The Choice

Often in life you are told

‘You have two choices

You may go left

Or right.

These are your options.

Choose one.’


For much of my life

I have believed them.

I have stood at the fork in the lane

And stared at the sign post

With its two arrows

Going in opposite directions.

Two paths

Two choices

Two lives.

I have stood and stared and known that,

Whichever path I take,

There are things I will have to leave behind,

Things I don’t necessarily want to leave,

But which I will have to

Because that is the way of it.

That is life.

Two choices.

Choose one.


For a long, long time,

I have stood still,

Staring at these signposts,

Weighing them both,

Asking myself, ‘Which should I choose?

What can I live without?

Which piece of me will I leave behind?’

And now

I have finally begun to move

And what I choose is this:

To turn around

And walk away,

Not because I reject the decision

That is a child’s choice

A coward’s choice

The choice to decay.

It is not mine.

No, I walk away

Because I need the distance

To get a running start.

Because I’m not a tall person

And I’ll need that momentum,

Momentum as I run

Down the lane

Past the signpost

Over the wall

To the wild wood beyond.

Because this is my choice,

The third choice,

The middle way,

My way.

And maybe it would be faster

To take one of the routes

That has been offered to me.

And perhaps I will stumble,

And twist an ankle,

Or cut my knee.

Perhaps I will tear my clothes,

Or get my hair caught in briars,

Or lose my bag.

Almost certainly I will get lost,

And become afraid,

And cry.

And definitely there will come times when I pause,

And look back over my shoulder

And ask ‘is it really worth it?

Is this truly what I want,

Or am I being a stubborn fool?’


Even more definitely,

If those things happen,

When those times come,

I will stop

And catch my breath

And remember ‘it’s okay.

It’s okay to be afraid

When facing the unknown.

It’s okay to trip,

To tear your skirt,

To bloody your knee,

To need another try.’

Because this path I choose

Is unpaved,



And that makes it dangerous

And that makes it scary.

But it also means

That I decide what’s on it,

I decide what to keep

And what to discard,

And where to go.


Most of all,

This path is mine

And I will walk it


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The loneliest place in the world is in the middle of a crowd of people who don’t even realize you’re alive.

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This is the power and influence a teacher has on a student:

When I was in first grade, the teacher I had ensured that, for me, writing would never be anything but a chore, especially creative writing.

When I was in fifth grade, my teacher ensured that I would major in English at University, and that when I list my hobbies today, the first thing I mention is writing – especially creative writing.

This post is for Ms. Ellis Sasser, who gave me back my words.

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I don’t know your name.

Sorry, but I don’t.

We’ve been in class together

Almost five months now

And I still only know a handful of you

By name

On sight.

And why should it matter?

It’s not like I’ve been

Ignoring you.

I read your writing,

Listen to you speak,

Interact with you;

I see your faces

And know ‘yes,

We are in class together.

You wrote the story about the killer,

You wrote the poem about the ocean,

You wrote-‘

I see you.

I know you.

And what should it matter

If I forget your name?

I know your face,

I know you.

And there have been other Katelyns,

Other Robyns, other Chelseys,

And there will be more.

But you are always

And only


And I know you.

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Lessons from the Library – Lost and Found

Today’s food is spelt bread with various toppings, usually involving butter, and including, but not limited to, mozzarella cheese, peanut butter, honey, and ham with cheese and lettuce.* Not complaining about it, though, because I’m trying to cut down my wheat intake, and without lovely spelt to replace it this would be an exercise in futility, as I am a woman who loves her grain-based products!

Moving on, it’s Tuesday again, and I’m still making my weekly sojourn to the library to sort books and learn valuable, if inadvertent, lessons. Or at least make make note of interesting things I observe while there. For example, lost stuff. When I started sorting, I expected to encounter books. Maybe the occasional bookmark, but mostly paper-based products covered in bizarre black squiggles that we’ve all somehow managed to agree have meaning.** Which, for the most part, is indeed what I do encounter there. However, people donate other things as well – books on tape/cd (which I really should have expected), DVDs and VHSs, cds of music,*** and odder things, such as, once, a stuffed rabbit.

