It rained today. Not a lot of rain; just enough to inconvenience a person carrying a folder full of endangered papers, who didn’t have an umbrella. Just enough to make you question if it’s weird to wear gloves in the rain; if it’s better to just take them off. Won’t we be cold anyway?

It rained today for the first time since the ice melted away, and as I crossed the path between the skeleton of a winter-ravaged park and the rolling wheels of the street, the scent of rain on dust hit me; the sort of smell you didn’t realize you missed until you smell it again. Until it stings your eyes. Until you can taste the incoming spring.

We sat in that café again today, and I asked myself again what I would leave behind. My grandmother told me a story some months ago, about a man who died in a foreign country not knowing his purpose. You can die without knowing what you have contributed; that’s for later generations to know, not you.

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Lo que es

cassia-fistula-lluvia-de-oro-9No es que extrañe mi país, dice, y patea la nieve con una bota desaliñada. Pero a veces pienso en su tierra colorada, la boca roja del río, los saltos dorados a la luz del sol. La lluvia de oro con flores que flotan suspendidas, como si el tiempo se detuviera con el viento.

No es que extrañe mi país, y prepara tereré como si fuera un ritual religioso, se posa sobre su ventana porque acá no hay patio, acá no hay sillas de cable rojo y azul, acá se sienta frente a la ventana a lado de la calefacción y así no tiene frío. Pero quiero mi cielo de colores. Quiero acostarme en el techo antes que aparezcan los mosquitos, y mirar la explosión del sol. Allá las nubes están más lejos, y se lucen más. Allá el cielo es más grande.

Ve a su amiga preparar chipa guazu, pero no tiene horno. Intentó hacer mbeju un día y no salió con el queso extranjero. Siempre odió el queso fresco, siempre odió el queso, pero en este invierno no hay kavure tampoco y bueno, no es lo mismo.

Hay algo lindo en decirnos adiós cuando nos pasamos en la calle, dice, cuando camina con su bufanda tapando dos tercios de su cara. En el cumpleañitos y el quince y el asado los domingos. El caminar sobre calles de barro, o los empedrados que serían más cómodos si hubieran quedado como caminos de tierra. En ese vecino que llena los baches gratis con su pala, porque la municipalidad jamás va a hacer nada, he’i.

Se burlan mis amigos que hablan castellano porque todo mal hablamos en mi país, fuera de orden luego ponemos las palabras, “no tiene sentido”. Para nosotros así da más gusto.

Toca los timbres acá en vez de aplaudir. La gente siempre le mira raro cuando explica que allá se aplaude. No sabe si esto es nostalgia, pensar en cosas comunes y querer sentirlas de nuevo; no es de extrañar a gente o cosas, no es que llore. No es que mire fotos en Facebook para sentir que está allá. No es el tipo de extrañación que la gente suele sentir en el extranjero. Pero extraña cosas raras, como salir a la costanera hasta en el invierno, aunque el frío esté para morir. Me gustan los ríos tan grandes que apenas se ve el otro lado; los que dan un poco de miedo. Los que tienen historia.

En invierno, el mate dulce con coco y leche de su niñez. Ahí en la esquina, las vecinas preparando para su kavure mientras pasa por ahí con sus amigos—vamos na a comprar, demasiado me estira.

Es raro, exiliarse a uno mismo. Sabe que mucha gente piensa que salió porque quería salir, se fue porque “no quería más estar acá”, “se fue a su país”. La verdad es que persigue un sentimiento; la epifanía de reconocer su casa después de vivir en tantos lugares diferentes. El sentimiento de mirar por la ventana del avión cuando desciende, ver los arroyos y los ríos extenderse como arterias sobre el rojo y verde, los techos de teja y zinc, los árboles entre los edificios. El sentimiento de atravesar las nubes y sentir que se le llama. Mi tierra me llama. Acá. Mi casa.

No es que quiera volver. Acá soy feliz también. Pero a veces me despierto en la noche y miro las estrellas por la ventana, y no conozco sus nombres. Y cuando sabés lo que es ser amada por el cielo, es raro volver a ser una extraña.

