day i met a man who walked in with a knife.
into me, I mean.

i cried in my tub today at my parents’ house. I cry every day to be honest. My life is great. tears are a luxury too.
he tore down all the wallpaper inside me, left me hollow, organs softly pulsating.
“Now you know who you really are,” he said. Just kidding,  he didn’t say that.
“You’re killing something,” I said. “You’re killing something between us”

but that’s not true. there was nothing between us. it was a skillful job. i feel my insides more clearly, more cleanly, all the blood and tender softness.

“fragile” i used to think in the anatomy lab. “We are so fragile.” but I never really thought that about myself.

but we all are.

“i’m going to leave this here for you,” he said, smiling, shrugging, dancing out of me.

Inside me is a hollow space, walls of organs aging, and inside the hollow space
is a knife, knife, knife, knife
sharp sharp sharp

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Navigating White Male Gaze: Reclaiming “Femme” in a Brown Woman’s Body

Check out my piece on Nuance!
“A few weeks ago, someone I was casually seeing asked me for a threesome. Let’s call him Ken. Ken was very kind in his request, shy about it in a way, and made it clear that he was only asking if I was into the idea. In the back of my mind I wasn’t entirely sure, but I had a nagging suspicion that he and I would no longer meet if I said no. “

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