However, it’s the books I’m talking about right now – or, more accurately, what’s inside of them, other than words. I was right about one thing – people do donate books with bookmarks in them, sometimes. A lot of the time they’re just those little cards you fill out to subscribe to magazines, or scraps of paper, but every now and then you get a book someone didn’t check carefully enough and find a proper bookmark that someone must have paid money for at some point. A lot of these end up in one of my desk drawers; the library doesn’t sell them, so they mostly get thrown away, but I collect bookmarks**** and most of the time no one else wants them. It’s just one of those reasons sorting books at the library makes me a happy Green.

However, it isn’t just bookmarks you find in books – I’ve found other things, too. A thank-you card from a woman to her church, for being there when her husband was ill. Two used tickets to Monticello tucked, appropriately enough, inside a book of Thomas Jefferson quotes. Three hundred dollars in cash.^* A recipe for Sally’s Roasted Eggplant Cheesecake. And all sorts of little bits and pieces – notes, cards, plane tickets, and more. Tiny glimpses into lives I will never know, granted because someone left something where I could find it.

And there are things you find in books that can’t be taken out – notes written in the covers from friends and family to the book’s recipient, scribblings in the margins as reminders – just today I found a Choose Your Own Adventure fantasy book that had a little system in it so that you could determine the outcome of battles with foes you encounter, make note of your spells and powers and magical items, and other things I don’t remember. And, on these charts, in pencil, the messy handwriting on someone who was obviously young, but who, for all that Choose Your Own Adventures are often looked down on slightly, took this book very seriously, and cared about doing it right.

Sometimes we find books that have been autographed by the authors, which is pretty cool. I’ve found a few myself, including an autobiography/biography (can’t remember which) about Lawrence Welk, which Mr. Welk had actually signed, which was even cooler because I’ve actually heard of Lawrence Welk. I’ve only ever seen the end credits of his show, but I know that song by heart, and sing it sometimes when I’m tired and feeling silly.

Everyone knows not to judge a book by its cover at this point, and that there’s more to things than meets the eye. But sometimes the second is true in a far more literal way than usually intended. Sometimes there’s more in a book than the story the author wrote. Sometimes, there’s a little piece of someone else’s story tucked in there as well. And, for the briefest of moments, when you find that piece of story, it’s your story, too.


*Though not all at once – that would be unpleasant.

**Which is kinda impressive when you think about it, given what a contrary species we are.

***Thanks to which I have now gained a proper appreciation for the musician Bon Jovi, and successfully contaminated my sister with this appreciation. (Yeah, we both already knew ‘It’s My Life’ and ‘Livin’ on a Prayer,’ but we didn’t know any others, which is sad)

****I like to have my bookmark match the story I’m reading, if possible – a fairy bookmark for a fantasy, a one with the Grand Canyon for an anthology of travel stories, that kind of thing.

^*Okay, I didn’t find that one – I put the book containing it in the appropriate box and another sorter went through it. The head sorter, actually. Who then gave us all a quick reminder of why we look through the books before boxing them, because someone just almost let $300 slip through our fingers. Needless to say, I did not see the need to inform everyone who hadn’t been checking her books as thoroughly as she could have been.

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I dreamed I saw a leap away,

A leap away from pain;

It fell to me from near and far

And washed away my stain.

So then I fell into the woods,

To find the path within,

With waving fronds and silly bugs

And leaves both long and thin.

Come and sing a web of love

From spiderlore and find

A wish and weave of whorled loops –

The content of the mind.

Take a kiss of butterflies

Upon your fingertips,

Until the river foams and flies

And lands upon your lips.