No es que allá la vida sea más simple, dice al final, porque acá las cosas como colectivos y supermercados y clínicas suelen ser más fáciles. Pero es una vida que abraza.

2016 roundup

And just like that, 2016 is over. So much happened this year on the world stage, a lot (ok, most) of it unpleasant; but on a personal level, it’s actually been quite a successful year. It’s been a bit hard to document at the end of blog posts, though, so here’s a post devoted to the writing-related things that happened:



  • The Malfoy Case, Harry Potter (complete, after two years!)

    The trials for suspected Death Eaters involved in the Wizarding Wars have begun, and Draco Malfoy finds himself trying to hold together what is left of his family and his fortune, while struggling to escape the looming, almost inevitable future of a lifetime spent in Azkaban. But there is one person who might not have given up completely.

  • ErosionMad Max: Fury Road (complete)

    Furiosa runs.

  • in the andaruni, Narnia (complete, this year’s NFE)

    “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.”
    ― Muhammad Ali Jinnah

  • The Tisroc and the King, Narnia (still in progress)

    Something went very differently, and Cor and Aravis never met. As two enemy nations crown their new rulers and are faced with the threat of imminent war, Aravis and Cor find themselves dreaming of a mysterious boy and girl, and a life that could have been.

  • The ettiquette of retrospect, Harry Potter (complete)

    In which Ursula Black hosts a party after violently disowning her son, Belvina Black knows all the gossip, and Herbert Burke must get his act together.

  • Scope and IntensityHarry Potter (complete)

    Bill returns to Cairo to pack his bags

  • Soldier’s Heart, Harry Potter (complete)

    “I just didn’t think that things would ever be normal,” he said. “It’s almost autumn again, and last winter we were just trying to survive…”

  • Marius, Harry Potter (in progress)

    The East End of London, 1938. Marius Black is a Squib—the shame of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, hidden from Wizarding society lest it discover the family’s terrible secret.

    As a second World War draws ever closer, and a mysterious magical threat rises in Nurmengard, Marius turns to the Muggle world on a relentless quest for what those of his family have always coveted: power.


What to expect in 2017

  • Hopefully no more celebrity deaths or the annihilation of human rights.
  • I’ll be traveling even more, and eventually starting school in America!
  • You’ll be seeing a lot more of me on Hypable… more on that later.
  • The Tisroc and the King will finish (yes, really)
  • Marius will properly take off (I know I promised this last year, but this time I mean it)
  • More blog posts, as I collect even more interesting experiences!


Happy New Year, everyone! May 2017 treat us better than 2016 did. I hope to continue providing more content here, and on my other platforms, for your enjoyment (or confusion, if you’re still trying to understand why I spend so much time on fanfiction).

From Before


When summer was still alive, we left our candle-lit tents and made our way to a clearing lined by the dark shapes of the Lithuanian forest.

There’s something special in being involved in the rituals of other cultures—in being a spectator to something that carries so much. To experience the swaying movement, the closed eyes, the voices that rise and fall. I’ve never heard music like Baltic music; there’s something raw about it, like it’s been drawn out from deep places.

We stood around the fire as two boys pounded on drums, and I looked up at the nighttime sky—so far removed from the lights of cities, aglow with thousands and thousands of stars that have seen millions of years. A thin wisp of smoke lifted itself into the air from the bonfire to the stars, like a signal to whoever was watching. And it occurred to me, as I felt the grass beneath my feet vibrate with the sounds of our presence and the breeze curled around us, dipping in and out of the forest, that it would be very easy to imagine that nothing had changed in thousands of years. That this was not 2016, that we didn’t have cars and phones waiting for us by the tents, that we had ever spoken something other than this language—this language that was lifting itself up into the sky by so many voices that had somehow remembered, that had been kept alive despite so many attempts to erase it.

