my girl

this is for my girl.
she is the absolute best.
you wish you knew my girl.
go ahead – be jealous.
it’s nothing i’m not used too.
who is this girl?
good question…
her laugh makes me laugh;
her nose crinkles,
and her body curls in,
and when air becomes necessary,
she sucks it in and snorts
(just a little bit).
her eyes are blue;
bright like a summer sky,
and clear like glass,
and they twinkle when she looks at me.
(the twinkle at anyone she loves, really).
her hair is thick,
and like spun gold,
and it flips out, naturally, at the ends,
like it did in the 60s.
(she also has killer calves, just fyi).
she gives amazing hugs.
it’s unreal, for a tiny person.
it feels like being wrapped up,
in your favorite blanket.
my girl is the best.
thank goodness we found each other.
she’s a godsend.
i hope she knows this.
all the faults she points out,
all the faults she owns up too,
no one sees them.
they are what make her unique.
they are what make her mine.
she is the missing puzzle piece.
she helps make sense of the chaos.
not sure where i would be without her…
probably walking in circles,
and talking in circles too.
i would happily share my girl,
if it would bring peace to the world.
probably, it would.
a joke and some honesty…
we all need that sometimes.
for me?
i always need what my girl brings.



she has this light –
it’s what draws me in.
i’m like a moth to a flame,
any closer…
i will burn.
but it will feel so good.
if only she would let me get close…
can’t she see?
i have so much to offer!
why doesn’t she see?
her smile blazes like a sunrise.
her eyes twinkle like stars.
her laugh is infectious.
i want to get sick.
she is intent,
makes me feel like a…
specimen under a ‘scope.
i have never met a girl like her.
probably, we only meet one in our lifetime.
i should be so lucky,
that she chooses me.
(oh, how i hope she chooses me!)
her light has guided me to shore.
it has banished away all the shadows.
it has burned out all the cobwebs.
her light.
i need her light.
but the tighter i hold onto her,
the faster she slips through my fingers.
holding onto her is like trying to…
hold my hand to a burner:
which means, i can only hold on for so long,
before i have to step back and clutch at ice.
am i destined to hold ice forever…?


being with him –
it’s like standing on the opposite side of a gorge.
there is this distance.
in order to reach him,
i have to cross.
i grow wings,
fly to him.
he shoots me down,
and forces me back.
(what is he hiding?)
i cry tears,
form a river
to swim across.
he sinks me with stones.
(why is he so scared?)
i toss a rope,
to swing across.
he cuts it.
(does he realize how tired i am?)
i cup my hands,
shout across to him.
nothing, he says.
just you.
…but isn’t that everything?

Dear Grad,

So you’ve graduated. Congrats! That’s a really big deal. Despite what the statistics say, making it to the finish line is not something that everyone gets to accomplish.
Now that you’ve finished your academic journey, you are probably busy celebrating and reveling in the fact that you have absolutely nothing to do. That your life, once busy with club meetings, tests and paper deadlines, is chock full of Netflix binging and OnDemand channels. And it’s OK, healthy even, to relax and gain back a little of your sanity.
But you have another adventure waiting for you: the rest of your life.
Scary, huh? Don’t worry. It’s not as bad as I make it sound. But you need to remember a few things:
First: Do something that you love. If this is what you went to school for, good for you! Go out there and change the world with your degree. If this isn’t what you went to school for, don’t worry. A lot of people graduate and realize that they have no idea what the fuck the last four years were supposed to mean.
But do something that brings you joy. What is joy, you ask? It’s that feeling of time flying when you’re working on something. It’s that content feeling you get when you have nowhere else you would rather be. It’s that sense of peace that is the knowledge that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Many people search for years to find this joyous job. Some people know right away that walking dogs, taking care of babies in the NICU, or fixing someone’s car is exactly where they are supposed to be. So search. Go forth and find what makes you happy. And don’t worry about money. It is better to be happy and poor, then trapped and rich.
Second: Love yourself. You may think that this is easy, but it can actually be really hard. Ever seen the movie The Runaway Bride? It’s the story about a woman who literally runs away from men she loves at the alter. She runs because she’s afraid. She runs because she loves them, but she’s not really sure they love her. So before you can find your soulmate, you need to learn a little bit about you. How do you like your eggs? What makes you happy? What pisses you off? How are you when you’re hungry? What are you like when you’re single? Who are you? And more importantly: do you like the person who stares back at you in the bathroom mirror?
Third: Take a chance. Do something that scares you. Make a colossal mistake. Date the wrong person. Move across the country. Hell, move across the world. Disconnect from technology. Drive without a GPS. Take a vacation alone. Do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and make no apologies. Now is the time to be stupid. Now is the time to forget to pay your rent. Now is the time to pack your bags, quit your job and travel the world. Because now is the only time when you are unattached. Now is the time when you are the only person you have to worry about. Now is the time when you don’t have a mortgage, orthodontist bills to pay, and a dog to walk. Now is when you can take that leap off that mountain ledge and hope to God that there’s something (or someone) there to catch you. So jump. Because you’ll never realize your limitations until you break them.
And finally: Be kind. This may seem trivial, but I mean it more than just a “be kind to your neighbor” kind of way. I mean it like this: be kind to the environment. Don’t litter and pick up litter you see around you. Be kind to animals and adopt, don’t shop. And if you can’t adopt, at least donate to your local animal shelter so that they can care for the animals you can’t call your own. Pay it forward and help that senior citizen with their groceries. Because somewhere out there, your grandparents are struggling with their groceries and someone else might be helping them out. Be kind to your family and your friends. Remember to put them first and to listen to their problems. Be kind to cashiers and food servers and public employees and cab drivers because they’re probably having just as hard a time as you are, if not an even harder time and we could all do with a little kindness. Be kind because you can be kind. Don’t be kind because you think it will pay off and get you into heaven (although it can’t hurt). Be kind because it makes you feel good and because being kind is good for the soul.
So go out into the world, new graduate, and make a difference. Change the world or change one person’s life. Smile, head up, shoulders back. You are the future, and the future is calling you. You are the next doctor, the next CEO, the next teacher, the next President, the next everything. You matter. And what you do, matters. So be kind, be smart, and be yourself. And like my dad always says: Don’t fuck it up. You got this.

