$700 Studio Sized Bedroom Available in Flatbush/Prospect Park South

I’m trying to find a roommate for a HUGE bedroom in a shared 2-Bd/1-Ba apartment starting March 15th or April 1st for $700/month.  It was originally $735/mo. but as the ad explains, I use the living room as a home office for a few days a week. The living room will be limited use so I’m offering the rent discount.

HUGE STUDIO-SIZED BEDROOM AVAILABLE FOR RENT: $700 due each month

Approximate monthly utilities (per person): internet (Verizon)—$28 ; gas—$10; electric—$20

Move in Date: March 15th/April 1st (flexible.)

Preferred Sublet Length: 6 months (preferred but flexible)

Security Deposit: $700 (One Month’s Rent)

The Neighborhood: Flatbush/Prospect Park South The apartment is in a great spot in Flatbush, conveniently located: – 3 blocks from Prospect Park! – 1 block to the B/Q Church Avenue subway – At the edge of Ditmas Park and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Surrounding amenities include numerous fruit/vegetable stands, grocery stores, drugstores, bodegas, and delis. There is a natural foods store 2 blocks away and Flatbush Food Co-op is nearby. It is historically a West Indian neighborhood. In an attempt to minimize the impact of our gentrification imprint, QTPOC are strongly encouraged to inquire.

The Apartment: The bedroom available is studio-sized. You can easily fit queen/king sized bed, nightstands, desk, and a couch. Dimensions are 17.5 X 12.5 ft. The bedroom also features two large windows and a deep storage closet. Pictures attached. Please note that’s my current roomie’s California King Bed (not included – roomie or bed). The apartment is on the top floor (the building has an elevator). It features a galley kitchen with plenty of pantry space for food. There’s a microwave and other appliances. Additionally, the bathroom has a deep, refinished tub. I use the living room as a separate home office/studio space. Being in an apartment building, you occasionally hear other tenants on evenings and weekends. However, the neighbors are respectful and friendly. The other tenants include mostly families, some young professionals, and a few students. There is an on-site superintendent.

Requests: I ask that shoes not be worn in the apartment and that we routinely vacuum.  Also, the bathroom is right next to my bedroom, so I ask that my roommate be sensitive about keeping quiet in there while I’m sleeping.  Likewise, the kitchen and front door are by the rental room, and I’ll extend the same courtesy.  I like to keep the apartment clean, so if you’re not neat about bathroom/eating/kitchen space, etc. — we won’t be a good fit.  I’m an artist who sometimes works from home, so I prefer somebody with a regular daytime schedule. No pets.

If You’re Interested, e-mail me and tell me about yourself.  What are your needs and expectations in a shared living situation?  Feel free to get into the nitty gritty.  When do you need to move-in?  How long do you want to stay?

About Me Taiwanese/Chinese.  Queer.  Writer.  Activist.  Vanquisher of foolishness.  Teacher.  Community Lawyer.  Late 30’s.  Kind and Responsible.

Contact Serena at courtni.brooklyn@yahoo.com   

$650 Furnished Sublet Available from April 6th – May 1st

I’m also subletting my bedroom from April 6th-May 1st for $650.  I’m pretty flexible/negotiable about the sublet price (especially if you want to stay 3-4 weeks) so contact me for further details

FullSizeRender-2FullSizeRenderRoom3

$735 Studio Sized Bedroom Available in Flatbush/Prospect Park South

I’m trying to find a roommate for a HUGE bedroom in a shared 2-Bd/1-Ba apartment starting March 15th or April 1st for $735/month.

$735 – HUGE STUDIO-SIZED BEDROOM AVAILABLE FOR RENT: $735 due each month

Approximate shared utilities per month: internet (Verizon)—$28 ; gas—$10; electric—$20

Move in Date: March 15th/April 1st (flexible.)

Preferred Sublet Length: 6 months (preferred but flexible)

Security Deposit: $735 (One Month’s Rent)

The Neighborhood: Flatbush/Prospect Park South The apartment is in a great spot in Flatbush, conveniently located: – 3 blocks from Prospect Park! – 1 block to the B/Q Church Avenue subway – At the edge of Ditmas Park and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Surrounding amenities include numerous fruit/vegetable stands, grocery stores, drugstores, bodegas, and delis. There is a natural foods store 2 blocks away and Flatbush Food Co-op is nearby. It is historically a West Indian neighborhood. In an attempt to minimize the impact of our gentrification imprint, QTPOC are strongly encouraged to inquire.

