Wednesday, March 28, 2018

...


migraine moment with my nurse dog. she refuses to leave my side when i am sick.

I’ve talked here, at great length, about the half-lived life. About the missing days that must span years at this point, if strung together. Anyone living with a chronic ailment/illness will have a darkened part—the sliver of living dedicated to the pain, stress, time, questions, research, and moments handed over/hardly ours to begin with. It is stitched in, a shadow learned long ago to break bliss in half. And if you’re like me, it’s been nearly 30 years. There is still surprise and wonderment. There is still woe and hate and that newborn feeling when I finally emerge on other side, relatively pain-free.

Where do the days go that I miss? I go to work on a Monday and my coworker asked if I enjoyed the weather the previous day. I’m honest: no, unfortunately I was out with a migraine all day. This coworker also deals with them, so he knows immediately and nods.

Sometimes I can see glimpses of the sun, hear the birds against the blue, from my lair of manmade darkness and blankets, wet wash rags and garbage can lined with plastic bag. Pillows stacked then scattered, a bottle of Nyquil on the nightstand when I am desperate. No, I will not make it in today. No, I cannot come to your show/cannot see my family/cannot run my errands/cannot do my laundry/fix dinner/kiss/laugh/watch some stupid tv/cannot live, cannot live, cannot live.

Chronic pain takes away. It gives, too. When it's a fairly strong thread throughout your living, you can see something that might even be considered good. Mind you, I wouldn't wish migraines on anyone. But when you feel that something deprives you, over and over again, you learn the true weight of well. On days when I feel [my version] of normal, time feels limitless. I want to savor every minute of functioning--to not only get all the things done that I must, but to extend it into things that I want. The act of reading a book or driving or talking becomes an act of beyond bliss. A breeze feels tremendous. Pain has turned the mundane into neon at times. The good becomes better than most.

Would I have such an understanding and admiration for the dark and the light without this ailment? Would I appreciate lengthy conversations the same? How would self care look? What would my normal be?

After 30 years, I want to see the good. As a part of acceptance, maybe this is required. Silver lining and all that. I think about the days that are gone because of it; I think about how much I've missed and how much I might going forward. I can avoid every trigger and still wake up some mornings all dressed in hell. This is why I don't drink anymore. I'm prone to hangovers without that particular elixir anyway-what's the point?

Too much sleep, too little of it. Too much caffeine, not enough. Red wine, msg, sugar. Flourescents, fermented, specific perfumes and strong cleaners. Hormones. I stick to my tight rope, still get blindsided even with purposeful balance.

I think about what I am when I am in pain. Where do I go/what do I become. There is a transition--animalistic, even. It is an involuntary answer to an unrelenting, baffling pain. I can view all the migraine paintings, read all the descriptions and still not get to the meat of it completely. It is a place where movement is agony. Sleep remains behind some thicket of thorns. The pillow could be cement--it all feels the same. It isn't death but I've wished for it. A cold wash rag becomes my best friend. Eat just to throw up something, instead of heaving empty. I grow completely silent because sound hates me.

Without this hurt, what would I have missed? And, wondered in the same breath:

I've had to say no to many things but, without them, how many times would I have forgotten about yes?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

things no longer there



I walk into the mall of my youth midday, and the main door slam-echoes shut behind me. There is no one in sight. I was warned about this emptiness. A ghost town with bare minimum business. That day it was me, 3 open stores, and a few speed walkers.



There is something slightly scary about being in a nearly empty mall. To walk an entire wing of it alone. I peered in the empty stores, tried to remember where things were in my youth. Some storefronts changed hands enough for me to be unfamiliar, so I reached back into experience. The candy store. The book store I worked at(my coworker was a peculiar violinist with claw-clipped low ponytail). And where is she now, twenty years later? There is the store where my mom took me shopping. I would try to help her pick outfits, or hide in the jeans rack, adamant that when my adult time arrived I'd shop there too. I fell quietly for my best friend in the empty shell that used to be a music store. CDs in heavy plastic cases. Right wall covered in cassingles. My kidhood in one building.