In the firelight, it was easy to imagine that no time had passed at all. A girl across from me had dark hair, hooded eyes, her lips parted in song. Her linen dress and bare feet over the dirt conjured images of a maiden from a painting, if only I could render her properly.

I didn’t speak the language. I shouldn’t understand the words. But somehow I did, there in the forest, holding hands with strangers. So much life has taken place; so much is beautiful that it cannot all be remembered. It must be bottled up, carefully, in songs and drums and those moments near midnight when youth wander into clearings and sing the words their ancestors wrote. When the ancestors listen.

I think a lot about what music does to culture; about what it says about our history. I wonder if those ancient Baltic people ever expected that their rhythms and words would still remain after so many generations have come and gone, after so many wars and occupations have threatened the memory of them. I wonder what any of those people, from the recent past and the distant past, would think if they knew that I—a strange combination of nations and cultures—would hear their words and identify with them.

I wonder if I know them a little more, now. I hope that like this, they can be a little less forgotten.

The reason for this delay in posting is that, although I’ve had this written for months, I was hoping to combine it with another post and connect two ideas rather ingeniously. It turns out that I can’t. So here you go: part 1 of my music musings.

Late-year updates:
– My second article, “To fight back: Harry, Katniss, and what the world really needs right now” was published on Hypable in November.
– I won NaNoWriMo 2016 and finished writing the draft of the rest of “The Tisroc and the King“. Once I get to edits chapters should be out with more regularity.
– I also published 3 new one-shots, for Narnia and Harry Potter, so check them out if you haven’t already. I’ll do an end-of-year round up of everything because there’s too much to say here!


20160627_113035 (2)Vilnius was built in a forest, and trees hug its walls as it rises in their midst, red roofs painting a stretch of autumn foliage in the midst of the deep green. Forest ripples and stretches out on the horizon, rising slightly over the city level, as if nature is refusing to be outdone by man-made structures.

The buildings don’t seem to mind.

Lithuanians carry themselves like the inhabitants of a friendly wood; after all, they tell me, nothing in Lithuania is poisonous – except for maybe one snake, and even that won’t kill you. They emerge from the block-like cement buildings they live in, the last remnants of an old regime, and seem to rise like plants in the sun. On the walk from home to the bus stop, time is taken to taste leaves from the trees, to touch petals, to smell flowers.

It is strange to me that someone thought to enclose these forest peoples in concrete boxes. I wonder that in summer they inhabit the indoors at all.

There’s a spring of water behind my home, in a dip in the woods, so pure that you can drink straight from it. The banks are lined with wild strawberries and blueberries. Between the foliage I glimpse the bent backs of people harvesting wild mushrooms and other things – this plant tastes like garlic, this one is good for salads, this one helps with scarring. Sometimes, people wander barefoot; no plant dares to sting your feet in Lithuania.

People seem to blend into the forest, like new flowers taking root where they were meant to stand all along.

I take a taxi one night, at three in the morning. The streets are bare, the only movement the intermittent switch of a traffic light from green to yellow to red. On the corner, a grassy hill surrounded by a semi-circle of trees, cut-and-paste into the city. In the center of it, a large hare as large as my own torso, ears gleaming in the moonlight. He stands still at the very top of the hill, as if he knows I’m watching, as if he’s standing there for me; long enough to let me feel the piercing stab of nostalgia for something I will never know: for the depths of the forest at midnight, for a life of nothing but rain and sunshine, light and darkness. Then he hops back into the trees and out of sight.

I find that roots are starting to grow beneath me.

They say summer is a bright three-month oasis in dreary white winter. I imagine it now, blurry white replacing the greens and blues, but even in my dreams, the same quietness remains. A forest is a forest, be it warm or cold. Vilnius is a forest – sometimes a forest made of bricks and cement and wood and business, but a forest nonetheless.

For a tourist, weary of overcrowded postcard-perfect scenery, Vilnius is like finally seeing — it is not a theme park of an ideal; it is the ideal incarnate in reality. Though it is the capital of a country, it lacks the wolfish hunger, the gaping hugeness of a capital. There is no rush, no clamor, no shocking sounds or smells. I emerge from the woods and the trees turn to buildings, the sound of swaying leaves into the hum of trolleybuses, the chirping of forest creatures into the voices of people – but it gives me the impression that if I had my eyes closed, I would not notice the change at all.

