la violette pensée

blessings for an elay woman: imagination, intelligence, endurance



just a reminder that the characters of my other name, ‘yin-haan’, can also be read as “hater of secrets’ or ‘hater of shadows’, which is quite fitting.

Me: Dark Ale, Fruit Wheat, Wheat, and Bock. It’s all true.Dark Ale: You’re aggressive and cantankerous, hiding a heart of gold.Fruit Wheat: You’re not afraid of what others think of you.Wheat: You’re a naturalist in every way. You’re probably naked as you read this.Bock: You have the class of James Bond, but the habits of a drunk mother at a family gathering.In that order.
Me: Dark Ale, Fruit Wheat, Wheat, and Bock. It’s all true.

Dark Ale: You’re aggressive and cantankerous, hiding a heart of gold.
Fruit Wheat: You’re not afraid of what others think of you.
Wheat: You’re a naturalist in every way. You’re probably naked as you read this.
Bock: You have the class of James Bond, but the habits of a drunk mother at a family gathering.

In that order.

swan vesta

"i am just too awesome for this world," i said
knowing it would make you laugh
as i unscrewed the little aluminium vial
that hung from my handbag (still does, you know)
where i keep the precisely 15 swan vestas that fit inside

i struck one on the concrete
where we sat, indifferent to the consequences
absorbed by the pleated tartan skirts
your mother had chosen
(she’d have a fit if she knew
i was wearing your spares)
in which to bind you (us)
for your (our) own good
(as if repeating a catechism
could have remade us)

i lit another cigarette
while you tugged your tie loose
and i blew smoke straight up
into the dry, hot, imminent summer

i hadn’t thanked you, yet
for pulling that asshole off of me
for kicking him in the ribs
while he was bashing the back of my head on the sidewalk
after the dance last week
i hadn’t thanked you, at least, not properly
not in the way I really wanted
forming the words directly into your mouth
instead of your ears

i felt the ground, abrasive under the tips of my fingers
as i furtively, desperately trilled them next to your hip
knowing you knew where i’d rather my fingers lay
bound with yours, forcing them closer
sinking them into the one place where i feared
a single touch might kill me
knowing you would share even this with me
if i asked, and if i waited too long to ask
you would take it upon yourself to obviate my hesitation

there were questions, of course, even then
not mine, of course, not yours
for in the shroud of the trust we shared
no secrets could find purchase
no, these were the questions of others
who could not fathom the strangeness
of we two and the game we played
heading into the last summer
in which we could still pretend it was a game
only two months before ignoring the disconnects
would no longer be an option
the ones that lay within me
and the one that would become difficult to bridge
with hundreds of miles scheduled to come between us

that night, you carefully hung our (your) skirts
in their usual place 
took my hand, quietly
and suddenly there was nothing left between us
nothing between me and a reality i was refused
except a gulf as wide as the stars
you struggled not to breathe so loudly
that we’d be discovered
i put each of your fingers to my mouth
like snuffing out vestas
each one a deliciously sharp knife
you bowed your head before me 
returning the favor the only way possible
as my tears fell upon your hair

you were first, last, and always
and as it turned out
i lived to see my swan, alight from within, take wing

gemma seymour-amper, 29 september 2013


you think that you can discern how things connect for me
you see a shell opaque, and believe it structure
but where it is held from inside deceives the eye
and i, in truth, know as little as you, for my eyes point outward
and cannot return on themselves, are blinded
by amplitudes i cannot erase, deny, or subsume
travelling along wires i am told are supposed to end
somewhere over there—a little shy, incidentally, of where they did

tap tap tap, your fingers rough upon my trace
until the shell bursts along faults in directions all at once

question: what is my elation, to you?
question: what is your relation, to me?

whose answers do you really seek? yours, or mine?
if you find the figures you preconceived, will this satisfy? whom?

can you understand how digits sink into me unbidden?
in places where no entrance is granted
a tunnel to my very core—did i place it there by wish, or by curse?

