Ode to Greta Thunberg

An Ode to Greta Thunberg


An Apology, from someone not yet 30
to someone not yet 20.

When I was young the message on repeat

was to pursue your dreams [repeat]

the message was [is] young people are





I never dreamed of fame or power

    I dreamed of less more

I wanted to create change

I wanted to make this world better

     for you

       and everyone to come after

     I’m sorry

I doubt enough people [“adults”] have told you

    “I’m sorry”

But I am, I am

I did not want you to have to be




I wanted you to be happy,



I fought so,



     many battles

(and lost them all)        [or so it feels]

    I became tired, worn down

    (I developed chronic pain)

I had to pick and choose my battles

(I decided the change I could create was in
my day to day life and those in it,
to concentrate on just living and use that as fuel)

(I decided sometimes the battles that

cannot be won

are the ones worth fighting,
just so those wounded know,
        that someone was willing

to fight

      and lose

because they were worth it
because they are worth it
because they don’t need to do anything
           to be worth it.)

I see you (and others younger than I)
and you accomplish so much [seem to, at least]

and it’s



       makes me proud

       I grieve over it

    I did not want this

I did not want the younger to have to

fight the same battles

I did not want you to


             be dismissed

    be insulted

    feel powerless

    be a cog in the spin-spin-spinning wheel

to have to do this

I wanted a better world for you

    I wanted to make it better for you.

I wanted to fix it for you.

I [we] are worn thin

      but we are full of anger + betrayal

      and hope hasn’t died yet                     [at least spite and rebellion haven’t]

      the fighting is far from over.

I hope you take time for yourself

 (please, take time for yourself)

     because the world is worth it, but so are you

I hope you let yourself rest

      I hope you don’t burn out

      or become drained

  (I hope you never, never, nevernevernever feel as powerless/worthless/useless
  as I so often [always] do.)

  Your calls for action are heard,

  for there are those ears that listen
  as well as those that do not

  I’m sorry I can’t do more

  I’m sorry you felt you had to do this

I apologize on behalf of all those

     who should,

        but don’t

  You are so strong

  but you’re allowed to be weak too.

       Please know

I still want to make the world better

   for you and all who come after

       Please know

   I want you to find rest

  and peace

       Please know

There are many who fight with you

  in every corner of the world

     (in places no one gives a second look
      in places no stops looking at)

       Please know

You have value just because you live,

  just because you are you

       Please know

Your voice is heard

You are seen

You have accomplished so much

                   even if, especially if, it doesn’t feel like it

       Thank you

(I doubt you hear that enough either)

 for reminding me why I fought to begin with
 for reminding me why it matter
 for taking action in ways I canno

       Thank you

  for loving humanity and this world

  enough to fight

      (despite all depites)

I hope, with all that I am,

that when you are not yet 30

  you will not carry the regrets and guilt

that I can’t rid myself of

  and that you will still carry

passion, hope, joy, and love.                     [as I retain]

I hope someday you will not feel

the overwhelming pressure behind changing the world
the unbearable knowledge that the world has so much that must still be changed

I hope someday you will rest

      and the world will be better

not because of you,

but for you,

and with you.


-Not Yet 30


My dear, let me tell you what society refuses to. My dear, let me tell you the truth.

I’m beginning to think that our society kills more talented people than it fosters. Likely many are lost just due to the hurdles that people with any sort of chronic health problem face.

You tell me my only worth is how productive I am, how much money I make.

All I want is to be a productive member of society.

But again, and again, and againagainagainagain you block my path with the same old wall,
and it’s getting harder and harder and harder to keep scaling it.

And the only message I can take from it is that society doesn’t care whether I can be productive or functional because they see no worth in me, nor any need for me.
I wasn’t expecting empathy or understanding. At this point I have learned not to expect common human decency even. Compassion is something that I find to be lacking in our society at every level.

I did expect that there was some sort of expectation of me to become functional.

This, I see, is not true. Or perhaps it was once but then it took too much time and effort to acquire results, and the results were not optimal.

Honestly, I don’t know how much longer I can keep fighting the same fight. All I long to do is to give up and just let myself fade away.
However, there are others like me, and I can’t help but care.

It costs me almost everything I still have left—emotionally, mentally, physically—to care. No doubt I’d be much happier if I could curtail my caring to a select few. But my heart still beats and my eyes still see and my brain still thinks and I am angry angry angry at those who can do so much with so little time or energy or effort but who just don’t care to.

I do not want to become an imitation of such people.

I do not want to become that breed of monster.

And so I cling to my anger, and fuel it. For it is the only thing that stops me from sliding into apathy. It is anger that fuels my compassion and kindness, even if it may taint them at times.

