Kate Taylor’s Art: Relationships

Relationships between human creatures are one of the most complex puzzles on earth. Not even those attracted to each other can explain exactly what pulled them in to each other’s orbit. Many times it was physical attraction, that powerful moment that strips away everything but sensation, emotion, and desire.

But when it tried to translate itself into love it rarely succeeded, because it tried to capture a moment that no longer existed. Much of my art focuses on that intense attraction between people because it’s fun to paint and I have a lifetime of material and memories to draw from.

Love is more complex. Often people think the physical attraction and mental attraction have to be equal, and so they set themselves up for disappointment. For me the mind has always been the spark that lit the fire. Without that mental connection, the physical one was practically meaningless and interchangeable. But the ones who touched my mind as skillfully as they touched my body are the memories who still remain. It is to them I dedicate these paintings.

Relationships have always fascinated me. On the surface they make no sense, but when you strip away the layers you see the pulls and attractions that define them. For me I have always fallen in love with the mind first. I have lusted after intelligence the way others lust after physical appearances. This painting is in watercolor to depict the fluidity and power of mental connections. I used ink to show the small points, the paths touched together, the moments of mutual inspiration that expand the connection between the limits of physical parameters. The two figures in this painting are stylized depictions of the perfect conversation away from the world. They hide in a surreal forest of privacy. I used the colors of passion and lust, hues of pink and purple with black ink to give the emotions shape and form.

Watercolor and ink on paper, intelligence, sex, passion, relationships, bonding, purple, pink, mental connections, black, patterns, conversations
“Meeting Of the Minds” 11×14 watercolor and ink

Relationships have always fascinated me. On the surface they make no sense, but when you strip away the layers you see the pulls and attractions that define them. For me I have always fallen in love with the mind first. I have lusted after intelligence the way others lust after physical appearances. This painting is in watercolor to depict the fluidity and power of mental connections. I used ink to show the small points, the paths touched together, the moments of mutual inspiration that expand the connection between the limits of physical parameters. The two figures in this painting are stylized depictions of the perfect conversation away from the world. They hide in a surreal forest of privacy. I used the colors of passion and lust, hues of pink and purple with black ink to give the emotions shape and form.

To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art

Watercolor and ink on paper, intelligence, sex, passion, relationships, bonding, purple, pink, mental connections, black, patterns, conversations
Black, red, yellow, white, with a touch of metallic green symbolize the stages of love and lust. The reds and yellows are the spark, the flame, and the burning fire. Black is for the void you fall into where nothing exists but the emotions of love, the fiery explosion of passionate feelings. White symbolizes that pure moment between love and lust where both are equal and time stops. The green is for the pastures that are always over the next turn in the hill because we are equally lustful and loving and constantly in search of the dream that is both. I made the background black because I wanted to show how nothing exists except the emotions when the outside world no longer has any hold over you.


acrylic on stretched canvas, red, black, yellow, white, physical attraction, love, lust, abstract impressionism, abstract, dramatic, relationships
DANCE OF LOVE AND LUST
acrylic on stretched canvas
9×12

Black, red, yellow, white, with a touch of metallic green symbolize the stages of love and lust. The reds and yellows are the spark, the flame, and the burning fire. Black is for the void you fall into where nothing exists but the emotions of love, the fiery explosion of passionate feelings. White symbolizes that pure moment between love and lust where both are equal and time stops. The green is for the pastures that are always over the next turn in the hill because we are equally lustful and loving and constantly in search of the dream that is both. I made the background black because I wanted to show how nothing exists except the emotions when the outside world no longer has any hold over you.

To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art



acrylic on stretched canvas, red, black, yellow, white, physical attraction, love, lust, abstract impressionism, abstract, dramatic, relationships
LOVE MEETS LUST #1
5x7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.
LOVE MEETS LUST #1
5×7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.

To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art

acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #2
5x7
acrylic on canvas panel

This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.
acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #2
5×7
acrylic on canvas panel

This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.



To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art

acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #3
5x7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.
acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #3
5×7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.



To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art


acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.
acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #4
5×7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.



To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art


acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion

Several times, when discussing the books from the Last Planet Chronicles people asked if I was a buddhist, taoist, druid, pagan, witch, tree hugger, or anything else that might explain why I believed everything was connected to itself. The answer is yes to all and no to all. I came by my beliefs in the purest way possible; I experienced them.