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The Unexpected Blessing

Two-year-olds have a reputation in the media. ‘The terrible twos’ and all that. Toddlers in general are seen as many things – hyperactive, destructive, loveable, exploratory – and are associated with displaying multiple emotions, usually regarded to stubbornness, tantrums, and the word ‘NO!’.* One thing they are not generally associated with is awe, especially when it’s the two-year-old expressing it. To be fair, it’s a complex emotion, and we tend to associate such things with wisdom, experience, and a certain lack of needing mum to translate what you just said to the guests.** I know I never really associated it with the age-group until yesterday, when I was babysitting a pair of two and four-year-old sisters. In this instance, I’m talking about the two-year-old.***

I was just putting her down for her nap – something she has resisted in the past, but which she is now apparently old enough to do without a fuss. I like jewelry, both the making and wearing of, and tend to wear a lot of beaded bracelets. She wanted to play with one, something I was slightly less than keen on, as it was crystal****. Fortunately, I was prepared. Awhile ago, I made a bracelet of large glass beads that gently transition through a full rainbow spectrum, and this little girl has loved this bracelet ever since she first clapped eyes on it, and happily played with it whenever given the opportunity. Recently I restrung it, adding beads so the transition between colours was smoother, making it more of a necklace than a bracelet. She’s seen it once since then, but, I’ll be honest, she was pretty hyper last time, and I’m not sure she noticed.

This time, though, as I pulled out the necklace and held it out for her, she stilled, eyes wide, and as she reached out for it, she whispered in almost reverent tones, “It’s buudiful…”*****

It was… one of those moments. One where you stand back for a millisecond, not really thinking anything, just grateful that you get to experience this moment, doubly so that you were the one to put that awed look on that tiny face.

Afterwards the necklace got laid on the bed, where I was informed that it was a track, and the train going around it went ‘choo choo choo,’ and that the bus going around it went ‘bus bus bus,’*^ before she put the necklace on and snuggled down to sleep. But the moment of awe stayed with me. I only hope I was able to offer a glimpse of it to you. :)


*Not to be confused with the word ‘no,’ which is a word not learned until around age four.

**Even though you were speaking perfectly clearly to these strange large people – they should really brush up on their Toddlerese, seriously.


****See ‘two-year-olds’ and ‘destruction, association with’ in previous paragraphs.


*^I’m not gonna lie, that one is staying with me forever, and it is never going to fail to make me smile.

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It’s the end of the world! Again!

So, I just found out that Ragnarok* happened on Saturday and, I must say, I’m pretty pleased with myself for surviving as well as I have – without even knowing it was going on! And, I must say, I think I’m starting to really get the hang of this whole ‘end of the world’ thing. After all, I’ve had plenty of practice.

First there was Y2K, back when I was in grade school. Other than the fact that the guy whose house we were celebrating at snuck into his basement and turned off the power for half a minute just as midnight struck – giving everyone in the house a minor heart attack – it went off without a hitch.**

Then, a few years back in 2011, we were all cordially informed that the Rapture would be taking place on May 21. I’m not as up on my Christian theology as I could be, but I was informed that this was one of the things that was going to happen right before the world ended. In any case, there was a May 22, so presumably everything got blown apart and put back together again really neatly. Ineffable, that.

Just last year saw the end of the Mayan calendar, which really put the fear of the end days in people – I heard all sorts of theories about how that was going to play out, including the magnetic poles reversing, causing the destruction of all technology and plunging us all into the dark ages. This one honestly scared me – hearing all sorts of theories from prominent scientists about how the world will end shortly after you finish University will do that to a woman. So I did lose a few points for failing to remain cool under pressure, but other than that, I once again survived the end of the world, along with pretty much everyone else.

Which finally brings us to last Saturday, when the world ended and I didn’t even notice. Then again, it was the fourth time the world’s gone out with a bang in my lifetime, and apparently practice really does make perfect. Because, hey, that’s four survived apocalypses – and counting!


*Ragnarok was the supposed end of the world in Norse mythology. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the basic gist of it.