Review: The Winter Garden – Kara Jorgensen

The thing I like most about Kara Jorgensen’s writing is that it engages me and keeps me thinking while I read. Her second novel, The Winter Garden, introduces readers to new characters, while keeping some from her first novel, around. The Winter Garden also stands out because the main characters are not mainstream – they are gay and the novel accurately highlights their struggles to be happy, all the while staying true to her promise of layering science with fiction and creating a truly fantastic steampunk novel.
Jorgensen does not waste time in launching her readers into the action. From page one, the plot trucks along, draws you in and keeps you hooked. Her characters are constantly evolving and becoming these real people that you just want to root for. Immanuel is gentle, smart, has a secret and a strength that made me fall in love with him. When he tries to do the right thing, he changes the course of his life, and maybe not all for the better. And yet, one gets the impression that he would make the same choice again if he had too. She creates complex characters; Emmeline, being one such character. Emmeline seems to be a contradiction; she wants to be strong, like her mother, but also wants to marry a handsome man who will take care of her. Emmeline appears to be a little selfish, and her actions made me want to scream at times, but she ultimately changes the readers’ mind. She changed mine.
And that’s the power of really excellent writing. Jorgensen can make you hate a character, and then change your mind.
It struck me, as I was reading The Winter Garden, that Jorgensen’s novels could serve as teaching tools. The language she uses is poetic and yet, advanced. There were a few times when I found myself pausing and rereading a line to gather context clues to figure out what a word meant. And with booksellers full of novels that tend to make reading easier in the hopes of selling to a broader audience, Jorgensen, I think, wants to challenge her readers to think and work just a little harder for a good read. Her novels are also full of interesting facts. The first talked about toy making and engineering. The second focuses more on biology, botany and a religious trend that once swept Britain and the United States. And woven throughout the science, the fiction and the facts, Jorgensen also points to political and social trends. Her first novel discussed the harm that explorers can do when the discover a new land with new people. Her second novel discusses how many used to hide their love for another because society told them they could be put to death, if caught. Her explanations for the love some feel are spot on and fitting for a time when the United States has decided that marriage equality is Constitutional.
Kara Jorgensen’s The Winter Garden is a great read. Anyone looking to escape to days long past should download her novels and read them quick because her third one is coming and you won’t want to miss how her trilogy ends.

