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know love


The note begins, 'to anyone who needs hope', a simple message scratched into the wall. I ran my fingers over the immortalized text. "Always love. There is so much hurt and anger in this world you don't want to leave without love in your heart."

I liked the concept of you leaving the world, but knew that the author was in some small part - supporting the bursts of optimistic green grass that has determinedly find themselves growing in the floor of the sanctuary.

I take that back my translation is wrong. шӀэн -- щӀэн - - KNOW love. Almost a lost language it seems, even in the silence of the ruins.

шӀэн -- щӀэн "KNOW love. there is so much....."

It's amazing to think that someone would write a tome to love in a place where bombs fell indiscriminately for so long the face of the city was no longer visible. Rooms lay open to the dry air like unfinished sentences. Tables set for a meal, wedding beds now sitting in wall-less vistas. The river has torn a new course through the ruins when you look down over the valley. Without influence, the river now free to return to where it's needed.

Studying sites like these always reinforced the rule of impermanence. Our condition of being bound to aging, sickness, and death, of possessing a body that is subject to being worn and rubbed away, to dissolution and integration back into the very soil we were born from.

I wonder what this person's unfinished dreams were? Did their family make it out when they did not?

I imagine this person's son or daughter, going on to lead a quiet life in a new country somewhere. Perhaps they now hold a child's hand on their way to the first day of school. The fall colours falling leaf by leaf around them like a snow globe.

Looking down into the child's eyes, do they see a reflection? They see a person very different than they'd ever imagined themselves becoming. Despite the hardships of their life, they remember an almost forgotten voice. One that was teaching them from very early to know love.




It's an interesting thing to have not known a time without her. Her armor-penetrating laugh has been the same since my family moved in across the street in the fall of 1973.

She sat across from me at our breakfast table with that impossible smile. Her first question for me was "what is your favorite color?" - I told her with great confidence green was amazing, but she preferred purple because it was the mix of two colors she didn't like that formed the perfect color,

"Blue and red on their own are boring, buh' combeened day make PURPLE. look at it - PURPLE!"

She said it with that couple-of-teeth missing perfection. Its still the way I'll say the word sometimes.

I can remember watching her blossom into a young woman and shying away as pubescent awkwardness overwhelmed me like a tsunami. Without cheerleader squads for chess club or the physics honor roll, she never noticed me. She married the quarterback, I'd watched from across the dance floor romancing her.

My braces eventually came off. I embraced my nerdy talents, letting go of all the confusion of being a boy and grew into my own man, I let the winds of college and then grad school carry me far away. I never really forgot her, but had accepted that our lives had taken different paths.

I came home one summer, the small town of my youth still pulling out all the stops for 4th of July. As I drove up to my childhood home, I noticed the "for sale" sign across the street.

"Falkner's place up for sale?"

"Oh honey, that's just a sad, sad story....", Mom began.

Her blonde prince charming had started spending more time down at the local pub than at home. He had driven home one evening swerving and striking another car, killing the family inside. There had been a very public trial, and he eventually found himself locked away for a great long sentence.

The overwhelming costs of the trial and the ensuing legal bills forced them to sell the house. Their divorce proceedings played out in the small town like a Hollywood romance gone bad. His anger over their inability to have children had driven him to drink and find lots other female company - - it became fodder for the kinds of vicious rumors and painful assumptions small towns specialize in. She was working in the local bookstore to make a living, It seemed that all the luster and promise of her life had been wiped away.

When I first saw here again after so many years, she was seated in the city park. She was feeding bread crumbs to ducks at her feet. She wore her hair in ponytails with simple purple bows.

We both remember seeing other suddenly. We both recall working hard not to cry at seeing each other after so much time and so many circumstances and decisions making their impact on us.

She did indeed sell the house, moving into a lovely downtown apartment above the five and dime we'd both rushed to with our allowances so many years earlier. We started trading long letters to each other. I invited her into the city on the train a few months late. We went out on what we both called 'that first date'.

Tomorrow morning, she and I will get married. Both our mothers are, of course, claiming that they knew it would happen eventually. The table centers at the reception include technicolor piles of crayolas and white paper tablecloths.

Beautiful girls are seldom happy, intelligent boys are seldom beautiful, but I'm sure it's what we've always wanted for each other.

I am sure that every word, every touch that she and I share - they color me in.


