Log in

entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
Poem: "Essential for Human Survival" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Essential for Human Survival"
This poem came out of the February 7, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from rix_scaedu, kestrels_nest, DW user Mirrorofsmoke, DW user Redsixwing, DW user Nsfwords, DW user Alatefeline, Anonymous on DW, Kellyc on DW, Shirley Barrette, and Stephen Laird.  It also fills the "nonsexual touch" square in my 2-1-17 Platonic card for the Valentines Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the Cassandra thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: Stephen Laird, general fund

525 lines, Buy It Now = $263
Amount donated = $70.75
Verses posted = 41 of 172

Amount remaining to fund fully = $192.25
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2

WARNING: This poem contains intense topics that may bother some readers.  Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers.  It's all about self-harm and other self-destructive behavior, and a place made to help people overcome those challenges.  It includes Cassandra's ongoing challenges, Groundhog's sensitivity over Flight and the outdoors, the option of locking up implements of self-injury, in which Cassandra and Groundhog use symbolic Earth and globe balls, a monk being mysterious, descriptions of various people's self-harm scars, awkward personal interactions, disabilities, fumbling around with boundaries, Darnell crying heavily and being embarrassed about it, various combinations of skin hunger and touch aversion, Sukeena's distance from her family, Darnell being startled by superpowers, and other challenges.  The overall tone is primarily fluffy because the Kwan Yin House of Compassion is a gorgeous place with lots of support.  Also the cuddle party may serve as vicarious snuggling for some readers. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"Essential for Human Survival"

Cassandra wriggled into
the peacock-printed bike shorts
and Re-cycle T-shirt that had been
her treats to herself after completing
the weekend class to renew her license.

It was a beautiful day, and she
hoped to talk Groundhog into
going for a ride with her.

When he came home, though,
he proposed something else entirely.

"A friend tipped me to this place,"
Groundhog said, offering her a brochure.
"I thought we could go check it out."

"The Kwan Yin House of Compassion,"
Cassandra read. The cover showed
a statue of a serene woman standing
on top of a dragon. Inside, Cassandra
found pictures of the outbuilding, which
looked Japanese, and the main house that
seemed more Tibetan in style. "A sanctuary
for hurting people who hurt themselves."

The brochure described a variety of facilities,
including gazebos and gardens in addition
to the buildings. It also listed all kinds of
services and other activities available --
counseling, crafts, prayers, a library, and
private space for difficult discussions.

The back offered contact information,
a glossary, and a map with bus lines
as well as car parking. It even noted
the availability of indoor bike storage.

"It sounds interesting," Cassandra said.
"It's nice of you to think of me like this."

"That was my first thought," Groundhog said.
"Then I figured, I could probably use it too."

One hand came up to rub his chin
where he had scraped it on the pavement.
The mark was fading now, mostly hidden
underneath his beard, but Cassandra
still remembered where it was.

"Rough morning?" she asked.

"I'm still trying to get used to the idea
that I could fly again," he said, "and that
I don't need to keep looking overhead."

"We can go together," Cassandra said.
"If you start drifting, I'll grab you and
hold on tight. You know that you
can't lift both of us together."

"Yeah," he said. "Let's do that."

So they hiked to the bus stop,
which took a while because it was
not convenient to their apartment, but
the trip was too far to bike comfortably.

The ride went quickly enough, though,
and then the driver let them off at a bus stop
that looked like a giant banana leaf made of
bamboo over a serpentine wooden bench.

"That's memorable," Cassandra said,
and Groundhog nodded, trailing
a hand over the curving roof.

The Kwan Yin House of Compassion
stood beside a large park, so that
the grounds seemed to run together.
It looked like something out of a postcard.

It was peaceful, too; despite the sounds
of Onion City behind them, in front of them
were tufts of bamboo and trickling fountains.

The main building had layers of doors
to shut out the noise and any rough weather.
Inside stood a reception desk with a greeter.

"May I help you, or would you rather
explore on your own?" the lady asked.

"Oh, um, we're new here," Cassandra said.
"Groundhog found a brochure and thought I might
find it useful, but I hardly know where to start."

"This floor has a lot of group space like
the library and the snack room," said the lady.
"There's a craft class starting in twenty minutes
if you're interested in making a portable altar."