Anger is the only thing that has kept me fighting for the past few years. Whenever I feel myself slip-falling-tripping into numbness, disdain, or worst-of-all apathy, anger is the only light I have that burns bright enough to keep me from dissolving into such uncaring shadows.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how much more I could do and be if I wasn’t held back by pain, depression, fatigue, low energy, and the constant battle with uncaring systems.

The truth is: things probably wouldn’t change much. I wouldn’t have any more power than I do right now. And there are always so many demands on time and energy that it is easy to keep using it and have nothing left for what you truly care about.

I have so little energy. So few usable hours. And so I am always, always conscientious of how I use it, and what and whom I want to use it for.

Dear Reader, all I want is to help. All I have ever wanted is to help people in whatever way I can. I do not want anyone else to feel as alone as I do. I do not want anyone else to feel as helpless as I do. I do not want anyone else to feel as vulnerable as I do. I do not want anyone else to have to live with the physical pain I do.

In my darkest moments I fantasize about switching roles and seeing those in power writhing in pain, crying for relief. I fantasize with glee the moment I tell them “no” or “denied.” I imagine them feeling lonely, helpless, vulnerable.
And then, my mind turns from such unrealistic, discomfiting images of revenge and malice to those who I know are hurting right now. They are the ones who matter. They are so much more important to me.

Reader, whatever society tells you about your worth, I tell you:

You Have Worth.
And you do not need to do anything to be worthy
of love and compassion and basic human decency.

I wish so much that I could put emotions into print so that when you read my words you can feel how much anger I have on your behalf, how much determination I have on your behalf, and the sheer capacity of love and kindness my cynical, worn heart can still hold for you and because of you.

You Have Worth.
Reader, please believe this, if nothing else.
You Have Worth.

Yet Another Answer to a Universal Question. (But Mine’s Better, Promise.)

Who are we?

Is it nature or nurture?

Why can some people do these things, but others can’t?

In just a moment, I will present the short version of my own ever-developing answer to these questions. The long version is, of course available; just message me and I will be pleased to spend hours and weeks and years researching, analyzing, and debating with you. But please, know what you’re getting into if you ask for that version. Don’t ask if you’re not committed to spending the energy and time on that.

Oh. Whoops. Spoiled the big reveal a bit there.
Did you catch it?

I’ll give you a hint:

“If you’re not committed to spending energy and time on that.”

That’s it. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your initial abilities are, or even how much money you have or what gender or race you are. Ok, yeah, it does matter. But these things are just factors. There is no fate, there is no divine will. Fate and God can both have you bump into the same person every day for years hoping that you’ll get the hint and realize you should maybe talk to them. But that’s it. You decide whether you talk to them.

(If you’re a Christian and disagree with this, than perhaps you shouldn’t believe in a religion with a fundamental basis in the belief that humans have free will. Either we do and we’re human, or we don’t and we’re just angels. Oh, but wait. Wasn’t Lucifer an angel?)

We’re humans. We’re mortal. We all only have so much time. And our body needs rest and sustenance, so we only have so much energy too. Some of us have more energy than others. Some of us have more time than others.

Some of us may choose to spend our time and energy pursuing things that are easy for us to reach: like an old white man becoming president. Some of us choose to spend our time and energy pursuing things that we may never reach: like a woman trying for presidency and never reaching it.

By the way, to throw another short version of my beliefs out into the wild, I believe it is these latter people—who choose to pursue the things that may actually never be achievable to them—who change our world. We have had a lot of old white male presidents. Some of them were exceptional, some are ones we would rather not talk about as a nation, and others did absolutely nothing worth remembering or talking about. However, we have only had one black male president. And he has changed the world. Or, at least, America. By becoming president, he has changed reality for every black person in this country. You see, the miracle in someone accomplishing something “first” is not in their ability to do whatever they did. The miracle is that everyone else knows that it’s possible after they have done it. They are not “The Best” and will never be the best because they have inspired other people to go above and beyond them. By pushing aside the boundaries for themselves, they make it possible for others to pass that boundary and the next one.

So what and who do you spend your time and energy on?

If you are voting for a candidate for the USA presidency because you want to spend your time and energy on making other people as angry about the state of this nation, or the world, as you are, then I’m not sure what to say to you. As someone with very limited energy compared to others, I can’t imagine wasting what little energy and time I do have in making other people angry. Why vote at all? Use that time and energy on what makes you happy or fulfilled. If making others angry is what makes you happy, then actually, you’re spending energy on yourself I guess. And while I may not agree with your perspective, I do believe it is better that you’re spending on yourself, rather than on other people who you don’t actually care about. At least you get some benefit. And if you’re not getting benefit from it, then why are you bothering?