The Apartment: The bedroom available is studio-sized. You can easily fit queen/king sized bed, nightstands, desk, and a couch. Dimensions are 17.5 X 12.5 ft. The bedroom also features two large windows and a deep storage closet. Pictures attached. Please note that’s my current roomie’s California King Bed (not included – roomie or bed). The apartment is on the top floor (the building has an elevator). It features a galley kitchen with plenty of pantry space for food. There’s a microwave and other appliances. Additionally, the bathroom has a deep, refinished tub. I use the living room as a separate home office/studio space. Being in an apartment building, you occasionally hear other tenants on evenings and weekends. However, the neighbors are respectful and friendly. The other tenants include mostly families, some young professionals, and a few students. There is an on-site superintendent.

Requests: I ask that shoes not be worn in the apartment and that we routinely vacuum.  Also, the bathroom is right next to my bedroom, so I ask that my roommate be sensitive about keeping quiet in there while I’m sleeping.  Likewise, the kitchen and front door are by the rental room, and I’ll extend the same courtesy.  I like to keep the apartment clean, so if you’re not neat about bathroom/eating/kitchen space, etc. — we won’t be a good fit.  I’m an artist who sometimes works from home, so I prefer somebody with a regular daytime schedule. No pets.

If You’re Interested, e-mail me and tell me about yourself.  What are your needs and expectations in a shared living situation?  Feel free to get into the nitty gritty.  When do you need to move-in?  How long do you want to stay?

About Me Taiwanese/Chinese.  Queer.  Writer.  Activist.  Vanquisher of foolishness.  Teacher.  Community Lawyer.  Late 30’s.  Kind and Responsible.

Contact Serena at courtni.brooklyn@yahoo.com   I’m also subletting my bedroom from April 6th-May 1st for $650.  I’m pretty flexible/negotiable about the sublet price (especially if you want to stay 3-4 weeks) so contact me for further details.

FullSizeRender-2FullSizeRenderRoom3

$735 – Studio-Sized Bedroom Rental in Flatbush/Prospect Park South

Hiya! I’m renting a HUGE bedroom in a 2-Bd/1-Ba apartment starting March 15th or April 1st for $735/month. I’m also subletting my bedroom from April 6th – May 1st for $700 (flexible for friends/friends of friends). See Below for Details:

$735 – HUGE STUDIO-SIZED BEDROOM AVAILABLE FOR RENT Rent: $735 due on the 15th of each month

Approximate shared utilities per month: internet (Verizon)—$28 ; gas—$10; electric—$20

Move in Date: March 15th or April 1st (I have some flexibility.)

Preferred Sublet Length: 6 months (preferred) or longer (flexible)

Security Deposit: $735 (One Month’s Rent)

The Neighborhood: Flatbush/Prospect Park South The apartment is in a great spot in Flatbush, conveniently located: – 3 blocks from Prospect Park! – 1 block to the B/Q Church Avenue subway – At the edge of Ditmas Park and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Surrounding amenities include numerous fruit/vegetable stands, grocery stores, drugstores, bodegas, and delis. There is a natural foods store 2 blocks away and Flatbush Food Co-op is nearby. It is historically a West Indian neighborhood. In an attempt to minimize the impact of our gentrification imprint, QTPOC are strongly encouraged to inquire.

The Apartment: The bedroom available is studio-sized. You can easily fit queen/king sized bed, nightstands, desk, and a couch. Dimensions are 17.5 X 12.5 ft. The bedroom also features two large windows and a deep storage closet. Pictures attached. Please note that’s my current roomie’s California King Bed (not included – roomie or bed). The apartment is on the top floor (the building has an elevator). It features a galley kitchen with plenty of pantry space for food. There’s a microwave and other appliances. Additionally, the bathroom has a deep, refinished tub. I use the living room as a separate home office/studio space. Being in an apartment building, you occasionally hear other tenants on evenings and weekends. However, the neighbors are respectful and friendly. The other tenants include mostly families, some young professionals, and a few students. There is an on-site superintendent.

Requests: I ask that shoes not be worn in the apartment and that we routinely vacuum.  Also, the bathroom is right next to my bedroom, so I ask that my roommate be sensitive about keeping quiet in there while I’m sleeping.  Likewise, the kitchen and front door are by the rental room, and I’ll extend the same courtesy.  I like to keep the apartment clean, so if you’re not neat about bathroom/eating/kitchen space, etc. — we won’t be a good fit.  I’m an artist who sometimes works from home, so I prefer somebody with a regular daytime schedule. No pets.

