A Self Portrait & A Poem by Chatti Brown

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I was once an illuminated,⁣⠀
fire-speckled girl,⁣⠀
cradled in the ⁣⠀
womb of the Universe,⁣⠀
now broken,⁣⠀
too dim for the waking world.⁣⠀
Here are the things that I know to be true:⁣⠀
1) We will all die (don't worry this list gets better).⁣⠀
2) Kindness sustains life.⁣⠀
3) Light and shadow can coexist harmoniously. ⁣⠀
4) Wholeness means standing in my truth and (often times) pain and still having the courage to show up.⁣⠀
5) I cannot fully see your inner light if I don't acknowledge my own. It starts with my own healing.⠀
Sometimes the wounded child comes and sits by me, her head on my lap as I play with her hair. "It's too scary to shine," she says. "Can't we just be like the other stars?" And I have to gently remind her, "But sweetheart that's what stars do. They shine and what are we if not made of stardust?" ⁣

We Are Nowhere And It's Now by Chatti Brown

“What do you need?” he asked. “To know that the balance of the world is suddenly perfect,” I answered. So we made music and I tried not to cry.

It’s no secret that I’ve been feeling melancholy lately, a glum that washes over me in mere minutes. I’m processing my father’s death and part of that is putting energy into creating something-anything to not let it settle into my bones for too long. It helps a little but sometimes at night I have trouble sleeping and I have to ask my husband to hold me a little closer. That grief is a strange curious thing. I can’t shake it off.

Note: By no means do I think I have a great singing voice. In fact, I just listened to the video again and wished we had cleaned it up a bit. That said, I can’t call myself “brave” if I don’t just put myself out there and be vulnerable. So hey, here’s me with a shaky voice and a little too much wine.

Notable Reads 2018 by Chatti Brown

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2018 saw me reading sixty five books, enjoying audio books, and digging into character driven stories. While I have a fave because, who doesn’t love Shirley Jackson, below are notable reads that lingered long after the books were put away.

A Place For Us: Anne Bogel told me I would love this one but I was skeptical. She was right, of course. I was completely blown away by the emotional depth and beautiful insights into this Pakastani American family. This is the kind of book I wish I’d written, not only because it was filled with stunning passages but because I could see this story unfolding with a Cambodian/Cambodian American family.

Idaho: A quiet story that tiptoed into my life after having heard about it on Book Riot’s “All The Backlist” podcast. The very next day it stared at me during my trip to the thrift store. This tragic story unfolds slowly-moments of darkness, then stillness and you are left with immeasurable longing and loneliness. As a mother it was triggering and heavy but the writing was so brilliant that the story continues to stick with me today.

Station Eleven: How do I even explain this story that has tugged and pulled at my heart? Dystopian (only 1% of the world survived), multiple narratives, intricate yet eloquently woven together. I didn’t want to get to the last page- I wanted to follow the characters further into their stories. A complete surprise at how much I enjoyed it.

The Fact of A Body: Again, extremely triggering. I was fine when reading at the coffeeshop but while waiting at a red light going home, I bawled my eyes out. This is a nonfiction book, interwoven with a true crime that happened in Louisiana with the author’s own examination of her childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her grandfather. Powerful and filled with vulnerable reflection, if this is too much for you but you’re still curious the podcast Literary Disco does an excellent job at dissecting the book.

Killers Of the Flower Moon: A true story of the Osage murders and the formation of the FBI. Please pick this up, you won’t find this story in your history books. Masterful storytelling and journalistic work that it felt like reading a fascinating fiction novel (unfortunately, the things Native American tribes have had to endure are painfully true).

We Have Always Lived In A Castle: My favorite read of 2019. While gothic and disturbing at times (particularly, mob mentality), I’ve found I really enjoy books that straddle between light and dark forcing me to question my alliance to everyone in the story. Shirley Jackson is a genius.

There There: A book about twelve”urban” Natives making their way to the annual Oakland’s Pow Wow. Each story so interesting that I barely cared that I couldn’t remember all their names. At the end it all made sense and I was sad when the book came to a close leaving me wanting to wrap my arms around some of the characters. Captivating, fresh, and devastating. The prologue, in the author’s voice, had me hooked and I couldn’t help stifling my tears. I hope Tommy Orange comes out with more books.

I also talked about An American Marriage here, and Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows here.