Just past midnight in August, I wrap a blanket around my shoulders and walk out into the chill air. The trees are quiet, not even whispering, as if they’re being considerate of sleeping people. Overhead, a mass of clouds advances over the stars, lit up in reddish-grey by the city lights.

I reach the neighborhood basketball court, a black rectangle between walls of communist architecture, the lights of apartment windows like little LEDs flashing on and off in a smoothly functioning machine. The trees around the court shiver, their branches reaching to hide the lights. In a moment, the buildings will be dark, like hollow logs full of sleeping forest creatures.

I lie down in the open air, my back to the asphalt, tucking myself in with my blanket like a child going to bed. The wall of clouds shifts, like the earth is reaching out towards the galaxy. Summer happening in space.

I see the first shooting star of the night. My body is rooted to the ground, and when I close my eyes, I hear only the forest around me.

Chapter 5 of The Tisroc and the King has been posted. The 2016 Narnia Fic Exchange has begun, so expect more Narnian fics next month. Fall also means that I’ll be starting regular Marius updates. Thanks for reading!

why leaving is the thing to do


because sometimes the soil is loved just as well when under the toes of memory

sometimes being there means less the presence and more the weight of love

and sometimes love is something I do best when standing far away

sometimes when we commit to each other – we only break further away

because I never thought I would become a Wanderer

my pride towards this land, my land, never made me wish to grow Outwards

but I am a hollow stem that will not grow on fertile earth

and you – you are further away when I am close to you

say, did you not find all that you sought in the place that coaxed your flourishing?

I did. I found it all. it was my heart that I found lacking.

it is not the pain that makes me run – and nor is it the pleasures

it is the absence of a Search to drive me to exultation.

call it running away. call it an exposure of my lavishness

frame me, maybe, as a wild maenad, unaware of privilege

no. I simply cannot stay. this place

has loved me almost violently

and the gaping space it saved for me was almost isolation

it turns out I am a creature that thrives best under starvation.

The Malfoy Case is complete, Marius (my new fic about Marius Black, a Squib involved with East End gangs in the 1940s) has begun, a new chapter of The Tisroc and the King is on the way, and me… I’m moving to Lithuania!

to return


The air of what once was is tingling. It shimmers through the fistfuls of iron clasped in the bus, the calls of the youth in their soccer teams, in the eyes of a distant lion.

I appear, now, as a traveller. On my first night, the street was like open arms. She displayed to me her lights like a mother’s ornaments — even through the window’s glass I knew the feel, I knew the scent.

There is some memory of our ancestors, still blurring in the hidden corners of our veins. If science states that at one time a girl with a different face from mine roamed this land — or one much like it — then I am inclined to believe it. Sometimes, when I visit quiet places, places where the air runs soft, hugging the edges of the stones like it is afraid to let go… I think I watch her walk before me. I think I find her footsteps in the sand, a mark that some things never change, a mark that this is less an introduction than it is reunion.

When I sit among the dusty paths and the wind whips around me, I think I can glimpse trails of those who are now gone. I feel as if, if only I could harness it, this feeling might let me gaze into the foundations of the earth. Perhaps it is in lands like this, where stories stretch out beyond Man, that our ancestors remain: in the shifting leaves, in the quiet moments between conversations, in the dust particles that float in the wind.

The cities are different. The people too — we have shed all recognition of each other, but sometimes children keep it. Sometimes, inside their eyes, I find my own.

Sometimes, the mountains stare back.

Why does it not feel like I’m a foreigner
but rather
that I have, at last, returned
and found within my home
a thousand years of change to mourn?


The Malfoy Case is at Chapter 26, now!

I finally posted my first work for the Mad Max fandom: Erosion (which is inspired by the erosion pillars in the picture above).