If You’re Interested, e-mail me and tell me about yourself.  What are your needs and expectations in a shared living situation?  Feel free to get into the nitty gritty.  When do you need to move-in?  How long do you want to stay?

About Me Taiwanese/Chinese.  Queer.  Writer.  Activist.  Vanquisher of foolishness.  Teacher.  Late 30’s.  Kind and Responsible. Contact Serena at courtni.brooklyn@yahoo.com   Room3 Room2 Room7 kitchen 2 kitchen 1

*** BEAUTIFUL ROOM/FURNISHED SUBLET AVAILABLE FROM APRIL 6 – MAY 1st for $700 FLATBUSH/PROSPECT PARK SOUTH

Subletting 1 bedroom, shared bathroom, fully-furnished. I’d prefer one person who’ll take it for 3-4 weeks.  If you need a place starting April 1, we can work something out. And if you only need it for 3 weeks, we can work out a different price. The bedroom available is spacious and quiet. The apartment is on the top floor, has two large windows, a very comfy full-size bed, wardrobe, and a desk. The apartment is on the top floor (the building has an elevator). It features a galley kitchen with plenty of pantry space for food. There’s a microwave and other appliances. Additionally, the bathroom has a deep, refinished tub.

The living room is beautiful, big, and has a lovely wood circular dining table, queen-sized couch/futon, bookshelves (but it’s not a lending library, so consider it ambience), another desk, coffee table, and is super comfy.  Also, it gets great light.

Requests: I ask that shoes not be worn in the apartment. No pets. Contact Serena at courtni.brooklyn@yahoo.com

To my Family and Friends – Boycott Black Friday

Dear Family and Friends,

I know many of us shop on Black Friday for good deals. This year, after the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson and many other deaths, many of us have been shocked, angry, and sad. It is hard to imagine if any of us (or our kids) were shot by police how our parents would feel if they were told that there would be no trial. But that happened here. So why am I asking you not to spend money on Black Friday?

People in this country are so scared of Black people and so racist toward Black people, that they will stand by and allow cops to shoot unarmed Black men and kids on the street without holding them accountable. They also lock up more Black people than any other group. Truthfully, we as Asians aren’t targeted as much, so it’s easier for us to turn away and say that’s somebody else’s problem. But we have power too, and when you have power, you can’t look around and pretend that you can’t do anything to help. So we have to choose whether we use the power we have as a people for good, or for evil.

It is only a matter of time before all this racism hurts us more than it already does. People protest (and sometimes they riot) because they have tried to live under the law, but the law doesn’t protect them. They know the legal system doesn’t work. So what else can they do? That’s what’s happening with some people right now. They are angry because they feel helpless. They can’t go to court and ask for justice.

I went and protested in New York City, but there are many other ways for us to fight for justice. I hope you will consider not spending money on Black Friday to support the Black people of this country. I hope you will consider asking your friends not to spend money. There’s a call to boycott Black Friday in support of Black people’s lives because so much of the property-protection system in the United States is based on cops who discriminate against Black people. We benefit from this system, so we have to speak out, as much as the next person. It’s also to add to the power of Black people who have a lot of buying power.

I know this request might mean missing out on a sale for something that you’ve wanted and haven’t been able to afford, but what it also means is that in our own small way we will be supporting the many Black people in this country who deserve to live in peace and safety. Black folks are our people too. Just like we are theirs. Their leadership in, and creation of, the civil rights movement increased our rights as Asians. For that, we can be grateful. No laptop, computer, phone, television, or device, is worth the sorrow of the fathers, mothers, daughters, and brothers out there. We love family, so we know this is important.

As Asian immigrants and children of immigrants, we benefit from a system built on the backs of Black people enslaved by white people. We still benefit from a system that imprisons, beats down, and kills so many Black lives. I wish this were an exaggeration, but you all know I was a lawyer for years. I witnessed first-hand that the system is unfair to Black people. I want to love this country, but only if I can be a part of making it greater and welcoming to all people. Let’s join together.

It’s for these reasons that I urge you not to buy anything on Black Friday.

Please consider sharing my note with our other relatives and friends. Or, of course, write your own.

Love,
Serena

Review of Long Hidden on Necessary Fiction

Please go to Necessary Fiction to read GREAT REVIEWS!
 
***

Published and Printed at Necessary Fiction

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History

edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older


Long Hidden, 2014

The stories in Long Hidden summon the fabulist landscape of remote lands and rare creatures of myth, give or take a zombie and a couple of werewolves. For all its rollicking and twisting plots, most of the stories are embedded in critique: confronting and overturning the notion that magical agency belongs only to those who are male, straight, gender conforming, able-bodied, and white.

