Friday, August 22, 2014

for when there aren't many words left {#Furgeson}

{via pinterest}
as far as Ferguson goes, I've been silent. 
I mean that as literally as you can get. nothing on social media. not my Facebook or my Twitter or my Instagram or my blog. nothing. period. 

silence. 

and that, for me, is odd. there are very few social issues that leave me at a loss for words. this one, however, has done exactly that. 

I am at a loss for words. 

let me be very clear here :: I have not been silent because I am white. I have not been silent because I have an unpopular opinion. I have not been silent because I am afraid. 

I have been silent because it has been one of those moments where you are confronted with something so overwhelming that it leaves nothing behind. there have been so many amazing words shared already. {you can find a couple fantastic and powerfully gentle posts here and here.} there have been arguments on both sides, strong words flung and feet planted into the dirt. the Internet is good at controversy, after all. 

what could I possibly say? wouldn't I only be adding to the noise?
because let's be honest :: there's been a lot of noise. madness. tumult. 

all I can do is pray. 
and that's pretty much exactly what I'm going to do here. 

:: 

oh God. 
bring peace. 

oh Lord,
bring comfort. 

oh Jesus. oh sweet Jesus. 
bring clarity. 

Spirit of the living God,
fall fresh. 

oh Lion, 
breathe. 

oh mighty Father, 
sustain. 

selah. selah. selah. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

the one where I talk about sex {again}

{via pinterest}
let's talk about sex.
I'm serious.

it's everywhere.
I'm serious about that too.

but you know something else?
it's also a really big secret.
{especially in church}

I grew up in a world where gateway drugs weren't seven-leafed plants held rolled and drooping between teenage fingers. it was the fingers themselves that were the problem. because if skin touched skin, that was the start of a slippery slope...

...a slope that led to bodies and skin and nakedness and words that were alluded to, but rarely spoken aloud. just in case there was someone listening. and the idea of it being mentioned in church? never. just in case God might overhear.

we talked about purity, of course. about guarded hearts and the mystery of a man with a woman and the way it should be for marriage. but what, exactly, should be for marriage? we were never sure. not really.

it was all a mystery. until churches and white dresses and rings slipped onto sweaty fingers and hotel rooms where the door shut with a heavy thump...

...and then it was still a mystery.

because it was a secret until that minute, except that everyone seemed to have forgotten the "sex kitten" potion that was to transform a blushing new bride and a nervously fidgeting groom  into ravenous sexual creatures. they forgot about what happened when the door closed and we stood there with shuffling feet and the acute awareness that there was nakedness under our clothes.

this is the part where I am supposed to present a solution.
the only one I have is for us to talk.

we have to stop making little words that start with "p" and "v" and "s" into dirty unrepeatables that linger like forbidden fruit squashed into pulp on tongues. we have to find that line and realize that it's written in the dirt, not carved into rock.

we need to talk.
with words, not euphemisms and "when you're married, you'll understand."

because it doesn't work that way.

we need to talk.
about sex.
about penises and vaginas and hormones and sex. hear me say it. sex.

because the most important thing is a heart.
not a hymen.

Friday, August 8, 2014

broken benches

{photo taken via VSCOCam :: by Rachel Haas}
writing is hard when you're writing.
you become a broken bench, in a way.

there are slats falling down
side
ways.
you're still a bench.
but there are holes and sitting


it's complicated.

writing a book is hard, period.
it's one of those things where you could jump up and down and pat your head and rub your tummy and walk across hot coals to bring back rubies clutched in your teeth

...and it would still be easier than getting those words down.
and yet we do it because we are it.
we are writers who write things.

writers who don't write things are benches made of fog.
you can see us
we just go away when you breathe a little too hard.

writing is complicated
with a lot of parts and pieces and bits and bobs
and upside down handstands.
and coffee.

and you can feel like a broken bench.
but you're still a bench.
when people fall on you, their hands connect with solid wood and scrappy frame.
you're plucky, you are.

they can rest there.
because broken benches are still benches.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"somewhere between water and sky" by Elora Ramirez :: cover reveal

oh my loves. today I am so excited to be doing something new. something wonderful. something exciting. 

today I am honoured to be part of the cover reveal process for my beloved friend, mentor, and Story Coach Elora's new book :: Somewhere Between Water and Sky. 



Title: Somewhere Between Water and Sky
Author: Elora Ramirez
Release Date: September 18th
Cover Artist: Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations


About Somewhere Between Water and Sky :: 

I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.
If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists.
Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.
And every single one of my tears could fill a book.
But stories, with all their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don’t have room for that anymore. I left it all—the hope, the love, the promise—back in my old life with the ghosts I’d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.
Kevin.
This is how I dare to move forward and to believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don’t wait around anymore. I can’t.
Waiting leaves room for the voices.
Somewhere between water and sky, I'll find a way to burn these voices to the ground.