Gold and Sapphire

All she sees when she wakes up the morning after they get married is gold. Well, not really; metaphorically speaking. But everything has a haze to it. She’s happy and warm and probably glowing. It’s because of him and all the gold color she’s seeing. And gold is all she’s seen since she met him.
The first thing that caught her eye when they met at that awful singles’ mixer was his blonde hair. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth. His hair was fabulous. Swept back and styled in that way that’s meant to not look like he owns more products than a girl. And it was just this rich gold color. It was a sin, she had decided that night, that a man should have hair that color that most women would give up their soul to have on their own heads.
She had to talk to him.
And she did. After she had a few drinks.
They get along swimmingly. He makes her laugh and feel at ease, and she likes to think that she makes him laugh just a little bit too.
They exchange numbers and the romance of their lives takes off.
Suddenly, gold is her favorite color. She buys shirts and a dress in that color. She wears the gold necklace her parents gave her for graduation. She appreciates the sunshine in a new way and notices the way it glints off of windows and the water in the harbor when it sets.
Gold has infiltrated her life and brought a happiness she didn’t know she had been missing. And then they get married and she realizes that her life is pretty much complete.
All he sees after their second date is the color sapphire. And not just any shade of sapphire, but a rich, royal sapphire – the exact shade of her eyes. He’s not being cheesy. It’s the truth, and it’s not cheesy if it’s true. Which is what he tells himself, over and over, even though it’s not really working. (Don’t tell the guys…).
It’s not something he notices when he meets her. To be fair, the bar where they met had low lighting and he had had a few drinks when she approached him with some pick up line that she botched and tripped over, and her whole outline had been a little fuzzy. If really pressed for his first impression of her, he would have to go with…funny. She made him laugh and she was intense in that way that usually freaked him out. But with her, he just got the feeling that she always focused a lot on subjects in front of her. So he decided to let it not freak him out. And that turns out to be his best decision. Ever.
But their second date? That takes place on a boardwalk, where they eat hotdogs and play carnival games. And with the way the sun is shining, he notices her sapphire eyes and the way they sparkle when she laughs at his jokes. (And he maybe falls a little bit in love with the way she laughs.)
It becomes his favorite color. He buys ties and shirts to match her eyes, he spends a ridiculous amount of money on roses that have been dyed a deep blue that almost matches, for their first Valentine’s Day together.
And when he proposes, it’s with a sapphire ring.
She admits to him as they’re planning their wedding, that the color of his hair is what drew her to him. She admits that gold has become her favorite color. He admits the same to her about sapphire. And after she kisses him, she confesses that the reason she likes gold is because it reminds her of him and brings her comfort. He thinks that he probably falls a little more in love with her when she says this to him.
Gold and sapphire are their wedding colors. It doesn’t matter that no one really understands why they picked these colors. All that matters is that all she sees is gold and all he sees is sapphire.


When he sees her again, it’s like no time has passed.
She looks the same. “Of course she does,” he can’t help but think, “Why would time do me a favor and have her age?”
He hadn’t expected to see her at the event. Forget that it’s not her kind of thing, but the event is also a 3,000 mile trip for her. Not the sort of thing one just decides to attend last minute. No, her attendance at the event – his event – means that she had to RSVP; that she had to buy an outfit and shoes and a plane ticket. Means that she had to take time off of work and then travel. And he remembers how much she hates flying.
He feels frozen in time. He can’t move, and he needs to move because if he doesn’t, she’s going to spot him. Then he’ll have to be polite and make small talk with her. And that just might kill him.
Why had he sent her the invite anyway?
He must be a glutton for punishment, he decides, because she’s here looking flawless and he was just starting to think that he was getting over her.
But with the way his heart is thumping in his chest and the way his vision is tunneling out at the edges, he’s either drunk, high, or not over her.
He’s going to put his money on that last one.
And then it’s too late for him to do anything because she’s turned around and spotted him. And now she’s smiling shyly in his direction and nodding her acknowledgment of making eye contact.
He finds that his feet are carrying him in her direction. That he’s effectively meeting her halfway – which is new to him because she used to be so stubborn that he had to always go all the way when it came to her. Maybe she’s changed.
Is it too much to hope that he’s maybe grown a spine since he last saw her?
And he’s starting to think that maybe he’s not as hopelessly in love with her as he once was when she speaks, and what she says comes out on a breath, and her perfume wraps itself around him, and he has to remind himself what a bitch she was when she took his heart from him, stuck it in her stupid juice blender, and then passed him back what was left with a “I’m so sorry about this, but it’s what’s right for both of us.”
“Hi,” she says.
That’s it. Just “hi” and he’s already so far gone he knows he’s not going to sleep for a few days.
“Hey,” he says, “how have you…what are you…um…?”
Great. Now he sounds like an idiot.
She laughs quietly under her breath and tucks a piece of her hair that’s fallen in her face behind her ear.
“Yeah, I um, got your invitation and thought that I owed you my support for this…” here she gestures at the hall where his fundraiser is being held. “I remembered you talking about this great cause and after I sort of got over whatever happened between us, I decided that we were adult enough to support one another.”
He hears what she’s saying. Really he does, but “whatever happened between us?” Is she serious? Does she not remember the blender-heart thing?
“Um, yeah…that’s – thanks – it uh, means a lot.” It comes out and tastes bitter on his tongue.
She looks grateful that he’s accepted her…whatever it is that she just gave him.
“Yeah. And it looks like you’re doing great.”
He only nods. That’s all he can do because he knows that if he opens his mouth he’s going to start shouting at her and that would effectively ruin the party.
“Well, I have to get back…” It’s a lame excuse, but it’s all he’s got. He finds that he can’t be around her very much longer.
She looks somewhat relieved and disappointed. “OK.”
He tries very hard to make it look like he’s not running away from her. He doesn’t think he succeeds.

