Tag Archives: important

Making Magic for Ecuador: You, Canoa, and a Call for Tents

23 Apr

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time (also hey, welcome newcomers), you’ll know that “I was raised on fantasy literature” is a pretty common theme to my posts. And you’ll know that those fantasy books – the ones with Dumbledore’s Army, and wizards banded together for Timeheart, and troupes made of Luster and Earthfolk alike, the ones with people (a term loosely used, here) who went out and saw the universe and did important things in it, for it – those are the books that shaped who I wanted to be. All my life, I’ve pretty much wanted my job description to be something along the lines of “saves the world.”

It’s why I pick up litter on the beach. It’s why I’m a practicing emergency medical responder. It’s why I tell people when I care about them. It’s why I’m going to veterinary school.

And it’s why when a 7.8 earthquake happened on April 16th in a country where I knew people, I messaged those friends to ask how they were doing, how their country was doing.

They were sad, and frustrated, but hanging in there, they said. But the country? Not well, was their answer. Whole towns were in ruins.

The bodies, they said, were piling up in the streets.

…When your friends tell you there are bodies piling up in their streets, you goddamn ask what you can do to help. And when they tell you what that is, you do it.

In this case, what I could do – what you could do – is get them tents.

There are bodies in the streets, but there are survivors too. Unfortunately, their city being a pile of rubble and devastation, there is nowhere for them to survive in.

So they’re building themselves a temporary settlement, and it shall be made of tents.

A couple days later, and I’m now heading up the West coast efforts for the U.S. relief team working in conjunction with my friends’ local organization, the “Surfers for a Roof” Brigade. As for the U.S. team’s efforts, my East coast counterpart and I want to get 50 tents to Ecuador – Canoa, to be specific – by Monday to help make a dent in what the 200 surviving families will need for shelter.

There have been Facebook posts, and emails with city councils, and CARVE surfing magazine even did a piece on the effort, and so far, we’ve gotten 25 tents. I want so badly to keep the momentum going. I want to hit 50 before Monday arrives. I want the world to care, and to not just sit there caring, but get up or speak out or just do something about it.

Here in this world of dust and reality, we cannot fight the source of all evil for the fate of the world.

But we can fight devastation. We can fight disaster. We can join this effort, and throw relief in the face of the ruin. We cannot fight “ultimate evil,” but we can fight this one.

To put it more pragmatically: the relief effort has an Amazon wish list going. People can donate tents directly, or, barring being able to contribute the full cost of a tent, can email Amazon gift cards of any amount to the relief effort’s account, and we’ll pool those funds to purchase more supplies. We’ve already gotten one tent on the way from people’s compounded gift card donations. We’re about halfway to another one, with current funds.

Physical donations will ship to a hangar in Miami from where a volunteer pilot – the relative of local leadership in Canoa – will fly supplies to ground zero. Tent city construction will begin May 7th.

The Amazon wish list and the email account associated with it have been created specifically for the relief effort, to allow for specificity and transparency. Anyone with questions about our financial or other records is totally welcome to ask, and we will send you literally our entire backlog of documentation. Honesty and integrity, in this effort, are paramount.

So, dear readers, I invite you to join me. Consider this your official enrollment call. I cannot off you a DA badge or a manual saying you have joined the ranks of wizards, but I can offer you the knowledge that your help here matters. That herein is a chance to know that you have helped fight to make things better for the world. Whether you donate or “just” spread the word (social media, word of mouth, sky writing, traveling bards – it’s all good) – you will have been someone who, even if just for a moment, got up and looked out at what was happening to the universe and did something about it all.

And for me, at least, that is a little bit magic.

To donate to the Canoa tent relief project: http://amzn.com/w/XLL6FUTGKU91

To learn more about how the relief effort works: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MzRn9oHb73jV3rQ0QmvPmI1twKFiNfhf7Xbk1gFKdEU/edit?usp=sharing


Is poetry important?

28 Jul

Is poetry important?

Is poetry important?

Tell me – do you breathe air? Or if not air, do you breathe at all?

Do you carry within you the in and out, in and out rhyme

of a life still whispering small sounds keeping time?

Do you hold within you the cadence of sighs,

turning your very nostrils into music-making machines

and your lungs a chorus of singers

meting out your metered ties to existence?

Then I would say that poetry is important.

Is poetry important?

Tell me – do you push and pump a beat.beat.beat.

in an iambic muscle that measures your life

in a glorious kind of pentameter?

Have you ever fallen into step

or tapped your fingers to a pulsing summat

caught inside  your head?

Do you walk a certain way over sidewalk cracks?

Then poetry is important.

Is poetry important?

Tell me – do you ever look in a mirror?

Or wish it reflected a little something more?

Do you value possibility?