I know this drill, the one that you have rehearsed into the wee hours
over, and over, and over again until you came
gasping into the starlight
breathing my name

nayyir alphekka nayyir alphekka…

place your hand here
(underneath the curve of my breast)
just so
this is real, not that other
this is real fear, not the imagined one you mistook
this close, touching, you cannot escape
here is terror made flesh
here, i am no longer a myth

do you know why i allowed you in?
only because the choice must be thine
only with my heart in thy grasp
only then canst thou choose life
only there canst thou be made known, even unto thyself
only thereby might i be made free

here, on this altar
i shall know the cost of my sacrifice
here, you will relent, or i am undone

gemma seymour-amper, 28 september 2013

  • Connie: You know, it wasn't just my career. It was the biggest opportunity of my life. I wanted my life to make a difference. I wanted my life to mean something.
  • David: And I wasn't ambitious enough for you.
  • Connie: David, you could have done anything that you wanted. Research, development...
  • David: Oh, honey, I was happy where I was.
  • Connie: Haven't you ever wanted to be a part of something special?
  • David: I *was* part of something special.
  • Connie: Well, if it makes any difference, I never stopped loving you.
  • David: But that wasn't enough, was it?

The dream I had at five o’ clock this morning

Merciful Goddess, I beg you, make the dreams stop, I can’t take it. 

My heart just got emotionally tag-teamed by a strange woman who tried, with her male partner, to rob me in NYC (I cut her cruelly across the knees to escape, after which I got lost underneath a subway station, then I encountered her again and she befriended me, but I swam away from her rowboat—how we got in the rowboat, IDK), then by two of the most important women in my life, M and P, who teased me mercilessly in the apartment M shares with her husband and their remarkably unsmelly dogs, and by a third, V, who wasn’t there, but of course she figures into everything now, doesn’t she? And how can I ever stop comparing everyone to her?

I sang a Smiths song because it seemed appropriate at the time (won’t remember it right now). Another woman I know was inexplicably present, J. No, not that J, NYC J. 

And then, I was carrying my guitar in a sidewalk crowd in DC, walking through an installation piece that used motion sensors to modify the music it played according to people’s movements, while members of my band passed me going the other direction without recognising me, because I’m no longer the one they knew.

OMGoddess, I am reeling…M & P tossing barbs at each other while both terrorized me with sexually suggestive remarks, knowing how horribly vulnerable I am, especially to M, who was delighting in watching me squirm. 

And then the reminder that though the three of them are so different, M, P, and V share some deep similarities. J, why you were there, I don’t even, but the Smiths song was for you as much as anyone.  

Aside: Why were both M and P working for subsidiaries of KPMG, and who is the former client of mine, the design and architectural firm, who keeps showing up in my dreams as a suitor for my employment? And why did I turn them down? And when did they also become a subsidiary of KPMG? And where was M’s husband? (away on a business trip, apparently) Since when are M, P, and V all archers? Goddess, what did you mean?

Oh, and the extremely heavy-duty, table saw like sewing machine that made an appearance? How bizarre was *that*?! It was being operated by a svelte and ageless black woman who was a supremely skilled costumer.

Dear Goddess, that dream just ripped my heart into a trillian (intentional) pieces…why is the Neverworld trying to claim her wayward half-daughter? How much longer can I resist before I give in? Sometimes, I wonder if I even know what’s real, if I ever did, and whether I even remember major swaths of my life.

Today’s fan service!Pictured with my main squeeze, my 2000 Ernie Ball/Music Man Stingray unlined fretless, 3-band EQ + piezo, transparent gold with matching headstock, swamp ash body, birdseye maple neck, pau ferro fingerboard, strung with Rotosound Jazz Bass 77 flatwound strings.I think it’s time I started a new band, don’t you?

Today’s fan service!

Pictured with my main squeeze, my 2000 Ernie Ball/Music Man Stingray unlined fretless, 3-band EQ + piezo, transparent gold with matching headstock, swamp ash body, birdseye maple neck, pau ferro fingerboard, strung with Rotosound Jazz Bass 77 flatwound strings.

