Sunday, July 23, 2017


When you've been emotionally crushed, ground into fine powder, and your sense of self scattered like ashes, the resurrection is all the sweeter—the return of love, astonishing. 

I want every day with her to pass at a belly-creep. At the same time I'm eager to watch the days accumulate; a future stitching together, one eternal moment at a time. I am helplessly entranced by her, comforted, put at ease, both grounded and catalyzed. Her patterns of energy rest and flow river-like. The sheer dynamic range of everything she is and knows rivals ten thousand jigsaw-puzzle nights. She invites invigoration; she invites calm and concentration. 

I sing praise for things unimagined. For things that figure themselves out. For things altogether beautiful and right.

She asks me, Did I ever see myself with a trans woman? And I did not. 

But how much of anything that I've lived was premeditated? At any given time I saw myself residing in one of two states: loving and alone. 

And how can I help but be entwined in the former when she is in my life? When the sun breaks through the clouds and deepens the contrast of a previously flattened outlook? When every day is saturated by the slow shift of delicious time in her presence, holding her in my arms, laughing and soaking up the new brightness? How, when I am utterly enraptured by her gentle kindness, her ferocity, her delicacy, her gleaming brilliance? How when the bloom is entirely unanticipated and I am taken unaware?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This story is bare feet treading summer grass, thick and resplendent above the hallowed ground, and beneath, all the tender, creeping things.

A five-year-old version of myself, tow-headed and freckled, thick-legged and brimming with mischief, put on a pair of low-cut, up-to-the-belly tricot briefs sewn by her mother, and wore them and nothing else out into the front yard to splash in a wading pool with other neighborhood children.

One of the kids immediately piped up. "You can't wear that!"

"It's my swimming suit," five-year-old me demanded, and in my memory it was so. What might she have paired it with, a cotton camisole?

"You need something on top," said childhood neighborhood kid.

"No, I don't," me insisted. "This is my suit."

"Girls don't wear suits like that."

Adult me wonders where neighborhood bossy-pants got off luxuriating in my five-year-old self's kiddie pool and bringing my choice of swimwear into question. Adult me wonders why five-year-old me didn't just tell the neighborhood know-it-all to go home. But adult me knows as far as back-coverage went, my champions were nil, and when no one's got your back you become a sponge that absorbs and absorbs bullshit until you can cry it all out bedroom-privately into a stuffed animal, or on the banks of the canal where no one else goes, or in the reference section of the local library where no one else goes. Adult me gets that five-year-old me was well on her way to becoming town freak, and that what I said next didn't help.

"I'm not a girl," me retorted. "I'm a boy. This is my suit."

And I will tell you it is glorious to feel the rays of the sun on your flat chest and tiny nipples. I will agree that it was simply more my mother's style to not have to style long hair which is why mine was always cropped short. I will corroborate that my parents told the story of my birth including the exclamation of the doctor that "It has boy hands!" before he offered to send me back as my genitalia didn't match. I do have boy hands, nine-year-old me met her budding breasts with alarm, I walked with an assured gait, sat with my knees wide apart, met other's with a direct gaze, questioned authority, played by my own rules (read: total loner), and engaged in wicked competition when challenge was extended.

The memory bank fades after I told everyone I was a boy. I was probably called inside to put on a camisole. I likely splashed around in the water in the front yard in my proper underwear suit until called for dinner or to clean my room. My knees were probably either grass-stained or caked in mud. The neighbor kids probably had contests to see who could sit on the lawn sprinkler the longest, and someone probably had the bright idea to see how long we could stick our heads in the pool water before playing chicken to the brain freeze.

Thirty-seven years later I could take five-year-old me on my lap and reassure her, I understand what she wanted. And even though she was not a boy, it was going to be okay. I was never going to be alright with my body. I would try peeing through an empty toilet-paper tube to see what it was like standing up. I would figure out pretty early on that I was far more sexually interested in girls than boys, and even though I'd indulge that where I could, sharing the lingerie section of the JCPenny catalogue with the boys in third grade, I'd get that somehow I was not like other girls. In the seventh grade, in a mixture of puberty and middle-school confusion I'd confess that I was in love with my best friend, only to spend two weeks backpedaling and experiencing further alienation from my peers. I'd hear enough about lesbians to know the label was a hiss and a byword, even if I didn't fully understand that I was seriously implicated. I'd date a lot of boys, and pine for a few girls. I wouldn't really belong anywhere, but butterfly-like, I'd float around. And chameleon-like, I'd learn the art of adaptation and camouflage

Friday, July 14, 2017

Esoterica and stuff

I have a chip in my pedicure.

Instead of measuring twice and cutting once, I'm sitting on my couch.

900mgs of lithium is about 225 mgs too many for me to feel the free-flow of linguistic waters. Ideas come and climate change does as climate change will. 

She tells me we're in a monsoon. I could use a drink, but we're teetotaling these days. Kind of.

I need a five-year plan. You know, one more thing I can screw up beyond all recognition.

