Sunday, August 16, 2015

The wishbone is called the furcula. "Little fork" in latin. Fuse the clavicles you have it. The word/the term/the sentiment keeps rising to the top of my writing. Vision of a slicked knuckle digging through flesh to find it. The wash and wait to dry. All that want wasted on it. The energy stored in this bit of mirrored parenthesis must be phenomenal. Muscles stitched here stretched by downstroke. Midflight mechanics, in transit. Imagine them growing violent. Thrashing out of the meat to leave on comical feet. Tiptoe bones ghosting.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


How unreal to say, but true: I haven't read my poetry in public for over a year now. So strange, but easy to believe considering all of the events in life lately--major transition stacked on major transition. Yet still. There was a time when a week didn't pass without a stage. When an unfinished poem was reason enough to get on one. When I'd still be scribbling when they called me up next. Nowadays I work and rework drafts quietly in a hotel bar in Cairo on Wednesday afternoons, or I tremble out brand new lines on the balcony via my phone's notes app while call to prayer blares loud above/around me. Sometimes I read bits of work out loud to the empty flat while J is at work. I submit pieces to publications. Despite missing my old writing community something fierce, I've carved out a little spark for myself.

I return to Egypt in just under two weeks, and tomorrow I'll get behind a microphone here in Ohio for the first time in over a year. It's beyond time. And I know that sharing is a part of the work, the process, the figuring-it-out. I've been missing it--the question mark of an audience, the added dimension of a poem fully released out loud to the wild. How do I feel about reading tomorrow? Excited. Over the moon, ready, a bit brand new again. Nervous. A type of nervous I forgot about. There's also the question of what arrow to pull from the quiver--my arsenal has grown during this period of silence/transition/everything. Right now I can use the outlet. I'm wading my way out of this depression relapse, and with that comes less darkness/more light. On one hand depression makes you feel overly everything, every nerve exposed twitched and raw. On the other you are numb to it all, so deep in the trench that feeling feels...pointless. For a while I was extremely uninterested in feeling anything but nothing.

Now coming out of it the want to feel returns. I want to feel challenged. I want to feel everything from nervous to satisfied. This desire is pushing me to try and do again, and of course writing is included in that. To experience, succeed, to fail, to go at it again. Movement forward. If I am alive then I want to live.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

a published suite of poems

Nailed magazine published 4 of my poems, hooray! I'm feeling awesome about it. More soon...I feel like I have lots to say in this space and little time to say it, but for now here is the link to the published poems(they went live yesterday). Enjoy!

click here for poems

Saturday, June 27, 2015


I'm currently sitting in one of my favorite little coffee shops, congested as all hell but finally over the last bit of jet lag. The 'lag is never that bad coming to the states, thankfully. It just means I wake up with the sun for a few.

Immediately upon arriving I found a routine and have been sticking to it. Get up early, eat breakfast, go to gym. Catching a cold was not a part of the plan(obviously) but I'm working through it. I haven't had a proper cold in a long time, and I found myself surprised by how much a sore throat and runny nose truly sucks. I guess I forgot? I also realized that I take effortless breathing for granted on the regular. Oh sweet, uninhibited inhales.

I'm enjoying this much needed break from the middle east. Today in Cairo there was a sandstorm AND an earthquake, oof. I've been spending a lot of time with the family, as well as a lot of time driving. I love taking the back roads with the window down, cornfields on either side. I've missed all this green space. Two nights ago I stood in the yard and watched lightning bugs morse code the darkness. There have been a pile of thunderstorms since my arrival as well. The first growl rumbling across the sky gave me goosebumps. It feels like a little miracle, watching all of that water fall from above.

My niece and nephew continue to grow like weeds, and spending time with them triples the volume of my heart. A few days ago at the amusement park, my nephew declared, "the back of my chin is sweaty." It took us a few seconds but we figured out he was referring to his neck. One evening I was sitting next to him on the couch, leaning forward, and he put a hand on my back and patted it gently. "I've missed you Aunt Nikki," he said. My niece has her hair cut just above her shoulders and it makes her look so much older than her eight years. She's obsessed with Mad Libs and it still blows my mind to listen to her read. To think I knew this little person before she could walk or form sentences, and here she is reading to me like an old pro. I love them both so much.

My father and I are back into our roommate routine. We take walks around the neighborhood or ride our bikes up the street to get ice cream. We have great conversations nowadays. Being near my sister is a bit like being reunited with a part of myself. I'm so thankful for all of my moments with them. And the true icing on this trip is that J was able to come to the states for a quick visit as well(we thought work would keep him in Cairo initially). He will be here until the 8th of July. I will return on the 24th. In a few weeks I'll make a quick trip to Pittsburgh to see as many friends as I can. I'm feeling pretty good lately. A bit more peaceful. I'm staying busy, but remaining mindful. I'm trying not to think too much about how "this will pass," and instead focusing on how it is here, right now in this moment.