The theme of transformation is prevalent throughout the anthology. The use of magic as an agent for personal change or awareness isn’t homogenized. Instead, magic is applied as a spring of enlightenment not a fix-it tool for plot holes. The resulting stories are fresh rather than flat.

Characters in the collection are marked outsiders, and as such, the bulk of the stories play upon the dichotomies between the exterior world/embodiment and the interior self. Nghi Vo’s “Neither Witch Nor Fairy” turns a transgender woman from an outward love for her brother toward an inward recognition of her own identity. A panoply of magical love stories is crowned by Ken Liu’s “Knotting Grass, Holding Ring,” an engrossing romance set in China that sweeps the reader well beyond its conventions of beauty, lesbianism, foot binding, and sex work. Kima Jones’s haunting and imaginative “Nine” enmeshes and confines queers, ghosts, and past debts that have come due in one eerie motel space.

Several stories bear witness to the ravages of genocide, war, and civil violence upon those who have the least power in society. Michael Janairo’s “Angela and the Scar” is an enchanting intervention of a white colonial and ecological takeover by a young girl and her kapfre friend set in the Philippines. Sarah Pinsker’s “There Will Be One Vacant Chair” follows two Jewish brothers in Ohio during the Civil War, one crippled and in a chair and the other on the battlefield, the brothers surreally merging into one body.

The sweeping flight of Arro-yo in Nnedi Okorafor’s “It’s War” is momentous and memorable. Arro-yo is an outcast, whose grief for a friend inspires her reluctant participation and subsequent exposure as an Amuosu during the 1929 “Woman’s War” in Nigeria. Okorafor’s story is a tribute to the Igbo leaders, full of rich visuals:

From above, she saw burning buildings, bodies lying in the street, women fighting with colonialists, screams, sticks, cooking spoons, cudgels, palm switches, terror, and blood…

Arro-yo swooped down like an attacking owl, her blue dress billowing around her as she landed.

Locating itself within the realm of historical fiction, Long Hidden claims a lineage of speculative fiction that re-imagines identity and questions existing power structures. Full disclosure, as a writer from Voices of Our Nation, I’m a fan and proponent of diverse, power-shifting speculative fiction. I know some of the authors and one editor and kicked in ten clams when it was only a concept, before it garnered an astounding 1,181 funders. The editors’ challenge to support an anthology that “reflects all people and makes room for everyone to be a hero” resonated with like-minded readers.

Unlike many speculative fictions in today’s market, the unreal in Long Hidden is used to shine a light on difference and oppression rather than to elide these histories. The writing in the collection was uneven at times, with some writers falling prey to familiar tropes of bad boys and good girls or to loose storytelling. By far, the better stories in the collection explored intersectional identities. Among these is a literary masterpiece, “Collected Likenesses” by Jamey Hatley whose hypnotic second-person prose is sure to pop out an eyeball or two. Here’s a snippet:

You, too, love sharp things. Long, slender hatpins tipped with opal or quince feathers. Buttery leather shoes with pointed toes. Fish that can only be consumed by an eager tongue searching for pin bones. Needles that can free an ingrown hair, mend flesh, or stab. Prick, blister, choke. A threat sidled up next to such delicious beauty.

Particularly compelling were stories writ on the canvas of family responsibility and tradition, the vital passage of dangerous and sometimes shameful knowledge through generations. Victor LaValle’s “Lone Women,” arguably one of the most digestible stories of the lot—as it’s among the works that recalls the popular marriage of spec lit and Westerns—recasts sister as monster and imparts new meaning to the phrase “my sister’s keeper.”

In Tananarive Due’s “Free Jim’s Mine,” the fate of Lottie, a pregnant woman escaping slavery, is entrusted to her mysterious Uncle Jim, a free man. The story twines a metaphor for loss suffered on the Underground Railroad tighter and tighter around a watery, subterranean cavern until it submerges the reader in horror. Due delivers thrills and delves into themes of interracial relationships in the antebellum South, navigating Uncle Jim’s suspicion of Lottie’s Cherokee boyfriend and the sinister nature of her uncle’s freedom.