Do you value truth?

Do you ever yearn for a beautiful lie?

Or wish for something to make you cry?

Do you find assurance in a newborn’s breath?

Then poetry has not yet found its death.

Is poetry important?

I’d hazard yes.

How Ke$ha Did Rehab Right

28 Jun

I don’t really do celebrity junk magazines. But I do invest a fair amount of my glancing power in eating disorder recovery-related Facebook feeds. And recently, Ke$ha’s been showing up a lot.

I adore Ke$ha as an artist. Her songs are bold and crazy and unapologetic, just like Ke$ha herself. The singer has always put out a very “be yourself and take no prisoners” vibe – which is why I was rather surprised when it went public earlier this year that she was going to rehab for an eating disorder.

Now, like I said, I don’t really keep up with celebrity gossip. I’m more interested in keeping up on the latest book chatter or marine biology news flashes, thank you very much. But maybe if I did stalk the stars like so many others, I would have known more about Ke$ha’s lapse and anticipated her entering treatment more. Maybe I would have seen the signs. Maybe I would have noticed the gossip columns abuzz with slurs about how the pop queen was looking “scary skinny.”

But honestly, I don’t think I would have. After having come across the first article mentioning Ke$ha’s entry to rehab (and holding that up as a model for others who might still be suffering silently), I did some research. By which I mean Googling.

Hey, I’m only human. We are creatures of curiosity.

But that Googling – well, it didn’t really turn up much. No descriptions of paparazzi’s having glimpsed Ke$ha’s rib cage or clavicle or whatever. No star-spirals-downward slurring. Just more of the same sort of bare posts, saying nothing more than that Ke$ha was going into treatment for an eating disorder. They didn’t even say which one.

And that, I think, is incredibly important.

Since leaving treatment, Ke$ha’s put out a few comments on her pre-rehab self and what motivated her entering treatment, but none of the comments that I’ve come across have talked at all about the physical specifics. Unlike so many other stars – and regular ol’ non-famous ED victims – Ke$ha doesn’t indulge in some sort of victorious litany of what her symptoms were, how skinny she got, how much she purged, or anything like that. All she says is that she wasn’t loving herself properly and wasn’t really confident in herself.

Thank – well, thank the stars. Finally, one of them who talks about what eating disorder are really about. They are not a disease of skinniness. They are not a disease of food. They are a disease of self-hatred. Doesn’t matter what it looks like, that is what goes on, in every single patient, underneath the physical symptoms.

I laud Ke$ha on focusing on what eating disorder recovery is really about: learning to take care of yourself and value doing so. Learning to love fighting for yourself, instead of fighting yourself. Finding contentment in being a whole person, instead of in stripping away your very existence.

Ke$ha could have talked specifics. She could have talked diagnosis, labels, numbers, gritty details that would have gone viral on gossip sites. But instead, she clamps down on the triggers and talks about what’s really important. It’s her recovery she promotes, not her eating disorder.

For the millions of adoring boys and girls hanging on her every word, that is so important. For the casual magazine browser at the grocery store check out, that is so important. For the eating disorder victims who are honestly really damn done having celebrity nonsense about our disorder thrown in our faces, that is so important.

For Ke$ha, who will still be fighting to keep her hold on recovery for a while, that is so important. She clearly invested herself in rehab; it’s good to see she’s doing recovery right, too.


3 Jan

tornado road

I have a rather intense fear of tornados. It’s just shy of a phobia, actually. I grew up in the Midwest, where there is actually a period of the year that’s fucking called tornado season. And, knowing full well that I would have to live through said tornado season, year after year at least until I turned eighteen, my parents saw no problem in letting five-year-old-me watch the movie Twister with them. For those of you unfamiliar with this movie, let me provide you with a few sentences from the IMDB plot synopsis:

“The father, in an attempt to save his family, tries to hold the storm cellar door down, but gets sucked into the tornado and killed.”

“The tornado hurls a section of a TV tower through their windshield, impaling Eddie. Both teams watch in horror as Jonas’s truck is lifted up by the tornado and thrown into the ground where it explodes, killing both Eddie and Jonas.”

“They find metal pipes inside this shelter and tie themselves to the pipes with leather belts. The tornado destroys the structure, and they are pulled upside down while anchored to the pipes.”

Happy happy joy joy, right? THIS MOVIE IS FUCKING TERRIFYING! And I was five.

Yeah, little me didn’t have nightmares about monsters. She had nightmares about tornados. These persisted until I moved away for college to beautiful, blessed, tornado-less California. Earthquakes? Not a big deal. Whirling vortex of doom taunting me with the possibility of tearing down my house and killing everyone I love because even meteorologists can’t be completely sure about its path and I therefore have to sit in a cold basement for hours listening to sirens and contemplating my potentially impending death? Yeah, no thanks.