Three experiences shaped me more than others. The first was nature. We became friends early because I was a kid who loved outside. It was a place of peace, of silence, of blissful solitude. From a very early age I went outside to sit alone, quietly and happily entertained by my thoughts that were free to roam without the influence of others.

My love of the outdoors only grew stronger with the passing years. I walked, hiked, climbed, and slept under open skies when I wasn’t working or in school. I grew gardens. I swam in rivers, lakes, and oceans. I sat in the contemplative silence of riverbanks, lakesides, mountain overlooks, decks, and porches. I was always connected to nature. I didn’t become this way. I was always this way.

My second experience that shaped my perceptions was music. I grew up around music. I attended endless rehearsals. I went to recitals. I went to concerts. I went to performances. I learned early how to lose myself in music, how to hear and feel it so completely there was no separation between me and the sounds that filled me like the blood in my veins, the air in my lungs, and the beats of my heart. I was one with the music and it was one with me.

The third experience that shaped my perception of how we were all connected was the most powerful. Love. I learned if you did it right, if you opened your heart and stripped it bare to another, the separation between you disappeared. The skin became an artificial and meaningless barrier, because the interaction of love took place in a world I couldn’t see but only sense. I couldn’t put my hand on love and say that was it. I learned if I could separate myself from what I felt, then it wasn’t love.

I hope this explanation answers how I came to believe what I believe, and if not, all three books try to explain the power of those connections. If we fail to understand how we are connected to nature, to the earth, to the water, to the trees, to the very soil itself, and especially to each other, the planet is doomed. Only by reclaiming and strengthening that connection will we finally understand the damage we do to the planet is damage we do to ourselves. Only then can we finally move forward as one people and one planet.

“We revere nature, but we don’t worship it. That makes gods unnecessary.” from When The Last Ocean Dies

Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

Embracing the Darkness

People who know me were surprised that my books were so dark. But those who know me really really well were not surprised. They knew I not only spent a good part of my life learning to dance with my demons, they also knew some of the events in my life that took me to places much darker than the world depicted in my books.

I tended to err on the side of kindness with my characters because I wanted models for good. We have enough models for bad. I spent over six intense years dealing with the dark evil that festered inside humanity. But the evil we dealt with on a daily basis was counteracted by those who went out of their way to be better, kinder human beings to neutralize the evil. That’s why I focused so much on the healing power of love in my books. I know its strength because for every horrendous evil we encountered, we also witnessed astonishing good.

I am an optimist who prefers to look at the positive things in life. I see solutions instead of problems. But I also understand everything seeks balance with something else, so I don’t shut out the evil. I don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. I take away its cover and shine the light on it. I consider that my responsibility as a human being. It’s my job as a writer who creates dystopian universes, to expose evil so it doesn’t hide in the shadows.

The dystopian universe I created is not all that imaginary. Global Warming is a threat I wanted those reading my book to take seriously, so I showed them what a world looked like when it wasn’t. There’s a lot of the now in my books that can lead to the events I depicted if we continue to look away.

We still have time to wake up. The glaciers are disappearing in our time and they are gone in my book’s time. We still have butterflies but we’re killing off the bees. Greed is not an imaginary problem but one of the most destructive forces in existence. It takes and takes and gives nothing back. If allowed to continue like an unsupervised toddler that grabs everything in its path, the world I created becomes a lot more real.

My optimism reveals itself most clearly in the characters I created. They believe in love. They believe in music, art, and in the majesty of nature. Their search for self is not for riches but to become better human beings. They understand, as I hope to make others understand, that who and what we are is rarely shaped with our own hands.

We are shaped by events, people, lovers, desires, and dreams. My characters were puzzles to themselves, but they saw the pieces. They knew who cut and shaped them, and who tried to make them fit inside a place that was all wrong. I wanted people to understand that before we healed the planet, we had to heal ourselves. It’s all part of the same string of beads.

And to heal ourselves we must understand how we became ill, how things became more important than people, how hate became more prevalent than love, how spirituality became a multibillion dollar manipulation of human consciousness.

All that required more than a surface swim in our own pools. I knew once those waters were stirred, the demons would want their say. No matter how much we try to block them from our lives, their voices penetrate our consciousness. They always want their say, no matter how much we try to pretend they don’t exist. We can turn away from the darkness, but that won’t make it light.

