GloPoWriMo: Day 22

Not Straight, Curved

Straight exists only as a construct:
In nature, all things curve.

When circles have corners,
we can choose
which bathroom to use,
what clothes to wear,
which job to choose,
whom to marry.  Or not.

Because circles have corners–
and squares have curves–
round pegs fit into squares,
square pegs fit round holes.

Straight exists only as a construct:
In nature, all things curve.
That’s why we choose
a more natural groove.

Daily Prompt: “Take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens:

  • The sun can’t rise in the west.
  • A circle can’t have corners.
  • Pigs can’t fly.
  • The clock can’t strike thirteen.
  • The stars cannot rearrange themselves in the sky.
  • A mouse can’t eat an elephant.”

— from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

Author’s note: I didn’t stick completely with the prompt because I don’t believe in impossibility, especially when it comes to social and cultural change.

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Shift 30: Spice


Aadhya decided we should all go to the Spice Festival.

“Culture!” she said. “You need to sample all the world has to offer!”

She’s bought tickets to take us all to the ballet over winter break, and we’re going to the Art Center, too. But our “Exposure to Culture” started with Spice.

So, after cross country practice, instead of riding the RT to YOTO, I walked down to the Spice District. I got a piece of cake at a café and ate it outside while I waited for everybody to arrive.

I’d asked Yuki to come, and she was the first one to join me.

She showed me the Spice Festival website on her phone, and we looked up a recipe for habanero brownies. The hotness rating on the Scoville scale was 300,000 for the brownie!


“That’s one hot brownie!” Yuki said.

I bet her that I could eat it. “I am, after all, last year’s Chili Champion!” I reminded her. I was wearing my shirt to prove it.


Yuki and I went to check out the festival before Aadhya and the other kids arrived. I entered a garlic-eating contest and won a new shirt for this year’s festival. It’s got garlic heads on it. I think it’s almost as cute as the chili pepper shirt.

“You really look at home here,” Aadhya said to me when she came. I guess maybe I might. I mean, last year when I was living at the San Myshuno park, I used to come here a lot, and my school’s here in the city. Our cross country team runs past this park a couple times a week for practice. I know my way around. I guess it sort of feels like home, too.


Marquise had brought his homework along.

“You want to check out the rest of the festival with me?” I asked him.

“Maybe after I finish this geometry stuff,” he said.

“I can help,” I offered.

“Nah. Not yet at least. I gotta figure it out myself.”


That same person that I met last year at the festival came, the trans-person.

“Hey, I remember you,” she said. “You were last year’s Chili Champion.”

I was glad she remembered me. Of course I remember her. I think about her now and then. She’s inspiring to me.


“So, how come I never saw you around here since last festival?” she asked.

“Oh, I had to move out of the city,” I told her.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she said.


“No! It’s a good thing!” I said. I told her I’d gotten into a program that was helping me, and that I’d come here with the other kids from the program. I didn’t tell her all the details, but she must have picked up on my enthusiasm because she seemed really happy for me.


After she left, Donnie came over.

“What was that you were talking to?” he asked. “I couldn’t tell if it was a guy dressed up like a woman or some kind of ‘roid-rage feminazi!”


He didn’t just say that.

“Tell me you didn’t just say that, Donnie.” I said.

“What?” he laughed. “I thought it was funny!”

“Moron,” I said.


A little while later, Aadhya joined me.

“I couldn’t help overhearing you and Donnie,” she said.


“Yeah, well. He comes from Oasis Springs. I guess it’s to be expected.”

Then, Aadhya went all “why-do-you-think-that” on me. I just said I’d met enough kids at Oasis Springs High to last me a lifetime.

“You can’t judge,” she said. “If you judge everyone from Oasis Springs based on your limited experience, then how does that make you any different from anyone else who judges others?”

I couldn’t listen at first.

“I just hate them all,” I said. “They’re so closed-minded.”

“This isn’t the time,” she said, “but we’ll want to talk more about this sometime.”

She went on to tell me about something she’d noticed during meditation. Her mind kept following specific patterns of thoughts. Even when she’d sit down to meditate and tell herself, “Let your thoughts follow different routes,” she would watch, and they would still follow the same routes.

“I learned about the mind,” she said, “in feeling it. I could feel the thoughts rise, and watch them follow the same patterns, even when I willed them to take a different route.”

She said that’s what minds are like. And until we learn to have a moment’s pause in between the thoughts, then we have very little control over them, and sometimes, they control us, even determining our beliefs and assumptions.

“It’s rather sad, really,” she said. “Worthy of compassion. For ourselves and others.”