Mzungu Town: A glimpse into the post-colonial recovery timeline

My friend grasps my arm as we cross the street. I’m st20160110_171843ill struggling to understand cars driving on the opposite lanes from what I’m used to. A man shouts, laughing as he calls out to her.

“Don’t touch Mzungu’s arm, the white will rub off on you!”

Mzungu means ‘white’. It’s a new name I was given in this country, one that marks me as rich, and possibly as proud. It has people surprised when I give up my seat to the elderly, and has them staring at me as I pass.

I’m not even white. Perhaps half of me is, but only one fourth of my bloodline is somewhat European. The other fourth is Iranian. The rest of me is Hispanic. But here, the contrast is striking. My name is Mzungu, and I have never been so famous.

When I step off the bus, the merchants murmur “Mzungu” between themselves. When I board a bus, a man looks through the window: “Marry me, Mzungu.” Children wave at me “Hello, Mzungu!”.  A man passes me on the street,  a tune playing on his phone. He presses it to my cheek. “Listen to this, Mzungu!”

Is this what people feel like, in other countries, when we stare at them for being different? I suppose one could easily twist these experiences into some sort of discourse on the supposed existence of ‘white oppression’. But that isn’t what this is. The context here is different than in North America or Europe. It is a framework built by hosts of the colonizers themselves, sometime in the past. The perception of wealth, even where it may not necessarily exist. Someone, at some point, has taught the masses that Mzungu means rich. That Mzungu means proud. That Mzungu is different.

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Between Two Years

Well, 2015 is over, and so much has happened! I haven’t had time to post anything before now, but I’m currently in Tanzania, so I’m starting 2016 in a completely new continent.

Highlights of this year have been:

  1. My service in Haifa and Akko. Though it began in June 2014, this year has certainly been the most challenging segment of my service in the Holy Land, but also the most fruitful year of my life. I’ve made some unbelievably amazing friends, and I know what I want to do with my life from now on.
  2. Publishing ‘Rules of The Altar’, my first story ever published in a magazine! Knowing that I can achieve that has encouraged me immensely, and confirmed my aspirations to be a published author.
  3. Participating in the QLFC. We made it to the semi-finals and then lost (by 1 point!), but the friends I’ve made and the wonderful plot ideas I’ve been able to explore thanks to the challenge have changed the way in which I view fanfiction, and helped me discover my own strengths and weaknesses in writing. I now have fifteen new stories in my portfolios on AO3 and, and the knowledge that writing a story every two weeks is well within my abilities.
  4. Getting healthy. My brain is now in perfect working order, and it’s amazing to know that I can be comfortable and happy in my own skin at last. I’ve learned not to be ashamed of what I’ve been through, and learned how I can help those going through similar experiences.
  5. Travelling. I’ve been to Poland, Ethiopia and Tanzania. I never imagined I would go to any of those places at this point in my life, but somehow I was able to!
  6. New fandoms. Ok, maybe slightly less meaningful than the other points, but Mad Max: Fury Road, The Force Awakens, Sense8 and Jessica Jones have given me new faith in what can be done with movies and shows.
  7. This blog. Hey, I didn’t forget about it again, did I?

What to expect in 2016!

  1. Me, travelling even more! And more unpredictably, maybe! I’m going back to Paraguay at some point and then going to either the USA or some unknown location. We’ll see.
  2. A conclusion to The Malfoy Case! It’s been going on for almost two years now, and I’m hoping to conclude it by its anniversary.
  3. The beginning of Mariusmy crime fanfic novel set during the Blitz, which follows Marius Black’s life as a Squib and a criminal mastermind in Muggle London.
  4. More of The Tisroc and the King. I’m hoping to finish it this year but I’d rather not make any promises!
  5. More opinion pieces both here on my blog and on other sites.
  6. Perhaps some new original short stories? Definitely new blog posts about my experiences here in Africa. We’ll see!



What are you planning for 2016? Is there anything you would like to see more of on this blog or in my writing?