It’s not until later, when the party is winding down, that he runs into her again. After their first encounter he had rushed to find his best friend. They had disappeared into an empty room so that he could shout, curse, and pace.
“Dude, this is your time for closure. You need to pull yourself together and give her a piece of your mind. You need to say what you’ve always wanted to say to her, and then you need to let her go. Because dude,” his best friend grabs his shoulders and shakes him a little, “you’re not even together anymore and she’s killing you. Get it together.”
And with that ringing in his ears, he steps into her path as she’s on her way out the door.
She jumps a little, and her eyes go wide with surprise. And he realizes a little too late that he probably should have checked out his appearance in the mirror before coming up to her. He’s sure his hair is standing on end, that his tie is crooked and that he probably has a crazed look in his eyes.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?”
She nods her head, and he thinks that maybe she looks a little nervous.
Good. She should be nervous.
But as he leads her into that same empty room that had witnessed his anger all those hours ago, he finds that he just has one question for her:
“Why did you leave?”
She stares at him a long time before she finally opens her mouth and answers him:
“Because I needed too.”
Whatever it is that he had been expecting, it was not that.
“What kind of answer is that?” His anger is bubbling up again, along with the picture of his blender-heart.
She shakes her head. “It’s not an answer. It’s an excuse. I really wasn’t sure why I left until I got to the West Coast, and started that job. And then I realized that I had left because I just wasn’t happy on the East Coast. I don’t know if it was you, or me, or my job here, or this city or our friends or what, but I was so unhappy. I did my best to hide it from you, to keep you safe from it, but I started to see that whatever was making me unhappy was rubbing off on you and I couldn’t watch you turn sour. I think I loved you too much too let that happen.”
“So you just broke my heart instead and left without any warning? You thought that wouldn’t make me unhappy?”
She sighs, and he can see tears starting to shine in her eyes. “I thought you were stronger than me. I thought that you would hate me enough for that to propel you into the future. I realize now, and after some really intense therapy, that I handled it really…badly…and that you should hate me for what I did to you. Because I think that I became that girl I have always hated: the girl that took a really great guy and ruined him.”
He looks at her. “Are you happy now?”
She shrugs. “Not right this moment, no.” She gives him a watery smile, “But I love the West Coast. And I love my job. And the people I’ve met are really great. So yes, in the big picture sense, I am happier than I was here.”
He’s silent. He can’t figure out if this is what’s going to help him get over her or not. “So…” She waits for him to pull his thoughts together. “Did you ever figure out what was making you so unhappy here on the East Coast?”
“It wasn’t you, if that’s what you’re wondering,” she says. “It was my job. It was sucking the life out of me. And looking back, you were probably the best part about the East Coast…”
    He cuts her off, “But I wasn’t enough.”
“No!” she says it loudly and quickly. “No! You were enough. I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t a whole person. I was pretending to be this person who could work corporate and wear high heels and drink with “the girls” every weekend. But after I got this email from a friend of mine on the West Coast, asking for my help with a personal problem…I realized that the woman looking back in the mirror wasn’t entirely…me. And that scared the crap out of me. It scared me so much that I just started running. And…”
She trails off. And he realizes that it’s because he’s shaking his head at her.
“I wish you had told me all this before you left,” he whispers. “I wish you had been honest with me before you broke me in half. I almost didn’t survive you leaving. I almost lost my job because of the depression that set in. I thought it was something I had done. I mean, you just left, no reason, and then you didn’t pick up the phone or answer my texts or emails. Radio silence from you and then you just show up here. Unannounced. And lay all this on me. I mean, what am I supposed to do with this information now?”
She looks at him for a long time before speaking. “I’m sorry. You’re right. It was unfair and wrong of me, what I did. It wasn’t your fault. It was all me. You have every right to hate me. And you should. You’re a good man. You deserve better than what I can give you. And I know that you’re strong enough to move past me. You will. And you’ll make some girl really happy. Because you made me happy for a long time. And you should know that you did nothing wrong. It’s all on me.”
And he finds that he can’t look at her anymore because what she’s saying is what he should want to hear. And yet it’s not. He finds that he wants to hear that she’s coming back to the East Coast; to their home; to him.
But her comments sound final. It sounds like she’s finally leaving and shutting the door quietly behind her. This girl who came into his world like a whirlwind, and is leaving like a tornado – everything behind her in ruins.
“I am sorry,” and then he hears her moving away from him, opening the door, and then shutting it behind her.
He sinks to the floor.
The door opens again and footsteps approach. It isn’t her, he knows that, yet a part of him still hopes….
“Come on dude,” says his friend. “She told me what happened. Let’s get you home.”
And he lets his best friend carry him home and support his weight because it suddenly feels like too much for him to carry alone.
And then he tunes back in to what his friend is saying as they cross into the elevator, “…and we’ll order some food, and play video games – or we can watch a movie – but nothing sappy, OK? I can’t take sappy right now because you, my friend, are an emotional mess, and you don’t need that kind of drama right now. And we can just drink until you fall asleep.”
The doors close behind them.
“Thanks man,” he says quietly.
“Hey,” his friend says, squeezing his shoulder, “what are friends for?”

