Happy National Corduroy Day!

by rebecca ~ November 11th, 2011

My friend Elizabeth pointed out that it is National Corduroy Day. 11-11-11 looks most like it, is all.

In honor of this wonderful holiday, I am re-posting a link to my short-short called THE TROUSERS, which is my homage to the nubby fabrik we all secretly love.

Get that special pair out, pull ’em on and read:


Another dream, special guest: Richard Gere…

by rebecca ~ September 26th, 2011


Gere the Buddhist

This time I had a job cleaning tables for Hollywood. At the tables sat Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon, Richard Gere, and some other famous person I don’t think about in the waking world (I don’t think about any of them, actually, so it frightens me they represent some icon in my subliminal mindscape).

They were sitting around brainstorming and editing a screenplay that focused on people without money. I wiped tables. I moved to wipe Richard Gere’s table because his was especially sticky and dusty, even though he had his three ring binder on top of it.

He was upset that I was wiping it as he was talking, so he took both hands and shoved me away. I exploded emotionally, telling him “You have no idea what it’s like for 99% of the people in the world. You are all clueless!”

Anyone who knows me, knows that this type of angry reaction happens rarely in me (I can count my “real world” emotional angry outbursts on one hand, and I still have some fingers left to lift–and it’s not the middle one, yet). I woke up, touched my eyes and I had real tears. Wow, I thought, Richard Gere really pissed me off. Then I remembered he’s supposed to be Buddhist, so maybe this was why he upset me even more?


Clearly, I have a complex about the top 1% in this world…which is healthy….I think….Anyway….Om…..

how long does it take…?

by rebecca ~ July 26th, 2011


Apparently, it takes quite a few months for me to sit down a post something here. Our turtle speed Internet at home is the most likely target for this delay and the fact that with a new job, etc…blah blah blah, so many reasons. Well, get on with it then, no more excuses.

I have been having extremely populated dreams lately, like high broadway productions as far as cast and set designs go:

1) I was trapped at a summer camp for women in their forties this Monday evening-and the highlight was when a woman rushed to the bathroom with her toothbrush wrapped in plastic wrap to check if her pet slugs on it had survived their trip in her suitcase.

2) And just last night I dreamed a news-like quality documentary about pubescent street youth. It featured a rather unkempt and questionable blond thirty-something guy handing out religious tracts to the young boys with offers of ‘safety’. Then it featured a even more suspect forty-something belly bulging blond man strolling through a Salvation Army in nothing but a zebra-striped bikini heading toward the used book section (think of those horrible patterns on the baggy workout-muscle man pants of the eighties for his underwear garb–what are those awful pants called, again?–clearly, I wiped that word from my vocabulary due to severe fashion duress).

I am not sure what was unfolding in my subconscious  on this particular trajectory, since my husband woke me up right when a young boy, say age 9-10, in said thrift store, wandered  across my REM brain,  replete in purple g-string and matching puffy purple winter vest. He had juststuffed a wine glass up the back of his purple vest when I woke up, feeling worried that the glass would surely break and harm the young shoplifter…

Okay, why share these embarrassing bits of dream? Well, for one, they helped me wake up laughing for two days in a row–which is good. They showed that my brain is still capable of some crazy-ass shit, which for a writer, is also good news.

But what would a Freudian analyst make of all of this? Would such analysis suggest an unwell mind? Does it display a pathological fear of blond lurking pedophiles, tinged with a healthy (unhealthy) concern for young people being lured into the clutches of creepy people? Hmmmm….let’s just remain calm and positive about this here, Freud.

I’d rather conjecture that I am not alone in having an active dream imagination, and maybe I am a little less scared of being honest about that fact. I think all of these people populating my dreams are simply out to remind me to dream big, to dream wild, and to risk appearing crazy, for the sake of a good laugh in the morning….

Now, just don’t ask me about last week’s dream involving a man with a goat’s face, okay?….hmmmm….


T-chan ice skates

by rebecca ~ January 9th, 2011
T-chan's first time to skate

T-chan's first time to skate

He used the red “walker” for a while until he got used to the idea–he’s at the Depot, an indoor rink that was once a train station and has a zamboni shaped like a steam engine. What’s not to love, then, T-chan must wonder.

Now he begging me to buy him skates and he wants to take skating lessons….

Poetic response to road-raging SUV driver

by rebecca ~ December 4th, 2010


The recipe to avoid hate isn’t complex. A few basic

ingredients: clean water, food, shelter, sweaters,

and daily hugs. Add generous spoonfuls of humor,

compassion for broken spirits, respect for the co-existence

of insects. Cultivate the seedlings of self-love with care.

