This Time, We Have Come

Slowly enough to be steady, rowing sturdy canoes,
old-speak appearing in the fog on the water
first language, hand-spoken, fur-hackles
predating the migration of babble.

The land that we love should not be carved into prizes.
Nobody owns a place until their dead are laid down in it.
Are you a wild god of fury?
Are you untamed, as suspected?
There is no safety with you, then,
Unpredictable Storm.
You are the end of safety,
but somehow you are comforting.

You would know, if you are here.
You must know, if what they say of you is true.
You too must have also suffered
a severance from family and tribe.
You must know the sadness
of all songs.

This time, O Lord of Burnt Offerings,
We have come bearing a trial of lanterns
to hunt you, whispering your darkened name

and your old shadow reclaims you,
curls in relief
down in toward wooded night comfort
slinking back into thickets
evading intrusive light.

This time, God,
we have come ready to find you,
wherever you are.

This time, Mother,
whoever you are now.

Hidden Magic

I found these following gems while sorting through my phone-photography.

Early in the year it snowed. We went to the hills to see it up close. I love the feeling of being wrapped in wool when it’s snow-cold out. Only wool clothing is a suitable when you sit down in snow; this way, you can be peaceful and take your time.

At the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, I was surprised by what a beautiful effect the glass separating humans and non-humans has on the photographic lens. In these pictures you can see the telling reflection of the onlooking humans. The effect of a transparent barrier between species is uncannily significant.

Below: words of fascination and appealing design, Kinokuniya Bookstore in Seattle. The company is a specialty Japanese bookstore with only a few locations outside of Japan. It’s a favorite for language-learners such as myself.

Speaking of Japanese inspiration, I got to visit the Pokémon Company International headquarters in Bellevue, WA! Pokémon was one of the original “sparkles” of my childhood that set me on the path of wanting to learn about Japan.

Going for a walk in Seattle on a bright, early summer morning…

I wish all parts of the city were as clean and inviting as this neighborhood. Sadly, Seattle is having a lot of problems lately with chronic drug-induced homelessness, and the ripple effect of crime and filth is becoming a local crises that no one in the region can ignore. While there are several complicated reasons this is happening here, it still doesn’t change the unfortunate truth that I no longer wish to spend time in Seattle city proper unless it is really necessary. Beautiful moments like these pictured above seem to be less frequently found these days. People who have lived in the region much longer than me say it was never like this before. Tony and I now just want to stay further out, even past Redmond, closer to Issaquah and Sammamish where we currently live. We jokingly say of downtown Seattle, “There but for the grace of Kinokuniya go I.”

This gorgeous house in Seattle probably costs multiple millions of dollars. However, I and many others see that the cost of real estate alone is no where near solely responsible for the aforementioned local problems.

Above: sunrise captured from the balcony of a house on a hill in Bothell, WA. May the mountains watch over us.

Alert! These waters (Pine Lake in Sammamish) contain toxic invasive species you oughtta know about. This is one of those instances where species identification is the real deal, more than a naturalist’s pastime.

Hmmm, something isn’t quite right about this picture… ;3 A morbid sense of humor in a Tacoma neighborhood, anyone?

Now that’s what I call a true enthusiasm for the holidays, for flood prevention and for caution while kayaking: it’s only August, and already these good people are preparing for Halloween!

Perhaps the spirits of the river’s dead will be reborn as…

a kingfisher, kawasemi in Japanese. I love how the kanji for “kingfisher” looks like it’s smiling :)

A Bird, a Frog, and a Patch of Woods

For your inspiration.

 

Tony and I found this tiny little guy! He’s an adorable, special little creature called a Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla). Location: a patch of woods near our home in Sammamish, WA, July 2018. The Pacific Tree Frog above was surely the guardian of the threshold who greeted us on our way into the woods that evening. It makes me think about how the Japanese word for frog, kaeru, かえる / 蛙 , is a homonym for the word return or come home, かえる / 帰る, and also for transform, かえる / 変える.

We don’t know what creature formerly owned this bone, but it was pretty cool to find.

This beautiful little birdy is a Black Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus). He flew into my windshield one sunlit evening this summer. After realizing what it was that made that tiny impact without a second’s notice, I pulled over to get out and go back for the poor cutie. He died on impact. I held his still-warm little body in my hands, and thanked his little spirit for the remarkable opportunity to to hold him, examine his remarkable self up close, and learn from his life. I took him home to let my kitties have a sniff: Mawser had no clue what to do with the tiny corpse, but Ivra was adorably desperate to eat it (he got to softly gum the wing for a moment, not believing his good fortune). That’s when we took our little Chickadee body out to the woods, laying him to rest in the hollow of a great Big Leaf Maple tree.

This Is What We Go Through

…on the job hunt.

Tell us about your previous experience and why you feel that would make you a good fit for this position.