I think it’s time I started a new band, don’t you?

Reminiscing over my younger days as a musician brought this story to mind:

On August 31, 1996, the band Lush returned to Philadelphia for the second time that year, at the end of their US tour for their album, “Lovelife”, with only a few more shows scheduled before they headed back to England. Having been friends with Lush for a few years at that point, after the show, we took them over to McGlinchey’s, one of Philadelphia’s long-time favourite dive bars, something that had become a tradition for us whenever Lush was in town.

Something of a game of one-upsmanship developed between our drummer and Lush’s drummer, Chris Ackland, over a young woman who insinuated herself into our crowd while we were waiting for Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson to catch up with us. Once they did, we shared several pitchers of beers and bottles of what I think was some brand of hard lemonade, it being the “new thing” on the market at that time.

Having unwisely not eaten that hot summer day and night, I became a dizzy with hyponatremia and dehydration complicated by the alcohol (I’m prone to this, with my physiology, though I sometimes forget), so after sitting outside for awhile to cool off, Victoria and I begged off and headed home to our apartment on Spring Garden Street in the Art Museum area, leaving the rest of the two bands, along with long-time friend and WLFR DJ “Champagne” Bob Portella (the nickname was bestowed upon him by Miki, I believe, and stemmed from his custom of always bringing a bottle of champagne for Lush after the show, like some people will bring roses) to continue drinking into the night.

It proved to be the last time I would see them. In October 1996, a month after returning to England, Chris inexplicably committed suicide. Lush never recovered as a band, and after a year of attempting to move on without Chris, officially dissolved in early 1998.

I sometimes wonder whatever happened to that girl. It’s hard to believe that was 17 years ago this month.

From left: Emma Anderson (guitars and vocals), Chris Ackland (drums), Phil King (bass), Miki Berenyi (guitars and vocals)

Making a songbook. I don’t know why I’ve never done this before. A good use for my black B5 Deskfax Sandhurst Filofax.

Making a songbook. I don’t know why I’ve never done this before. A good use for my black B5 Deskfax Sandhurst Filofax.

Tomorrow morning, I’m getting on a plane, and you know how planes can be sometimes. I’ll be off-line and out of cell reception from sometime Friday afternoon until sometime on Sunday night. Don’t worry, I’ll be having fun! But, if anything bad does happen, I want you all to never forget me, and to tell my daughter that I love her. Never stop fighting for Justice!

I woke up this morning to a realisation about some of the mistakes I’ve made in my life, and I wrote a few things about it. While I was getting my coffee, I read a letter from Stephanie, a very old friend of mine who I haven’t seen in many years. She read something I wrote the other night, and reached out to me to share her sympathy. She is so dear to me, was a part of my life and my family’s lives for so long that she will always be the sister of my heart. I shared with her what I had written this morning, and I would like to share it with you, because you never know, I may never get another chance.

You were a close part of my life for so long that I will always count you as a sister of my heart. When you share that much of someone’s life, only the two of you can understand where you’ve been. I only wish Victoria could have felt this, but of course a large portion of the blame for turning her away from me falls squarely on my own shoulders.

I had a dream about her again last night. As usual, a very happy dream. I woke this morning, and a little while ago, I wrote this:

I now realise that when I demanded an equal partnership from my wife, when I demanded that she perform the same tasks as I could and did, to the same level of competency, I was doing so because I was resentful of being forced to live my life as a man, resentful of being the only one in the relationship expected by society to be independently competent at whatever I turned my hand to, or whatever task needed to be accomplished.

Just as society was holding me to an impossible standard, I had internalised the belief that virtue arises solely from productivity and competence, and I was in turn holding my wife to an equally impossible standard, a standard in which I no longer believe, and recognise as damaging. A love relationship should never be subjected to comparison of the relative levels of contribution to the relationship, in the monetary, competency, or productive senses. Work, or the ability to do work, is not in itself a virtue.