I don’t know. I guess it’s something I could think about sometime.

But I didn’t feel like thinking about it that night. That night, I felt making a statement. I got my tablet, found this really cool meme, and posted it on my Twitter page, tagging @DonnieDeMan.


Let’s see what kind of new thought patterns this starts.


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Shift 8: Signs

I like the signs on the bathroom doors. Girl and Boy, Boy and Girl. It’s not an either-or-world. It’s both|and. And more. Both|and is more than two. It creates something new.


I’ve been reading a lot on the Internet about non-binary computing. I found this:

Now, in this “quadnary” computing, the most practical application is in Artificial Intelligence Research. Development of AI’s that can think and reason more like humans, because their logic is not constrained to only two states like binary logic.

I like it. I feel like by my being non-binary, I’m setting down new pathways for other people like me to follow. I’m “not constrained by only two states.”

I hope it helps others when they see me. When they look at me and wonder, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I hope they stop for a moment and say, “Why does it have to be one or the other?” Leave it undefined.

When I was telling Deon and his chess opponent about non-binary computing, Deon said that binary works just fine for some things, like solving chess, which he says computers will do within ten years. But for questions of real intelligence, binary doesn’t stand a chance.


“Real intelligence isn’t binary,” he said. See? That’s what I read, too. While we were talking, he got check-mated. He laughed really hard at that.

“For chess, binary is better! You see that? I try talking to you while I’m playing, and I get mated. Save the ternary for the gray areas! Chess is in black and white!”


His friend left, and Deon invited me to a game. I didn’t feel like playing chess. We got to talking instead. Pretty soon, I was complaining. I don’t know what it is about Deon. When I’m with him, before I know it, I’m spilling all my gripes.


Deon could tell something was bugging me. He kept asking every way he could, like he does. First he beats around the bush, then he asks direct, then he starts hunting and fishing. I wasn’t able to evade him. I had to break and tell.

Spring is coming on, just around the corner. Track season. I want to run.


I didn’t even realize I was so upset about it until we started talking. Deon asked if I’d been looking forward to it.

Only since fifth grade. That’s when I started winning all the races. In fifth grade, the middle school coach recruited me. Then last year, the high school coach recruited me. I was gonna run varsity. He’d promised me a spot. Then, college scouts would notice, and I’d be racking up more records, and I’d have a full-ride scholarship.

“It’s track season, and I’m not running,” I told him. I guess with everything going on, this thing could seem petty. But to me, it’s not. It’s a dead dream.


Deon said I should come live with him. Then I could go to school. It’s an idea. But no. It’s not gonna happen. I live with him and other people start asking questions, and the school starts asking for paperwork, and it all leads back to my uncle. Nope. Not for me.

I told him I appreciated it, though.


He said he thought I could find a way to go to school anyway.

I said no way. I don’t have my birth certificate. I can’t prove my residence. There’s no mom and dad to fill out the forms. School’s just not in the picture for someone like me.

He said he thought he knew a way, and it wouldn’t blow my cover, and nobody would discover me, and I wouldn’t have to move in with him.


He told me he worried about me sometimes. He told me a long story about when he was in my situation. Back then, he had somebody that looked after him. It was an old Vet who drank and had PTSD, but who was a really good guy with a “steadfast heart.” They camped together sometimes down by the ocean. Sometimes, the old guy would have a bad day, and then, Deon looked after him. And sometimes, Deon would have it tough, and the old guy would help. And sometimes, they’d both be doing OK, and then they’d both chip in. It was easier with two.

I thanked Deon for all he’d been doing for me. I know he’s done a lot. I told him I just didn’t feel it would be the thing to do, to move in with him. I didn’t feel safe leaving traces like that.

He asked me to promise him one thing: If I ever have a really bad time or if I get sick, I’ll stay with him, no questions asked. Otherwise, we could go on like we had been.

I told him it was a deal. Heck, I’m not planning on getting sick.


The next morning, Deon asked me if I could straighten up the lounge a bit. The books needed shelving. He’d never asked me to help out, so I thought that was kinda strange. But it was cool, too. I like to be able to help and not always be the recipient.

I glanced at the bulletin board when I was putting a book away.


There was a new flier that hadn’t been there yesterday.


I read every word. Twice. Three times. Four.


The kids in the flier were smiling, and you couldn’t tell which one of them was homeless. Maybe they all were. Maybe there were other kids like me, and they all went to school.

One line really stood out to me: “Receive educational services comparable to those provided to other students…” Did that mean?

Maybe I would be able to run track this season, after all!

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