Lisa Bolekaja’s “Medu” hits the notes of Black empowerment. Throughout, the editors have given more than a nod to the anthology’s beginnings in a Twitter conversation that referenced representations of the African diaspora in historical speculative fiction. Lil Bit, Bolekaja’s hero, seeks not only to free her snakelets of hair, but to reach Nicodemus where her mother says:

“Everything owned by Negroes. Hundreds of colored people living on they own land for the first time. And they free. That’s what it’s like.”

Lil Bit’s yearning for belonging is as much a race parable as it is an empowerment response to scrutiny of Black women’s hair.

“The Dance of the White Demons” by Sabrina Vourvoulias is the anchor leg of the collection and unfolds in Guatemala during the Spanish Conquest. The fierceness of Vourvoulias’s writing is matched by her distinct lack of sentimentality:

As I step over their bleeding, dying bodies, I put it together in my head. The foreigners know nothing of the white demons, so they do not fear me for my semblance. They fear me because I look like one of their young, turned against them and repudiating the savagery of this invasion.

A fitting end to the journey, “Dance of the White Demons” bows its head to the Conquistadores’ colonization/genocide of indigenous peoples, then lifts up and stares right back, raising a song that refuses to abdicate the power of a peoples’ culture and memory to empire.

At its best, Long Hidden couples good old-fashioned storytelling with the political power of speculative fiction. The roots of the project, as acknowledged by the editors, are crowd-funded. The existence of this aesthetically pleasing volume—a visual treat from the go with 2014 Hugo Award Winner for Best Professional Artist Julie Dillon’s cover art—is a testament to the hunger of readers who want fantastical fare that doesn’t whitewash the past. It’s a collection that yanks its audience from the status quo and transports them squarely into the magic of histories they didn’t even know existed.

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The writers included in Long Hidden are: Sofia Samatar, Thoraiya Dyer, Tananarive Due, S. Lynn, Sunny Moraine, Rion Amilcar Scott, Meg Jayanth, Claire Humphrey, L.S. Johnson, Robert William Iveniuk, Jamey Hatley, Michael Janairo, Benjamin Parzybok, Kima Jones, Christina Lynch, Troy L. Wiggins, Nghi Vo, David Fuller, Ken Liu, Kemba Banton, Sarah Pinsker, Nnedi Okorafor, Shanaé Brown, Nicolette Barischoff, Lisa Bolekaja, Victor LaValle, and Sabrina Vourvoulias.

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Serena W. Lin cuts her teeth on monsters and queers. She obtained her MFA as a Truman Capote Fellow in fiction from Rutgers-Newark and is a member of the VONA and Grind writing communities. Her fiction is published in the cream city review and Hyphen online. Read her at drunkenwhispers.wordpress.com.

Ramadan Day 29 – Is This The End, My Beautiful Friend?

For Gloria, Family, and Friends

Ramadan 2014

My first prayer is the one for Gloria. Gloria is a person of faith. I still don’t know the details of her God. I do know that she treats faith with such respect and care. I know her kindness, compassion, and generosity toward others and herself. Her courage jumps into whatever I write, and her love is infinite.

 

photo 1-2

My Friends,

I pulled these chairs up for you so we may speak together.

Hush, Yonder is a castle.

What you have done for me is but the first step

in a repayment plan for all the love you

were once given.  How else could you recognize the gift?

***

Just sit there right now
Don’t do a thing
Just rest.

For your separation from God,
From love,

Is the hardest work
In this
World.

Let me bring you trays of food
And something
That you like to
Drink.

You can use my soft words
As a cushion
For your
Head.

~Hafiz~

Translation by Daniel Ladinsky

***

As Ramadan draws to a close, I sit outside alone in Sewanee.  A soft wind, so companionable, and my breath, always the breath–no speech but the scratch of my pen. It thunders later tonight.

The lightning is a flicker here and there in the long grass. Look up to the sky.

The rain is loud and steady.

I fasted in Brooklyn, then in California, back in Brooklyn, now in Tennessee. I did this with you.

Tomorrow, I venture to Murfreesboro, or Nashville. A Joss Whedon-styled Angel, the man with a shorn head, who was with Bats – the two who gave me a little fright on the first night, drunk and partying, who had locked themselves out, insisted that I use his rental car to drive into town.

If you don’t use my car to attend Eid prayer, I’ll be upset, Angel said.  This is like your mini-Hajj.  I could use your prayers, he adds.

In the kitchen for two nights, as I eat, he comes to discuss our faiths, aligned, yet I can tell he is struggling with something. Our talking draws the spirits closer. I want the questions in his chest to burst free of their cage.

 

***

 

What does it mean to be at the end of a time?