Upon dark occasion, sprinkle with red pepper

and pour pure maple syrup thickly when sour.

Cut open ginger root or splash lemon juice

wherever melancholy hits. Shut your eyes and hum

a little made-up tune if Teacher belittles you in front

of class and later in life when Boss dismisses you

with the flick of her wrist, go to the Internet and look

up the nesting habits of hermit crabs. The most

important thing to experience after that pink-faced

woman in her white SUV has attempted to gun you

and your son down as you crossed the street

for the park—besides midsummer rainfall

and its lush green light—is lifting your face

to the sky with your son held tightly

in your arms. Look beyond rainclouds

to the red orange flare of your soul.

Be thankful you live to love.

A work in progress (me)

by rebecca ~ November 6th, 2010


4 a.m. She’s awake, taking notice. A hollow, repetitive thud of water tumbles, one poorly insulated wall away from her head, from the clogged gutter down onto a plastic cover caulked over the basement window. She remembers to tell the landlord to clean the gutter. By morning she’ll forget. She turns a fan on to cover the sound. The fan is loud. She puts in earplugs. She hears her inhalation-exhalation, her ear drums throb with heartbeat.

She thinks of leftover lasagna in the fridge, but puttering in the kitchen to reheat it might wake her son.  She reminds herself to get ant poison. A colony invaded the kitchen a month ago. Underfoot, they swarm in tight frenzied units, glomming onto any stray crumb or juice splash they find.

Her son lately draws ant-sized drawings of ants at the top of his homework sheets. “Dirty ants” or “Ant City!” he shouts. Her son doesn’t talk much. Deep in thought, he draws pictures in the air with his fingers. She is always asking what he’s drawing. Once it was his school’s elevator. He’s allowed to ride it only on Tuesdays, when the speech therapist takes him to the resource room. A passion for riding that elevator and his devastation at it being denied taught him one key to survival in this life: “Sometimes yes; sometimes no.”

Once he said he was drawing the neighbors’ houses, so she gave him a piece of paper. He drew each window, door, house number, pointing out to her which homes had “tall chimneys.” The next day she walked to the bus stop and looked at the houses with new eyes. This epiphany happened around the same time he began peering after nightfall into the neighbor’s kitchen facing theirs. Her son began darting outside without warning to try to tug open the neighbor’s front door. Finally, to appease him, accompanied by Dad, he asked the neighbor the question she had taught him, “May I come in for a minute, please?”  Through the kitchen window, she saw him zigzag through the neighbor’s kitchen, his face wild with unbridled joy. He momentarily froze at the window facing her. They saw each other clearly lit in the dark windows, separated by only six feet of night.

Her neck aches from the angle she props her head against the frigid wall. It’s mid-May and the rain could turn to snow. Early this evening her son leapt like a nutty grasshopper in the rain as she tugged a bed sheet over the strawberries and carrot sprouts. Unexpected weather sends him into a dance of abandon. What part of the human soul allows any person to feel this happy, this free?

Tonight before she tucked him in bed, she asked him what sentence he was writing out furiously with his finger. “I will save the earth,” he told her. When future experts state their assumptions again about her son’s disabilities, she wants to remember this sentence, hold onto it like a smooth, sun-warmed stone.  She’ll spell the words out with her finger in front of their faces. She’ll spell it over and over in the distance between their startled faces and her own toothy smile. The experts will glance down, feign notes, doodle, hold their emotions in check, and ponder how to broach the delicate subject of therapy for a mother gone mad.

NYC subways, a collection of everyone

by rebecca ~ October 18th, 2010

My son commandeered the navigation through the woof and weave of the New York subway system. The few times  I tried to “help out,” we ended up on the wrong platform or even once on an express train toward Rockaway.

Okay, I was quite useful once–when the trip required a bus detour due to a temporary closure that I knew about from checking the Internet, but from here on as we find ourselves in future cities on as yet unplanned journeys, I plan to defer to the young one, who knows best.

The NYC vibe exudes chaotic, noisy, often smelly, energy and I think it’s true to say we all feel more alive there than here. The nearness to people of all different fashions, skin colors, languages, and the rich tapestry of faces inside one subway car feels more humane, and we belong. We breathe easier.

In Minneapolis I feel more separated, more different, outside the box, and often the observer. I live inside my mind and its constructed comfortable pattern, where I define what I find safe, predictable, boring, irritating, or desirable. Not much surprises me here–which is not to say that’s bad per se–but  life here is just not as inspiring or as lively as when I lived in Tokyo, Kyoto, Asahikawa or as how engaged I felt when I traveled through other parts of the world–and I am not as connected with fellow human beings here because we all have a lot more space and we Midwesterners steer toward isolation, perhaps because of the winter prairie and the invention of furnaces, now we are mentally, emotionally, and physically set apart like fence posts dotting  a landscape during a winter storm.

