Five things: a summoning. Seven.

1. I don't know that I'll ever tire of the moon. 

I thought I missed her slipping into something dark and crimson, but I didn't, and what a gift that was this morning.

2. Making small talk with the moms in the neighborhood after morning drop off. In the middle of the conversation I say, I just have to get this out of the way: I'm a feminist, and they both look at each other with a look of relief and reply We are, too. And I wonder if we were all holding our breath, wondering if maybe we couldn't be friends after all.

3. It's tank top weather here and there are no suitable tank tops in the stores. This irks me more than it should.

4. I sit in the queue, waiting for my oldest son, and thank the gods for the hotspot on my phone so I can blog (hi!), and do homework. Not in that order.

5. There are dead leaves still clinging to branches, and, yet, each day I notice more and more green everywhere. That vacant lot was dirt just a week ago and now it is covered grass that looks as soft as suede.

Five things: a summoning. Six.

1. Finding shortcuts. The good kind. The kind that mean I don’t have to sit in stop and go for ten extra minutes.  

2. I wonder why he thought he needed to hold such a loud conversation in public.  

3. The architecture is so pretty outside MD-157. I wish that area had been empty so I could’ve taken a better photo.  

4. Textbooks are ridiculously expensive. It’s a travesty, really, the way higher education has such a high mark up.  

5. I’m pretty sure I was the oldest in class, save for the professors, but I’m hoping that doesn’t mean I’m the most studious. Please let my group be people who want to learn.  

Five things: a summoning. Five.

1. He's less sad about being sick and more upset that his friend, who has been sick for two weeks, might return to school today and he's missing her arrival. I feel badly that he's missing her, but the hacking cough is enough to tell me he needs this rest day.

2. I don't feel ready.

3. He suggests I focus any new purchases on clothing instead of makeup. You're not going to want to wear the same thing all the time; I know you, he says. I tell him I plan to wear athleisure wear every day since I have that kinesiology class anyway and no one to impress. He smiles, shaking his head at me. Or you could do that, he says.

4. Am I overthinking this? Probably. I'm not sure if it's the Type A, overachiever or the Capricorn in me or what. Can I blame my upbringing or the stars for the way I feel right now?

5. She says, Wow, your skin is looking really nice, Mama. And then I wake up with a spot right in the middle of my eyebrows. Do witchlette daughters inadvertently jinx us? Should I thank the gods she didn't mention chicken pox?

Five things: a summoning. four.

1. I think it may be time to add to my capsule wardrobe. 

Keeping the colors, but adding a few pieces. It’s time.  

2.  Lemon pasta and the way sometimes the simplest of meals are just exactly what is needed. 

3. GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! A sleeve of Thin Mints went straight into the freezer.  

4. I am officially a college student (again) tomorrow.  

I am also more nervous than I care to admit.

5. Dreaming of snow.  

I am so over this warm weather.  

Five things: a summoning. Three.

1. Almost twenty years later, and I’m still finding new ways to be enamored with him and his generous heart.

Watching him play with our youngest and our nephew, on all fours to be a roaring dinosaur, made me wish we could make more babies.  

Like, really really. 

2. Pizza. Hot and covered in mushrooms. Fresh, not canned, please. 

3. The ritual of coffee and the way it tastes better when someone else makes you a cup. Why is that? 

4. The heater. For the first time this season. And the gift and privilege of that luxury.  

5. Oversized, down-filled couches. I want all our couches to be this comfy.  

Five things: a summoning. Two.

1. Answering an old question with new answers.  Because growth takes time. 

2. Vigil candles. Is that what they’re called? I always called them Saints’ candles or Santeria candles.

They make me think of those little, old Catholic ladies, black scarves draped across their hair as they recite Hail Marys at the other end of the pew. The way the footrest dips a bit as they finish praying and get off their knees.

They make me think of my sister, and the way the wall of candles looked in their red glasses at Christ’s feet. The birthday wishes we sent toward heaven for her. 

3. I wonder if doctors from days of old were on to something with bloodletting. Maybe they took it too far (probably), and maybe they used the treatment in the wrong way (likely), but maybe they weren’t wrong.  

I bleed with each tattoo, and each piece has brought me more healing than any therapist, psychiatrist, or medication ever has.

4. New sheets. Microfiber. Luxurious and soft; the kind of soft you want to rub your body against over and over again.  

And only $18.99 at Target. 

Go figure.  