If you are voting for someone who you do not spend time or energy on, then again, you are wasting what you have. If you do not read or listen to anything they say, if you do not even try to figure out if what they claim is true, then is it really that important to you?

To vote: ask yourself what you care about. Then research which candidate has the platform you agree with. If what is most important to you is that women cannot abort. Fine. Vote for someone who agrees. If what is most important to you is making money or keeping your money. Fine. Vote for someone who agrees. But tell yourself the truth about who you are voting for and why you are voting for them. And if you voted for them because there is something that is important to you, then voting is NEVER the end.

The important things are things that you spend energy and time on. You are who you are because of how you choose to spend these two resources. If you voted for someone because he said he would do something, then if it’s still important to you, you would make sure that this thing that you wanted accomplished, was accomplished. If you’re not making sure the changes, or non-changes, you wanted to happen, happened, then those “important” things are not important to you. If they are not worth your effort or time, then that is not important. So vote for what is important to you every time you vote. If what is important to you has changed, then change who you vote for. If what is important to you is still the same, but the person you voted for has not done what you wanted them to do, then change who you vote for.

And spending time and energy does NOT necessarily mean continual work. It means continual thought. If you cannot watch or read the news every day, that’s fine. But if you care about something, you will think about it, and decide when you can do that thing. For example, I want to be a good violinist. But I do not practice every day. I do, however, listen to music every day. And I dream about playing my violin. So I will be a good violinist. (However, I will not be The Best violinist.)

So to live: choose what to spend time and energy on. Often, in order to do what you want, you have to spend time and energy on things you don’t want to do in order to do what you want. For us humans, time and energy are measured. Time might run backwards in the universe, but it doesn’t for us. If we spend time reading a book then that time is time we never get back. We’ll have more time that can be devoted to other things, but we do not get the time we already spent back. We do not get energy we already used back. And so every minute of our lives we are making a choice, whether we want to realize it or not, about what is most important in that very minute. Perhaps this is where duality comes from. Ultimately, we rarely get to choose all of our important things all at once. We have to put one above the others one day, and a different one above the rest another day.

And we may not have as much time or energy in our futures as we expected.

So live each minute, each hour, each day, each week, each month, each year by paying attention to what you spend your time and energy on, and make sure you are willing to pay the cost.

Doggie Dilemma

You think your dog is trouble? At least yours only has one head!

Put yourself in Hades and Persephone’s sandals for a moment: their dog Cerberus has one-two-three heads.

If you have ever owned two dogs with different eating speeds, you might be familiar with that struggle when the one dog scarfs down its food and then tries to scarf down the other dog’s. It is much, much worse with Cerberus.

The middle head is the one that devours everything in an instant, and it’s nearly impossible (even for a god and goddess) to stop him from stealing food out of the other heads’ bowls, or even straight from their mouths! The middle head has prime real estate for food theft. After all, you might be able to separate two dogs, but you can’t separate Cerberus’ three heads!

The only thing that works is to distract the middle head with play time. Persephone has the most success at this, especially when she has just come back from Earth. Then again, all three heads are so happy to see her, they’re all distracted. So the success rate of this strategy? Is never high.

The other strategy that has some margin of victory is one that Athena suggested. It involves taking a woven basket with the bottom cut out, and jamming it over the Cerberus’ middle head. He doesn’t like it, and will do his best to avoid this, but if they can get it on him, it’s harder for him to steal from the other heads. That being said, the middle has recently learned how to use the edge of the basket to flip food out from the other dogs’ bowls and down his hatch. . . . This invention of course was later adopted by mortals, though they only use it every once in a while, and not every day, twice a day come meal times. Hades and Persephone envy these mortals every day when Cerberus is being particularly difficult, come mealtimes.

The cone isn’t the only invention that has come out of Hades and Persephone’s dog dilemmas. Between the two of them, they can pet all three of Cerberus’ heads at the same time (though of course all three heads are smart enough to realize that there are four hands, and thus all of them want the extra hand on them), but those months when Persephone is gone? Well, let’s just say the Underworld is really the Underworld for Hades.

One day, Hades felt Persephone’s absence especially keenly, and was fed up with patching Cerberus up after the three heads fought over who got pets (the middle head does not have prime real estate when it comes to fight. Whenever it turns to snap back at the left head, the right head has a clear opening, and vice versa.). He arranged to visit Persephone on Earth for a day. On his way back home, Hades came across a mortal who was selling a device called a “backscratcher,” and the god had an idea. To the mortal’s astonishment, Hades bought four back scratchers. He then attached three of them to the fourth.