My books recognized the demons. They laid out the damage done by indifference, by misplaced blame, by feeling too powerless to change anything. I showed how the demons lived in a dystopian world created by those who were too unaware, too weak, too afraid to change themselves, much less step in and stop the damage to the planet. But I also showed many ways out. I showed how change began with us. I showed a better world began inside ourselves.

If that is dark, then maybe a little darkness is needed to make the necessary changes to heal ourselves and the planet, because it works together or not at all. No matter if we call it being one with everything, or say that god is everywhere, or believe we are are all stardust, it all ends at the same path, the one that leads to self-awareness, because without it, we are just empty buckets waiting to be filled with someone else’s agenda.

Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

The Healing Power of Music and Love

Aquia was the character that fit my personal archetypes the most. He was the dedicated professional musician I’ve been around most of my life. I grew up with the endless practice, the constant rehearsals, the recitals, the performances. My adult friends followed the same path through music and the arts. They prepared, they practiced, they created, they performed, and then they started all over again.

It was often a lonely existence, and I used Aquia to show the diverse sides of that kind of solitude. Like all professional musicians, Aquia needed time alone to create, to practice, to perfect his craft. He only emerged from this solitary state to play with others who experienced the same solitude in the same way. When all the different instruments played together, it was the music that spoke a language they all understood. It connected them to each other as powerfully as the most passionate of lovers. But to get there, to arrive at that moment required many hours of loneliness, with little time left over for relationships with anyone else.

Our isolation doesn’t appeal to those who seek a more diverse settlement than one of mostly musicians. We often seem deliberately cloistered to others, but we need to be in order to perfect our craft. Not many understand it takes hours of practice a day, continual practice. We are not the best of companions.

from When The Last River Dies

As a special protege of the Mystics, Aquia was often separated from the other children. He was also set apart from the others by his intelligence and his ability to speak about ideas beyond the understanding of his classmates. The only place Aquia experienced a sense of community was with the other RiverHome musicians. He was most at home among them. He felt they understood him. They were his family and he was theirs. But unlike many of his fellow musicians, something else drove Aquia.

Aquia wanted to understand the inner world of himself. His training with the Mystics, and the hours he spent alone showed him pieces like separate parts of a composition, that he wanted to bring together. Music taught him to see the patterns, and he approached his desire to learn the truth of his parentage the same way. But his path was shaped by his heart; it defined his place in the pattern.

Aquia believed love was the solution to all the world’s ills. It resonated because it fit into the pattern shaped the same way a piece of music resonated with his senses. Music was not an intellectual process for him. It was an emotional one that developed his ability to give and receive unconditional love. This ability was as much a part of him as his musical talent.

Reynard struggled to describe the strange hope he felt in Aquia’s presence. The perfect world he described were the ramblings of a madman. Love was not a legitimate basis for laws. It was an emotional pit that chewed up humanity and then dared it to come back for more. It was the weak point, the threadbare piece of fabric civilization clung to in desperation, knowing it would eventually tear itself to shreds. And yet, Aquia gave it all such a patina of truth, that Reynard felt wrong for doubting him.”

from When The Last River Dies

Aquia’s friendship with Yewen helped him give shape to his sense of connection to a larger whole when he played music, because Yewen understood how everything was connected to itself. The notes that echoed through the canyon were carried on the breath of those who came before. The more Aquia understood his connection to everything in nature, the clearer his own path became.

Aquia smiled softly. “Perhaps you are right. But it is more than what I see. For me, music is also physical. I not only hear it, I also feel it. When I play, I feel the vibration against my skin, inside my veins, and in the rhythm of my heart. There is no inner or outer world in such moments. It is one feeling, one emotion, one continual sound that uses me to vibrate with the universe.”

from When The Last Ocean Dies


Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

Companion Visions

Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with readers were about the Spinywort. I often get asked if I was describing Peyote. It’s a difficult question because the visions it created in the characters and its effects were drawn from many sources, some experiential, others from descriptions both personal and academic. I would say I described the effects of a multilayered wort that drew from the door blown open by Peyote, the skies opened up through LSD, and the spirit healed with Psilocybin.

I grew up in the desert. I came of age during the Carlos Castaneda and the Peyote Cult years. It was also the time of Alan Watts and Timothy Leary. One of the convenient categories to compartmentalize the emerging interest in knowing thyself was the Human Potential Movement. I drew heavily from that time.

Another influence I used to build my characters and describe their visions came from Carl Jung, especially his book Psychology and Alchemy. I drew on his perceptions of spirituality, the human psyche and religion, but especially mysticism. I wanted to include many versions of the same truths.

