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.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

thick of summer

I've spent the better part of summer running from page and pen. As if they can't find me//as if what insists on being said isn't already pirohuetting in blood. You can numb entire acres of yourself and still get hurt, hurt more, hurt worse. Stagger back and slice through. I don't care to be scared anymore. This is the most wonderful and dangerous part.

I'll drive the same block, play the same song, turn wheel same way with half a hand if it means staying with the feeling. Sometimes I start to scrawl and get stuck in mood--whole day below sea level because what isn't pried open will fall apart eventually. Every minute without it forms a faultline until the shattered creates a dent. Press here. Press often. Writing isn't easy. Even when it feels better than breathing. Even when you know it's true medicine--shit gets expensive. I catch myself stopping between lines to cover my mouth in the quiet.

I ramble to friends about clawing surfaces. It's a process, catch and release. Carrying close this house full of cups and dust, broken bits of belief, half moons of cursive. Moments pickled, suck sour clean then burn them. There isn't a breathing being on planet that can do it. Stalk page like prey. Lick the bones til they glow.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

sacred places

A moment is a sacred place.

Eight years ago I listened to you start to write a song in my living room. What was I doing? Making food, forth and back in the kitchen. I still know the daylight through the window, the stumbling of guitar chord as its bones took on flesh. Layer by layer a magic that I was afraid to interrupt. Your elbow in the corner of my vision--strum, strum. Something born.

We are sitting at the bar and I tell you for probably the thousandth time that we are lucky to be creative. It's painful at times--we can be all nerves and pages but ultimately we are fortunate. I really believe this. Do you know when there is a point you want to stay on but the conversation migrates away? That's how I felt, in the moment. Not one to pound my fist for emphasis but wanted to, a moment. We are lucky to tell it, to have the tool to wrestle with, to be pinned by. I can go anywhere, be as quiet as stillness, and yet I'll continue to carry that obligation/need/desire. I rarely mention the times it keeps me going, the only thing.

We walk to the cemetery; it is night. A bat juts around in the air, and it feels like we are following it or being guided by this winged thing. Deeper on the path with all these graves around us until we hit the pond. As soon as we sit down, rain starts to fall. Since it is dark this change is weather is felt and heard first. Bullfrogs and raindrops. We stay put as long as we can.

A moment is a sacred place. So many that I don't know how my body hasn't broken apart unable to contain the true enormity of it. How are we not in a million pieces? If I write it down will I feel lighter? I will never know what it meant to you. I tell you memory because I need you to know.

And when we leave the sacred what becomes of it? Weather, briefly, contains her. I walked here, I stood until I couldn't. All belongings gone, I think of them silenced to landfill buried with other evidence. Or is that us, the clue of image, surefire proof? Are we what is unowned? My pockets protest; I bust their seams with it. Every moment gets a minute. A soft space, a familiar gait. Every one gets to let go.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


I am 36 years old. Thirty and six. How? When?

Of course there is reflecting. I skim all the lives lived like shuffling a deck of cards--the sound of them stacking is somewhere between a hum and a rip. Steel trap mind hugs it all. Sometimes I recall the most random-seeming things. An empty stage after I left it. The ends of my inksister's hair lifting with the wind. D insisting that I keep my eyes closed during my first time through Pittsburgh's Liberty Tunnel. The moment I opened them. Bagels in New York. Litter in the Nile. My friends dancing wild and free to music. Hauling my bike up three flights of stairs after the ride home from work. The last time I saw my mother. "Always and Forever" playing at the skating rink.

My life has been so incredibly full. Both joy and heartache overflows cups. I am endlessly thankful for all of it. All of it, you hear me? Even the shit that didn't work. Even the bits that tore me down, when concept of regret bobbed lonely to surface. Even depression and her threatened abyss. Without her the rest might not be so stunning.

There are little things. Like I wish my grandparents had lived long enough to know me as an adult. I wish fear didn't seize me as it has in the past, as it might threaten now. I can give solid advice but sometimes I think I could do better at following it. Little things.

I like to reflect, and I know the importance of it, but the older I get the more I find myself interested in now, and in what is next. Mindfulness reminds me that sometimes the most beautiful thing is to be moving and acknowledge the movement and nothing else. Or to catch my own wrist and tune into my heartbeat. These things save me. I feel twice the length of this age but my coworkers guess me at 27. One asked me if my grays were placed on purpose, highlights. I laughed. Oh no. These are mine, igniting since 25.

Thirty-six is a promise of exciting things. I'm in the best shape of my life. My writing is strong and honest. I'm still discovering songs to fall in love with, art that yanks my breath away. I am alive. I am loved. I am nowhere near finished yet.