When I expressed to my mother how good it felt to be able to hear probably fifteen languages in one day while we were bustling about NYC, she commented that even in her small Midwestern town she easily can encounter many different languages in a day.

And it’s true, I can say the same about Minneapolis–but I think it is the physical proximity to people that changes the energy from passive observer into inspired participator for me. To see people of all shapes and sizes standing at a bus stop while I zoom past in my automobile is an  incredibly different experience, it’s a distancing aesthetic, quite apart from the act of swaying hip to hip with strangers on an overcrowded, screeching, careening rickety subway car.

To smile at people who find my son’s ecstatic vigor inside subway cars entertaining, or to experience people offering him a seat on the crowded train, or to hook his shoes nest to me so they don’t dirty the cashmere coat or the torn raincoat of a fellow passenger and to then see them acknowledge and appreciate my effort–to see their smiles inside their eyes.

These small, brief human interactions build connections with others. I don’t feel as alone, and I don’t feel as much an outsider or, rather, I feel a part of a collection of outsiders, a large, misfit river of eccentrics all flowing in the same direction, and collectively we travel, destination unknown.

Caught between

by rebecca ~ September 10th, 2010

I switched the furnace on yesterday morning, though by midday we were in T-shirts. That was me running and my son kicking his scooter down the greenway that stretches for miles alongside a cemetery called Sunset. We were flying, suspended, hovering, above the pine tree tops, between summer and fall.

You could say it like this: Old friends, nostalgia, ennui, and wabi-sabi, settled down at the low table for some green tea and the geese gathered themselves outside.

The sky-blue swimming pool in the park down the street was emptied of its chlorinated water last week, right before school started. It’s a stern message to children that the carefree splashing is over. Chaotic shouting is no longer acceptable behavior. The pool has begun to hoard its detritus of broken sticks and slate colored leaves for the coming freeze.

My son and I rush through the dead center of the stillborn pause, life and death holding hands, we can’t slow down just yet.

We took a trip to the downtown library to watch the glass elevators move up and down, their gears and pulleys exposed like whale intestines. My son leapt back and forth, sometimes his feet left the earth completely, as he celebrated noisily over and over the end, the middle, and the beginning of the behemoth machines’ migrations.

I stood at a table of display books nearby, reading Eleanor Roosevelt, who insisted that if I faced my fears head on they would lose their power, and I would have the courage to go on to the next fear.

If I did what I was born to do, she added, all the confusion and sleeplessness would fall off my limbs: I could be reborn, too, and leap toward what moves me, take flight, sing, even at that beginning of the end of things.

Human Beings

by rebecca ~ August 14th, 2010

One benefit of having time off is that I can feel wholly myself again. I can wake up at midnight and write until 4am and not feel terrible the next day because–ah, it’s so lovely–I can take a nap in the middle of the day! I can dream freely and re-discover my passions and possibilities.

Somehow such a firm understanding of who I am gets lost when I am working that 8-5 shift without respite. Now I realize (again) that I need to reinvent my world–to return to my roots, to my calling, to my loves: this realization is always what I discover after having a few days off!

Another benefit of vacation, though a less obvious one because it is also painstakingly slow-going and also very exhausting, is to have the time to clean our home really well, which–for me– means to rearrange all the furniture, to sort and donate and throw out tons of objects and papers room-by-room, and then to  bask in the very liberating results: a simple life.

While sorting through my desk papers, I came across a postcard from an art opening at the U (which T-chan and I had gone to 3 years ago), where an artist called Mica took photos of people holding up cards on which they checked off their ethnicity/race.

Curious to see if the picture of us that she had taken was online, I looked her website up tonight–and there we were!

[See http://www.pleasemarkonlyone.com/Gallery.html for more folks.]

Human beings, I wrote on our form, and remarkably, this answer still holds true today, three years later, despite a lot of ups-and-downs in our life here in Minneapolis, or maybe because of a lot of ups-and-downs here. My son and I remain both card-carrying members of the homo sapiens clan here on planet earth.

Which reminds me of my dear (though now lost) friend, Ines, who lived in a Buddhist nunnery (that’s another story, folks!) with me many moons ago. She and I had very similar (read: emotionally gifted) dispositions. She told me, in her Belgian-French accent, “Ree-bay-kah, we may not be able to control our emotions so easily, staying calm and cool like Katja [another friend in the temple]. We feel so much, when we are crying, when we laughing. Given a choice? To be like Katja? Pffffffff!”, she concluded dismissively, shrugging her shoulders,  “We feel everything more deeply, the good and the bad! We are more alive!”