I also received news of 4 poems being accepted for publication, which was a wonderful surprise. All of the poems were new pieces and that is always encouraging. Writing has really been on my mind lately. Projects are taking shape, but I am taking my time with all of it. I am learning to nurture my work, to approach it with more love and less resentment. More on that soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ramadan starts tomorrow. Egyptians have been preparing for weeks now--the markets are extra crazy, and lanterns are being lit and presented at the entrances of shops and homes. It's an interesting time to be here. As I've mentioned in this space before, even if you aren't muslim, you do end up participating in various ways. No drinking, eating, or smoking in public/on the street, adjusting to changed hours at various places(like the gym), and many are stocking up on "supplies"(mainly beer from the delivery service). This time I will miss nearly all of it, as I am leaving for a trip to the states on Friday.

Ramadan display at local market

A trip home at this time was in our plan, but I am also needing a break from here. I've been quiet, focusing on each day and adjusting to my medication. The night sweats have returned, so I know the medicine is back in my system. I'm also much less foggy and my mind isn't racing as much as it was, thank goodness. I'm glad that I sought help when I realized I needed it. The past few months have been quite difficult. Now I am much, much more motivated to do something with my days as opposed to wanting to sleep the hours away or stare blankly and cry. Things in general feel much more doable. Still, a trip to see the family and a chance to really clear my head is welcomed.

Right now I am sitting in the hotel bar near our flat, having lunch and listening to an Egyptian and African discuss the current political climate here. This is somewhat of a Wednesday routine for me. I take my time at the gym and then come here to write, eat, catch up on emails.

I have mixed feelings about visiting the states. With each trip, the swirl of it gets bigger and bigger. Of course I will miss J, as well as my daily routines here and things I've grown accustomed to like call to prayer and the steady noise of honking cars and people in the street. But I am also anxious to revisit the sounds of summer in Ohio--crickets and train whistles and fireflies speckling the open fields. When I am outside of the states, I find it easier to read proper news--stories about things that are happening elsewhere, the brutal/beautiful truth of it. In the states one has to sift through layer upon layer of fluff to find out what is really going on. I always feel uneasy and slightly bewildered by how easy it is to slip back into my old life in the first world. Granted, not a lot of time has slipped by between my visits, so the ease isn't completely unbelievable.

It still isn't clear how much longer we will remain in Cairo, but I do feel the end of our time here approaching. I am doing my best to enjoy all the little details of here while I can.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Happy birthday to me. Today I am 34 years old.

Here is where I pause and roll that figure around and around in my head. Thirty-four.

My birthdays are always important to me. I think they've gained importance with age, as opposed to becoming something I shrug at or dread. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it is my new year. A few days ago someone raised the point to me that every day is somebody's new year. Very true, I said.

Today feels a little surreal right now. I woke up and told myself: today is my birthday and I should do what I want. I made coffee. I worked out despite telling myself I would take the day off from sweating. It is something I take pleasure in, I told myself, so I might as well do it. I made lunch and talked to my dad, who texted me birthday wishes as soon as he woke up. J brought me flowers yesterday and today they look exceptionally beautiful. I've done a fair amount of staring at my face in the mirror, counting freckles that weren't there a year ago, noting hair that is steadily becoming more grey than not. Later we have dinner plans with a few others. I have also cried today, which isn't something I had listed under "things I like to do." Also not on that list: dealing with nausea and dizziness and stomach pain from adjusting to an antidepressant again. But that is part of the process.

I went to a doctor last night who listened to my situation and agreed that I'm experiencing a relapse with my depression. As of last night I'm back on my meds, and I know there is an adjustment period and I intend on being as patient as I can.
Last night I also spoke with a close friend and, for the first time other than on my blog & with family, talked about how I've been struggling. I had difficult expressing the toughness of this place. Unless I can pull a stunt like the main character in the movie Powder, I don't expect anyone to fully get it unless they are here, in the same scenario. You get tired of explaining third world country frustrations.

Even now I pause often in typing this entry out. I'm still wading my way through the dark and writing about it feels like a chore. How many ways can the heavy be described? I go to one of my most favorite places, the thesaurus, and find: desolation, bummer, abjection, blue funk, bleakness. I first sounded out the last word as "blee-knees," which I actually kind of like. "Oh, I just have a case of the blee knees. Ice and elevation. Don't mind me."

On birthdays I usually like to reflect on things, but today my mind is tired. Many times in my life I've wished that our heads could be safely detachable--especially during bad migraines or when I'm feeling exceptionally blue. As if I could simply take her off for a bit and shoo her out the door, tell her to go play til the streetlights pop on. But our bodies do not work this way. As much as I may pine for the detachable cabeza, I am also determined to fight the urge to disconnect. The thing that is going to get me through this is myself. I refuse to let go of that. Hold on with one hand and search for light with the other.

I don't know. I guess this year my birthday is turning out to be much less about reflection and thought, and more about allowing myself to simply be. Here, now, this.

That sounds good. I think I'll stop writing now and go be for a while.