For You, From Me

Fury wrapped in a daffodil. Sweetheart in a flak jacket. Raging. Radioactive. A hummingbird. Cuddly as a jellyfish. These are some of the ways people have described me over the years. Really though, I’m a girl from the middle of somewhere. A prairie girl transplanted to the west coast, where the sea, sky, rain forest and mountains converge.

I’m a brown girl in a white world; Vitiligo complicates this brownness. And, yes, the brown matters; it matters when the Eurocentric society I live in treats it like a blemish. The brown matters because so much of life has told me that my brown skin makes me inferior. Being brown means an unending livestream of microaggressions that my brain downloads, that my self internalises. A brown person does not get to shut off that part of her identity, even when those around her have, even if she wishes she could.

I love cats, Camellias, Sekiyama Cherry Blossoms, Magnolias, lemons, Rebecca Solnit, CBC Radio One, and The Vinyl Café. I like the immediacy of Instagram Stories, also the nowness and brevity of Twitter, and the storytelling and engagement possibilities of the Podcast medium. I think, debate and write about Identity politics, activism politics, colonisation and the history of oppression, violence against women and psychiatric illness. I seek to understand; to that end I find the good/evil dichotomy over-simplifying. I doubt relativism, somewhat fear absolutism. Joan Didion, Rebecca Solnit, Germaine Greer, Mary Shelley, and Annie Dillard all light up my brain. Haruki Murakami slays me. So does Audrey Niffenegger. Rilke enchants me.

I think we take too many pictures, have an addiction to impatience and a tendency to overindulge. I think we have an obsession with beauty, one which drives us to suffocate and destroy the things we find most beautiful. We’ve forgotten that all things keep on blooming, going to seed and decaying. So we try to capture the pretty moments and things, only to discover that in doing so we become rapists and pillagers, and fail to appreciate the beauty and pretty and joy we so hungrily seek.

I speak the language of loss. I think too much, perhaps. I introvert a great deal. I have an orange tabby named Ginger Baker. More accurately, he has me. I frequently crave a juicy cheeseburger, a really bad B horror movie, and a crisp sunny day when streams of sunlight gush through the glass balcony doors. I have a thing for gouache paints, Copic markers and 3H Staedtler Lumograph pencils and paper blending stumps.

In the alleyways I sweep myself up out of garbage and broken glass … I am a city by the sea sinking into a toxic tide. I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown had poisoned my mother as she carried me. It’s here in all the pieces of my shame that now I find myself again.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, The Pieces of My Shame, From the Book of Hours II, 2

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