To my teenage self.

You are not a monster.

They were lying to you.

This body is good. It is yours. Its shape is home.

You are your own, and always have been.

They may say you’ve become the boogeyman,

the failure, the sellout.

They won’t understand.

But in adulthood, you will only become more of who you were meant to be. More of what you love about yourself. More of the joy you’re currently too afraid to hold,

too afraid of being scorched by it,

of losing control.

You are holding your breath, but one day,

you will set yourself free.

Stoke that light.

Stir it up, share it freely.

It matters.

It always matters.

+++

A/N: The Roe v Wade stuff in the news keeps taking me back to being fifteen, being made to feel like an absolute monster for being female, and having to go through puberty anyway. I know better now. I have language for my experience and I know I’m not alone, but wow, does my body remember.

To all the ex-vangelical/ex-cult folks out there, who intimately know the dystopian experiment attempting to force itself on the entire nation, I see you. You’re the bravest, toughest people I know. Be gentle with yourselves, okay?

Rogue

Erika Davenport had been trekking along an unmarked logging road for miles now. The hills between the valley and the coast had a deeply reverent place in her heart, hopelessly and gloriously tangled. The deep green and mossy brown of the flora, the misty hush that cradled every centimeter of the cold, soft soil.

So soon after her mother’s passing, more than ever, she needed this place to be her refuge. But to learn the government’s rumored gestating ground for human weaponry research lived here too, her grief twisted into a sharp black knot in her chest and she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Empetrum. 44º15’01” N 123º49’28”W

The name and coordinates were all the Conxence knew so far. Unfortunately, it was all the information the head and second-in-command were content with for the time being.

“Your energies are better spent here,” the former had said. Rann wasn’t a mean person, but his directness was often frustrating. He had everything mapped out. When he looked at her, she felt he were looking into her brain and trying to map her out too. “There are probably dozens of similar labs hidden around. No sense stomping off into the woods after one federal stain with so little information. ”

“The facility’s gotta be highly secure,” the second-in-command added, in that soft and earnest way of his. Kepler was a young man but an old soul, who had succeeded to his mother’s position in their ragtag resistance movement upon her abduction by the state. “It’s too much of a risk. We should wait a bit, concentrate on more pressing concerns until we have more information.”

Erika couldn’t be the only one that cared about this. In that moment, she couldn’t help but look at the common scar both men bore: A large hole cut into the cartilage of the right ear. Rann’s was gnarled and partially closed. Kepler had refined the edges of his with an open silver tunnel gauge. The brand of troublemakers, bestowed by law enforcement to anyone arrested under political circumstances.

“Drop it,” Rann said. “You’re not even combat trained yet.”

“Please,” Kepler said, trying to smooth it over. He was always trying to smooth everything over. “I know this is important to you, but just give it time. I’m sure it will show up again, and we’ll be better prepared to deal with it.”

Rann was a control freak and Kepler was a worrywart. With pressure tightening, no one was sure what they were up against, what was festering under the surface. Any new development could be too late. The sheer possibility that human weaponry was becoming a variable was outrageous. But she believed it, and they couldn’t deny the government would keep its secrets unless someone dug them up.

Erika stepped around a large mud puddle in the road. The frogs were out, chirping in the misty stillness. The air smelled so good here. She double checked her GPS. She was on track, moving closer. Soon she would have to take it much slower, leave the path and skirt a circle around the spot, moving slowly forward until she caught a glimpse.

At the very least, Erika needed to see what this abomination of a facility looked like.

+++

A/N: I realized I haven’t posted any fiction in a while! Been hard at work on the comics train, developing my work, getting ready to graduate and whatnot.

This is an excerpt from The Bioroboticist, which I’m currently working on in prose and comics form. If all goes well, I’ll launch it as a webcomic later this year.

Click here for more information!

Burnout

A little girl is staring up at me. Her eyes are big and blue. She has heavy brown bangs and buckteeth.

She’s clutching 40 pages of a story she wrote and typed out herself.

That girl looks back at me when I catch my reflection in the mirror. I feel her waiting. The depths of that naive, full-throttle eagerness, throbbing in my head.

Somewhere deep, now.