True, Ines and I are not those people you know with steel-nerves, with dry eyes, with calm voices.  Sometimes I can be in that neutral state for a while–say at staff meetings–but it’s not the best option for me for long-term sanity or well-being. I’d rather express myself and feel than stuff my feelings in wool socks and seal off the tops with wire. Now that’s a weird image–but let’s leave it be!

People like Ines and me, we are not Buddhists like the typical stereotypical Buddhist you hear about in magazines: we cannot be detached or neutral about life. We are instead the fringe Buddhists, like Santoka, or Ryokan, or Issa! We cry, we laugh, we get hurt, we dream, we love life very, very much.

And I’m not wishing to be anything else, either, even when it’s rather uncomfortable or embarrassing when I’m boo-hooing around people who are very serious, calm, or controlled. I do know that my passion for life is a good thing, the best thing for me, even if other people don’t always think so–those who don’t agree with me are those who like wiring their own wool socks shut all the time.

I know by staying true to who I am that I can inspire people–whether students or strangers–and having passion and an insatiable curiosity for this chaotic mud puddle called ‘life’ helps me become a better writer, a better mother, and a better human being.

So, in the end, my dear friend Ines is right: being fully alive, taking the blows, and crying, and getting back on my feet, not living in the middle (waking dead) zone all the time, is so much more interesting. Living without a muzzle or a societal straightjacket–and really, freely being in the moment and making god-awful mistakes is another–just as valid–way to be a Buddhist. And maybe our way is the more enjoyable adventure.

I don’t care for manicured lawns, for their need for large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides that kill off both the good and the bad insects.  The chemical, unnatural perfection of such lawns frightens me and I want to wash my feet and not breathe deeply after walking past it. I feel the same way about overdosing on perfume and thick layers of makeup.

I prefer running around in the wild grass, letting a few dandelions bloom, even if it means I also get a few burrs on my clothes and shoelaces. At least for me, life feels damn good on my side of the fence! At least when I’m on vacation and I have no need to be anyone, to pretend to be anyone, but me. Messy, occasionally drive-to-despair and frequently confused, but overall ulcer-free me.

Soldiers of my mind

by rebecca ~ August 12th, 2010

The soldiers of my mind are pounding down my door. They knock with knuckles raw, shouting, Conform! Conform and come out unarmed! Dressed in slug-colored suits, these soldiers don masks so like the faces we face each day on Minneapolis streets, the ones who have seen you smile or  have seen me trip, then skin a knee. These soldiers remain

professionals. They will not be swayed. They look right past. Their shoes soft as rubber rats would never bruise the ribs as swiftly as, say, steel-toed Gestapo boots would. But easy does it, I remind you, and myself, for thin-lipped soldiers’ slice and dice coolly what’s perceived as weak, or meek, with deer knives steaming in locked garages lacking heat.

The soldiers of my mind, and yours, too, sail in silent Chryslers through thunder, hail, and snow, to stand outside our door. They say they like me and admire you. They crave my heart, my odd, odd heart, and yours as well. They crave them both to be gutted, dangling from fresh, wet twine, to devour our brains’ left hemisphere, served chilled on ice.

With this thought, I’m wide-awake, and so are you. A pack of hounds tumble out from trunks and circle the house, hungry for an unprepared, raw flesh feast. It’s easiest, they bark and bite and snap, to devour and digest such hearts, exposed and wild, while the good people are fast asleep. In the morning when you and I, if caught, will have disappeared

without trace or note good-bye, the soldiers, pat their dogs, will soldier on, and model citizens will stretch their limbs and rise. One or two neighbors might glance around, wonder where those two weirdos went, a pair of shoulders shrug once, not twice, in a quick up and down dance. The morning bus arrives at dawn.

It carries inside its shell workers who work without a peep. Off they go! The motto is Safety First. They rest on rafts, in high tide or low, stitched to milk cartons and pig fat soap. They feed on cheese, ham, and crackers in cramped stalls of their own design, chew cud, daydream country lanes, tin-canned peas, and gated towns filled with faces they call their own.

