things die

“I kill everything.” people tell me that all the time - a blanket apology to all the leaves that have wilted under their watch. the world is covered with seemingly good people whose black thumbs have slain millions of plants. plant serial killers. call the plant police.

well, murderers. wipe the chlorophyll off your hands. sometimes things also just die. without being neglected, over-watered, poorly potted or improperly sunned. it’s sweet of you to carry the weight on your shoulders, but give yourself a break. you aren’t the master of your plants, you’re just a friend. help when you can, reap the benefits of good times and just like anything else in life, you have to let go when the time comes. 

there are plants called annuals. they live for a season and then die. zinnias will die. vegetables will die. you will plant seeds, watch them grow, move them outside, pick food and then one day the leaves will seem yellow and dry. sickly. the vines will wither. blossoms will no longer swell to make fruit. you didn’t kill it - it died. it always would. there are equal parts germination and decomposition. fruit and rot. life and death.

other plants are perennials. they only seem like they die. they dry, wither, turn black, stubby. you look at your pot of mint with black sticks that used to be leaves and think, “it’s dead,” but it’s not. nothing can be green all the time. the life force is resting in the roots, conserving energy for better weather and fresh rain. one day your potted wasteland will have a tiny green leaf poking out of a black stump. in a few weeks there will be so many green leaves you won’t remember what it used to be. you will sit with it through a hard time, and it will survive.

a plant that does not want to die, won’t. and a dead plant gives you its future in a seed, whether you plant it or not, and it knows its own way. you will plant strawberries on the left side of your yard and next spring find them growing out of cracks in your driveway. birds help, wind helps. you aren't in charge of everything, you're just paying attention.

meanwhile, this also applies to everything.

shit poem no. 4

nothing tastes like the ingredient list, 

looks like
the product description

or feels like
sailing away
finding you
losing myself.

except everywhere i wasn't
supposed to
taste it
           see it
                    feel it.
find it and
                lose it.

if i die tending my blessings;
feel for a pulse in my curses.



I have yet to met a completely whole person. 

Arms and legs, yes, people have those. But the construction that lies inside our hearts and minds - the bricks and scaffolding around who we are and what we want. I've never met anyone who was finished with that project. 

I can't say this with absolute certainty, but I think everyone has a hole. Some have a smallish, gravelly pothole like "I miss my great grandmother's biscuits on Thanksgiving." Others have gigantic, crater-made holes like "I'm divorced." And others still have deeper holes - where you stand at the precipice and look down, throwing rocks into the dark waiting to hear them rattle at the bottom, but you never do. Those holes are "I never met my dad," or "my mother died when I was very young" or "I lost a child." These are things we didn't ask for or choose - we couldn't have stopped them with better planning or more caution. The meteor fell from space and it fell on our block. Now the hole is our hole. It's your hole. I'm sincerely sorry, by the way. Life sucks.

The only choice you have is to cope with the hole. Build around it. String up a net. Try not to fall in. Throw food in it. Booze. Maybe if you throw enough tequila in it you can make a tequila swimming pool and just fucking drown. There are days that sounds like a true relief, if I'm honest.

What I've always done, and what I'm assuming is quite common, is to try and fill the hole with love. That sounds nice, doesn't it? That sounds like my perfectly millenial answer to any of life's problems: fill it with love. Cover it with love. Drown in love.

Though I've come to find, in reality, that's hardly a solution at all. 

Let's say, for today, that love is cement. Love is the quick-setting, stable substance that can patch holes large and small. Great, depending on the size of my hole. Unfortunately, if I'm self-assessing fairly, my hole's pretty big. I wouldn't say it's bottomless, but it's deep. It's a "rough childhood" sized hole. It's "broken family" size. When I yell down in to the abyss, it echoes back "Loneliness!" I've been surveying it for a while now, and I've tried lots of ways to fill it.

Falling in it feels miserable. It feels like I can't breathe for crying. Like nothing will ever be right with me because this hole is so, so wrong. It feels like nothing matters, no one can help, the world is broken, the ice caps are melting, life is a very mean prank and I want to lie in bed and wake up ten years from now.

Needless to say, I need to fill the hole with haste before I fall in again because NO.

Here comes the part where I scan my surroundings for anyone who might be able to bring me some (love) cement. Since I'm not a totally miserable, evil person I happen to have a smattering of friends. A mom, a brother. Yay, me. I won't ask the hole-creator to help, because screw that, but there's quite a few people around.