"That sounds like fun," Cassandra said.
She hadn't really expected coming here to be
fun. Maybe it'd work better than therapy.
She rubbed a hand across her wrist.
"I could use some fun these days."

"The House of Compassion is here
for whatever you need," the lady said.
"It's good that you have a friend."

Groundhog lifted an arm high enough
to show the old, pale scars. "I thought
about Cassandra first, but I could use
some extra support myself," he said.

"Recent challenges?" the lady guessed.

"No, actually, something great happened
but it shook me up enough that I'm jumpier
than usual," Groundhog said. "I don't want
it to get out of hand, so maybe this will help."

"Would either of you like to set aside
anything sharp or dangerous for a while?"
the receptionist offered. "We have lockers."

They were lovely things, dark wood with
shiny brass fittings, but Cassandra shook
her head. "I'd love to, but I don't think
the whole world would fit in there."

"Oh, you're an opportunist?" the lady said.
"We can accommodate that!" She brought out
a basket full of stress balls shaped like the Earth.

Groundhog laughed. "I'll take you up on that,"
he said, grabbing a multicolored globe.

The receptionist showed him how to lock
and unlock the cubby, then gave him the key.

Cassandra chose a blue-and-green Earth ball,
then stashed it alongside Groundhog's globe.
"What do you want to do now?" she asked.

"She mentioned a snack room," he said.

The receptionist helpfully gave them directions.
They followed those and the smell of egg rolls
into a room full of small wooden tables and
matching chairs with red cushions.

"Oooh," Cassandra said, staring at
the murals which wrapped around
the walls. There were mountains,
horses, and someone riding a yak.

The service counter held a huge menu
sprawling across a chalkboard, written
in several different languages and colors.
There were egg rolls, rice balls, tempura,
miso soup, chicken noodle soup, fruit cups,
hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and salmon patties.

A rack held packages of popcorn, kale chips,
seaweed chips, Jumble Munch, Hot Chicks, and
several brands of clinical-grade chocolate.

Colorful posters explained how to make
healthy smoothies, then variations of fruit,
green, protein, and skinny ones along with
specific recipes for different purposes.

A separate chalkboard in a gold frame
advertised the House Special smoothies:
Kwan Yin, White Tara, Green Tara,
and the Laughing Buddha.

* * *


"Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival."
-- Dalai Lama

See Cassandra's Re-Cycle T-shirt and peacock biking shorts.  The top is mostly white with touches of black and green; the shorts are mostly black and green.  Because of their color scheme, the shorts match best with black and medium green, but other colors include yellow-green, gold, pale turquoise, and white.  These garments considerably expand Cassandra's opportunities to mix-and-match her athletic wear.  Here are some articles about matching fun colors, making palettes, and coordinating colors in your wardrobe.

Kwan Yin (Guanyin, Kwannon, etc.) is a bodhisattva or Buddhist goddess of compassion, whose name means "she who hears the weeping of the world." In Burmese, the name of Guanyin is Kwan Yin Medaw, literally meaning Mother Kwan Yin (Goddess Guanyin). Several of the staff are devotees of her path in particular. Although many other sacred symbols appear throughout the House, hers are the most common, in assorted variations. Here are some ways of worshipping Kwan Yin.

Tara is a Buddhist goddess with as many as 21 aspects.  Of these, the two most popular are Green Tara and White Tara. Learn how to worship the Taras.

Buddha was a historic or mythic (depending on your beliefs) figure who attained enlightenment.  He founded the religion of Buddhism which teaches people to live a mindful life so that they too may become enlightened. The Laughing Buddha began as a monk named Hotei or Pu-Tai, famous for his cheerful and generous nature.  Now he appears in many styles of statues.  The Laughing Buddha is worshipped by living virtuously, saying his name, and rubbing the tummy of his statue.

The cover of the brochure for the Kwan Yin House of Compassion shows a gazebo with a Kwan Yin statue.  Inside are pictures of the outbuilding and the main house.

This is the bus stop closest to the Kwan Yin House of Compassion. The S-curve bench allows people to sit together for company, or face in opposite directions for privacy.