Frenchie leaves a reading with tears in her eyes, touched by a talk I’d been unable to attend about procrastination and aging. To know that our time is limited and be at the end of our careers, she mentions. It felt brave.  It felt personal.

Somewhere on Pluto

a wind dies

an engine stalls in Detroit,

the flower of summer sets

into the apex of the Sun.

Did I tell you this story already? Frenchie says. I keep thinking that you were there, even when you are not. She shakes her head.

In a place where I expected to make connections and only hoped to find friends, this statement touches me.

I am with you, I say, even when I am not with you.

Allah whispered this into my ear during this fast.

 

***

 

At the beginning of an event, I’m already leaning toward the ending.

If I really want the time to end, the ending is bright and full of fluffy clouds.

However, if I want the time to last forever, I cannot picture the end.

I will be a different person than the one today, and the future is unknowable.  I would like to stay here.

Stop this: Full-of-worry, even sadness, missing the future where I will no longer be me,

missing the present.

 

***

 

Saimo tells me of her difficulties during Ramadan. I nod throughout as each word feels like shared steps.

Good, I think selfishly — I wasn’t the only one challenged by the lack of the Ramadan pattern.  I’ve come to love my routines. It was an endlessly social Ramadan, but I could not settle into company, wanting to be alone more often than not but unable to make that space. My writing didn’t flow, even though I wrote. I appeared peaceful, but inside my thoughts were strained.  It was a Ramadan of contradictions.

Usually, in the last week and a half of Ramadan the blessings of the fast are bestowed: an infinite peace, a calm, a quiet. Prayer is easier.  Focus is possible.  The hunger dies and is replaced by the food of the Spirit. The good stuff, Saimo called it. This Ramadan, we said to each other, not so much good stuff.

Every morning I woke up expecting that I would not be so hungry or thirsty, but my body betrayed me. Instead of slipping into a meditative state, my head would rock and roll. Was I asleep? Did I snore? Did anybody see me?  More times than I could count.

 

***

 

Where is my spiritual journey?

That second meal was usually the hardest. I was already full. Trying to sleep. Waking up to pray. Trying to sleep. I lost count.

I expected that my faith would keep my doubts at bay. I was full of so much anxiety, as if I could not keep myself from anticipating that I would be anxious. Allah has listened to too many complaints to me. Each gratitude is paired with a fear, such a couple.

We come into time expecting one thing, but getting another.

 

***

 

Tonight there was a graveyard walk. I was busy stuffing brownies in my bag and caught up to the group, cheeks bulging. The great poet Claudia Emerson who I discussed earlier was trailing at the back of the crowd with another poet, discussing her chemo and the exhaustion of her thyroid dysfunction. I caught only parts of the conversation. Later, I realized it was about the reading of poetry at the graveyard.

A group of New Yorkers raised a fuss, Claudia’s companion side, when we read Alan Tate’s Ode to the Confederate Dead so that sort of ended that.

I can see why that’s not a popular title, I interject.

Well, it’s not about celebrating the confederacy, he says. I do think they just stopped at the title.

Oh, I say, well people don’t make so much room for complexity these days.

So, Claudia agrees and nods, when I asked ____ what I should read, that’s when he asked me to read Wolves. He was so emphatic. She laughed.

 

***

 

This is exactly what Claudia Emerson looked like the year before, at the grave of Allen Tate, reading his poem “The Wolves”:

 

There are wolves in the next room waiting

With heads bent low, thrust out, breathing

At nothing in the dark; between them and me

A white door patched with light from the hall

Where it seems never (so still is the house)

A man has walked from the front door to the stair.

It has all been forever. Beasts claw the floor.

I have brooded on angels and archfiends

But no man has ever sat where the next room’s

Crowded with wolves, and for the honor of man

I affirm that never have I before. Now while

I have looked for the evening star at a cold window

And whistled when Arcturus spilt his light,

I’ve heard the wolves scuffle, and said: So this

Is man; so-what better conclusion is there-

The day will not follow night, and the heart

Of man has a little dignity, but less patience

Than a wolf’s, and a duller sense that cannot

Smell its own mortality. (This and other

Meditations will be suited to other times

After dog silence howls his epitaph.)

(excerpted)

 

***

 

This is what Claudia Emerson looked like reading Tate’s “Ode to the Confederate Dead”

We shall say only the leaves whispering

In the improbable mist of nightfall

That flies on multiple wing:

Night is the beginning and the end

And in between the ends of distraction

Waits mute speculation, the patient curse

That stones the eyes, or like the jaguar leaps

For his own image in a jungle pool, his victim.