They believe their purpose is to pry open the cracks of awareness. They don’t proselytize or seek to convert. They merely offer access to the SpinyWort flower and provide help through the process of ingesting it. But they believe you own your vision, and so they resist any explanation or reading of symbols. They feed you, shelter you, and send you home when it’s time.

from When The Last Ocean Dies

Another influence that led to the writing of this book came from a fascinating conversation I had with probably one of the purest scientists I’ve ever met. He always claimed, in spite of his scientific purity, that he was a spiritual person. When I asked him how he reconciled those two sides he responded there was nothing to reconcile because it was all memory. Spirituality was knowledge that lived inside him and all he needed to do was to go within when needed.

Their ancestors, the ancient Magusans, saw visions that convinced them a vast inner world existed inside us, and we carried around many lifetimes of knowledge we didn’t know we possessed. They suspected, based on their studies, that the secret of human consciousness lies buried somewhere in all that knowledge.

from When The Last Ocean Dies

In the end it doesn’t matter how you get there; hallucinogenic drugs, plants, mushrooms, meditation, chocolate, what matters is that before you can love another, before you can love the planet and its people, you must first learn to love yourself. That means you have to do what has been said many ways over the centuries, you must learn to Know Thyself.

There are two sides to the upright beast. One walks with his skin inside. The other walks with his skin outside. But the flower of truth marks the path, and the flower of the SpinyWort shapes the truth.

from When The Last Ocean Dies

Books and Art by Kate Taylor Ursine Logic

The River Daughter

For many years those who saw Arman Peace’s dramatic depictions of nature as a sensuous woman, wondered about the model in his paintings. When Aquia came through the tunnels, they learned she was his aunt, Coventina, the spiritual leader of Anahita, and the lover of Arman Peace.

The villages of River Valley are ruled by rotating volunteer councils, but Anahita is the only one headed by a spiritual leader. Her name is Coventina. She is descended from the first River Daughter, and she is revered for her wisdom. Few remember a time without her, but she has only ruled since the death of her husband several decades ago.” A soft smile touched Aquia’s lips, as though a secret hid behind them in wait. “The whispers say her touch can heal the most wounded soul. And they also say that same touch can burn through the skin and destroy the unwary fool.

from When The Last River Dies

Coventina visits one of Arman Peace’s paintings of her. It was painted to commemorate the day they conceived Dante. But she continues to seed the trail of half-truths about her love for Arman Peace, one which is the yearly festival devoted to the celebration of love. The residents of River Valley believe it kept alive the memory of the man she loved with all the passion and heartbreak of good myth. Coventina has her reasons for allowing them to continue to do so.

As you get older, my young novice, you will understand how little separation exists between those you loved and the time that passed. It becomes all one thread that weaves our hearts to one another. You can cut it. You can burn it. You can bury it. But there is no way to destroy every single thread, and all it takes is one to hold the memory inside you forever. Just one solitary thread.”

from When The Last River Dies

In the third and final book Coventina, during her final days, reveals her reasons for keeping the truth hidden. She hands the secret to her grandchild, Calistina, the new River Daughter, to hold as she held it for all those years.

Coventina’s gaze drifted to the tall peaks visible through the small window cut into the stone wall of her cottage. “Human follies are perpetual. Societies grow and fall, and then they grow again only to fall again. Right now, we are climbing back up, digging our knuckles into the dirt. This is the time to decide the future, to make the decisions necessary to move forward.” She turned her focus back to Calistina. “Your generation will make those decisions, not mine. And you will have to continually defeat those who resist change, those who won’t cede power until the fires consume them. You will have to lead from strength and inspire from hope.”

from When The Last Ocean Dies

Kate Taylor’s Books and Arts Ursine Logic

The Anti-Goddess

The character of Olivia is one I like to refer to as culturally complex, because how you perceive her depends on your cultural biases. She elicits strong emotions in some because she gave up her children to fight for peace. They loved her strength as a woman, as an independent voice who gave up everything to fight for her ideals. But they also wanted her to be a loving, nurturing mother figure. Some were angry she was not. How can you make her so indifferent to her own children?

Because Olivia doesn’t speak just for herself. Every day women around the world are separated from their children through incarceration, poverty, homelessness, and violence. Olivia represents those women. Her choices may seem cruel to those on the outside looking in, but many women face the same choices everyday and many choose the only selfless option, the one Olivia chose.