The entrance to the House of Compassion has layered doors to deal with Onion City's sometimes inimical weather.  A help desk just inside the door provides an opportunity to greet people and assist them in finding desired resources. Signing the guestbook is optional, not obligatory.

These lockers in the lobby of the main building provide space to secure self-harm supplies or other personal possessions for people who wish to do so.

For opportunistic self-harmers who don't have preferred tools, there are globe stress balls which people can lock up to symbolize a desire not to hurt themselves right now.  These come in geographic and Earth styles.

The kitchen includes an adjacent closet for storing cookware and tableware.  The pantry stores a wide variety of Asian spices and staple foods such as rice.

The snack room near the kitchen provides a place for visitors to eat. Hunger makes most other problems worse, so people are often directed here if they seem angry or exhausted and they haven't eaten recently. The snack room also holds one of the side doors.

This gold-framed chalkboard displays the daily specials.  The little shelf underneath it holds the chalk. Learn how to make your own picture frame chalkboard.

Healthy comfort snacks include oatmeal, egg rolls, chicken noodle soup, miso soup, rice balls, tempura, mixed nuts, fruit cups, edamame, celery with nut butters, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, cheese, clinical-grade dark chocolate, kale chips, popcorn, chickpeas, salmon patties, avocados, and tea.

Ironically, "lactose intolerance" isn't a disorder at all -- it's the normal condition for adult mammals, including up to 90% of Asians and many other people of color. However, about 35% of the global population, almost all from northern Europe, developed an unusual ability to keep producing lactase as adults. The ones who can't do that aren't deficient; they simply lack the superpower of Adult Milk Digestion. But because it's so prevalent in northern Europe, there's a tendency to think of it as the norm and its lack as a problem. This is one of the more dramatic cases of a superpower spreading to the point that people have stopped thinking of it as one, even though it's nowhere near the majority globally, and only prevails in certain populations.

Many nondairy milk alternatives exist. Choose the best one(s) for you depending on intended use and other factors.  You can shop for these or make your own.  In Terramagne-America, you can also get lots of mixed-nut or other combination milk alternatives, but here there are very few -- I did find one, Silk Protein & Nut Milk -- so usually you have to make that yourself.  Due to the prevalence of lactase nonpersistence in Asian populations, a majority of recipes at the Kwan Yin House of Compassion either have no dairy ingredients or can be substituted with a nondairy option. Since they have plenty of monks, nuns, and lay assistants they make their own rice milk and often other alternatives.

There are many healthy smoothie recipes.  Here is a mix-and-match ingredient list for green smoothies.  Various supplements make good mix-ins for smoothies.

Green Tara Smoothie
This makes a thick, creamy smoothie with a sweet leafy flavor and a vivid green color.
1 cup coconut water
1 cup baby spinach, packed
1/2 cup kale, packed
1/2 cup kiwifruit slices
1/3 cup avocado chunks
2/3 cup yellow mango chunks, frozen
2/3 cup banana slices, frozen
1/3 cup shelled edamame
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 scoop Triple Greens Powder

Coconut water may be obtained fresh from green coconuts, or packaged.

Triple Greens Powder includes kale, spinach, broccoli, parsley, wheat grass, green tea, spirulina, strawberries, blueberries, bilberries, raspberries, bananas, cranberries, flax, fiber, and probiotics. Many dietary supplements can be added to smoothies for extra nutrition.

White Tara Smoothie
This makes a creamy white smoothie with a very mellow flavor.
1 cup rice milk
3 tablespoons coconut cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup banana slices, frozen
1 cup lychee fruit, frozen
2 tablespoons cashew butter
1 teaspoon rice bran
1 teaspoon Miracle Matcha White Tea Powder

Rice milk is made from rice and water.  You can buy or make it.

Miracle Matcha White Tea Powder is 100% white tea, ground fine.

Kwan Yin Smoothie
This makes a thick, creamy brown smoothie that tastes of chocolate with a bit of peanut butter.
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup banana slices, frozen
1/2 cup Asian pear chunks, frozen
3 tablespoons creamy, natural peanut butter
1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 square (2.2 ounces) clinical-grade dark chocolate, grated
3 pitted dates
1 teaspoon Maca Adaptogen Blend for Stress
1/2 cup ice

Almond milk comes from almonds and water.  It can be bought or made at home.