For smaller towns, the mall was a notorious refuge. Really, where do you have to go or need to be as a teenager outside the hours of school and part-time job? You find parking lots and back roads. You cut the engine by cornfields and walk the neighborhood. You go to the mall and maybe buy something. You flicker back and forth between barely formed flirtation and expert level boredom. The hours were perfect--closing right up against your curfew.

Age and time tilted things back to the strip of individual shops, no roof. Everything separate and seemingly more inconvenient again, deconstructed. I guess the mall fell out of style. I reminisce about the event of getting dressed up to sit/walk around the mall and do absolutely nothing. Do youth still do that? I'm old enough to no longer know.

I let the melancholy bubble up. All this time a mall stood still, filled and emptied, eaten away. Empty feels like more than nothing--if they tore it down maybe I wouldn't feel as much. Field or overgrown parking lot seems better digested than what feels like an abandonment. I was walking through an outline. You would think the empty pushes needle closer to fictitious, but the absence makes you certain--these things were here. This happened. This was.



Sunday, February 4, 2018



My inksister is moving to Hawaii. When she told me, I was not surprised. Her photographs from her visit there spoke to me, assured me of something different. Something planted and occurring. I was not surprised. Instead, I felt a rush of love and certainty, and I overflowed with support and told her as much. YES, I kept saying. It was as if she shoved her hand into the current pushing her and halted it all, switched its direction with decision. For so long I saw it carrying her, and over time I could sense her restlessness. I know that restless well. Outside of self it is an echo, a confirmation. While a small bit of me wonders when I will see her in person again, I am not worried. Every time we talk, we pick up right where we left off. Geographical location has never made much of a difference for us.

I spoke with another dear friend about the law of attraction. How we have both grown tired of the negative. How when you need help you seek it out. I'm doing better, I tell her. And I mean it.

It feels like we have all been crawling through this winter. The coldest in a long time. Snow that lingers at various levels for over a week, and when the ground is finally exposed the grass is yellowed, flattened into mud. Beaten down too under prolonged weight. Spring will feel like something holy.

I listen to weather and traffic reports just as I swore I never would. I have a wardrobe for work and another for play, and I dream so much it feels like living two lives. I'm learning to look up more. I put a hand on the face of all that dark and give one good shove backwards. I'll go an entire day without reading the news if it means keeping my good mood. Hope is a rope I've looped all over my body.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

love letter.

Dear self,
I read something today that made me think of you. Unexpected yet effective which are a few of our favorite things, are they not? Here is the thing I read:
"my mentor asked me "would you be friends with people who spoke to you the way you speak to yourself?" and I was fucked up for 30 minutes."

I don't know the exact source so I can't post it, but the message is effective. It is a version of something I've heard of before, mainly in practicing mindfulness. Speak to yourself as you would a friend. Give yourself the same gentle and caring approach. The straightforwardness of this particular statement cut right to it today, though. I've been fucked up about it for more than 30 minutes. As the day continued I kind of realized I've been fucked up about that for a great deal of my life.

Self, I bring this up because I want to apologize. I know forgiveness is a touchy thing but for this I hope we can navigate that tricky body of water together. I'm sorry for treating you like such a burden. You are not my burden. You are me. You are my life. You are the very thing I have been and will be and am fighting to be in this very moment. You deserve to be spoken to with more respect and gentleness. You deserve the best I can give...all that I give so easily to others I love. I have withheld so much from you for years. Maybe I didn't think you earned it, whatever that might mean. Maybe you weren't aware of the amount of love and respect you should give inwardly. Perhaps it didn't occur to you. If we are supposed to treat people the way we want to be treated, why do we let ourselves get away with being so internally cruel?

Self, you count too.

If I don't have you, I don't have much of anything.

I'm sorry I let you be convinced that your place was in the background, a side character to your story. Your story. We've talked about this. Who else will tell it? Who else can? Who else knows? And it will be whatever you want it to be. It doesn't have to be anything that anyone else might want or expect or anticipate. It isn't their satisfaction you need to appease.

You've written enough love letters to others. You've given your heart freely thinking: it's already been in pieces for so long why not? What did you keep for yourself?