5. The clouds rolled in yesterday afternoon, heavy with grey.

Every time I wonder why we stay in California, born here or not, she reminds me. Of all the states, there really is nowhere else I’d rather call home.  

Five Things: A summoning. One.

1. Water. After seven hours of having it shut off to our home while they fixed a leak at our main water line, I will never take the privilege of water for granted again.  

2. The way he kept looking back through the crowd until he found my face. The way he smiled and waved, then made his way to class.  

3. Figuring out my face. Realizing my full cheeks compete with heavy eye makeup, aging me needlessly. Falling in love with my skin, caring for it and nurturing it. 

4. I want to live in leggings and high top Vans. Is that weird? I feel like that’s weird. Shouldn’t I be dressing my age? And what does that even mean? 

5. Butter chicken and mini naan. The way their hands will keep reaching in for more. The conversations and laughter. I hope they keep the tradition of family dinners with their someday babies.

 

* Inspired by the ever amazing and talented Alisha of Sommersalt.com.

It’s grey today.  

The kind when the clouds resemble thick blankets, all corded together, an ombré tapestry of greys and white. 

Softbox grey, you know? 

And I know there are folx all over the continent wishing for the warm, sunny weather we’ve been having (wishing their grey away), but we need this so badly it hurts.

Wildfires still burn, and every day without rain becomes one more day of fiery possibility. Already this earth is so thirsty, so parched, it’s waiting to crack open.

Plus, I like this grey.

Need it, even.

I don’t do well in too much warmth, under too much light. My head and heart need a break, and grey is just the sort of lull it craves. 

Once, when we were spending a day at Disneyland and had just finished dinner Downtown, we noticed crowds and crowds of women carrying long-stemmed roses.  

We kept an eye out for their source and found a small group of women, heads covered in sumptuous yet nondescript scarves, gifting them away. My daughters (J, and her best friend), walked over to accept the flowers, asking about the cause (to share that Islam is not a violent or hateful religion), and how they could help the women share their message.

As we continued back to the parks, we passed several people carrying roses, too … only the flowers couldn’t distract from the ugliness leaving their mouths. 

 Why'd they have to come out with their heads covered? I want the flower, but I want to rip the tag [with a passage from the Quran on it] off. Why are they even out here?

It took my girls all of five minutes to stop and listen, to say thank you for the flowers and receive hugs of thanks in turn. So, I wondered what motivated those others to accept these offerings with such ugliness on the tips of their tongue. Would they say the same of women trying to share Christian fellowship? Am I jaded to think they would’ve been kinder? Accepting?

. . . . .

We’re driving home on the 15 north today and I spy a cross planted boldly on a nearby mountain. Seeing it there, as if it has every right to exist, made me wonder why that’s okay, why door to door sales of Christ is readily accepted, but the idea of a handful of Muslim women sharing offerings of peace and beauty are treated with disgust and disdain. I wonder when religion became so ugly and twisted that it could no longer recognize how beautiful it is for anyone to believe in anything, even if it’s not just the one thing. 

Setting intentions. Hello, new moon in virgo.

This is me, setting intentions.

This is me telling the universe, The Powers That Be, that I am ready.

This is me sifting through the wreckage of dreams laid bare, allowed to crash against the rocks of life. This is me sorting what to keep, what to reimagine, and what to leave behind.

I am writing again. I am curating a book of poems and imagery. I am going back to school and completing my English degree. 

I am ready, and open, and know where my heart lies.

Right there, along the precipice.

I am ready to jump.

SEVEN. II.

1. Sometimes I want to show up--all of me. All the dark and pieced together parts. There is no gold to fill the cracks, just a death grip to make sure it doesn't all fall apart.  

Other times I'm grateful for the superficial connections. They take less energy. Less work.  

2. Curating my own work with the dream of self-publishing a book. Short stories, poetry, and photos.  

Universe, this is me asking. Please.

3. Ice cold coconut water and chocolate covered salted caramels.

4. The way errands feel like a date.  The intimacy of shared observations.

5. Three hours in the front yard today, four hours yesterday, and all this black mulch spread about. The greenery really pops now.  

6. He's barbecuing tonight and I know he knows I'll sniff him as soon as he walks back in the house. The smell of smoke on his neck is intoxicating.  

7. Fresh, white sheets. I can't help it; I love them.  

Sometimes I write short stories: Le Loup

PROLOGUE

There's a wolf in my skin.

Well, under it, really, if we're being exact.

I feel it pacing night after night, its patience worn thin. I feel the way it craves warm touch, the way it wants to burrow deep. I feel the way it lunges each time the door is left open, its longing to run a bittersweet pull.

