10 tagged with #gbff

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i showed my grandmother the sky, a comically deep blue with a sun that blotted out my face. i showed her the grass, dropping my phone to the ground so she could look at the dandelions. 'those are just weeds,' my mother chided.

'they're beautiful, too,' my grandmother insisted.

i am often shy about videochatting my grandmother because of the inevitable comments about my appearance, but today she complimented my hair. today, she seemed alright.

08 May 2018 22:40


for a moment, the sound of blood pounding through my veins is louder than a train sucking air through a tunnel. i remind myself frequently, get up and refill your water glass. if it's not empty, i must drain it.

i remember a life lived, i remember kindness and fascination, i remember fear and misunderstanding. i feel for a body rotting before anyone is ready. sometimes, people are ready. often times, people are not.

i remind myself to come home, as often as i can.

06 May 2018 21:59


my grandmother came to us with rubber mannequins, these 18" high dolls of naked bodies with lines and dots marked on them for the vital points. her acupuncture set came in a rolled zipper case, and you could practice jabbing the mannequin and fill it with spikes. she had an oversized ear, like a large slice of melon, with more star points. this one for the kidneys, this one for cold toes, this one for sadness.

there would be days i'd come home from school and find my mother at the kitchen table with needles sticking out of her arms, by herself, twisting them and laughing at the feeling. 'do you want to try? here, try. there's a gap where you can put the needle and not feel pain.'

i never did, because i never understood why it worked.

'you don't have to understand why, just know that it does.'

29 April 2018 23:32


these days, i feel haunted by stories i'll never fully extract from the earth. each tree that grows casts off leaves into the wind, bits of fiber and carbon that settle into the mud some distance away. i feel hardening bark, gnarling roots, a surface crawling with ants, fresh buds chewed off by hungry squirrels. i'm hungry, too, but i cannot share their food.

i come home sometimes to hemlock boughs littering the yard, yellowed needles sucked dry by clusters of adelgids. these hemlocks were planted here by humans, anyway; a ruled straight line between two properties, as if the trees would obey those boundaries and never grow large enough to pry up concrete. they never knew that a disease would wipe them all out at once. in the summers, when i park in the driveway, i look up at the sparsely branched trees and wonder if there is a safe place beneath them. i walk off the distance from the tree line to the house and try not to think about how it's shorter than the height of the trees.

i shed skin cells and hair into the world the way the trees flake off weak branches. each item dropped is a thing that my body has put energy into forming; i breathe air and drink water and eat food, only to shed it minutes, hours, days, years later, once my body decides it's no longer a part of me. but those not-parts-of-me cram into the nooks under my laptop keys, the cracks in my floorboards, blowing into the cobwebs in the corner. some of it escapes further, an eyelash ripped from my face by the wind, drops of blood from my palms when i stumble and grab a sharp rock, left under a bush in the forest when i'm miles and miles away from domestic plumbing.

these are all, perhaps, stories that haven't been told.

14 April 2018 22:50

go by flying fox

my mother invited me on a trip with her old classmates to visit a part of the great wall. she was the only girl in her late 70s beijing pre-med program, and whenever i run into that wall of macho guys, i inevitably end up flexing back at them. at first, i thought it was to prove that i could put up with them; later, i realized it was just as important to show them that my mother could raise a strong human.

we rode a gondola from the tourist village to the watch tower, climbing around crumbling stacks of old stone where the reconstruction efforts stopped. i was fresh out of the rock gym that summer, primed to feel the cracks in the foundation and lean my body weight into unlikely positions to slowly inch up the side of a pillar roped off for visitor access. who was watching? just my mother, her college buddies, and a small trickle of other visitors; none of the park guards ever came this far. none of the security cameras in the area were hooked up yet; i could see cables dangling from the back of every box, snipped vines wilting in the dry northern heat.

but i saw a service path leading from the village to the wall when we glided up in air-conditioned bubbles, and i wanted to find it and walk down on my own power. 'i'll come with you,' my mother said, not wanting to lose me down the cliffside.

'me too,' said one of her more quiet classmates.

we found a sign that read 'GO BY FLYING FOX', with an arrow in the direction of where i thought the footpath would be. there was no flying fox; i might never know if the sign was aspirational or an artifact of a previous, dismantled attraction. our flying fox was a dusty, rocky crevice that trickled down the slope.

'i'm getting ripped off,' said my mother's friend. 'we all paid the same entry price, and the other guys are getting two rides in the gondola, and i only got one.'

he looked pale, but he was still sweating, so i wasn't worried about heat sickness yet. he'd never drink out of someone else's water bottle. i looked down; we were almost halfway back, but who knew how much the trail meandered?

'no, man, you're getting a bonus,' i said to him, cheerfully. 'we all paid for the same ticket, but you get to walk on a path that no one else got to see!'

i don't know if he found my statement funny, but his friends laughed at us when we finally made it back down for lunch. 'it took you guys forever!' they teased.

'bonus trail,' i said. 'we got our money's worth.'

09 April 2018 19:18

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