The three “hands” of the back scratcher were perfectly spaced so that Hades could scratch all three of Cerberus’ heads at the same time. This, at least, was a success. All three heads loved it. The mortals also thought Hades’ invention was a success, though they thought it was meant to scrap leaves off walkways and landscape.

At the end of the day though, Hades and Persephone love Cerberus, just as much as any of us love our own pets, no matter how much trouble they might bring us. And well, at least our pets only have one head!

A Protest

Change is not back then or in the future or tomorrow, it is always current.

Science talks a lot about how our brains change, and how we can influence how they do so. Few talk about how difficult it is to do that; how it takes constant, conscious effort. The first step is always identifying what needs to change.

For example, instead of immediately responding to #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter, we need to acknowledge that by saying that, we are not listening to hear, but to respond. And if we’re not listening to hear, we are not open to change. And if we don’t respond with #AllLivesMatter, but listen to what posts with #BlackLivesMatter are saying, what might happen?

We might hear the voices that are fighting to be heard.

Why don’t we want that? Because it’s hard.
It’s difficult to not make it about ourselves and our view of the world.

The hashtag BlackLivesMatter is trying to accomplish the same thing that the pink ribbon does for breast cancer. It’s trying to make people see and act on an existing problem.

Each day we should tell ourselves in the morning that we want to listen, and in the evening we should ask ourselves if we heard. We should remind ourselves that listening is not the same as being heard. Listening means we are not heard, but allowing someone else to be heard.

And because right now Black people need to be heard, the rest of this post will be their words, not mine. If you can listen to what I have to say, then you can listen to them too.

George Floyd:

Please Please Please

Tracy Chapman:


If you knew that you would die today
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you knew that love can break your heart
When you’re down so low you cannot fall
Would you change?
Would you change?How bad, how good does it need to get
How many losses, how much regret
What chain reaction, what cause and effect?
Makes you turn around?
Makes you try to explain?
Makes you forgive and forget?
Makes you change?
Makes you change?
If you knew that you would be alone
Knowing right, being wrong
Would you change?
Would you change?

If you knew that you would find a truth
That brings a pain that can’t be soothed
Would you change?
Would you change?

How bad, how good does it need to get
How many losses, how much regret
What chain reaction, what cause and effect
Makes you turn around?
Makes you try to explain?
Makes you forgive and forget?
Makes you change?
Makes you change?Are you so upright you can’t be bent
If it comes to blows?
Are you so sure you won’t be crawling
If not for the good why risk falling?
Why risk falling?If everything you think you know
Makes your life unbearable
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you’d broken every rule and vow
And hard times come to bring you down
Would you change?
Would you change?If you knew that you would die today
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change?
Would you change?
Would you change?
Would you change?
If you saw the face of God and love?
If you saw the face of God and love?
Would you change?
Would you change?

George Floyd:

I can’t breathe

Killer Mike:

You got a prosecutor that sent your partner to jail, and you know it was bullshit? Put a new prosecutor in there. Now’s your election to do it. You want a different senator that’s more progressive, that puts marijuana through? Now is the time to do that. But it is not time to burn down your own home.

I love and respect you. I hate I don’t have more to say. I hate I can’t fix it in a snap. I hate Atlanta’s not perfect for as good as we are. But, we have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes, because if we lose Atlanta, what else we got? We lose an ability to plot, to plan, to strategize, to organize, and to properly mobilize.

George Floyd:

Please Please Please

Ida B. Wells:

The matter came up for judicial investigation, but as might have been expected, the white people concluded it was unnecessary to wait the result of the investigation—that it was preferable to hang [or suffocate] the accused first and try him afterward.

. . .

No maudlin sympathy for criminals is solicited, but we do ask that the law punish all alike. We earnestly desire those that control the forces which make public sentiment to join with us in demand.

George Floyd: 

I can’t breathe

Martin Luther King Jr:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquil drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation [systematic racism] to the unlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality—1963 is not an end but a beginning.

George Floyd:

Please Please Please

Barack Obama:

It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal”—whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.

This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal.” If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.

George Floyd:

Please, I can’t breathe.

On Back Burners

This is an official declaration that the series on gender and manliness in epics and Arthurian romance is on hiatus.

(“We figured,” someone from the audience mutters, slouching in their seat. “You haven’t updated it in like, a year, or something.”)

Yes, it has been placed on the back burner, so that the front burners are open for new, exciting ideas.

And that brings us to the problem with the expression.