Clinical-grade chocolate is organic and preferably grown with sustainable methods; the darker, the better.  I've found one source in L-America: NibMore.  Check out their Organic Daily Dose Extreme Dark Chocolate squares. Chocolate has many health benefits, including mood improvement. Raw cacao is a superfood.

Maca Adaptogen Blend for Stress includes, red maca, ashwagandha, astragalus, eleuthero, and licorice.

Laughing Buddha Smoothie
This makes a rich golden smoothie in a tropical-nutty flavor with a hint of spice.
1 cup cashew milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup yellow mango chunks, frozen
1/2 cup pineapple chunks, frozen
1 orange, divided into sections
1 starfruit, sliced
1 raw carrot, chopped
1/4 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
1 teaspoon Golden Bliss Ultimate Turmeric Powder

Cashew milk is made with cashews and water.  You can buy some or make it yourself.

Golden Bliss Ultimate Turmeric Powder includes turmeric, acerola cherries, blueberries, cassia Indonesian cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, organic date powder organic baobab powder, and probiotics.

Posters offer ideas for making healthy, fruit, green, skinny, and protein smoothies.  There are smoothie recipes for many specific purposes.

[To be continued ...]

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

7 comments or Leave a comment
pussywideeyed From: pussywideeyed Date: February 9th, 2017 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Its nice
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 9th, 2017 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'm here for this, but *eyes donation button* *looks in wallet* *whimpers* I can put something toward this on Monday but not today. Argh. Making note of that plan because -yessss-. Thanks for this, so very much. -kellyc
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 9th, 2017 12:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you enjoyed this so much. :D

Monday is fine. The tally closes on Sunday, but in practice I often count from whatever's there when I wake up Monday morning. You can still donate after that, it just doesn't go on the ticker. The open epics are what help keep our budget flush between fishbowls.
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: March 1st, 2017 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)


I wish the "bike shorts" were proper bike shorts with a higher back, no crotch seams, and a proper chamois. If they did, I'd be all over them in a flash. Alas, from what I can tell, they are merely compression shorts of a length suitable for bicycling. Still pretty, though.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 1st, 2017 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: *whimper*

From what I have seen, bike shorts come in many styles, depending on personal taste and what one intends to do on the bike.

The longer the trip and/or rougher the terrain, the more you need padding. But many people hate padded shorts because it feels like wearing a diaper. Cassandra is riding short-to-moderate distances over urban terrain. Light padding would be nice but probably isn't essential.

I've seen very few bike shorts without crotch seams. Most companies seem to favor fitting them by sewing pieces together. If you have sensitive skin, no seams or inside-out seams will be a priority, but you have to hunt around. If fit is more of a priority, you'll have to put up with more seams, because there's only so much that stretch can do. I'm not sure what Cassandra's tastes are here.

A higher back seems to be moderately common. This is more important the farther forward you lean, which is to say, if your bike has low curly handles then you should look for high-back bottoms. If your bike has upright handles, it's less of an issue. If you have a full backside, though, that takes up more cloth regardless of what your bike is. Cassandra is slim and wiry, and her bike has adjustable handles, so that's variable.

So far, Cassandra hasn't had her cargo bike very long, and only has a few things to wear while riding it. Over time, she'll figure out what she needs to be comfortable. That discovery is likely to involve a lot of trial and error, as it does with most new bikers. Prior to this, she did some pleasure riding as a girl, which doesn't really have the same demands as serious erranding, and the type of bicycle is different. So there's a learning curve.

If you look around, you might be able to find something in the way of peacock bike shorts with the features you prefer.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 29th, 2017 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)

good medicine

You all really really really want this one to get posted. It is good medicine. I promise I will chip in what I can when I get my next paycheck. --alatefeline, a person who hurts sometimes
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 29th, 2017 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: good medicine

>> You all really really really want this one to get posted. It is good medicine. <<

Thanks for the vote of confidence!

>> I promise I will chip in what I can when I get my next paycheck.<<


>> --alatefeline, a person who hurts sometimes <<

*hugs offered* I'm here if you need to talk.
7 comments or Leave a comment