I was not a virtuous person for being competent, but merely a useful one, and like too many others in our society, I counted my worth based on what I knew and what I could do. In my mind, I demanded from my partner that which I had no real right to demand—that she be more like me, when what I really wanted was to be more like her.

May the Light of the Goddess ever shine upon your path, and bring you Happiness, all the days of your lives. Namárië, hara máriessë!


Those Eyes I Worshipped

It’s funny how something will trigger a memory:

November 1988 — Stopped in traffic on the expressway somewhere north of New York City, straddling my brand-new, 2-month-old, Alpine White Kawasaki Ninja 500. The sun is going down, and I’m cold and I’m wet. I’ve been on the bike for hours. I’m exhausted. And this is the second time in four days that I’ve been in this condition. 

I’d started out the weekend perfectly elated, getting on my new motorcycle with my new riding suit, my new helmet, with my new backpack strapped to the back. I was going to Boston to see Her, my One True Love, who’d transferred to BU earlier that fall. I hadn’t seen her since I’d been forced to leave Carnegie-Mellon back in the spring. I got soaked and lost on my way to Boston. Almost got a $50 ticket for trying smoke a cigarette at a pay phone in Cambridge, trying to call her to get directions. You can’t smoke on the street there, or something, I guess. Cop took pity on me when I explained my situation and agreed to put out my cigarette.

The second she opened the door, I knew it was over. I could see it written all over her face, in her posture, in her eyes. Those eyes that I worshipped. Maybe that was the problem. I spent the weekend pleading with her in every way I knew how to love me, but she’d made up her mind, and I left, feeling as low as I have ever felt in my life before or since. 

Got hit by an ice-cold thunderstorm so bad leaving Boston that made cars and two-wheeled me pull over underneath an overpass and made me even think about turning back even though I knew I wouldn’t really be welcome. Got back on the bike and rode through the downpour, stopped at a rest stop somewhere on the Mass Pike (I think) for a hot cup of coffee to warm my frozen, soaked hands to the awe of fellow travellers who have seen me on the road in the storm, huddled over my tank to get behind the fairing, knees clutching the engine for what little warmth I can soak up.

Everything I have in the backpack strapped to my pillion and everything I’m wearing is completely saturated, and I’m suffering from the early stages of hypothermia. I don’t even know why I’m still going, why I haven’t just run the motorcycle into a bridge abutment or something, but I guess I couldn’t figure out how to do anything else but flee, as fast as I can.

By the time I reach the Bronx, I’ve still got at least 3 hours on the road before I get home, and now I’ve hit dead stopped traffic. I put my feet down and flip up my visor.

I never saw what it was that hit me. I might have been a large insect. It might have been a rock kicked up by the northbound traffic on the other side of the divider, but whatever it was, it hit me dead center in the upper lip. What went through my mind at that instant was that I’d just been shot in the face, and I was about to die. It’s amazing how quickly you can resign yourself when you believe that your fate is inevitable.

It took awhile for the shock to wear off, and for the realisation that I was still upright to kick in. At that point, I knew I was done. Whatever it was that had kept me going through that terrible weekend drained out of me in an instant. There’s no way I’m going to survive another 3 hours on the bike in my wet riding suit, and darkness is rapidly approaching. So, I make the smart choice, and turn off the highway to seek refuge at my grandparents’ house in College Point, Queens.

Arriving at the door, I was in a daze. My emotional state was a complete disaster, and in my exhaustion, I looked through the window to see the house crowded with members of my family. I’d completely forgotten it was my grandfather’s 68th birthday, and my cousin’s 9th was just two days before. It was a birthday party for both, and I’d arrived with almost perfect timing.

I don’t think I was ever, or have ever been since, so happy to see my family.

For Beth Cording

Ten years ago, I found myself desperate to pay my bills, with my business still struggling from the aftermath of 9/11, so I sold my AAPL stock at an adjusted price (including splits) of about $10 a share. AAPL closed today at $420.73.