I’m great at a lot of things, so there’s a lot of great reasons why you should hire me. One thing I’m great at is catching grammar mistakes, like the ones in your question: “experience” should have an “s” on the end, and “that” should be either “they” for plural or “it” for singular, if you insist.

Anyways, I know how to make an ancient friction fire from “rubbing two sticks together” as it’s colloquially referred to (it’s actually called a “bow-drill”), and that’s only a slice of it. You should see me in the 21st-century office. I’ve been through 10 years of work as a young adult bringing myself up in one carer that has taught me a lot, but now I’m setting my sights on better horizons, like you. You want me on your team for so many reasons, but to really find those out, you’ll need to offer me an interview (and hire me).

Tell us about any special skills or qualifications you feel would give you the ability to perform this job well.

I’m sure my aforementioned above answer was the bullseye you were really looking for. Oh, and I have a lot of fun with writing, communications and generally being one badass boss of a muffin who leads through compassion and deep respect for those I am responsible for and in service to. I’ve been the grunt, and now I want to take care of other grunts and keep them reassured that they don’t have to bail. They might even become your most amazing, profitable employees with the right investment of support in them.

What is your greatest strength?

Critical thinking.

What is your greatest weakness?

Chocolate. What’s yours?

What are some of your short-term and long-term goals?

My short term goals are to change careers, starting with Your Company™️, obviously the best little cohort in town. My long term goals are to retire filthy rich from flamboyant, risky investments and put my terrible, estranged mother in a retirement home.

This Is What We Go Through (Prologue)

Hi again, Recruiter. So, I went through the whole long application and got to the end and submitted it. The job then said that certain Amazon-related experience was required. I do not have this experience, but I can learn what I need on-the-job. You did not mention this during our phone call. I hope I didn’t go through that whole application for nothing.
I also noticed in your email that you have signed me up for a “group First Step interview”. We did not talk about a group interview: I was led to believe that this was a traditional one-on-one interview. I don’t do group interviews because I find them to be quite disrespectful of candidates’ time and dignity. We don’t need to be sitting in a room being talked at among our competition, hoping for a real interview: that’s degrading. If you’re willing and able to get me set up with a real, actual one-on-one interview, that’d be great. Thanks. If not, just let the next person know about this well in advance.
Say no to group interviews.

Taking the Time

My response to the request, “Please explain any gaps in employment greater than x [insert units of time here].”

Not everyone needs to work full time, all the time. Sometimes, people spend time doing other meaningful things that matter for their personal lives. I’m grateful that I’ve had the means to take the time for this. Work is important, but it’s not the sum of a full human life.

 

Views on Pre-Employment Personality Tests

Hi, [Potential Employer],

It appears that this “questionnaire” is a personality test. I’d like to know the name and credentials of the person who created the test, as most pre-employment personality tests are inappropriate and do not deliver the data that a company is –or should be– looking for. I’ll also need a written guarantee that my answers would remain strictly confidential.

I’m a critical thinker: I’m empathic, but I’m also as sharp as a surgeon’s knife. I will question many things with serious skepticism. I am not desperate. I am a strong leader and I am confident in my ability to serve, speak up, work hard, take care of and show great respect for my employees whom I supervise, deal appropriate discipline with reasonable and humane compassion, and get the job done. I know the laws of right conduct and will stick to them, while actively developing new, healthier ways of building teamwork and success. I’ve been described as such: “Amber stands for truth and justice and rewards respect and trust shown toward her with deep loyalty and commitment to devoted, high-quality work and enthusiasm for ongoing-learning in her career. She’s a self-starter who has attuned her capabilities to the fair win. Her communication is diamond-clear and she will always tell you the truth, but with that she’ll stand by you to help you become the best person you can be.”

That’s what you need to know about my personality. If this is a suitable answer to your questionnaire, we can move forward.

Sincerely,
Amber

Three Apples, This Child

“Three apples, this child,”

says the old woman beside me,

“Not a lot of twins these days,”

observes another: doppelgangers are

rare when nobody can see them.

Three apples, this child,

in the night woods of shadows and comfort, he follows and shapeshifts into a heart-piercing grown male,

she follows and finds him past the known world of her hairlessness

where the inhuman twins are carrying their beckoning apples.

they have fur and heat, too

they appear at the edge of the village,

sometimes with bundles of sweet red,

or green for a love potion

or yellow for the wooded sunrise winding into the east.

they arrive as the old shapeshifters,

beloved hidden in a cloak of marvelous danger

necessary, deeply and heralding

a happy death to all childhoods

song-speaking into warm beds in the great night, telling of futures past

the edge of the nursery

where for untrimmed beasts

at long last, the way is made open,

and the yearning halves of each become each,

these rightful pathways of good shadows,

full apples.

Our Species at Dusk

Last night I wanted to go to sleep and wake up as a happy five-year-old in this house of my grandparents, with both my Grandma and Grandpa alive, healthy and vital, the decay of the future far away or nonexistent, that present that was the past eternal again in a child’s unending summer day. And I found myself crying quietly in Grandpa’s study where I sleep when I come to Fresno, California to visit, because he is ten years still gone and Grandma is here in body but is barely and unrecognizably tenuously “alive” in her spirit.