(excerpted)

 

***

 

I didn’t end up catching the reading at the graveyard.  I was with myself in the basement of a library printing out directions to Murfreesboro, then walking through the graveyard by myself in the dark (to scare myself), then popping out upon Frenchie as she and other writers listened to a recital of one of Allen Tate’s poems near his grave, her flashlight on.

Buahahahahahhah, I said in my magician’s voice.

You’re not funny, she said.

 

***

 

What does it mean to be at the end of something?

How will you feel tomorrow about this Ramadan? Saimo asked.

I don’t know, I said, but last night I popped a filling out while I was flossing. Do you think I need to see a dentist? I asked Saimo.

Well, I’ve popped out a filling before, Saimo said. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

But I don’t think I’ve ever done it by flossing.

 

***

 

We are the lake. Allah is beneath the surface.

I became more concerned this Ramadan with doing things properly, unusual for me.   I cannot think upon all the reasons for this particular evolution. I didn’t say my usual jovial Ramadan Mukabar! I wanted to pray correctly, my gender-queer self wanted to bend toward hijab like a magical rainbow. I needed two tutorials, one from Pelé on washing, the other from Saimo on how to wrap my hijab. It’s as if I disappeared into the swallows of Tennessee and emerged with two bobby pins and one safety pin.  At the end of the rainbow is a perfectly arranged Muslim.

 

***

 

Is the spiritual journey simply the sum of its parts?

Is it one forehead, two hands, two knees, and two toes?

As if our philosophies are rendered useless by the fast.

Our bodies become both loud and invisible.

We come into time expecting one thing, but getting another.

Has this fast been everything you could hope for? Allah asked.

Yes, Yes

 

***

 

Ramadan is my container. Without the limits and constraints of Ramadan, I would not have come upon this end because there would be no such thing as an ending.

There is a grace in submitting to a time, in pouring your life into a container.  This foreign object that encapsulates you makes it possible for you to identify a shape.  Who hasn’t imagined infinity as an arc, heading towards our personal goals.

My selfish worries about graduation, about looking for a job, about my aloneness, about my family, about my friend’s health, about my love life, and last but not least, my unconquerable soul, gave way to my prayers.

I could not deny this end, nor put it off.

It is simple, yet it is not easy.

I knew of course that the time would end.

But saying it, even it being it itself as I wrote, did not allow me to imagine it, to predict it.

I do however, cherish this end.

 

***

 

Claudia Emerson insisted in the bookstore that she gift me a book of her poetry. She knew that I had plans for the copy I’d won my second day in Sewanee. She sent her husband to buy the book for me.

 

For Once

By Claudia Emerson (from her collection Secure the Shadows)

 

I had many times walked past it: crowded

Stand of mixed woods where a field used to be,

 

self-ordained survivors of a place

Having gone unnoticed long enough

 

for them to volunteer: maples, scrub pines,

some cedars – a blood beech leaved even

 

in winter, little remarkable either

for ruin or beauty. And then something, in there,

 

caused me to pause, sounds a wakeful house

can make – the restlessness of a slumberous

 

body shifting in bed, the strike of a match,

foot doubtful on a stair, kindling catching,

 

water from a spigot, fatwood hiss.

Or all of it the acoustics of emptiness—

 

needles of ice ticking on abandoned glass,

a porch swing’s chained keening. But it was habit

 

to find the familiar in that shifting architecture,

its trueness not finally in the measure

 

and level of some human past, or possible,

but in that present quickening—wind-cast

 

shadows of sound and soundlessness, unseen,

unknowable, and, for once, enough.

 

 

***

 

Postscriptish

 

Thank you for reading my blog. I’m not sure whether I’ll post for Eid as tomorrow I drive to Murfreesboro and then come back to listen to my Sewanee teacher Randall Kenan read, a handsome man with eyes that fire.

 

If you’ve been reading my blog (and I knew about it), please know that I’ve kept you in my prayers. I did it very specific, just like in the Secret, so the blessings of my fast should adhere to you. I’m so serious.

 

My Gloria writes me that she likes to look at my face and my eyes. Her operation is set for the 29th. I have so many things to say to her, so here’s my beginning:

 

I am with you even when I am not with you.

 

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Eid Mubarak!

This is us beginning.

 

 

 

Got a favorite of my Ramadan Journal Entries?  Let me know!  2013 and 2014 are all online.  You may wish to access by following links I’ve provided, or scroll haphazardly.  Please feel free to leave me comments.  I love them.