As I sit at my desk, terrified, trying to convince myself I’m all right and on track, I feel the tug at my sleeve.

“Why are you stopping?” she asks. “Are you going to give up? Is that what happens to our story, in the end?”

She thought she’d grow up to be tough and brave. Hoping for something like a downright prodigy, a blazing success story.

But right now, she just has me. Trying. Choking on an intoxicating mix of burnout and intimidation.

It’s windy on the cliff’s edge, even if it’s somewhere I desperately want to be.

I’ve curled up into a ball. It’s not time to jump yet, with every possibility of turning back. And 8-year-old me is not understanding.

She’s angry and scared that I’ve even thought of turning back.

How dare you be finite, she screams. How dare you be weak and fragile.

Why are you like this? Why are you weaker than I was before? Why are you so old and tired within so few years? Why does your breath stick in your throat and your hands tremble when faced with everything you’ve ever wanted? It’s so close now. It’s yours to reach out and take hold of. So why do you sit there, useless and blank?

I thought you wanted this.

Could I have been wrong?

Could we have been wrong…

+++

A/N: I’m leaving for San Francisco in a few days. Burnout is still in full swing. I’m as overwhelmed by the prospect of picking back up as I was weeks ago, but now I must be busy and keep my appointments.

 

 

All the windows are open

in our bedroom on the fifth floor. The sharp steeple of a church peeks out between stepping stone roofs of apartment buildings. I can see the upper terrace of a restaurant, twinkle lights strung in the rafters. Most things are closed at this hour, but there are lights in windows, low and yellow in the hushed and misty air.

In the dull, punctuated dark of a bedroom shared with three other people, I lie on top of the covers and look out on the crowded, cooperative landscape.

And I feel lucky to have this view, even if it’s just for a little while.

I’m good at pursing goals, not people.

I thought I could find them by pursuing my dreams–tangible, logical. And if I was smart enough, kind enough, safe enough, they would want to stay.

Every week I work until I break down. Every week I have to step back and accept I am not invincible.

Every week I face the fear of how fragile my measure of worth is. How often I fall short.

I’ve seen how cold, how jagged and empty I can be.

I am an automaton bolted to a desk, trying to fashion a human heart of paper and ink.

I watch my peers find each other, stay for each other, connect and commit in ways I have never known. Ways I have always tried to earn, but which always push me further away from that picture.

Half of me is married to my work, while the other half asks, “Aren’t I good enough yet?”

Not yet is forever the answer.

Not yet not yet not yet.

Which is just a nice way of saying no.

+++

A/N: Some angst and uncertainty from a little bit ago, before a recent academic turning point which I’ll have to write about soon!

Exhaustion and Desire

I am wracked with warning signs when I thought I was setting myself free.

I’m tired of sleeping but I’m afraid to be awake:

Racing, gasping, tripping toward a finish line that seems forever away. And I wonder if I have the strength to go on. How can I believe I am good where I am when inadequacy is a constant driving force?

I don’t feel sick,

but I don’t feel well.

Never fully ahead. Never at peace in the mire.

My wrists are sore and weak. My hips, shoulders and neck ache.

My courage drains away and I am left with the familiar voice of exhaustion,

“Not good enough,

Never good enough.”

Woman

Ugly chest, ugly hips.

Sex on soft, ugly stilts.

23 years trying to accept this body.

In a sea of voices screaming.

You are female: You are ugly, beautiful, sensual, horrible. Cover your repulsive, delectable skin. Anything that happens to you is your fault. You are a woman, it is always your fault.

Wait to be rescued and valued by a kind charitable soul, because the world hates you.

Procreate and try to be pretty and maybe it will be satisfied.

Too much and not enough. The disgusting message of my culture.

Too much, not enough.

A 12-year-old, afraid of what was happening.

What it would mean.

A 15-year-old bleeding for the first time. Paying a lifelong debt of pain and fatigue and blood to be hated by the world.

A child, terrified to grow up. Because her culture tried to get her to believe that women aren’t human. Women aren’t funny. Women aren’t strong or unique or interesting. They are pursed lips and styled hair. They are strange, needy, bitter creatures with annoying high-pitched voices. They are sexual vending machines, a status symbol, a lubricated hole.

