So, by way of introduction, I originally wrote this post for the One-Word Blog LinkUp. I loved it. I was off, spending my commute on my phone, getting the ideas down in Google Docs instead of doing my class reading like I was supposed to.

This is what happens when I’m reading my email on my phone while standing at the bus stop with the wind making my eyes tear up and dreaming of my bed at 6:27 a.m.


I was all ready to go live and noticed at the last minute that the word wasn’t really; it was realityBut…I like this post. Really. And I already had it written before I noticed my mistake.

So much for the linkup. But here it is anyway.


That one button in my coat. This is the world’s toughest button. Every other button on this coat, and I mean every single one, has come off at least once. At least. Do a simple thing like slide the button through the hole to take my coat off, and end up chasing said button under the length of three train seats. Except this one button. The one that’s part of the epaulet on the left shoulder, that is constantly being tugged at and jerked on by my bag, no lightweight thing, as along with the usual handbag paraphernalia it is also generally stuffed with everything from my Kindle to my namaste crystal to a couple of textbooks and an apple, maybe a bottle of tea, always an umbrella. That one button just rides it out, no matter how many times I lug my bag on and off my shoulder or how many times it slides down as I walk. All my other buttons should be taking button lessons. Whoever sewed that shoulder button on should be making parachutes and saddles. Really.

Do people really serve things on trays? I read this in books all the time, that our heroine, or the suspect, or whoever, brought the guest coffee or tea on a tray, with cookies and sugar and creamer and spoons and real napkins. Beyond room service and the hospital I have never in my life been served coffee, tea or anything else on a tray.  Am I just not going to the right people’s houses?  I’ve never served other people this way, either. Maybe I had a substandard upbringing since my parents didn’t teach me this. I don’t even own such a tray. And who actually has cookies lying around in case a guest stops by? You open the cookies and they’re gone, that’s it, that’s how cookies work. But maybe I don’t know this for certain. I make it a point to never drop in on people. I also don’t have police officers and private detectives and amateur sleuths stopping by all the time looking for the secret watchamacallit I don’t even know I have and threatening to arrest me or kill me. I’m not sure I would really like that kind of life, but they have some really pretty trays at Pier 1.

Wearing tights as pants. I would think this was a no brainer. Maybe it IS a no brainer. Where can your brain be if you’re walking around in public in an undergarment, complete with control  top and reinforced crotch, and you think you’re fully dressed? I almost officially qualify as old, the kind of old who thinks career wear with bare legs in the office is trashy, but even I get the concept of leggings and yoga pants. But. Tights are not leggings, tights are not fitness wear, tights are not pants. Tights are colored pantyhose. Go put some pants on. You look like a simpleton. Really.

Autocorrect. Really? Where do you come up with this stuff, phone? Does anyone actually use the words “enzyme” or “steed” or “Bulgaria” in a text conversation? I’ve got green money that says the word “does” gets used a lot  more often than “duress,” phone. You don’t need fancy words like that, phone. I can manually enter the less common words if I have to, phone. And how come you won’t learn swear words, no matter how many times I type them and tell you that no, I don’t mean “shirt” or “shut” or “sir”? My toddlers had far better vocabulary acquisition skills than you do, phone. Just straighten up.  Really.

And speaking of my phone — Google Docs! Now I can write blog posts while I’m walking down the street! A use for my fancy phone vocabulary! All I need now is to clean out my handbag. Really.

Photo credit:
The Breakfast Club gif: Totally poached, thank you, YouTube
Am I Wearing Pants? Amy Sly


#YourVoiceHere: Calling All Survivors!

One of my classes this quarter is Gender, Violence and Social Change, and one of my assignments is a social activism project. Honestly, when I saw that on the syllabus, I cringed. I’m not much of a get-out-there-and-doer. I’m more of a sit-in-my-cave-and-writer. But then I woke up one morning with an idea. What if…I gathered the stories of survivors, as told in poetry and drawings and other art, onto a dedicated page on my blog, and got the word out that way? Yes? No? Maybe? I submitted the proposal to my professor, he liked it, and here I am, calling all survivors.
I want to publish your awesome and powerful art on my blog.
It’s my goal to represent as many “isms” as possible. This is your chance to speak as a survivor of sexual assault, child abuse, incest, or domestic violence. Have you been bullied, at school or at work? Take the time to tell of your experience with discrimination because of your gender, sexual or gender orientation, disability, immigrant status, social class, language barrier, age, religion, race, or any of the myriad things bigots love to hate. The imperfect world we live in needs to hear what you have to say about it, in the hopes that we can build and spread the compassion and empathy we need to make it more perfect.
Because this is intended to be an easily readable collection and we live in the world of the 140-character communique, I am interested in things that take up relatively little space for assembly into a blog page collage: poetry, artwork, flash fiction or essays of 500 words max.
I will not be taking credit for your work – I’m just the curator and distributor. You will have full artistic credit and a link back to your own site. You can also be anonymous if you like. If, after the end of the quarter and grades are in, you decide you want your work taken down, just let me know and it shall be done.
Also, this blog generates no income. I will not be making money off of your work, and I can’t pay you for your work.
Last: I am a student, always learning, and this is my first venture  into organizing any kind of campaign ever. If you see that I’m about to go over a cliff with how I’m doing this, let me know! If you have a suggestion as to how I can make it better, let me know! I believe in learning from the wisdom and experience of others.
If you’re interested, email me at, and put #YourVoiceHere in the subject line.
Photo credit: ashley.adcox/Flickr/Creative Commons License

#1000Speak: When Less is More

The theme for this month’s #1000Speak is nuturing. Once again, I was having trouble thinking of something to write. There is so much out there about nurturing others. We spend a great deal of time nurturing others, from our children, to our spouses, to our aging parents, to others in our churches, groups of friends, support groups, students, online communities, even co-workers at times. What we often don’t get enough of is self-nurturing, taking the time to care for ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. For me, this would be an evening out with The Tominator, or a favorite album with some wine and a home pedicure, or tending the little container garden on my apartment deck.