They hum together songs they heard many years ago, but somehow never learned. A yellow bird, a tiny finch, flits by faster than the river flows, swifter than soldiers march. Thank God for it, and for you and me. We spot it. We hear it sing a song as tender as the soft flesh on dog throats, even as they bark, all teeth and whine. It and you and I escape

to the sky for warmer climes to a tropical land called vulnerability. It’s an island with a few living things, and, Thank God, there’s you and me. We live there, not safe at all, with furious fires that must be fed, where passion fruit drips down our chins. We wear our best

organs on our sleeves. We tore them out and sliced them open all by ourselves, we did it willingly. It’s beautiful to see yours and mine, side-by-side, in palms held out, exposed, lush as pomegranate seeds. The strangest fact in this land we found is not how you, the bird, or I

survive, or even how we thrive. It’s that our island has some soldiers on it, how they stumbled in one day, tattered and broken, how they finally knelt down and cried. We removed their ashen, threadbare clothes. They sleep like babies. We love them as their mothers had. We love

them that much. You and I. We kiss their eyelids, gaze at them for stretches at a time. We sing a lullaby we like a lot, despite its bloody past:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells, and pretty soldiers all in a row.

The yellow finch we had spotted and, Thank God, had heard in time, is a sharp-eyed star that dives and darts.  It no longer serves as guide. From a blossoming branch of olive tree, it chirps to you, to me, to the heartless and heart-filled things:

All in a row. All in a row. All in a row…one, two, three! Where do we go from here? No one knows!

by rebecca ~ July 29th, 2010

Summer officially began months ago, but psychologically for me–since work actually gets busier in June and July, my summer starts in August.

My son finished his stint at summer school today–jumping 7 percentage points on his math test, which seems, to me, like a pretty good leap forward in 5 weeks’ time. He also wraps up his Bike Camp, successful at mastering the rudimentary (sans training wheels) biking skills. The bike trails call us by name, and I can’t wait to have my new biking sidekick near me as we explore the great summer ahead.

Now I just have to convince my son that looking ahead while moving forward is more critical than looking backward when moving forward. A bit of biking philosophy most of us need, including me, to apply to our daily lives!

Two works here

by rebecca ~ July 28th, 2010

Most of you might have seen these two pieces already, but since I never got around (’til today) to post two links to work published at mnartists.org–here you have them:

The Trousers



Be well and think happy thoughts!

Peace out.


by rebecca ~ July 19th, 2010

My son has discovered the beauty of Michael Jackson’s voice.  Granted, it’s been over a week of T-chan listening continuously to an extended DJ mix of MJ’s music that my husband had downloaded whenever we were driving about in the car.

Yet, finally, a few nights ago, when the car had stopped, but the music played on, he crawled up to the front seat frantically with a huge grin and he placed his ear near the front speakers. He first looked at me and then at Dad, full of joy, and then he began to sing along:

I wanna, wanna be where you are, oh, oh

Anywhere you are, oh, oh

I wanna, wanna be where you are, oh, oh

Soon enough, we were all singing. What is it about Michael’s voice that connects with people, that helps us transcend the everyday? Is it the clarity, the passion, the purity, the deeper resonance–all of it?

It doesn’t really matter. We were all singing very loudly and it felt like we, as a team of three, or actually of 4 (including MJ), that we were one powerful, unstoppable wave of positive energy.


Hopscotch poem

by rebecca ~ June 6th, 2010

[Another poem by my son]


I feel happy

When I play


It’s long



Red, blue, yellow, green

Squares, rectangles, and numbers

Hop, hop, hop, hop, hop

Chalk is

Pink, yellow, green, red, white, blue

Son’s first poems

by rebecca ~ May 27th, 2010


Photo: extra-long hopscotch pattern drawn by my son

My son had a poetry unit in his class the past two weeks. His first poem he wrote was called Peace Poem.

He recites it as thus:

Peace Poem




Taking turns




The second poem he composed with me while we drove home from our new hotspot, a fastfood Indian restaurant we found in a first-ring suburb, next to an Indian grocery. The moon was in the sky, so I asked him some questions to get him to make this poem, which he calls Moon Poem:

The Moon Poem

The moon is in the sky.

The moon is small.

The astronaut flies to the moon.

The astronaut’s name is Taiyo.

Taiyo is seven years old.

He flies to the moon.

The moon is big.

His dad pushes the walk button.

He is crossing the street.

His mom is at home sleeping.

There are 20 different stars in the sky.

[Composed by my son May 22, 2010]

Fight the power

by rebecca ~ May 17th, 2010


And why not fight the power?, as my son suggests above in his thrift store find of the month and his Linus shirt.

Those in power are typically pretty boring, from what I’ve seen at a far distance…and they usually have horrible taste when they re-design whatever building they purchased for some horribly unoriginal business idea. Some of their clothing choices, like pink polos and those boat shoes, hmmmmm. I see a lot of ugly design decisions.