**Honestly, you think you can trust your pastor, and he pulls something like that! I ask you!

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Finding the Lost and Found


Hey you,

You lookin’ for someone?

‘cause chances are I can help you.



That’s easy.

It’s my job.

I’m in charge of the Lost ‘n’ Found in these parts.

It’s not a normal Lost ‘n’ Found, y’know.

If you lost somethin’, you can bet’cher bottom dollar

That someone found it

And brought it here.


Oh, y’already know?

That’s great- oh.


You were lookin’ for him.

The guy who used to run this place.

I’m sorry-

He ain’t here no more…

He died.

Maybe someone’ll find him and bring him in one day,

But he ain’t here now.

Hey, don’t get that look on yer face,

I don’t mean someone’ll bring in his body,

That would be gross.

And, besides, we buried him last week.

No, somebody’ll find him.

He’s like as not wandering around on his own right now,

Probably bumming smokes offa people.

An’ someone’ll find him,

An’ they’ll bring him here.

That’s the way it works ‘round him,

’round here,

At this Lost ‘n’ Found.

And at the moment I’m the resident lady in charge.

So, can I help you?

Got any ideas wha’chu were lookin’ for?



I see.

Yer not quite sure?

Well, take a look around;

We got all kinds of stuff here.

You’ll know what’cher lookin’ for when you find it…

Or maybe yer a little lost yourself,

Feelin’ kinda scared an’ alone,

An’ not quite fittin’ in,

No matter where you go?

Well, I can help you wi’ that, too.

I got a spare room upstairs-

Ain’t got nobody in it right now.

You can stay there for awhile if you like.

That’s what it’s there for-

People like you.

‘cause stuff ain’t the only things what get lost

An’ need findin’.

C’mon, don’t be shy,

I don’t bite.

I’ll show you the room,

It ain’t much, but I recken it’ll be just the thing for you.


Don’t worry ‘bout rent,

You can help out with the Lost ‘n’ Found if you feel the need to.

Hey, now,

Don’t look so glum.

This ain’t forever,

‘s only a temp’rary arrangement.

One o’ these days someone’ll come here lookin’ fer somethin’,

An’ that somethin’ll be you.

Or maybe you’ll be down in the storeroom,

Sweepin’ out the corners,

An’ that thing yer lookin’ for’ll come waltzin’ through the door.

So buck up, yer on the right path.

An’ remember,

As soon as you stepped through that door downstairs

You weren’t lost anymore.

You’re found now.

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я́блоко сок (jábloko sok) (apple juice) (or: What I Think of When I Think About Apple Juice)

It’s been over twelve years since the last time I drank apple juice. Drank it when other options were available, that is. I used to drink it a lot as a kid – it was my favourite. These days the closest I get to it is the occasional cup of apple cider. Apple juice just doesn’t taste right any more. It’s too sweet, too syrupy. There’s a sense of wrongness as it burns its chemical trail down the back of my throat.

It’s been like this for me ever since two days before I entered fourth grade. I usually don’t recall the specific time that events occurred, but this instance has been engraved in my memory by the event that preceded it. Because the two days before I entered fourth grade were the two days my family came home from our almost ten-month stay in Sayanogorsk, Siberia.

It probably seems strange that one of the things that sticks out the most in my mind about that week is the sudden discovery of my dislike of apple juice. You’d think I’d have been more occupied with catching up with friends, or buying school supplies, or enjoying those last precious days of summer before school starts. But, to be honest, I was a pretty solitary kid, and was coping with the jetlag that comes with a twelve-hour time difference to boot. I consider myself lucky that I remember anything about that time.

Apple juice. It’s not really something you tend to think about, unless it’s in a casual ‘hm, I feel like a glass of juice’ manner, or the container’s empty. I thought about it in Russia, though. To understand why, you need to know a bit more about the acquisition of groceries in Siberia. There weren’t any supermarkets in Sayanogorsk when we originally moved there. We did our shopping at the number 9 and number 5 markets. They were comprised mostly of merchants who had their wares displayed on tables or blankets on the street, or in small kiosks. There were a few small stores scattered around, and a big one that was a bit like a farmer’s market crossed with a general store, and none of them had air-conditioning. We bought everything at these markets – food and pencils, cleaning supplies and Christmas ornaments, toys and clothes…

And apple juice.