Exclusive Excerpt:
I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.
If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists.
Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.
And every single one of my tears could fill a book.
I watch the people sitting around me on the bus. The single mother with two rowdy toddlers, the older couple on vacation with cameras strapped to their necks, the boy rapping beats under his breath and writing in a journal—all of them breathe into this poetry of life.
Normally, I’d want to know their stories. I’d wait for hints of who they were inside, the poetic shifts that make us human. Now I just watch.
The boy rapping pauses with his hand in mid air and thinks for a minute. Breaking into a smile, he nods vigorously and lowers his hand to his paper. I frown. I used to have a piece of that poetry inside. It’s just all a little broken now. I don’t know how to fix the one thing that used to put me back together. The poems still come; I just don’t know what to do with them anymore. If I’m feeling particularly brave, I’ll attempt to scratch them into a journal.
Usually, I just write them with my finger on my jeans. No one needs to read them anyway. Besides, I can’t hold on to them for very long. The silence is on fire and the sentences and scenes that used to extinguish those flames do nothing but fan it hotter and brighter. I’m a new person here—no one knows anything about me. All of my journals are in various trash cans around the city. I fill one up and then throw it away, shedding the skin and finding someone new underneath every single time.
This is how I dare to move forward and believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don’t wait around anymore. I can’t.
Like clockwork
the words disappear at dusk
empty cans filled up
like dust.
Rapper boy looks back up and catches me watching him and then offers a shy smile. My fingers pause their lines and curl in to the protection of my hand. I flip my lips upward into a quick grin and then look away before he can strike up a conversation.
I don’t want to know his story.
 Stories, with all of their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don’t have room for that anymore. I left it all—the hope, the love, the promise—back in my old life with the ghosts I’d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.
Kevin.
Something like grief catches in my throat and a small burst of air escapes through my parted lips.
I miss him. I miss him and I can’t miss him. If I give into these feelings…this emptiness…I shake my head and wipe the stray tear on my cheek.
This is ridiculous.
Reaching into my bag, I pull out my phone. One missed call shows itself on the screen and I frown. No one has my number. I swipe the screen open and scroll through until I notice UNKNOWN NUMBER in red font.
Red like blood.
I shudder.
After the life I’ve lived, I’m nothing if not over-dramatic. It’s whatever. I feel I’ve earned it.
With a few more quick swipes, I delete the notification and sigh the misgiving away. There’s no voicemail, and so there’s nothing to worry about yet.
No harm, no foul. No one knows your number. No one knows your number.
I’ve learned different but I’m choosing another way of living. I repeat these phrases in my head, tapping the rhythm of the words on my knee.

About the Author:
Elora Ramirez lives in Austin, Texas with her chef-husband. At the age of four, she taught herself how to read and write, cutting her teeth on books like Dr. Seuss and writing anywhere she could find the space--including her Fisher Price kitchen set, the pages of picture books and Highlights Magazine. Since then, she's grown to love the way words feel as they swell within her bones. Writing holy and broken is her calling, and pushing back the darkness and pursuing beauty through story is her purpose. She embraces the power of story and teaches women from all parts of the world how to embrace theirs. She has a knack of calling things out , the truth and the detail, the subversive threads that make a life a story. She loves hip-hop, wishes she lived by the beach and cannot write without copious amounts of coffee, chocolate, music, and her husband's lavender liqueur. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

krispie treats + grief

I'm grieving.

which conversely means that I'm in the kitchen a lot.

it's a thing I've always done. cooking is a sign of the placement of my emotional barometer. when I'm feeling things strongly, I bake and cook until the kitchen overflows and counters brim with goodness.

my grandmother is standing on the edge between earth's shallow pale and the glittering Holiness that is Aslan's Country. and she's ready to make the leap. and so we wait, wait for the appointed time.

I don't like to talk about grief. I really don't.
so I'll talk about Rice Krispie treats instead.

I'll talk about the way I stirred the melting marshmallows and butter together without thinking, a groove into which I fell so easily. because that's grief. it happens without thinking. it just comes and falls heavy and you find yourself doing the dance without understanding the steps. you just do.

I'll talk about the way I usually don't butter the pan, but this time, I did. because that's grief. you can't predict how you'll handle it, or if it'll be the same as it was last time or next time or the times before and after. when you find yourself bowing against it, you grieve your way. not his way or her way or your mother's way. you pour out in your own stream. no one else's.

I'll talk about the way I flung butter with my fingertips instead of neatly with a spatula. normally, cooking is tidy intricacies for me. little steps by little steps. but this time, it was just a little sloppy. a little haphazard. because that's grief. it's not tidy or ordained. we can try to make it that way, but it really isn't. it's greasy and slippery and creeps up your elbows and clings to everything it touches.