When I see an abandoned building, I think impractically: community arts space, drum circle, jazz improv theater, rope swings like spider webs in elevator shafts to climb up and down from floor to floor.

I never see things like a store for assorted cereal or flavored popcorn, or charbroiled steak, or Walmart or Chilis or etcetera corporate replications in anytown USA.

Mauve, for example, was dull rich people’s idea of a good color in the eighties, and in Minnesota (and probably everywhere?) it is still selected, sadly, for office waiting rooms, along with its equally disturbing partner, seafoam green. What is it with these ghastly colors of nausea and seasickness?

Does great power and cash-at-hand bring great reduction in one’s creative gifts? A passing thought, but I’m sure there has to be those in the world who have power and creativity–and they even stay concerned for those without the first. Maybe someone like Yo yo Ma? Mister Rogers (RIP)? Maybe you have to live in NYC or Paris to have it all?

But let’s just say, for the sake of my cynical mood, the world is pretty simple and ironic about its cosmic structure, i.e. those with the most creative energies and ideas are those who are most subjected to bone-crushing jobs and trials and tribulations of ridiculous tasks, like making handouts for a meeting, and those with absolutely no ideas, no fighting spirit, and lots of re-hashed ideas, are sailing a yacht right now (away from the oil spill, of course). It’s another idea of gentrification–the dying of the suffering, the climbing onto of the suffering by the privileged few, who wear some sharp-toed shoes, and the dilapidated becoming a Victoria’s Secret and a condo high-rise (mauve trim) and everyone else has to move out to a new cheap place rich people don’t want, yet….

Thinking about the world like that is cynical and simplistic–after all I hope to someday not slave away at a 9-5; in fact, I have forgotten that I rarely have slaved away at a 9-5–four years at one job like this 9-5 is blurring my sense of reality. Sure, I never had power or much cash sans 9-5, but I had freedom, and people who trusted me to do my job well and gave me space and time to do what I thought worked, and let me admit if/when I made a mistake, and repair it to, usually, a better plan.

Okay, screw it, my generalizing and simplifying doesn’t work because I want to be someone with ideas and someone with empathy, and also someone who isn’t forced into cubicles and micromanaged. Maybe NYC or Paris, Toronto, Tokyo again? There is Rio de Janerio, as well….Tell me this is doable, people.

A living wage. What is that exactly? Does it mean I need to do a job that merely pays my bills and shut-up and keep quiet, do not question authority, or does it mean, freedom to think, to make mistakes and build from them, to be creative in both work and daily life, to trust people. Does it mean breathing/creative room for one and all who dream big generous dreams?

I think you know which one I think is a living wage. Just please don’t tell my current employers, who seem to have a lot of power, my answer. Keep it vague. Especially don’t tell the ones who bought the mauve chairs in the waiting room and who painted the walls seafoam green. At least, mum’s the word until I can leave.

My son gives me a lot of good ideas–it’s all about finding joy where no one else sees it. You can find great joy in standing and watching a freight train roar past you, in a book about a little girl who learns how to explore the earth from an ant, and in eating frozen mixed berries. There are ways to confuse them–those in power–into thinking they are controlling you, and to actually have fun outside after work, or when they are too busy counting their coins.

And finally, yes, wear the furry black and white undetermined animal hat you found at the thrift store. It works miracles. Take a risk now and then. Smile, ball your hand up to a fist, and fight the power. Fight the powers that be. They probably don’t realize you think as much as you do!

To blossom

by rebecca ~ May 8th, 2010

may day 2010 Yes, it’s now 6am. I’ve been awake since 2:30am. It’s not a bad thing. I finished another story in the span of two hours. Now it’s time to crawl under the sheets and sleep one hour before my son wakes. Outside in the garden, our strawberries, just blossomed, and our carrot sprouts are covered under a blue bedsheet. Radio reported possible snow. It’s May. It’s not a bad thing. I prefer to live on earth, taking time whenever it’s given, to help things grow, to blossom.

Reading Robert Bly

by rebecca ~ May 1st, 2010


I came across T-chan, age 7, reading Robert Bly’s book, Morning Poems. He read silently, his mouth shaping out the words. It’s the first time I ever noticed him reading one of my books.

It makes me wonder what else he has been reading when I wasn’t around. I am so proud of him.

A line from the poem “For Ruth” that he was reading:

‘And I’ve learned from you this new way of letting a poem be.’