Only this time I plan to screw it up by getting it right. Can I make that sort of a deal with the universe?

If you're reading and taking this seriously, you're half right.

You wouldn't know it, but I smell incredible. It's estrogen, but I couldn't tell you if it's hers or mine.

She's incredible. Really. I wish I could tell you how happy and found and loved she makes me feel.

I want to bring her endless bouquets of flowers, want to touch the softness of her skin until I'm absorbed in it.

Maybe everything will be okay after all. How can you even know what you're looking for until that thing finally figures itself out and emerges from the cocoon? How could you even guess at her beauty, at how blinded you'll be by her sparkle? 

You only live by the rulebooks if the jargon isn't non-sensical. 

There are infinities upon infinities. Try flexibility.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Let us describe the aesthetic, love.
Your hands, wrists, waist—

the smooth S
ribbon curl of silver

locks holding
my finger like a child.

Or that curved hip,
a gentle slope sprouting legs

the contours staring me down
close range

the length of  the couch.
Dysphoria only enters

the frame
when blinds

close, drapery falls.
Then you must love the body.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


I grew up in a home of strict linguistic control. Like my mother's system of a place for everything, words must also find their appropriate usage, and some she discarded from the familial lexicon entirely. 

Precise terminology for bodily parts and function demanded "navel" instead of "bellybutton," "bottom" instead of "butt" or "bum," "breast" or "bust" instead of "boobs," never a reference to nipples, "mucus" instead of booger, "dirty" or "feces" instead of "poop," "use the bathroom" instead of pee, "rectum" rather than anything else it might be called, "throw up" as a noun instead of "puke," and "crotch" for the genitals unless the need for detail required "penis" or "vagina," although I rarely heard either word used and only in a whisper.

Swearing shouldn't even wonder at finding itself out of the question, but my mother placed off limits euphemisms as well. "Jeez" was too much like "Jesus," "gads" too much like "god." "Heck," "crap," "piss," and "dang it" were out of the question, while "darn" and "shoot" received a pass. Name-calling  jeers fell into this category, which excluded use of "dumb," "stupid," and "retard," but made room for "jerk" and "idiot." These latter two words my mother was especially skilled at using during fights with my father, and occasionally she bent her own rules enough to deftly utilize "jackass." 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

How this flower blooms is no one's business but the petals'

It may seem odd, but I've been open with Mr. PNU since the beginning. Once I realized the thrift-store shopping trips, afternoon tea, and dancing escapades were evolving, as Kelli puts it into "flying sparks," I let him know. 

The situation was never easy, even before she crept into the picture. The woman I was three years ago died, replaced by a barely living shell. My feelings for him, while still tender were not the feelings of a wife for her husband. I dutifully performed for him, for everyone. And as we spent more time together, Kelli saw through my charade. 

The conversation between the three of us shaped the decisions of the following weeks. Mr. PNU left with his parents for Arizona. We formally recognized the separation. I gave Kelli much of the free time that suddenly bloomed. I worked at a redefinition of the self, and a pattern of life began to emerge. My husband knew I was conflicted, as did Kelli. We each struggled with past anxieties. She pulled away for a time, defining what she needed, and then came back into focus. We communicated. The talks wove on until Mr. PNU returned to Utah to move into the assisted living center four blocks from my home, where I explained my decision and the driving emotions.

It may seem odd, but I was completely forthright then about how I saw the future coming to play. If and when our continued marriage meant unbearable financial hardship for either of us, or if he decided a dissolution preferable for any other reason, I would support and aid him in finalizing a divorce. In the meantime, I had no desire to end our legal union, but instead held the indefinite intention to visit and interact with him freely and regularly as an estranged member of my household. I had no desire to remarry nor cohabitate, but outside of my interactions with Mr. PNU I would see Kelli, as I had fallen in love with her. I promised I would not flaunt my relationship with her in front of him. They were longtime friends, after all. I knew the sensitivity the situation required.

Two months have passed since I clearly laid down my plan and my estranged husband agreed, although we've revisited the topic as often as he needed. I have explained, we are poets and philosophers. History provides us with scores of similar arrangements, all meant for the good of the group, as well as the wellbeing of each participating individual. The sad truth of the arrangement is that neither one of us participates without recognition of the bedrock of grief that lays beneath our feet. There are no perfect outcomes. Mr. PNU will remain horribly disabled and in need of constant care. I will never see the return of the husband who brought me such joy and companionship. And Kelli, after years of loneliness, in choosing to be my partner and companion, understands the ambiguous loss that sometimes bubbles to the surface of our gingerly fledged romance.

In exchange for this lacking perfection: relationships nurtured and salvaged; love, support, and compassion offered; resentment and loneliness thwarted. No one is stranger to the oddities of this arrangement. But if the strangest facet is that we are each privy to and agree with the details of this, the best possible arrangement for the three of us, then let that be enough. Let rest easy the moral superiority that might come from outside the bias edge of our triangle.