A typical stove (at least in my experience) only has two back burners. But I have a lot of ideas. At least fifty pots are stacked on top of each other on top of those two back burners. And these ideas are always multiplying, oh look! there’s a couple more now. Why not store some away? Well, they’re all on the back burner because they all cross my mind fairly regularly at some point. The pantry is filled with an infinite number of less-thought-of ideas.

And you know the problem with some of these pots on the back burner? Well, some of them are in fragments, and all these pieces are mixed together. So before I can even move some of these items to the front burners, I need to go on an archaeological excavation and figure out which pieces go where.


On Croissants. On Fish.

On Croissants:

Heavenly, divine

the buttery flakes,

the crisp crunch,

the crinkle of the bread as you break it

to reveal fluffy softness

white as a cloud.

You’re floating in air

with every bite,

until the last one

and you’re abruptly



On Fish:

Do fish ever look up?

They look to the surface

when food falls.

But do they ever look beyond?

Humans are always looking at the sky.

We’re always wondering what it’d be like to fly.

To go beyond our limits, our boundaries.

It’s exciting, exhilarating.

We try to go faster, further,

but then we come back down.

And we’re earthbound.

And suddenly our eyes

open to the destruction we’ve left in our wake.

Some of us still have eyes only for the sky.

For beyond, for after.

The rest of us can’t look at the sky anymore.

We have eyes only for what has become of our home.

The current is all that matters,

lest it be lost,

and the future with it.

If fish never looked beyond before,

are they now?

Are they seeing the plastic debris

drifting into their homes,

and trying to see beyond,

to find the cause?

If they are looking,

not enough of us are looking back.

We have eyes only for the sky,

and the birds that are still in it.

We care not for the waterbound.

For we dislike our own boundaries.

And if we can learn to fly,

and broaden our possibilities,

then fish can to.

If they don’t,


they have only themselves to blame.



Lists of prompts and prompt generators are nice, but I’ve always found them pretty useless or disappointing. They almost never surprise me like asking the people around me does. The prompt “croissant” is courtesy of Kaitlin and the prompt “fish” is courtesy of Misha.

I’m always looking for inspiration, so always feel free to send me prompts!


Works of Fire


A burst of color fizzles out, the blooming flower fades

I am the smoke skeleton left behind,

to drift along the breeze.

Your eyes, they move to the next bright thing,

darting left and right, and up and down.

But my shape will hold longer,

and I am the more reluctant to leave.

But when I do, I will soon be unrecognizable.

Unseen by eyes that moved on,

now one with the wind and the earth.

Still beautiful, 

ghostlike I linger,

and feed all that is beautiful in the world,

with all that I have left.



Watching blossoms bloom 

amidst thunder, fire and smoke

bursting across the sky,

in short-lived but memorable declaration,

I think:

“only humans.”‘

No matter how brief the moment,

we fill the sky with light

and the air with sound,


“We are here.”

Left to Right and Vertically, This Read : Instructions



To Be Made, To Become

I’m turning into a monster.

    my fangs have grown long
    my voice has become a scream,
    or a growl.

I’m growing scales one by one.

          I’m starting to long to bite you
          I’m starting to wonder what you’d look like,
          writhing in a pain I deal with every day.
          I’m starting to wonder what it’d look like,
          if I were the one in power.

The one who says it’s ok.

     that you spend 24/7 in pain.

It’s ok

    that your body has tried the fight, flight, freeze responses,

    and ended up devoting itself to “faint.”

It’s ok

    because because because because


          it’s ok that you’re in pain
          it’s ok that the world is dying
          it’s ok so many students have debt
          it’s ok we failed during the refugee crisis
          it’s ok we’re detaining people at our borders
          and separating families
          it’s ok to talk about how hot your daughter is
          it’s ok some people have private jets while others starve
          it’s ok to distrust half your country, that it’s torn in half with hate

I’m becoming a monster
against my will.

    My nails have lengthened and sharpened into claws

     that do not let go that do not let go

It was against my will

          but my roars will not be silenced.


          they will grow and grow, and grow and grow

     until maybe someday

          they can match the power
          of issues swept under,
          of the control you hold over my life

But then would they listen?


    they would not.

          So a monster I will not become.

For to become a monster would be
     to give up what little I have control over:

To become a monster
    would mean to lose my chance to be heard
                    to change things.

So now,

I’ll shed this hideous skin I’ve grown.

           I’ll shear off my horns,
          And my groans I’ll drown.

          A human being I am,
     and a human I’ll stay.

And in doing so,

I’ll have won

          The game that was made without victors.

And I’ll smile in the face of adversary,

          for their greatest weapon
          will have been destroyed:

                         my destruction of myself.