Hanging with Gertie

by rebecca ~ April 30th, 2010


Spent last weekend in NYC–first trip without T-chan and Hubbie since my whirlwind trip to interview for a job in Hokkaido over 7 years ago. Went with K under the excuse of reading our work at Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village, which we did (honestly), but most of the time we were just walking looking for food and people watching.


by rebecca ~ March 17th, 2010


I used to think it’s the perfect drink for me, absinthe. Wormword, fennel, and green anise: the holy trinity for fallen Catholics. Absenta in Spanish. The Green Fairy. But I feared the nausea, the fainting spells, the bloated stomach, the rumored madness, and truths I might let loose from my lips and never reign back in.

Escape is good, escape is so needed, but in the end, I prefer words to the tonic poured in a glass. I’d rather be fueled by hope, than by a physical slight of hand/mind/body. Desire—Of the stars, I gaze at them for long stretches of time—it’s what insomnia is for– wanting them because they are beautiful to be nearer to me, but also knowing not to wish too hard, as they’d just turn me into astral dust. So in the end, it’s best to choose the longing instead. I’ll stay on the unfinished journey toward that mysterious something I prefer to never fully know.

Like Jimi

by rebecca ~ February 28th, 2010


There is no there there. The room is here

and they live inside it. The ceiling seems

the loneliest place of all, a barren land

where a spider nests in a corner

and the music of dried insect shells

tingles in its threads. The walls

act as four barriers to the outside.

Each muffles the shuffling of feet and

the flapping of wings until living seems

swallowed in white plaster tombs.

She sits here, her hair is straight

and brown and it hangs down

into the roots of an elm tree, these roots spreading

sideways. The window thick with ice, rots

in its frame, and a child sleeps steadily

inside the room, next to her, inside

secret dreams. In her dream she cast spells

on an electric guitar. Like Jimi, in black feathers,

she blows the amp and crowd’s eardrums off.

She played that song of wind and snow, wordless

pine green shadows and icy blues, winter leaves

of dead summers. There is no there here. She knows

this. Her child sleeps. The room is here

and they live inside it. The cord connected

to the lamp on the table gives weak light.

Her child smiles at nothing. Then he screams.

Cafe jaunt

by rebecca ~ February 14th, 2010

days of bliss#

It’s early afternoon Sunday. My 7-year old son and I are parked at a local café. He’s happy with his purple Tootsie pop and I’m happy with my cappuccino frothing over in a black ceramic mug. He’s drawing elaborate houses in his Gomi Taro Scribbles book. Occasionally, I am asked to draw specific appliances and furniture through his windows, but otherwise we are each busy with our singular tasks of the heart.

Days like this are days of bliss, and, yes, the sprinkle donut in my mouth helps a lot, as does having my goofy little son with me (who’s looking especially goofy since he lost his second front tooth yesterday). Days like this can be dangerous, too, because I have the time to question why I’ve caved into the social-pressurized game of keeping a full-time job. Why do I and most people I know spend our waking lives away from the people we love the most? It seems a sad and weird way to live, but society has a way of making the sad and weird seem “normal.”

I have played this 9-to-5 game for over three years—a world’s record for nomadic me—because of my family’s current situation: there’s rent to pay, gas to pump into the rusty Toyota (whose back bumper has begun to frown on one side), and most importantly for us, monthly government fees paid so my son has access to the services he needs for his disability (which my employer’s health insurance ironically excludes), and, of course, there’s the desire for a bit of pocket cash to buy an occasional cappuccino such as the one I am sipping right now, so that I can pretend I am royalty.  So, the full-time game I play, but then I also must ask how can I make this life choice more palatable, more enjoyable, more creative, so that I don’t feel trapped, suffocated, and dead inside?

One shared goal of my co-conspirator—K—and I has been to carve a creative life outside of our work and outside of our household duties—to create snippets of constructive dream time when (instead of complaining by the water cooler or devouring frosted cookies in the office kitchenette/washing dishes or getting flu shots) we can reclaim and develop our creative selves as writers, as artists,  as humans with a sense of mission. We want to encourage the other to Fly! Leap! Swim! Run!…toward our better selves.

I spend so much time in a land of conformity, inside the building of same-old, same-old, that I could despair (and I have). But it’s better for me, and for planet earth, when I instead focus my energies on rejuvenating my soul through that ongoing difficult, but rewarding process of being true to myself!

For me, writing is like a warm coat I’d pull over my frame before heading out into a blizzard. Or it’s like wearing an unraveling, old sweater stitched with dreams and secret tasks as I step through the portal of the office each day. It’s a swaying, creaking pine tree to climb to reach a state of mind where I am out on a limb, where risk is involved. I want to sing songs about what’s deeply part of my skeletal, molecular self. What’s the point of building a nest, birds, if we can’t rest in it?


by rebecca ~ December 8th, 2009

Storm approaching

by rebecca ~ September 21st, 2009


I need to gather energy around these shoulders like a cloak of clouds plump with rain. I am the thunder and lightning to come and the purple silence that follows.