Here's to my 36th year. I'm ready. Let's go.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

on a thursday in april

Today the president of the country I live in signed away more of my rights as a woman. Today the president of the country I live in also dropped a bomb. The largest nonnuclear bomb in history. My coworkers and I gather at her desk and together try to loop our heads around it. This is history, we say. The desk under our forearms feels exactly like what it is--a heavy piece of wood, a thing made to hold and house other things. And there are things around this heavy piece of wood, more things and more--even the floor I walk across to leave for the day is a thing. I am starting to hate things.

It is so quiet in the elevator and I am alone and want to cry. I can't because the anvil in me is also a sponge. On the drive home I extract my heart shove her on the antennae and let wind fleck her blood all over. She shivers only slightly, a warning. Meat exposed to element rots.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

There is this moment of being a writer that repeats itself, unannounced and erratic, in the most darnedest of places. This moment I'm talking about is a welled up suckerpunch, landing somewhere between chest and gut. The feeling hits then spreads, something intravenous--warming neck then elbow crook then shin bones. Maybe it is less moment and more need, internal and urgent, all over. Not just a need but a must. I do not simply need to write things. If I miss this moment the black hole widens. The flame pulls to smoke, a cell might give up. Sometimes love and necessity get all mixed together. Sometimes(these moments) I know exactly what my duties are.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I can see the winter starting to slowly bend away. On the drive from work to gym the sun felt warm. She is still mostly brief, as if testing the waters. The temperature slowly builds, early mornings aren't as harsh. Some of the trees have bloomed, while others are sparked with that newborn green I love, the color I'll never stop mentioning. Spring always feels magical. I might always need the seasons this way. It is coming, this turn. Not just weather, but in the way my heart dons her drum. More quickly, heavy on the good songs--in the mirror I might spy her shudder in my neck.

Next month is national poetry month and I hope to write a little something every day to honor it. I like doing that. Now that my studies are done for the time being, I'm ready to turn my entire self towards my writing. I will open my google drive and take a deep breath. So much archived, so many pages untouched for months and some for longer, years even. I can't bring myself to delete much, if anything. Every time I approach the notion I think: maybe it's time, or maybe I really am terrible at letting go, or perhaps they were never truly mine to begin with. Loving your art is complicated and wonderful. I don't mind the brutality.

A few weeks ago, facebook notified me that it was a friend's birthday, a comrade who passed away four years ago. We weren't exceptionally close but their presence left an imprint at a time in my life when everything that happened left incredible indents. A few weeks from now it will be the anniversary of another friend's passing. Acknowledging their absences will never not be strange. I try, in my own way, to honor them. Play a song that echoes their memory or revolt in some tiny fashion. I am thankful for knowing their energy. Ashamed of my own ignorance when it comes to the privilege of living and life. Spring signifies rebirth but it also mentions endings. I try to be okay with both.

In a few months I will be 36. Sometimes I read old journals to remember, because I can't recall it all. It's crazy how some things jut out like rocks in rough water, and over time the elements eat them away to smoothness. They become difficult to grip, and some grow smaller or slough off to join the general mass. Pangea post-break up. Some things I'll never write about again and this too is a body of water and rocks, a mass of me that never goes missing no matter what typed out fragments I delete.

Monday, March 6, 2017


I've been, per usual, protective when it comes to new poem drafts--with my latest batch of work, even moreso. I sent a slew of drafts and unfinished thoughts/beginnings to Renee and her feedback was right on time. I knew these pieces deserved their flesh, and it was going to require a bit of blood/sweat/tears to get them there, but they are on their way. I'm incredibly proud of the work, even in its current under-construction state.

I have my fitness instructing exam this Saturday, and then I'm aiming all my arrows on this writing of mine.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


I've had this blog for a solid decade now. Ten years. Before that I kept various pockets of thought online via livejournal, x-diary, and on and on but this domain? Ten years going.

I think of it as a great big scroll of late nights and early mornings and random daylight hours...updates of both merit and time-killing. Saying it all or dancing around the elephant with words adjusted to a precise measurement of almost-telling-it. I was a pro at what was not said--mistakes made and humiliations I couldn't bear to share beyond my own knowing. Things that changed the path or deepened it. There were times when life was so rich I didn't have time to get it down outside of notebook scribbles or a picture or two. And in turn there were times over the past ten years when things hurt too much to face, and I turned away from dumping it out until something ultimately tipped me. I used to work a full time job in the day and bartend part-time at night, and I would walk home at 3 am in a so-quiet-it's-holy city moment. I'd be dog tired but have all these thoughts, and I'd come here to recount my evenings. I wrote here while head over heels and I posted full of heartache. I probably said too much and not enough. Oh oh the poems. All the poems.

self, 2006

2007, late autumn rain in Lawrenceville

So many miles put on two wheels

the essentials, 2008

twenty-eight, 2009

my writing room, 2012

from my tent in the rain at the Pink Door Retreat, 2013

inksisters, 2014

Ten years. Big, little, high and below sea level. Happy somewhat birthday, little blog. Even if I've grown considerably more private over the years, I'm thankful for this outlet of connect & reflect. Here's to potentially ten more.