Self, how did you speak to others today?
How did you speak to yourself?

Today I thought a lot about you, and all that you are, even the things you convince yourself that you never were or aren't anymore. I thought about the incredibly shy 7th grader turning in a 61 page handwritten story for a free-write assignment, because that's what she wanted to do. I thought of that night, in the back of car crossing the bridge into Trenton, when you quietly realized you would need to experience it all to tell it right. A little nod and agreement--I will say yes to things. I will try. Thought about all the summer nights you only partially allowed yourself to enjoy because you couldn't stop thinking "this will end." I thought about the migraines and days after too.I thought about the part of you that still holds her breath when a semi passes on the highway. I thought of 7 year old you, dressed like a punk rocker for Halloween at your grandma's CB club Halloween party:

I gave thought to your favorite things and the things that have frightened you. I thought of you crying in front of a crowd and I thought of you dancing wild 'til 2 in the morning arms up with people you love and would fight for. And I thought about how badly you need to start fighting for yourself.

All my love.

Sunday, November 5, 2017



Young, surviving was never a question. Never doubted ability to approach fire and aim right through. This is true. And reckless, and exactly as it should be. Cracking your own heart, easy as eggs.

Even back before that, when all I knew was my own daydream of what love might one day mean. Collaging in the CB room at my grandma's house, listened to Z93 and 97X on her silver boombox. Slipping a cassette in(scotch-taped on top) when I heard something worth recording. I was awkward and bored and full of aspiration to be the girl in the Noxema ad with perfect spiral curls. Typical puberty.

Some sore spots find their way to tenderness. Over time I've snaptwisted many memories into kindling. Wad of photographs depicting every bar/diner/curb I sat upon scribbling, getting the moment down thinking one day I might need it. I can't carry it all anymore.

What to do with all the heaviness? All things lugged through time in metaphorical mismatched suitcases, dragged through mud, passenger of canoe as I paddle an ocean of days. Burn it, bury it, drop it, tell it?


Finding flame, unpacking bags, clearing the gut.


I'm going to tell it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

poetry reading in pittsburgh, October 19th




I'm in town for a visit and as such set up a reading with some awesome poets including Renee Alberts, Becky Corrigan, Carrie Greenlaw and Karla Lamb. Jason Baldinger will host the event which is free and byob. Many thanks to 9 Stories for hosting.

October 19, Thursday at 7 PM - 10 PM

Nine Stories, Pittsburgh

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is the point of summer where I catch myself staring at leaves on the trees, thinking their season(s) are almost done. They'll drop and drift and come to earth again. Next spring I will give the same stare to newness on branch, envision their warmer days ahead. All they will see and go through. It's hard not to personify them, to admire this act of temporary life as bravery. Cyclical, incredible. All the sun, storms, and quiet. Another change is coming because it is our only constant.

Over the past few weeks I've taken part in wonderful conversations, a natural unraveling. Unexpected yet exactly what I ended up needing. All of the listening helped me reach out when I needed to(also a point in which I least wanted to). I can be extremely open but there are some things I keep for me--call it shame or uncertainty, privacy, whatever. It's not that I am ashamed to wrestle with depression now and then. At least I'd like to truly believe it isn't shame, but maybe. Maybe I'm not as accepting with my own stuff. In any event, when I struggle I get private until danger permeates the quiet--the molehill once harbored in my shadow is hulked into mountain which learns to bend me into it's dark. At this point in my life I can feel it coming. Animals and impending natural disaster. Something about depression has taught me to sense shift in environment.

Because I reached out, I'm doing much better. Nothing rusted. I had stuttered along with my writing until that comfort ceased altogether, but she's purred right back up and it is good. There is a list. Things to be done, plans I am making. There are hopeful things, despite the feeling of this world falling apart on a loop. I must read current events in small doses. Same goes for most people I know here--all of us a bit bewildered, shell-shocked, angry, trying.

At night I like to walk outside because there is a chill more often now. That and crickets, and an inky sky to stare up at, all that space junk I cannot see and stars I cannot name. The leaves on trees sound like hurrying fabric in the dark. My breath is my anchor. I take my moment and I keep on going.