“She told him about the children’s camp outside the prison, the village of piecemeal huts where food was scarce, the water toxic, and disease rampant. She described how the children waited for their mothers to finish serving their sentences, because they had nowhere else to go, no one to care for them. He still saw the piercing glare of her black eyes, the demand that he see her choice through her eyes, not his own. I didn’t give you up. I saved your life.

from WHEN THE LAST OCEAN DIES

Characters, like people, are multidimensional. Olivia’s relationship with Sam is simple and uncomplicated, but it shows another side of PeaceTown’s pragmatic leader, and the reclusive artist. Through each other they explain the powerful hold of inspired purpose. Like all those passionately committed to their causes, neither Sam nor Olivia could be anyone other than who they are.

But they connect because they are both driven by separate paths to the same destination; Olivia in her fight for peace, and Sam in the use of his art to bring awareness to war’s destruction of nature. They understand this passion in each other and therefore they understand each other. When you strip away their outer identities, Sam and Olivia are the same. It’s what allows them to eventually develop a rich and satisfying friendship.

In many ways Olivia is the anti-goddess. Although she possesses the required strengths of power such as assertiveness, independence, and intelligence, she is not an icon for any one person or group. She is more like a military officer in charge of her own army, commanding respect but rarely love or affection. She is like the book that brought her fame, The Art of Peace, often described as a work everyone quoted but few read. That also describes Olivia.

Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

Learning To Grieve

Grieving is an art, a demented performance piece demanding parts of yourself for that special touch of realism. I thought by now I might have developed some expertise as I’m reaching the point where I’ve outlived a great deal of those who wished me ill, and am unfortunately starting to accumulate losses of those who now take a piece of me with each death.

For some of the losses, there were others I loved as much. There were others who loved me. There were others who understood me. Many are still with me, still let me grieve in my own steady way of approaching all things emotional. They lack for nothing in their desire to help me through this time that turned out to be more painful than I ever imagined it would be. But there’s a large piece missing that Tina filled.

I knew Tina’s death would hit me hard. I anticipated the grief. I prepared for it the best I could. But what I didn’t prepare for was the realization that Tina was the only person I never had to explain anything to, because she was there for all of it since we were fourteen years old. In fifty-six years, no more than a month went by without some kind of contact between us. She knew everything about me. Absolutely everything. I never had to explain because she knew it all.

Now I find myself having to explain all those things that never needed an explanation, and by doing so it has forced me to look at them all over again with different eyes.

I saw how the smallest of things can impact a life, things that seemed so insignificant at the time were actually the seeds of life changing events. I grew into those smallest of seeds. I took them into myself and became me, decades later, but still me.

I saw how things that consumed me for days, weeks, years, actually meant little in the larger pattern of my life. I don’t want to say it was all a waste. I learned things, important things that made me who I am today.

I learned to love, to dance, to sing under a full moon with those who knew why I needed to do so. I learned what it meant to love so passionately the body’s skin and bones were barriers to overcome.

I learned to talk to others without fear, without the crippling shyness of my youth. I’m still not very good at it, but I’m getting better.

I learned to cry in front of others without shame. I learned to let others see, hear, and know what I really felt.

I learned if I eliminated toxic people from my life it left more room for the good ones.

I learned to see my ability to love, my compassion, my desire for a kinder world as strengths to speak of with pride instead of seeing them as weaknesses that required an apology.

I learned to care more to make up for those who care less.

I learned to say this is me, and not apologize.

All of this I learned. And now I learn one more lesson I thought I already knew. I am learning to grieve, because until Tina died I didn’t really understand what it meant. Now I do and my next lesson will take a great deal of time. I will have to learn how to live with it. But I will get there.

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Tina moved on to her next adventure shortly before midnight on the night of the 6th. We’ve been friends since we were 14 years old.

it was not a good time

for a black girl

for a white girl

to walk together alone

on the street at night

men threw money at us

how much for you both

fuck you we shouted together

that’s all you get for your dirty money

fuck you and no more

and then we’d laugh

and run before

they ran down their lists

and checked off

whores, maids, the laundry ladies

are fucking each other

faded away from them

like screams of frustrated rage

ugly old boys

who shouted their lust

from their cars

we cut our fingers

mixed our blood together

we vowed to protect

each other forever

from men like them

from men like our fathers

we were the strength

our mothers lacked

we walked away together

and nothing they did

nothing they said

nothing they shouted

could change that

so they bellowed out their windows

fuck you you’re too ugly

we didn’t want you anyways

***************************

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Stuck In Another Time

I’ll admit to experiencing a great deal of bewilderment over what is happening to Kristina’s brain right now. I know for the last few weeks she has focused solely on a period of time between age 14 and about mid 1975 or so. I always considered those the crap years of both our lives and I couldn’t understand why she wanted to relive them, complete with the cast of characters, half characters,weirdos, and oh my gawd, not high school too!