And, in keeping with the time thing, this week marks 1 full year back in the states. I still wrestle with the most strange homesickness--a homesick for a country not mine, that I barely knew but felt something incredible for.

Cairo, Egypt, 2015

I have a lot of feelings about that--some bits of them get stronger as time goes on, and some fall back because they serve no other purpose than to fade. My thirties thus far have been wild, surprising, soulcrushing, a complicated dance of give and take and lost and gain. If there ever was an era of living to fully encompass life, this one would be it. Sometimes I look at all this living and feel there are thousands of eras and lives, and I wonder how on earth will there be more? The truth is there might be and I am fortunate and grateful for all I have the opportunity to experience. What's amazing is that despite all the movement, change, things learned and lost and picked up, I am still me. The core, the one true thing.

35th birthday in Pittsburgh, 2016

How do I explain it? I'm still that kid making collages at her grandma's house while listening to The Breeders Last Splash on cassette, wondering earnestly when will life begin. I'm still the teenager at her cashier job wasting all the receipt tape rolls on new poems, and I'm twenty and moving to a bigger city forever. I built bridges along my bones filled with cornfield and lightning bug applause. I'm still exceptionally hard on myself. I'll always be the smallest cousin with the hard head and bleeding heart. I'll be that for always. I'll get tapped on the shoulder by mistakes made and when I turn around they'll be something maybe that makes more sense. I will still take pleasure in thunderstorms & cricket crescendos when I'm 60-something. I'll sit on the floor for miles of minutes in the poetry section of a bookstore until the day I die.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

a letter to let her go (2016)

Dear 2016,

Thank you.

Thank you for breaking me, forwards and backwards. Thank you for the ridiculous splinters and stitches and additional semi-bad ass keloids to add to the scar collection. You gotta decorate a life with some living right? Right.

Thank you even for the migraines and the lost days to them, for this curse magnitudes the blessing—makes the day smell much more sweet and worth it and powerful. Thank you for the epitome of dark so that I may know and truly appreciate the warmth of light. I am grateful to be reminded of my body because there are in fact moments I forget.

Thank you for close contact with my family, for the belly laughs reserved for our blood connection, for the secret language I continue to share with my sister. Thank you for my niece and nephew who gently ask me to please never move that far away again. For all our moments big and small, for each and every holiday and occasion I could be here & present for.

Thank you for all the reminders that everything, even our idols, are flawed and mortal. Even though I refuse to believe Prince is mortal. He’s now simply a part of everything.

Thank you for that summer dusk sunlight coming through on back road car drives, and all your random parks and her dented benches. For the moments I have spent here with a heart beating strong next to mine. Thank you for campgrounds and a tent that hinges back it’s cover on top so we could lay there and be right with the stars. Thank you for that lake and the canoes and for my comrade paddling us back into the deepest inlets to find anything hidden. For his assurance when I was so concerned with our boat hitting bottom. We never did.

Thank you for some of my most fragile and stunning moments to date.

Thank you for the music and for the time alone in my car. For when melody yanked out the tears and I drove and grieved, drove and grieved. Thank you for that privacy. Thank you for the music that leaned me back in my seat, made me feel truly strong and better and smiling. Music is magical.

Thank you for heavy things, and for giving me the space and time to lift them. For progression, and every bump and victory that comes along with it. Weightlifting grew into an unexpected meditation for me this year. 2016, I leave you with a mind/body connection that is stronger than ever.

Thank you for another 365 days of continued growth for my friendships, and for the time to add new ones. I leaned hard on some dear ones when I needed it the most and I never felt let down or left cold. I had to let some things go but that is for the best. I’ve received some of the best care and advice of my lifetime this year and my entire self is stronger because of it.

Thank you for another year of writing, for more time to tell it. Thank you for every reading on the calendar, for every ear that heard it.

Thank you for the very clear reminder that work here and elsewhere is not done—that if we believe in something, we need to stand up for it.

Thank you for letting me learn the hard way. This year I truly found that forgiveness has so very little to do with anyone else. I do not need permission, and I will not expect nor wait for it. We are free when we decide to be. Thanks for reminding me that anger does not suit me, is not worth my time, and doesn’t solve much at all. Thank you for the opportunity to show up and face the worst of it.
Thank you for healing my heart, and for reminding me that we are constantly mending and strengthening—that she, too, is a muscle. A miracle. Thank you for returning what I always, always knew.

How could I ever call you the worst when you’ve taught me so much?

2016, thank you. Thank you for all the bullshit, the hot mess, the hard knocks, and the sweetness.