End the Violence

It starts with a BANG!

What we fail to realize is,

It doesn’t have too.

What is this, this I keep referring too?

Death, by gun.

That is what I am referring too.

For some reason,

We live in a society that believes in guns.

We do not put our faith in humanity

And what it might mean to be a decent person.


We put our faith in cold, hard, metal tubes that kill.

It is stupid.

WE are stupid.

When the authors of the Constitution wrote the 2nd Amendment,

I do not think that they foresaw the whole future of this country.

This country that is spread out over an entire continent.

This country that is so diverse.

This country that is nearly a billion strong and still growing.

This country that is divided.

This country that does not see that we are destroying ourselves.


I do not think that the authors of the Constitution could have seen what was coming.

How could they?

When we refused to see it ourselves?

Whenever there is a mass shooting,

I do not join in the call for more guns.

I have this crazy idea,

This insane thought,

That maybe,

Just maybe,

LESS guns is what we really need.

Let me put it to you this way:

If the guy who shot all those kindergarteners did not have a gun,

He would be in jail.

And all those kids would simply have a memory of a really bad day at school.

If the guy who shot all those people at the Batman movie premier did not have a gun,

He would have been arrested.

And all those people would have demanded a refund for their wasted movie tickets.

If the guy who shot up that base in Texas,

Or that college in Virginia,

Or that shopping plaza opening in Arizona,


Do you see my point?

And if that cop in Ferguson only had pepper spray in his pocket and not a gun,

Michael Brown would have pepper in his very red eyes.

But he would still be breathing.

In 2013, do you know how many people died

From gun violence?


That’s a big number.

What’s even bigger?

The fact that 12,000

Breaks down to about 30 people a day.

30 people a day.

That’s an average classroom size.

That’s an average classroom size dying.

Every. Single. Day.

Don’t you think that you would feel safer if your neighbors didn’t own a gun?

I know I would.

When I was 2, some kid in my neighborhood had a party.

His parents were out of town.

He invited half his class to our small 20 home development.

He got drunk.

He went into his parents’ room.

He pulled out their gun.

He shot it.

And the bullet ended up in my bathtub.

If the wind had changed a millimeter that night,

my sister or I would not be alive today.

The cops told my parents that this kind of thing happens all the time.

But it never makes the papers.

Do you think, that if these “small” shootings were reported,

That we would live in a different world?

I like to think so.

It gives me hope that we are not so far gone.

I have friends who tell me that my stance on gun control is unreasonable.

That guns don’t kill people,

People kill people.

That if these people didn’t have a gun,

They would just find some other way to kill.

And they may be right.

But I still don’t think that Open Carry

Is the answer to a safer America.

My friends tell me that the answer

Lies in better mental health care,

And stricter background checks.

But I still have this thought,

This crazy idea,

That those who want a gun,

Will manage to get one.

Would you feel safe if someone brought a gun into a store,

Or a restaurant?

That is what Open Carry is all about.

A complete stranger

Can bring his (or her) gun

Into your favorite restaurant.

They can carry their gun in their car.

Doesn’t that scare you?

Have you ever cut someone off on the highway?

Ever heard of road rage?

Open Carry terrifies me.


That’s how it always starts.

Aren’t you tired of it?

Don’t you want to feel safe?


That’s how it always ends.