I can even smell the musk of it every time I brush my hair; the dark, burnished chocolate softer than fur but still bristling at the hint of danger.

Well, at least it does now.

I'm not sure how it got there, if I'm being honest.

If I'm being honest, I'm sure it has always been there.

I remember the first time I realized there was something more to me.

Something other.

The tree didn't look that tall from the ground. They never do, though, do they? Not when you're 11-years-old. When you're 11-years-old, every fence can be scaled, every hill can be ridden, and every tree can be conquered.

So, I climbed.

Leaning in, my hands griped the rough bark as my shoes found footholds I couldn't see. Sam cheered me on, her voice drowning out the jeering group of boys because that's what best friends do for each other when there is a dare on the table.

"Ava, you got this! Don't slow down!" I figured if she was encouraging me, then how could what I was doing be dangerous. Sam is the cautious one. The one who looks both ways and then waits a minute before crossing the street. Sam would never steer me wrong.

And she didn't. Even if she'll tell you otherwise.

No.

No, it wasn't Sam's fault the branch broke, and I fell 20 feet. It wasn't Sam's fault I broke my leg in two places and knocked myself unconscious.

No, it wasn't Sam's fault, no matter what she might tell you.

If anyone is responsible for what happened, it's me.

The fault was mine.

It was all mine.

The growl in my head startled me.

Sometimes I write short stories: La Mort Et Moi

The road slithered through the hillside, a serpentine maze of curves and drop-offs creating a backroad through the hustle and bustle. Tall wildflowers hugged the shoulders while tree limbs reached themselves leisurely across the expanse of pavement. They made it easy to forget about the traffic and the orange glow of big box parking lots when you were out there.

Too easy.

The darkness that crept in at night ate the ambient light from suburbia like a yawning mouth and the field of stars overhead could almost hide the way the blood stained the median.

Almost.

But, she knew it was there.

Knew if she held her hand close enough, the remaining warmth would press against it, a cat back arched in greeting.

Knew if she inhaled through her nose, she'd catch the scent of pennies and musk, of woodsmoke and rain.

Knew if she stared at him long enough she might be able to will him to move again.

To breathe again.

She fixed her eyes on his sternum, avoiding his unseeing gaze as best as she could. The rich, chocolate with pinpricks of honeyed constellations no longer aglow. 

"One two. One two. One two." Her steady cadence mimicked the lost heartbeat she knew so well, but inside her thoughts were pleading just breath just breathe please just breathe in an unfamiliar staccato. She'd never felt this panicked before, never felt this desperate.

Every other time before she could disconnect, step out of her head and her heart, block out the bile rising in her throat, and do the work.

We are those who walk with Death.

Hell, she'd learned the family credo before she even learned how to spell her own name.

And now, when she needed her training most, she couldn't access it. For the first time since she learned she could bring back the dead, she was afraid.

What if she couldn't bring him back? 

What if she could?

SEVEN. I.

1. It's not autumn yet, but oh how I wish it were. Days of temperatures over 110ºF, humidity that makes walking to the car feel more like swimming, sweat running in rivers.

I'm over it.

2. Back to the cards.

3. Vampy lips and lots of mascara, and the way it feels like another facet explored.

4. There are a lot of ways to apologize. And a lot of ways to realize sometimes you don't need to.

5. Copious amounts of hot tea, even in this heat. Masochist.

6. Still on the hunt for the perfect white tee. Sleeves need to be longer than cap sleeves, but short enough that they don't cover my whole bicep. Neckline needs to be low enough for cleavage and cage bras or high enough that it only shows my clavicle. Length has to be past my waist, but not to my hips. It can't be so flowy that I look pregnant, but not too fitted, either.

I wish I could make my own clothes.

7. September. Sept. Seven.

TEN. VIII. Minus III.

1. Find yourself a partner so thoughtful that when they see a bird in distress (it's about 111°F out where we live) in your courtyard, they fill a large tray with water and set it outside on the off chance the bird returns.

2. Because when you ask whose idea it was, because you were off picking up your daughter, your partner tries to play it off like it was the youngest's idea (even though it wasn't).

3. Because a person's character shines when they do something for someone or something that can provide nothing in return. 

4. Because a person that thoughtful of small needs will likely be as thoughtful of big needs.  

5. Because the sheepish grin when they realize you know it was their idea is everything.  

6. Because they will set an example for those around them.  

7. Because how fucking sweet is that?!