{via pinterest}
I'll talk about the way I burned my hand on the still-too-hot mixture of cereal and vanilla-aroma'd sticky goodness that poured from pot to pan. because that, that is grief. it hurts. even if you don't want it to, even if it was an accident and you would just rather not hurt at all no oh god no not even a little please...

grief hurts.

and I'll talk about the way it fell into the pan and filled in all the gaps. the way I used my hands, again, slathered in butter over the knuckles and over the little pale crease where my wedding ring normally sits. because that's grief. sometimes you just have to let yourself be buried in it, just a little, where you can still see yourself through the thin sheer coating that slips over your life. your hands are still there. just covered.

and then I'll tell you about the promise of deliciousness. I'll tell you about the way it seeps into my body through my tastebuds and fills me up with the knowledge that soon there will be treats. soon there will be sweetness. but there was burning and slathering and mixing and aching and weeping so that this particular pan of Rice Krispie treats might have a tinge of salt mixed in among the goodness.

because I know the ending. and oh, it hurts so bad that everything burns. but there is a promise. a whisper of what it will taste like when the door opens and I see it all, so clear and plain.

oh death, where is thy sting?
oh grave, where then is thy victory? 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

peeling

{via pinterest}
I.

I'm peeling.

it's because of the beach. the water reflecting the sun back onto my paler-than-pale skin that has forever been my bane. that night was pain with only cold water and aloe for soothing.

the pain has traded out for peeling.
fresh skin. the roughness turning into something smooth.

:: :: 

II. 

I'm peeling. 

it's because of the journey. the reflection of the water filling the eyes of my sisters as they grasped my hands and whispered words over things that have forever been my bane. 

sage, she called me, and something inside me fought hard. 
you remind me of Maya Angelou, another whispered, and I started to crack. 
Mother Earth, breathed another, and the first layer crinkled up like paint in the sun. 

:: :: 

III. 

I'm peeling. 

its because of the words. the reflection of myself, shadowy, in the screen of the computer. the peeling is one of those things you can't predict. there is no magic formula. you might slather yourself in protection.

and this is where the metaphor breaks. 
because :: 

on your physical skin, it's the best idea. stay safe. stay alive. 

but sunscreen on your soul is smothering. certain death. 

curling close to the fire, reaching your fingers up. and sometimes the rough layer gets burned off. and then you ache. because oh God, please no more, it hurts. even the laying down on the ground and burying yourself into the ashes // it hurts. 

and then you peel. and the first layer falls to the ground like snow, a shedding of the outer dragon layer into a heap of scales alongside the pool. and it burns a little, but that burn reminds you that you're alive and new and big things are springing out of your very pores. 

because peeling. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

faucets and keys

{via pinterest}
this past weekend, I drank out of the faucet in my bathroom.

I was in a new place. the kitchen was unfamiliar, the cabinets not mine to paw through. the faces and voices that surrounded me were familiar, members of an online community that had seen the darkest parts of me for the past year.

but the house wasn't mine and the faces were real-life. they weren't profile pictures anymore. these were flesh and blood women standing around me, calling my name and smiling at me. I was so thirsty -- the plane ride had been long and turbulent, leaving the flight staff unable to bring us any sort of beverage.

but I was too nervous to ask where the glasses were kept.

and so that night, during one of the sessions, I slipped away from the center of the group and made my way to the bathroom. I bent my head to the side and drank deeply of the water pouring from the sink faucet. my lips were still damp when I returned.

:: ::

I told them the next day. we were talking about fear, about insecurities, about who we were. about what we needed. and I told them that, yesterday, I needed water. a basic need required for life. it wasn't chocolate or wine or even a towel to dry my hair. but I was too afraid to ask my sisters for a drink. and so I drank from the faucet.

they laughed at the story. we all did, really. but it wasn't the mocking laughter that accompanies something foolish. it was a pure opposite. it was the laugh of love. the kind that comes when understanding and community and love merge into a familial glow between women who had never before been in the same room.

::

I took four copies of my manuscript with me to Austin. three in my suitcase, one in my purse. I studied those words on the front :: Portals of Water and Wine, by R.L. Haas. when I got to Texas, it took me hours before I could hand the first copy to the first pair of waiting hands. the night we wrote lies on index cards and threw them onto literal flames, it was all I could do to not run to my room for a manuscript to burn with the "rest of the lies."

that was another lie.

{photo by me, via instagram}
because they all took it, pulled it against their chests with smiles. "I've been waiting for this," they told me. and I believed them.

"we see you. He sees you." 

because we had been talking about dropping keys instead of building cages. they were dropping keys at my feet. I found myself unlocking my lips for the ability to ask.  I slid the little metal fixture into the lock and swung open the door of "your words are good."

::

the day we left, someone brought me a glass of water. I didn't even have to ask. but I could have, if I needed a drink.

if I was thirsty.

{I spent the weekend in "pop-up, 3-D" community with my Story Sisters in Austin, Texas. it was beyond words. and you know what? it was exactly the same as it has been online. the only difference was the face-to-face. there is room for you in our circle. not on the outside, but right here, next to me. join us? we are waiting for you.}