Ugly chest, ugly hips.

Is it any wonder I hated these parts of myself?

Because all I’ve ever wanted was to be human.

And this soft body made it hard to masquerade as one.

I could try to disown myself, if I wanted–say I am neither. I am nothing.

Except my heart won’t let me.

I intend to stay here, in this body and its labels, declare for myself that it is human. My body is a good place to live, and I have decided that for myself. I will reach out for as many hands as will join mine. I will raise my voice to be heard and I will defend to my dying breath that women are funny, they are strong and unique and interesting and they can be whatever and whoever is in their hearts to be. They are human.

We are human, and we do not owe the world anything.

Quiet chest.

Steady hips.

Cherished skin.

The world cannot define for me whether I am human or not.

My body is a temple, and first and foremost, it is mine.

Hate it, hate me, if you want.

But I will not.

+++

A/N: Some thoughts on womanhood and rape culture.

The Death Throes

I’m scrubbing my soul with lye.

The witching hour approaches, and I’m tired of choking on lingering spores.

On paper, it sounds so simple. The cause of the dark circles under my eyes, the heaviness of my limbs, the pain in my stomach.

I look at the synopsis. Stated so simply.

Was that it? Was that all it was?

Mere months of toxicity?

Mere mold, spreading, creeping up the walls and hanging around the human boulder on the living room floor. Fruiting bodies, releasing toxin.

Across the room, spores whispering around my head like gnats, burrowing into my skin. Rooting, spreading, suffocating. Was that all it was?

Behind my eyes, I watch the months in hyperdrive. Over and over again. Every time less raw. Less crisp, perhaps less reliable.

I was cornered because I didn’t know. Wasn’t that it?

Naivety, hope, guilt. Trying and trying, but never able to change anything.

It wasn’t my fault. Was it?

The apartment is clean now, but the embedded hyphae secrete toxin as they slowly wither away.

A red noxious film, a splotch on my heart, a craving for blood, for recompense I will never hold.

The more I want it, the more it binds me.

I gape in despair at the apparition of spores and pain and fumes. Shadows strung up like cobwebs. I thought I’d fought them all.

I thought this was finally dead.

The paper is soaked in toxin. It stings, burns, fills my mouth with bile.

The paper sees it first, in the dead of night. My creator reads over my shoulder, as the witching hour approaches.

I tell my loved ones in daylight.

I have been poisoned, and I will not hide my weakness from those that will pull me up.

The festering is dead and the hyphae are fading, but there may still be some stubborn embers.

Do not let me become what hurt me.

May this aftermath never be more than a passing sickness.

This lingering pain, the sting of antibiotic.

+++

A/N: It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Learned a lot of life things this year, including things about negativity and toxic people. Haven’t had the headspace to comment on them coherently, and I apologize for my recent absence on this little corner of the Internet. I hope to get back to a regular blogging schedule soon (one that will also be compatible with my soon-to-begin school year.) Thanks for bearing with me!

We are not monsters

When it began to mature, I was terrified.

There was no hiding what I was.

People would stare. They would think they knew what I was supposed to be or do or want. Some would understand, others would look at me like some kind of animal.

Centuries of objectification, symbolization, fanatic sacralization.

Beautiful yet ugly, sacred yet shameful. Mysterious but inferior, immaculate yet disgusting. Desired, yet abhorred.

Just because ideas are ancient doesn’t make them right.

What does that make someone feel, to be born in such a body?

Someone who wants only to be human?

Who looks upon their own physical container and wonders why. A child feeling that pain for the first time and thinking what a curse it is to be born this way. Why do creatures like us carry such burden? What an honor, I’m told.

What an honor. We can be procreators, but never human.

And rising against the voices, the dominant, the brutish, the ancient, we hear our own. Insisting what we are. Perhaps we’re crazy. Perhaps we’re wild. Rabid, diseased beasts. Overstepping the lines we did not set, renouncing our masters. Whispering or snarling what we know to be true, however we can get people to listen.

We are not monsters.

We are human.

We are human.

+++

A/N: Thoughts while milling around the apartment this afternoon.