Some of my favorite Ramadan Journal posts listed below in eight different places w/ links!  ;)

1.) 2013, Introduction, my first Ramadan Journal Entry

2.) 2013, Eid

3.) 2014, Fast Brain

4.) 2014, Sgt. Lonely’s Queer Club Band

5.) 2014, My Mother in the Summertime

6.) 2013, Ramadan Day 9

7. 2013, Ramadan Day 11

8.) 2014, Journey South

Ramadan Day 28 – Post-Memory Human

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(I’m pictured center-right.)

 

It’s a murder of crows and a memory of elephants. – from trivia night.

 

Over two hundred writers sit in a room. They flip the pages this way and that. I fall asleep thinking of the ocean.

 

Who was I to think that fasting would become easier and easier in the last few days?

 

It has not. Instead, I am tired and weak and inside my head are pokey thoughts. Somehow, the peace is louder than my little demons. It’s not that the demons no longer exist.

 

To fast is to take a risk. To take a risk is the spiritual journey. How afraid I am of falling.

 

Mary Jo Salter began her talk today about post-humanism. This is a subject close to my heart. We may soon begin, she said, to feel nostalgic about our nostalgia. Honey, I’m already there. The imperfection of human memory is the well-spring of human creativity, she argued. Getting things wrong is human.

 

She asked us at the end of the talk combining artificial intelligence and Shakespeare – “And if you prick us do we not bleed?” Afterward, I approached her and confided that the story I submitted for this workshop (I AM RITA) suggests a morality that robots cannot replace or truly enhance human nature. I asked her did you mean that the robots do not bleed when they are cut? What a wonderful question, she said. Interesting, but I think you could take it both ways. I meant that we bleed, which makes us more human than the robots. (paraphrase of Salter’s lecture).

 

I am so pockmarked by kindness that my skin is no longer smooth, or cruel.

 

The cicadas are a robust choir. One woman said that in the rainforest of Costa Rica, there are so many that you can feel their pee in the jungle. They remind Frenchie of Twelve Years a Slave. I hate them! she says. We are walking, not so deep in the woods when she takes out a flashlight and shines it on a man walking in front of us. Excuse me, sir, Excuse me, she says, deepening her voice. Cut it out, I say nervously. Well, this is how cops do it, she explains. We giggle, and the man it turns out is a friend.

 

I find that I cannot remember things, so instead I try to meditate. Every time I meditate I fall asleep. It’s the sound of the ocean again. How I wish to dive into the water. I dreamt. In my cupped palms was an infinite teardrop that became the ocean.

 

Although I smile a lot, it always hurts to realize that I’ve met that 1% immune to my smile. I smile through that too.

photo 3

 

We sit around a table telling ghost stories. I marvel at the realization that I’m not the only one who’s lost a parent who isn’t ready to die. People are angry, Frenchie points out. They don’t want to go.

 

I get to the Inn for Iftar but they’ve run out of food. I can make you a burger the server says. Please, can I have two? Two? he looks shocked. The other is for second dinner, I say. Of course, and ask me for anything else you need.  Here on this Episcopal campus of Sewanee, I have been treated with such kindness for my fast.  I am very grateful to carry home the second burger.

 

I continue to be obsessed with all the poets, not the kind that knows exactly who they are, but the kind that’s borrowed a hat someone left behind on a chair. They’re convinced they should return it. Poetry flits somewhere in the woods with the cicadas. I’m convinced I should borrow Frenchie’s flashlight.

 

Why is it so hard to write when tomorrow is the last day of the fast?

 

I intend to drive to Nashville, Tennessee for Eid prayer in someone else’s rental car. But that is a story I intend to save. Perhaps I am saving all my good stories. I’d like to believe that is truth.  But is it?

 

I contributed next to nothing to my trivia team. We had to go into town to the bar because Rebel’s Roost burned down. That’s the name of the regular bar for the conference every year. Yep. I didn’t wish to drink there.

 

I made one contribution tonight to my team. We did not win. Of course, I’d say we won in spirit. I guessed a title the trivia game’s designer said, “is very, very hard. I don’t think anybody will guess it.”  I think we should put the word [here] in brackets before will and after anybody.

 

Name this opening passage. Thank you Sol Q. Garda for telling me once that this was the most beautiful opening line in the English language.  After which, I re-read this passage.

 

We cannot remember much until we live moment in which we tell ourselves: remember this.

 

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.”

 

Scroll down further for the author/title.

 

 

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Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

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