Gardeners have known for a long time that digging in the dirt replenishes the soul, and a recent study has shown that there are antidepressant microbes in soil. The science behind the magic. But sometimes it’s even simpler than that. Where I spend a lot of my time studying or researching and writing papers or blogging, there is a beautifully simple view out of my window. It’s a tree, a maple tree, four stories high and full, with spreading branches and myriad leaves. The tree spreads over the entirety of my window, with the corner rail of the deck visible at the bottom. My view is filled with leaves made shimmering by the breeze, with flashes of azure in between, birds flitting in an out, and a few flowers accenting the lower corner, petunias and pansies and snapdragons looking sleepy in the sun. I don’t need to see anything else. This is what fills my vision right now as I write this, and it is lovely, although the snapdragons need water. It reminds me of sitting inside a full and lush weeping willow as a child, hidden in a verdant cave that whispered to me while it sheltered me from the world. Secret and safe.

We live in a world of bytes, millions and billions of them floating through the aether and the cybersphere most of us are connected to these days. Not too long ago I created my own Twitter account, admittedly with some misgivings. I have enough problems with my Facebook news feed, post after post of other people’s crocheting projects and political memes (some of them quite bigoted, but that’s another post) and game invitations and endless adorable baby animals and teenagers’ vague angst and photos of other people’s dinner and uplifting quote after uplifting quote, which are admittedly better than hateful ones, but one after the other, they stop meaning anything. Studies have shown that when we see endless posts about the wonderfulness of other people’s lives and children, we start to feel depressed, like we can never live up to those standards and we simply aren’t good enough. When I first opened my Twitter account, the few times I looked at my home page I saw an endless stream of cleverness, hyperbole, political ranting, pop culture one-liners, all in 140 characters or less, from people I don’t even know. I felt bombarded and I haven’t looked at it since. I’m particular about who I follow. The Dalai Lama says little, but what he says, matters.
Even the news gets to me. I can’t remember the last time I read a newspaper that wasn’t free; like so many other people, I get my news from the Internet. The difference is that I still end up feeling inundated with negativity, the scope has increased from the local newspaper to the entire country, and I don’t even get the crossword puzzle as a consolation prize. A newborn baby found in the trash in New Jersey, four people dead in a car crash in Las Vegas, a house fire in Chicago, another police officer and excessive force in Milwaukee, yet another bombing in Afghanistan, a gas pipeline explosion in Los Angeles, the snatching and murder of a little girl in Poland, not to mention the endless stream of ads for things to help me lose weight, erase my wrinkles, cover my gray, dress like a hot young thing, and not least an advertisement claiming I can “stop worrying about poor self image” by using their product instead of just not trying to live up to these assclown standards in the first place. Yes, I care about what goes on this world and I consider myself an activist for a couple of causes I care very much about, but the truth is, the deluge of bad news I can do nothing about is downright depressing and, in the end, bad for my health.
Stop it already.
Sometimes you have to shut it off. Unplug. Withdraw. Nurturing does not always have to be an activity. Frequently, nurturing is a passivity. It is not being connected, it is not being involved, it is not responding to the world’s constant pressure to do and act and have our awareness raised and achieve and accomplish and above all to be as good as all these things make us think everybody else is. It is finding the weeping willow tree in my mind and crawling inside and doing nothing else but sitting against its strong trunk, fingers pressed into the dirt and bare toes curling into the grass, and not coming out until I can feel that secret cool greenness in my very soul.
I’m not saying that Facebook and Twitter and the Internet are bad. Facebook is a great way to stay connected with the people I love who are far away. Twitter has proven very useful for keeping up with my beloved 49ers. Used correctly and judiciously, the Internet is a world of information at my fingertips for research papers and just random things I want to know about, like what are the little plastic tabs on bread packages called, or the syncronicity of stumbling upon the unfamiliar word sophrosyne and using my phone to learn that, in a way, it’s the whole point of 1000 Voices for Compassion.
Nurture yourself. Turn off the TV and power down your computer and your tablet and your phone. Step back. Disengage.
Breathe in the quiet. Breathe in the you.
(P.S. If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @99_Monkees. I promise I won’t pepper you with silly stuff.)
(P.P.S. The little plastic tabs on bread packages are called bread tabs, bread tags, bread clips, or bread climps, and they were invented in 1952 by Fred Paxton of Selah, Washington. They are also color-coded by day of the week, so if you buy by color, you can get the freshest loaf. However, different brands use different colors for different days, so you’re still best off to check the date printed on the plastic thingie. You’re welcome.)

Photo credit:
Willow tree, Geaugagrrl, Public Domain