My eyes remain sharp-focused on the prey, which is, after all, a potential life, my heart, a reason to live. I track what moves inside across open field, watch it travel through broken stalk and chaff. I am the hawk of prayer.

I save myself from the click of sharp teeth tearing into dreams unrealized. I can lead it to the oak shade, to the circle of riverside stars pulsating blue light.  My great-great grandmother with no teeth says to these dull brown seed eyes, grow. I can’t fit in a fist of should be. I am a copper wire snake. I shine. I can make it across a field of broken and rejected things. I am a coil of passion, an untapped spring. I won’t hide from shadows above or crouch in furrows. I am what crawls onward. A spirit like me searches for what is born from sun and rushing water.

If death decided, now, I’d break free, a storm a thousand hooves wide, clattering across earth, ocean, and sky. I am a dervish in search of the center calm. Nothing satisfies my thirst for the river song, no one staves this hunger for the sleeping stones the meandering water swallows whole.


by rebecca ~ August 18th, 2009

My son in his beloved wildflower garden and bird sanctuary, which is only 20 minutes away from our house. He bounces down the winding wood-chip paths like an exuberant rabbit and he makes sure to cover every stretch of the 2-square miles of enclosed park land.  It is small enough to feel I can’t lose sight him for too long, and large enough that he feels free to run and run and run.

+ Newsflash:  while standing in the center of our prolific garden after work today, I discovered a ball of grass clippings. When I picked the clump up, I saw about 5 little newborn animals, pale grey, stirring blindly in a nest. I was a little surprised, as it is late summer, and a little scared, because I thought at first: mice? rats? I put the grass back on top and jumped out of the garden. But then my husband said he saw a rabbit leap out of our garden this morning and it rushed up to 2 more rabbits  like they were having an emergency meeting.

This chance observation makes me guess those little babies are rabbits! I hope they will be okay as it gets colder now at night. The mom rabbit is obviously smart to have chosen a good safe garden for her home.  And I now have to be careful where I step! What will it be like when five baby rabbits are jumping around my garden and are too little to escape? This, folks,  is going to be an interesting harvest season….

Chicago L–Brown line

by rebecca ~ August 16th, 2009

We rode the Brown Line (befittingly) on the L our last day in Chicago. Our son was in train heaven (also my husband looks pretty happy, too; but he also looks like he’s about to give our son a surprise squeeze in this picture, if you ask me).

Afterward when we told our son we were heading back to Minnesota–he yelled “No!” At that moment I think we all wouldn’t have minded moving to Chicago and not going home 8 hours away. The train was that sweet, as were the rows and rows of old brown-brick buildings. This trip helped clarify that deep-down I am probably a big city vs. not-so-big city kind of gal. Although, I admit the wee house atop a hill in a field of wildflowers on a remote island, with no neighbor in sight, also tugs at my imagination, too.

by rebecca ~ August 15th, 2009


Updated view of our garden, now run amok, taken by husband, with me stuck in the middle. Yellow zucchini, Japanese cucumbers, green beans, sweet peas, basil, daikon radish, purple radish, cilantro, and roma tomatoes–not yet bright red though, all bursting out and over the fence. We also discovered a pumpkin under some big leaves creeping across the lawn, and it is now the size of a baby’s head;  thus, we did the proper thing and made a “pillow” for it so its skin will not bruise.

I spent the day cleaning out son’s room and closet, in preparation to paint the walls with fresh (zero VOC) sky-blue paint. This is the fourth room and final room to paint in our now three years’ residence in the apartment. Wow, it feels strange to write this: three years in Minneapolis. I still miss Japan, sometimes it hits me furiously, but I am also accepting that this is the best place for our son to be, for now….but then again, Iceland, Ireland, Toronto, Åland Islands, hmmmmm….these are just daydream-lands, safe dreamlands to carry inside my mind whenever I look to escape the humdrum of now. Well, actually life is not so hum-drum today, as I am in the midst of a mini-vacation, which involves reading Sherman Alexie and gathering up bags of clothes, toys, blankets, dishes that we don’t need and piling it all into a corner. I will soon give it away to The Arc, a non-profit thrift store whose income goes toward empowering people with developmental disabilities.

Feels good then to simplify our home and help the tiny space we dwell inside appear more open. Now we have more room to dance and breathe and jump, which is good for the six-year-old, and good for his parents, too.

Our Garden

by rebecca ~ July 15th, 2009

garden4 2009

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