Like Mothers

Mom’s 75th birthday, July 2019

Today would have been my mother’s 76th birthday. In her honor, we’re going to a beach she loved on Puget Sound to walk, pick up shells, and watch birds–some of her favorite things to do. Also in her honor, I wrote the poem below. Poetry isn’t my main genre (as is probably evident!), but I love how the form can communicate story and emotion.

This one’s for you, mom. And for you, too, my girls.

Like Mothers

In the corners of the couch we found on Craigslist
I often discover books
Wedged between cushions
Pages battered and spines cracked
Covers smudged with sticky fingerprints
Temporarily misplaced but not forgotten
Well-loved and never forgotten.

Like mothers like daughters like daughters like mothers.

Mom, me, and Spot, the 1st incorrigible dog, 1970s

On the pads of paper my mother picked out for my daughters
I often discover pictures of characters
With pony tails and prosthetic limbs
Mothers and sisters and cousins
Girls with names like Amy, Rose, Violet
Marigold, Felicia, and a girl named Bob
With two moms or sometimes only one
Families made up of women and girls
And the occasional incorrigible boy dog.

Like mothers like daughters like daughters like mothers.

Our girls are readers and writers, story lovers and storytellers.
Each night we set sail on the living room couch
The one we found on Craigslist that fits all five of us—
Plus two adorable, incorrigible dogs.
We pull up our anchor and open the family book and read
Transported together into another author’s imagined world
One that feels real enough to us.

Mom and me at my first reading, April 2010

Like mothers like daughters like daughters like mothers.

When I was a child, I read with my mother on our living room couch
Story lovers and storytellers, both of us
Entranced by another author’s imagined world
That felt real enough to us.
Later, I created characters on the page
Girls with ponytails and time travel devices
And the occasional incorrigible dog.
My mother was my first reader
My first editor
My first fan.

Like mothers like daughters like daughters like mothers.

Her computer sits in the girls’ playroom now
Files upon files of written words—
All hers—
That no one else has ever read
Temporarily misplaced but not forgotten.
One day I will read her words with my daughters
And we will remember my mother
Well-loved and not forgotten,
Never forgotten.

Like mothers like daughters like daughters like mothers.

Mom reading to Alex, May 2017
Storytelling, July 2018
Mom reading to the girls, December 2019

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Drum up the Dawn on Women and Words

I had the opportunity to guest blog today at the fabulous Women and Words about activism, police brutality, Supercorp, and my new F/F urban fantasy, Drum up the Dawn. Check it out if you get a chance. BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Women and Words

I don’t have to tell you that the first half of 2020 has been rougher than any recent year in memory—and that’s saying something in these seemingly apocalyptic times of increasing authoritarianism and devastating climate change. We started the year with wildfires in Australia, locusts in Africa, and Kobe’s helicopter crash, but even these events were soon overshadowed by the COVID-19 global pandemic. In the US, since March, more than 100,000 Americans have died while schools and businesses have closed and unemployment has skyrocketed. When a video of a white Minneapolis police officer brutally murdering George Floyd, a Black man, went viral a couple of weeks ago, we seemed as a nation to hit our collective wall.

Just as generations of Americans have done before us, we are now taking to the streets to express our outrage, sorrow, and frustration over the deep-rooted systemic racism in America that leads our…

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Posted in Black Lives Matter, Lesbian Fiction, LGBTQ+ | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dispatch from the Pandemic

Lately, I find myself weeping at the slightest provocation. I’m not sure if that’s because my mom died three months ago or because of the pandemic—or if, possibly, there’s no way to separate each event out from the other. My mom died in February, and WHO declared the COVID-19 epidemic a pandemic on March 11. By the time school closed a few days later, we were already sheltering in place. Not because I’m a germaphobe–I totally am–but because we were all sick with an unknown virus. Unknown because, naturally, we didn’t qualify to get tested.

At Alex’s birthday party in late February, one of her friends had a hacking cough. Within a week the twins, who’d sat beside the coughing child, were both sick. Ellie got over the virus quickly, but Sydney didn’t. For nearly four weeks, she suffered from a horrible cough, intermittent fevers, lack of appetite, and general all-around lethargy. When I called her pediatrician’s office, they referred us to a hotline at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The nurse there asked me if Syd was coughing up blood or unable to catch her breath. She wasn’t, so we were told to wait for the illness to pass. Once her fever came down, we could send her back to school.

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Posted in Family, Illness, Parenting | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Let Me Tell You About My Mother II

“We have calcium in our bones, iron in our veins, carbon in our souls, and nitrogen in our brains. 93 percent stardust, with souls made of flames, we are all just stars that have people names.” – Nikita Gill

Mom in the Grand Tetons, 1981

On the next-to-last day in January, the local medical supply company delivered a hospital bed to my parents’ house and helped set it up in my mother’s home office, the room she had chosen to die in. It was a Thursday, and I remember thinking, “Wait—this is really happening? She isn’t changing her mind? She’s actually going through with it?”

Until that moment, I had comforted myself with a constant litany of denial: She won’t be able to cut out sugar ahead of time, so she won’t even begin the process. Or, she’ll cut out sugar, but she’ll change her mind before she stops eating and drinking completely. Or, she’ll start and then quit, and then we can forget about the whole thing. I seized on anything and everything to distract myself from what my mother had said for three years she intended to do: die a natural death by refusing food and water before her dementia could reach the later stages. To do this meant she had to give up good days in order to avoid bad years, a fact I had accepted intellectually but failed, apparently, to truly internalize.

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Posted in Alzheimer's, Death with Dignity, Family, VSED | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Happy Queer Endings and the Other Royal Wedding

Photo credit Alex Cayley, Vogue

On the final weekend of 2019, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris of the US Women’s National Team got married. TO EACH OTHER. This was the lesbian sports social event of the decade, and teammates like Crystal Dunn and Megan Rapinoe and family members like Ali’s brother Kyle—as well as the two brides themselves—did the rest of us a solid by sharing bits and pieces on social media.

Like many lesbian soccer fans (possibly even some of you…?), I spent the evening refreshing the #KrashlynWedding and #TheOtherRoyalWedding tags on Instagram and Twitter and sharing the fun updates with my wife and daughters. Our girls were especially impressed by the rainbow cake the newlyweds shared, even as I waxed on about the growth of LGBTQ+ rights in America in general and in the lesbian sports world in particular, as evidenced by this beautiful wedding attended by many members of the USWNT past and present.

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Posted in gay marriage, LGBTQ+, Same-Sex Marriage, Soccer | Tagged , , | 9 Comments