I’m twenty-eight now and, for the great majority of my adult life under the rational light of the sun, I am accepting of and at peace with the situation that has come to be: our time is one of seeing more beloved elderly people slowly and pitifully die than ever before in society, proportionate to the numbers of the young who must witness it. Our grandparents and parents, once all medical cures are exhausted, languish in a half-life awaiting death, this rite of passage of which I have increasing faith in as a great liberation and the ultimate cure itself. People are living longer, but not necessarily better lives past a certain point. It became known to me in the past few years that Grandpa had considered seeking physician-assisted self-euthanasia, had his incurable physical pain become unbearable and death had not taken him in his sleep. The thought of it would have been too hard for me to handle when, at his death, I was eighteen and he was eighty, but now I have more and more serious respect for the natural and ancient dignity in such a choice. I had the freedom to euthanize my beloved cat of thirteen years when her veterinary ailments became unbearable for her, but we are in such stupid denial about the dignity of human beings in valid situations being able to choose the same for themselves. Instead, we force our beloved humans to have their butts wiped by somebody else, a humiliation that should never be forcibly born by a person because those around them are too chicken-shit to accept the reality of death in The World.

Sometimes, it’s the very resiliency of human beings that scares me so much: we can go through any hell and keep living. Other animals are not averse to the peace of death as a natural response to a suddenly severely maladaptive environment. But we humans are terrifying in our ruthless, pertinacious will to keep breathing through any plague, and now I wonder what this insect-like insistence has made of us. We have become titans of battle against everything, against our own brains and against Nature itself, and we have become unloving of Reality, at odds with The World, constantly unaccepting of the limits of the universe. Do I share in this same inclination to be at odds with The World in my childlike longing for a theoretical universe that could have (should have, would have, but only might have) been?

I was a child of the 1990s. I’ve long had a quietly uncanny feeling that something happened in the ’90s, and it was the end of the world. It was the end– or maybe the world spun off into different directions, dimensions, and this who I am in one of them is not who I am in another. And yet I do not feel divided within myself: through all my depression and the shit I went through as a kid with an insanely emotionally abusive mom with Borderline Personality Disorder, I have had the great luck of always feeling continuously whole within myself. Imaginatively, this uncanny sense of differing possible realities is more that I was pulled into one possible universe where things were not as whole all was meant to be, and something was off, only because, in contrast, I also glimpsed that deep Beauty of the Original World peeking through into this one. As a child, I saw this through the lens of my family. And who I am here have always been a little exorcist, who descended only deeply enough in time and in worlds within worlds to confront something, finish something, set something right. And any day now I will find my way back home to where I am supposed to be, waking up, relieved, from a dream.

Back in this world, I have lately been enjoying the lighter quality of trying not to feel so much all the time, for once in my life: my nature is to be so deeply feeling that it is frequently maladaptive to my environment, and I am weak and as yet unskilled in spinning this sensitivity into strands of gold. And now it suddenly and forbiddingly occurs to me that this ability to turn away from the tender heart is the necessary –and terrifyingly natural– shadow underlying my hominid ability to uncanny adaptation. How comfortable we are pressed to become among prolonged sickness and wrongful decay in our dogged search between a rock and a hard place for survival: the loss of tender feeling for that shimmering Original World, peeking through the slats of our weighted days, becomes an unbearable heartache for those with too much to carry. So much of an aging human life is full with the totalistic and unbending trial of coming to accept the absolute finality of death and loss, when still our persistent hearts in their deepest chambers yearn for life eternal. Among all of this, we must find a way to be happy– on pain of death. No wonder that those who find a path of absolute acceptable of reality while somehow keeping a tender heart are rightly called the saints of our species. And so I wonder if the Christians really have it right about something: humanity’s omnipresent longing for a semblance of eternal life, evident in all cultures, makes me wonder if there’s really something to it, in the way that hunger is an indicator that food exists somewhere.

But I am here now, born into this land of the vast old Earth, where my species is restless and beautiful and full of ancient and unknowable strangeness. Drifting into sleep last night I heard the night birds of this warm valley cooing their evening song from their perches and nests, calling steadily to their mates in their peaceful language, comforting their young in their downy breasts. I know their names, some of them, and the names and intimate formations of the trees that they love, that I love with a tender heart, that are bequeathed to me in an unending ancestry of natural lives in exchange. It was the Descent of Man, a going-down which Darwin spoke of, into the World to be among it completely, in totality. And in this moment of my brief human heart in the glorious life of the dark Earth I want nothing more than to be among the sounds of the night-songs forever, here in The World, so deeply is their avian comfort entwined with the blanketing world of the dusk, the old bones of the mother-sound of my animal life.

 

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