A well-meaning friend picks up a five-gallon bucket of cement and drags it over to my hole to help, only to be met with a deep expanse that requires so, so much more. How often have I rolled my eyes at this feeble attempt - or worse, not even noticed their contribution because I could barely see a difference?

My weary friends come back and forth as many times as they can in the few hours they have on break from their own emotional construction zones. They carry as many buckets as they can, but it's never enough. I need one of those giant trucks with the rotating cylinder, I think, but I don't know anyone who has one. A good friend would bring a truck. A good friend would have unlimited resources, unlimited time, good luck, good taste and a great sense of humor.

I lay on my back next to the hole, wailing for help and feeling sorry for myself. I go on a friend-making expedition to see if I can meet someone who happens to have a giant truck. I meet a lot of people who just sit and have coffee with me so we can talk and complain about how bothersome large holes are. We compare hole circumferences. They don't really have cement to spare and I really shouldn't ask them for any. It doesn't change anything, but we have something in common - I guess that's nice.

I meet a good man who wants to fill my hole more sincerely than anyone I've ever met, and I marry him. He is incredibly strong and truly dedicated - he carries many buckets of cement to the hole and I see the sweat dripping from his brow. But no, the hole is still much too deep for this to be working. Now, because he's dedicated so much time to this pursuit, when I see another strong-looking man approaching I have to send him away. What a shame. He may have had a giant truck, but I guess I'm not allowed to ask.

Eventually I'm embittered against the effort - mine and everyone else's. Everyone is tired. My friends and husband look to me with red faces and tired arms. I don't want to be this exhausting. I don't want to need this much work (especially if it's not even working). Fuck it. Everyone go home. I guess I'll fall in the hole and die or whatever. Maybe I'll stock up on tequila. Don't check on me. Bye.

Now, not only does my hole echo loneliness back to me, but my entire site is empty. Everyone has quit the job (or I fired them). My above-ground spaces reflect exactly what I was afraid to find underground. How did I find myself here?

Here's the thing. Maybe holes don't get filled with anything.

Instead of looking for strong friends with unlimited cement resources (good luck with that, by the way), I should spend a little time sitting by the hole and grieving. Cry a little. Eat a little. Maybe someone will walk over and sit next to me. Maybe that person will bring a bucket of cement and we'll say, "Forget this stupid hole - let's move over ten feet and use this cement to build something new up top. Let's build a fort. Let's build a house." Maybe a community of people will come with different things to offer: cement and lumber from the ones who care the most - flowers, wine and coasters from people who just want to say hey. This would have never been enough to fill the hole, but it makes my house look nice. I can appreciate that. 

So we do the work that works. We build a beautiful little house next to a very large hole. We keep emergency rope in the laundry room in case someone falls in. We can't fill the hole but we can coexist with it. Sometimes I still go outside at night and sit by the hole. I still bring an appropriately-sized margarita and I still cry. I still grieve.

I tell new people, "Hey, you'll be looking for the blue house next to the gigantic sinkhole, probably park across the street and don't wear heels."

I won't fix this. But I have to accept it and move on. The biggest success will be working toward making my life above ground speak something other than Loneliness back to me, even if the hole always does.

white people


White middle-agers sit at their assigned seats at weddings and watch brown people dance like fools. I always assume they think I'm stupid, but I'm pretty sure they're wondering how I have the quad strength. (it's yoga)

White women have wonderful skeletons made of thin, delicate bones that make it possible for them to be real, real skinny. Brown women cannot achieve this, no matter how many kales they drink.

White men have a lot of advantages in this world and use them to play video games.

White ladies use a lot of words like "spunky" or tell me "I'm a hoot" as a substitute for saying they're very glad I'm not their daughter because they would be so embarrassed all the time.

White people generally prefer bland food and zero caramelization on their onions, which is actually illegal in the Middle East (along with everything else white people do). 

White people have a moderate amount of soft, pale body hair and I'm really inconsolably jealous.


White people are so encouraging and compliment you all the time. Persians just tell you you're getting fat and there's dirty dishes in the sink, if you haven't noticed. 

White people don't expect their kids (or their kids spouses) to do the dishes. They buy machines for that and actually use them, imagine that.

White people care about helping others, starting non-profits, volunteering and adopting stray animals. 

White people don't try to re-use plastic yogurt tubs as tupperware and rarely ferment indescribable mixtures in the back of their refrigerators. 

I don't know this for sure, but a white person definitely invented the Swiffer. And they use paper towels without feeling guilty. 

Stripes and plaid. White people, you are the purveyors of Breton Stripes and Buffalo Plaid to the world, and I salute you. We'll talk about my critiques on Seersucker later.