Today I received a fairly detailed explanation from her partner. Whatever else the tumor is doing, it will not let her memories or thoughts progress beyond 1975. Anything after that has ceased to exist. Her partner explained, along with links to various thickly written articles, that forms of this occur in elderly dementia/alzheimers patients quite often. The present no longer exists, but they remember entire swatches of time in great detail.

The most moving example of one way this works was the elderly dancer who didn’t recognize anyone anymore. The present no longer existed for her. She lived inside a world no one could enter. Until they played a piece of music. Suddenly she began to move her arms to it, to dance as she danced it on stage many years ago. The old woman disappeared and the young ballerina took over.

I suspect this is what is happening to Kristina. It is why she focuses so much on how we helped each other hide from our fathers, why she remembers people I barely knew in high school, but can’t remember the name of her partner of twenty years. Those were the years we were active in many political and social organizations. Only when I understood this did I also understand she is living in those times with me as if it were the present. Me and those barely remembered people are the most real thing in her life right now.

My heart breaks for this amazing woman with a mind that could entertain any subject, any topic, and who could research the most obscure reference and come up with its origins. Her mind was truly a wondrous thing to experience. To have it trapped so cruelly in those times makes it all the more horrible.

And yet, in my sadness there are many things that made me laugh with a type of oh my god she didn’t oh yes she did type laughter. One of those came when I went to look for an old email in the account we shared for our political blog. I noticed she had logged in and sent some emails. Considering the state of her brain, I thought it best to see who she wrote to and what she said in case she reverted back to some of our more…ahem…radical days.

She wrote to everyone I knew since junior high school, using contact information that remarkable brain was still able to glean from the internet. Research was her job for thirty years. It’s hardwired in her. She’s good at it. Too good.

Some I have kept in contact with, but not like that. Not detailed like that. And there was one giant misfire. She wrote them and sent them as me. For the last weeks I’ve been joking about the horror of receiving an email that says hi we went to high school together. And now some of these poor unsuspecting people did. A couple of them weren’t even people I knew. They were people she knew.

I’ve avoided sending anything to the list she made up for me of people I must contact to help her close the circle. She convinced herself it was essential and when she wants to convince you, her language becomes the stuff of ancient orators. She can speak from the mountain tops and it’s hard to say no. So I played along, wrote the emails but didn’t send them, edited things in and out to amuse her, confessed things I would never confess. It was fun, cathartic even. I only succumbed once and sent a poetry book that she insisted I send. I did because it was a harmless gift and since people buy a lot of them I figured maybe they’d enjoy it too. Out of nowhere but still harmless. But for the rest of them I’ve been finding excuses, debating whether it’s fair to lie and say yes I sent them. I heard from them. They were delighted to hear from me. I don’t want to lie to her. It would feel wrong. I think she knows this so she did it for me.

When someone has known you since you were 14 years old, you have no secrets from each other. This was made very clear when I read some of the emails. Yes, she knows me all too well. But also, there’s a part of her brain that blurs the line when it comes to what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours. It became what is yours is also mine. She took pieces of my emails to her that were answers to questions she asked me about my high school years and the years that came after…up to 1975. I gave her some very honest answers. She wrote back with her honest answers. And then behold, pieces of mine and pieces of hers all ended up in the same email from me.

I cringe a bit. And I laugh a bit. And I changed the login information on that account. I was briefly tempted to write the ones she sent these emails to and try to explain, but after thinking about it, they might be a bit concerned to receive yet another very personal and detailed email from someone they haven’t seen in 50 years or in a couple cases, don’t even know. Fortunately, she only wrote to those whose names she remembered, whose names she recognized. I am very grateful she never made it to the 90’s, and just the idea of it made me delete all those old contacts I never ever want to accidently ever send anything to. Ever.

And I forgive her because I know a year from now I’ll look back on this and wish more than anything she was still here to do it all over again.

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