Things I Learned From My Dentist(s)

Warning: The following post contains absolutely no technical terms. I know nothing of the mysterious yet extremely useful world of dentistry, so I’m sorry. 

In the past year, I’ve had about 20 dentist appointments. This extended exposure to excavators and bibs was caused by many different factors: firstly, some weakness in my genes that makes my teeth more delicate than most people’s teeth; secondly, my own obsession with candy and Coca-Cola, which doesn’t contribute to dental health; and lastly, a frankly disastrous history with an old dentist whose fillings consistently fell out within days of being installed.

One could say that very little enjoyment can be found in having one’s root canal uprooted and then redone, having one’s tooth chipped away almost entirely and replacing about eight different fillings, but I leave my career as a serial dentist-patient with the satisfaction of knowing that I made the most of my time there.

I guess I never asked these questions before because my appointments were so few and so far between that I always felt strange speaking my mind to a stranger with sharp tools dangerously near to my tongue. But knowing that I would be subject to the same routine over and over again during the months of making my teeth healthy again, I dismissed my feelings of awkwardness and made sure to ask all the questions I’d ever had about what it’s like to be one of the brave explorers of a weird, saliva-filled world. Here are some of the answers.

  • Do dentists get cavities? Where do dentists go when they get a cavity?
    Well, yes. I’m sure it’s embarrassing, but they do. And apparently they pick one of their favorite colleagues and go to them, and pray that all their other dentist friends don’t get offended when they pick who they think is the best at their job. Also, sometimes they get a discount!
  • Why aren’t there mirrors just overhead so that the patient can actually see what’s going on in their mouths?
    I originally thought the answer to this one would be something like “Because they would faint”, or “Because they would panic”, but it turned out to be more like “Because I did try it and patients would just spend the whole time craning their necks to get a good angle, and it got in the way of work.”To be honest, I was just glad that someone had thought of doing that and actually implemented it. I kind of wish I’d still been there during the experimenting period, though, because the most I got to see of what was happening was the reflection on my dentist’s glasses (which was kind of impressive — as it turns out, root canal uprootings are quite bloody).
  • “Has anyone ever bitten you?”
    “Yes.” [spoken grimly]
  • But do we really have to brush our teeth three times a day? Like, what about people with no access to tooth brushes? Do their teeth just fall out?
    One of my dentists (the coolest one, who played music in Spanish during his practice because the nurses were Argentinian and it made them happy), told me a story about a guy who had never brushed his teeth. That patient was in his fifties. And apparently his teeth were in better shape than any patient my dentist had ever had. In the end it all comes down to a weird mix of genes and eating habits, and it seems that I missed out on all the good parts of those.
  • “Is it really awkward if I fall asleep on the dentist chair while you’re working on my teeth?”
    “No, it’s actually easier for me. You just have to keep your mouth open.”
  • But what if instead of dealing with all of these tooth problems, I just knock out all my teeth and wear dentures instead?
    My dentist just stared at me with a horrified look on her face. I think she thought I was serious. (I kind of was, but I reconsidered after seeing her expression.)
  • The whole issue of how anesthesia takes so long to kick in but by the time it does you’re already halfway through having them drill into your mouth.
    Your dentist should wait until your mouth is numb. Make them wait. In the meantime they can use that period of time to explain exactly what they plan on doing to your mouth and give you tips on staying healthy (and answer your weird questions).
    No, it really, really doesn’t.

The Malfoy Case, my courtroom drama and Drastoria fic is at Chapter 24 (ending soon!).
The Tisroc and the King, a Narnia AU where Aravis and Shasta never met, and full of Archenland and Calormene politics, is at Chapter 3.
Save is an extremely short one-shot about Oliver Wood’s first Quidditch game.
(AO3 links are available here)

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, good luck! I’m sure you’ll nail it! I’ll be engaging in some word sprints throughout the month (mostly active through my twitter), but I’m not officially doing it this year… there’s too much going on to be able to fully commit to a new novel.

Please leave a comment below to share your novel, fanfic or dentistry woes!