Aaaaanyhoo. My response to those tornado sirens did teach me a fair amount about my priorities. From the time I was five up till I moved out at eighteen, any and every time there were tornado sirens, I moved the things I hoped to give some chance of making it through a tornado down to the basement. Sure, when I was five, those were all basically my stuffed animals. But once I hit eight or so, my priorities shifted. Fluff-stuffed bits of cloth weren’t what gave me comfort and identity anymore.

Words were.

So, once those tornado sirens started to whine, I would move my books.

Well, actually first I would move my dog, because she was a living thing and I was more likely to be able to salvage my books intact from the hypothetical future wreckage than I would my dog. But after my dogs, my books were first. Books and journals too, once I started keeping those regularly enough for them to be a significant container of my soul.

Oh, yeah, of course I was also yelling at my family members to get their butts down to the basement while I shuttled back and forth between there and my room. But my parents and sister, they have legs and situational awareness and could very well get themselves to safety. My journals weren’t going to move themselves.

And so, year after year, with each overly enthusiastic late-summer storm that sent wails through muggy air, I was presented with the terrifying opportunity to figure out what, right then and there, I wanted most in my life to save. What mattered most to me? What did I consider most valuable, most vital?

Well, yes, my dog. But after that, it was the writing in my life. My journals, the words I had set sail on the whispering sea of existence, they were what I had poured my identity into. My books, the voices of the authors and characters that had murmured in my brain through the years, they held memories more than any picture ever could for me. There are years tucked between those pages, pressed into the print by the weight of the covers.

Writing, it is the scrawl of my soul. It is my self-preservation.


21 Nov

I am envious, sometimes – most times – of those who get recognition. Evanna Lynch, who “beat anorexia” to become Luna Lovegood. She is praised and lauded, called determined and strong.

What of all of us still out here, who know that you don’t just “beat anorexia,” that you fight every fucking day just you can hope for a life where maybe you won’t have to think about this fucking disease, day in and day out, in fear that if you ever drop your vigilance, it will get past the years and years you had covered over it, and in the end it will kill you, by making you destroy yourself. What of all of us who are still fighting, who know that your own mind is not something that can ever truly be “beaten?” What of those of us who still fight? Why for us is there no acclaim, because we did not become the lucky one, the movie star?

Or there’s the friend I drove to my tattoo parlor, helped her pay so she could get her first tattoo. One simple word, “strong,” inked over the scar where months ago she’d carved “weak.” The tattoo artists called her brave. They congratulated her on having overcome. Her struggle was obvious, and so was her cure.

They didn’t say anything, the two times I’d been there before to get my own tattoos. Just images – one to remind who is really me, one to remind me that I have flown from those chains that I once let define me.

But to everybody else, they just look like a dolphin fluke and a butterfly.

The artist who’d tattooed my arm had said nothing about my scars.

Where, then, was my recognition?

I know I should not care. But I think that’s what this has really been about, all along. The need to know that on some fundamental level, I am important. I have spent a life trying every fucking day to prove to everyone – and after that, the trickier part, to prove to myself – that I am good enough. That yes, I am strong. That yes, I am capable. That yes, I am beautiful and so because I am beautiful I can be looked at and loved, instead of ignored or cast off. I wanted to be worth noticing. I had to know that I was worth noticing. And so I tried to become extraordinary enough that people would be able to just look at me, and know I had proved it.

And then there was the pain. I was clawing for a way out of myself, out of the web of distrust and lies and abuse that I was caught in, because I had to call it my family. I talked and I talked and I talked, but no one listened. I told people I was hurting, and it changed nothing. I was not heard. I was told, actually, to shut up.

And so I shut up. But that didn’t change the fact that I still needed a way to keep screaming.

Because the pain wasn’t over yet.

And so the scars came.

“Can’t you see that’s something’s fucking wrong?” they asked.

Or – “What’s wrong with you?” they would scream, at me.

“Somebody, anybody,” they said, “can’t you see I’m hurting.”

They’re all scars, now. Old and white, some smooth and some still raised above my skin. They are ghosts, now. Sure, all ghosts show a story – but I think I’m the only one who can see it.

Can’t you see that I have hurt? Can’t you see that I have fought? Can’t you see that I have fallen apart and sewn myself back together so many times you can’t even know where the stitch marks are anymore? Can’t you see all the fucking hard work I’ve done, all the tears I’ve cried, all the sacrifices I’ve made and injustices I’ve put up with, just so that I can finally get to a place where I, at least, can look in the mirror and think that I am beautiful, and that I am important, without killing myself for that in the process?

Can’t you see any of that?

I envy those, whose struggle and triumph have donned them heroes. I envy those, who get the recognition.