I keep returning to the crab’s five-time emergence on this planet: the fact that five distinct communities of organisms have responded to forces internal and external by evolving the form of a hardened shell, side-stepping legs, and habitual hiding. I have an affinity for these creatures; I was born when the crab constellation was rising over the eastern horizon and share some of their qualities. I’m comfortable in the water but I’m content to keep my shell, to skirt sidewise around the fact, and to hide in the safety of my home. 

My sense of self has been porous lately—the last 27 years—and I get lost between what seems natural for others and what’s natural for me. I’m noticing this confusion particularly around intimacy and gender. (Ah, my loves!) Relationships and sex most reliably send me into an anxiety spiral, my heart beating out why doesn’t this work for me if it works for others. The other fish swim so gracefully, eyes blank and fins ablaze, but I’m slipping back beneath the seaweed putting off vulnerability and connection for another day. 

People like me have always been around—I know this because I exist. In Leslie Steinberg’s Stone Butch Blues I’m consoled by her query of a crow: “’Crow, are you boy or girl?’ ‘Caw, caw!’ …Nature held me close and seemed to find no fault with me.” Or Orlando’s androgynous solidarity, “’I have found my mate,’ she murmured. ‘It is the moor. I am nature’s bride…’” (Virginia Woolf1) Gender crustaceans have always been around, we seem to find solace alone and in nature, and still we emerge. 

I wish it were easier to hold steadfast to this truth. I write about it now, but the emotional reality of my rightful inheritance is easy to lose sight of. I deserve to exist as I am and to find what is natural.

I’m fond of Octavia Butler’s idea of god as change: to worship god is to play an active role in evolution, to bring consciousness to what emerges. This sounds like a weighty responsibility, but the burden is heaviest for me when I forget the calling is simply to attend to the natural. I can let go of this doesn’t work for me, instead orienting myself towards this feels right, allowing the crab of my own design to take hold. 

Should nature need a crab it will emerge. Butler’s god pairs well with adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy, a reminder that emergence doesn’t care for plans or strategies. Live in the body, be true to your senses, and the rest will follow.

Though I feel it comes naturally, the point I’m skirting around is that my authentic evolution is not easy for me. Reality weighs heavy on all of us, and grief is palpable in my community right now. The weight begs for something new but it can also cause fractures, terminal breaks. Outside a person is screaming into the falling snow and their voice is echoing back from the train bridge. It’s a painful conversation to hear, but perhaps there is catharsis in it for them. Maybe this letter serves the same purpose for me as their unsettling monologue—shells to guard our salty porous flesh. 

I’m sidestepping here and don’t have a clear line of sight to where I’m headed. I want to make sense of it but today there is only uncertainty. What I do know is this: I want to remain supple and sensitive, attentive to my heart and what it tells me. I want your isolation to border mine, and in the Venn diagram of us to find what needs to emerge right now. 

Perhaps we can be a crab community together? I hope you’ll write back. 



1I’m repeating what I’ve said before, but it’s a crab worth repeating.


The zipper broke on my jacket the other week, and rather than replace it I opted to seize the means of production myself and buy a sewing machine. Before you say it know that I’m thinking it too—guy buys sewing machine, declares self a radical, how cute. But really, I’ve had a lot of fun learning how to do this myself. 

The repair itself took a bit of time—a whole book, in fact. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells, which I listened to at a slower-than-usual 1.25x speed to pace myself. There were a few bumps in the road: a machine malfunction fixed at a local shop, an ill-fitted zipper, user error. In the end I did it myself and came away with a like-new jacket and an expanded sense of possibility. 

I’ve been mending other things, too. A part on my car, denim worn through, emotional scars getting harder to ignore. Scratch that; not scars per se, but adaptations no longer useful. Like the jacket with the broken zipper, or the jeans worn through at the knee, I’m finding some parts of myself in need of attention, care, and skilled repair. 

I wish there was a 5-minute YouTube video I could quickly review before running a heavy duty sewing machine over the tears in my heart. 