Ward 7

Ward 7

I woke from a rest to see him sitting patiently in the chair next to my bed. He let me wake up, pulling myself up in the pajamas and tangle of sheets. He reached out and took my hand, gently tracing the IV taped to the top of my hand.

They'd found me passed out in the shower. The doctor told me I was lucky I hadn't drowned. I had a nasty dark bruise on my face from the fall. The next door neighbor called 911, and I'd ended up here on the 7th floor. The fucking 7th floor.

I’d caused an ugly scene. Anywhere but here. These. These are the rooms where others had come and never escaped.

"Don’t put me in a room to die! Please!," I'd screamed.

Two doors down was the piano player from the sweater bar. Next door, the kind man who loved wearing Liberace-style fur coats and loved sunflowers. Wasn’t there room somewhere else in the hospital, goddammit? I was sure I wasn’t the first angry, scared person to occupy room #703.

He'd heard from Marcia that I'd only taken one bite of birthday cake the night before. If I wasn't eating cake, the situation obviously required further intervention.

"Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm still here, Morticia.", I said with a raspy dry voice.

"There he is," he began, his face exploding into a warm smile.


This American Choice

reading in the library

It seemed like the longest silence that had ever existed. Dadaji staring at me in the quiet of his study.

"This American choice," he finally asserted,"It is not Indian choice. not a choice for a Sikh. You are a Sikh, so you must follow our traditions."

I had accepted the offer for school in America, when it was clear he wished me to do otherwise. I'd let classmates convince me to cut my long hair. Washing my long hair was time-consuming, as was the morning ritual of winding seven meters, or more than 20 feet, of cloth around my head. It was hot and uncomfortable. It got in the way during gym classes. But as soon as the barber cut my hair, I knew I had made a mistake.

I wrote to DadaJi and told him what I had done. He said we would discuss it when I came home on the winter holiday.

I told him how people associated the turban with terrorists. I told him it was old world ways in a new expanding world. Afraid of being branded a Taliban or an al-Queda, I told him that there was no convincing people otherwise.

He laid before me on the table a perfectly white patka - and a considerable length of the family's deepest red silk.

"There is no convincing of people, only showing people by our peaceful example. Their misunderstanding is rooted in fear, fear that you will dissipate. A turban asserts a public commitment to maintaining the values and ethics of the tradition, including service, compassion, and honesty. We wear the turban as a symbol of the equality and sovereignty of all people."


Cookies can change the world

sugar sprinkle cookies

"OMG. 9 - 1 - 1   YOU MUST COME TO THE BAKERY AISLE RIGHT NOW - the text had read.

Bill pushed the cart into bakery to see his husband standing with a handful of the splendidly besprinkled sugar cookies. 

"This was the emergency you 9-1-1'd me all the way across the store for?"

"LOOK AT THEM - these are the solve for so many of the world's problems! right here."

"sprinkled sugar cookies, how so?"

"imagine how it would change EVERYTHING, particularly religion!"


"Just imagine how long the lines would be for communion at St. Matthews if the communion wafer was replaced with these," he said, taking one cooking and holding it in his left hand, performing the sign of the cross, "Take. eat, and have a sugary, buttery flavorgasm in remembrance of me! - I mean - it rewrites three parts of the new testament in one blow. Take that Mark, Luke AND Corinthians! It's all suddenly a whole lot sexier. Communion wafers are so 12th century, they need to modernize. We could replace communion wine with chocolate milk -- and save thousands of souls in the process."

"I think changing out food items is missing the point."

"nope, not lost on me. I get it body of christ, blood of christ. but as long as it still transubstantiatiates. You've seen the articles showing how people going to church, as a percentage of the population, is on the decline. Why not use better tasting, more satisfying carbohydrates? 800% more satisfying body of christ? Thats a 799% improvement. " 

"it strikes me we'd just have chubbier Christians, and the same problems."

"You're not seeing the big picture, yet. We could solve world hunger by making cookies with sprinkles made of superfood like quinoa or little kale sprinkles."

"Kale... sprinkles."

"You make the sprinkles inside full of kale - - the antoxidants, vitamins C, A and K. Give the people what the want - and hide the nutrition in the sprinkles," he paused seeing the skeptical look from his husband.... "You are not letting me show you the big picture. Kale sprinkles and cupcakes could change the world."

"so we should get a dozen to test this theory?"

"You've shopped with me before, right?" he said, happily realizing they were coming home with a dozen research cookies.