One of the key things about these markets was that their stock was in constant flux. You could never be sure that what was available today would be available tomorrow, so if you found something unusual, you stocked up on it. We found peanut butter once during our ten-month stay there. That was a good day. It becomes a habit, to store things away like a squirrel, to make them last. It’s a habit that still clings in traces to me, over twelve years later.

One of the things that was readily available was different types of fruit juice – orange, pineapple, grape, apple – it came in large cardboard boxes that were a bit like the juice boxes you’d get in your lunchbox as a kid. There was a white pull-tab-thing you used to open or shut the box, depending on whether you were pouring a drink or putting it in the fridge.

When we first arrived, there were several brands of these box juices available. My sister and I had a favourite type, so our mom bought us that brand. Then, one day, that type of juice just wasn’t there anymore. As I stated before, the markets were in a fairly constant state of flux when it came to merchandise. But my sister and I still wanted apple juice. So Mom bought a different brand. We didn’t care for it much at first, but it grew on us as time passed. This cycle happened once or twice more during our stay, and each time my sister and I adapted to a new brand.

Then came August 1998. To this day, I’m a bit blurry on the details – I was only ten at the time, and I’ve never really asked about what was going on. Suffice to say, Russia was having internal problems, and my dad’s company informed us that we had to get out.


It wasn’t as fast as all that, of course. There wasn’t a declaration of war or anything. We had time to pack our things and to make flight arrangements, to inform the person caring for our house in the States that we were coming back and to say good-bye to the friends we’d made in Sayanogorsk. But over it all there was a sense of urgency, a slight tang of concern that I didn’t even recognize until long after we’d gotten home.

We got back to our old house in the states at that time that can be termed as gawd-awful late or gawd-awful early, depending upon the preferences of the writer, but which, when it comes right down to it, is simply a gawd-awful time to be awake. We stopped by a Super Walmart on our way from the airport, to get some food. Amongst our purchases were bread, peanut butter, milk, cereal, and apple juice.

Have you ever experienced culture shock before? Gone to a place so utterly different in its way of thinking and doing things that it takes some time just to get your bearings? If you have, you know it’s not a comfortable feeling.

Have you ever considered what it’d be like to get culture shock by going home? To suddenly be in a land of everything, of huge grocery stores and cars, when you had grown used to walking to a small outdoor market in all weathers and ferreting special food away? To go from a world where bare feet would be cut by the broken glass on the playground to one where shoes are just another fashion statement?

I have.

You have to when those things happen to you.

It’s hard.

It makes you realize how incredibly different you’ve become from your peers since the last time you saw them, and that you’re never going to be quite like them again, no matter how you try, not really.

Sometime during those jet-lagged two days before fourth grade, I poured myself a glass of apple juice, and realized that I didn’t like the taste. And that I couldn’t bring myself to drink it, even though I’d adapted to different brands of juice multiple times over the past ten months. This was just one step I couldn’t take – a step backwards. Just as I couldn’t go back to being the girl I’d been ten months ago, I couldn’t go back to drinking the apple juice I’d grown up with. In a way it foreshadowed the other difficulties I’d experience because of this adventure.

Of course, I didn’t realize this at the time. At the time I was ten, and frustrated that my long-awaited drink no longer gave me the pleasure it once did. I didn’t see it as a sign of the changes in myself the past year had wrought. I couldn’t. I didn’t realize there was anything to see.

But my classmates saw. They saw that I was different from them, but they probably didn’t understand why. And how could they have understood? We were all so young… I’ve done the best I can since then, but it wasn’t until high school that I began to be able to properly relate to my peer group again.

And that’s what I think of when I think about apple juice.

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