There’s much mending to do at large. You see it, too, I’m sure. It’s hard to ignore in my neighborhood. Someone airs out their cardboard at the library, hoping it will dry before another snowy night spent outside. Mail goes undelivered for weeks at a time in parts of town due to staff shortages. Symptoms of a mal-adapted heart. Something much larger isn’t working. 

The jacket of our reality needs mending. I’m tired of hearing this world is not our home, and rather than throw the garment out entirely I’m inclined to learn what can be mended. 

Perhaps this sense of urgent repair is part of why I’m enjoying science fiction so much lately. A review of the books I’ve read this year shows that a majority of them fall within this genre—a topical shift I wouldn’t have predicted a few years ago. Some of the appeal is escapism, sure, but I also find the genre to be generative. The stories I’ve found are paradigm-pushing, creating a similar expanded sense of possibility. 

This quality isn’t general, but found particularly in the queer- and femme-penned books in the genre. Becky Chambers in particular. (A Psalm for the Wild-Built.) Hers is sci-fi that feels distinctly human, even when treating alien characters. The hearts and hopes of the individuals are central to the story. Indigenous sci-fi, too. (Terra Nullius, Love After the End.) Even the masculine writers have helped push my sense of the possible. (The Ministry for the Future, Half-Earth Socialism.) Something about visiting interstellar worlds makes Earth feel much more possible. 

I’m still thinking about god as potential and a future worth moving towards. These fictions help distill that future ideal into something imaginable, becoming a prerequisite to possibility. 

There’s something worth moving towards, something better for you and for me. We need not throw out the jacket for want of a working zipper. I want to imagine that future, that expanded possibility, and begin the mends necessary to bring it into reality. 

I hope you’re well. As always, I’d be happy to hear from you.


Letter #1

Hi there,

Wherever there is, be it digital or a mailbox—I’m grateful you’re there. I’m hungry to connect; wary of attachment but craving a meaningful enmeshment of me and my world. Your world. So I’m writing this letter. 

A lot’s on my mind. Yours too, I’m sure, so I hope you’ll respond if you’re so inclined. Nothing to urge but of course it all feels very urgent doesn’t it. 

The german poet writes of god not as historical origin, but the possibility of some future emergence. god as potential, possibility worth moving towards. I feel as though I’m not moving at all and yet this is something I’m connecting with right now. Attaching to. 

How do you want god to emerge in your life? There are cracks in mine I hope something will take root in. I’ve no clue what will grow best, but that’s the solace of emergence I suppose—need not pick and choose, only tend to and hope.

Tend to hope. That’s hard to do. My heart has strings, and like an octopus’s tentacles they’re independent neural networks searching, roving, tending as towards food. You are what you eat, and my diet’s out of whack. Here’s hoping those networks can be reworked and netted in new ways meaningful and regenerative. How do you train a heart? 

I’m getting into the weeds here. What I mean to say is: I’m looking for the optimism, the reasons to connect, the pieces of god potentiate(?). Amidst decay what is growing? What can I tend to, hope for and harvest? Perhaps just weeds, but surely they still have some nutritional value when they’re so green like that. 

So I want to share with you some of what I’m seeing, tending to. This is arrogance and hubris, sure, but I mean to connect and enmesh myself with something possible. Something that looks a lot like you. And me, and us, together. 

And you can always put this letter down, too, if it’s not for you. I hope you will. But if it is worth reading—and I hope for some of you it will be—I hope you’ll do just that. Perhaps you’ll respond as well. I’d like that. 



What I’m Connecting With

  • Becky Chambers, A Psalm for the Wild-Built. Short sci-fi with a big heart. Her Wayfarers series is also worth exploring. Space opera full of humanity, with humans playing a small role.
  • On Being, short Foundations episodes. Krista Tippett is an unassuming host with great wisdom. The short episodes released this fall have been a solace for me in moments of fear.
  • James Bridle, Ways of Being. An earthly refresher on what is possible & emerging. A reminder that much will persist if/when we do not.
  • Chad Lawson, breathe (piano instrumental album). What’s playing while I read. 
  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet. The german poet quoted above.