Monday, December 20, 2010


My memories were once based on gas stations and shin splints, choosing calorie memorization over Chemistry 101. And in those times between the laps around my neighborhood I learned that commitment was a crime. And the sort of punishment they handed out was for not being brave, for giving in to certainty, for choosing comfort and stability over the open road.

So that’s why it was no surprise when she said she’d write you and didn’t; why you text her and she received all but did not reply to any; why when you finally couldn’t stand the silence and took the pen in your hand as a last resort, the letter you sent went unanswered. The sympathy you looked for was never returned.

And you waited for a forwarding address or P.O. Box because you knew she had turned off her phone and let the bill on her electric lapse so there was so no email address she checked. But nothing came. I tried to warn you. They all tried to warn you. But hearing the words and listening to the meaning always confused you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Read one hundred books. Write one"

After awhile life gets in the way, and you’re living not writing. You’re out, you’re in, you’re doing things. And these things have no description because you can't remember day to day. You find there is no suitable spot for a period so you can catch your breath, just conjunctions flowing into run on sentences, turning into pages upon pages of continuous movement. Not being, just moving.

The plot that you search for is weak and at times you can't justify why you're feet move so fast but you don't stop. You keep moving.

She said, "I want to be a writer."

And so she was. She filled up notebooks with sonnets and prose on the graying of cumulus clouds and how diet coke would fizzle and stale in the same way the smell of perfume fades overtime. She covered the backs of envelopes when the books were filled and moved to the white spaces on bills and magazines when the envelopes were covered. She took markers to her cayenne walls, crushing commas and exclamation points against the woodwork he had sanded down the summer before. She pulled out old receipts and photographs with tired people smiling with tired eyes, flipped them over and dug her pen against the backs of heads she couldn't see. Writing about people she knew and people she never met, or only met once.

It didn't matter how, it was a manic decision they said of hers, created out of desperation, the only thing that mattered was getting it, the things out.

Because once she thought it, but then said it- the sentence left her mouth and days no longer ended with darkness or began with the sun, food didn't matter, salon appointments were canceled and her legs shrunk in her jeans.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Somewhere around July it's Clear

The things I carried with me five years ago continue to follow me as I pack for another weekend toward the west. I'm stuffing sweaters on top of journals and tubes of extra thick mascara, copper eye shadow and bronzer on top of a print out of Amy Hempel's "The Harvest" because nothing is ever quite as bad as it could be. I stop myself there- even I know can sense a limit.

Whenever I travel, I always feel a sense of permanence- there's the unnerving threat that when I leave I may never return or what I return to may be gone. I have nightmares about tragedies I’ve never endured- pictures of my childhood in flames so hot and bright I can smell the chemicals burning as I sleep. I wake up and am left agonizing over what the greater heart break truly is: to abandon or to be the abandoned.

Which leaves me where I am now- standing with my calves squeezed against the sides of this overnight bag, cramming in Merle Norman Rose Sorbet nail polish in a desperate effort to leave nothing behind.

He asks me what it is all this time that keeps me coming back. Or I guess- what keeps me wanting to leave. And my answers are meek or non existent. Something must attract me to the five hour drive he reasons; the landscape is dull. And I do not disagree; as I drive the long stretches of nothing suffocate me. But I've come to appreciate the flatness of Erie, PA and the two lane road that carries me through it as a steady 35 miles per hour. What I'm telling him is, the capacity of the east coast is not lost on this girl.

I caution that alone on the road, you are never really alone. There are always other cars headed down the same highway or waiting at intersections to join the journey. You learn where to stop for gas based on where others stop, what road side dives serve the best food and which motels are the least roach-friendly.

Life behind the wheel is what I think prison would feel like- just a thin pane of glass separates confinement and community. Isn't a prison its own community the same way rest stops are during dangerous weather? Do I not long for eye contact when I’m waiting in line for an iced coffee or bathroom break after 200 miles without stopping like an inmate pleas for conversation and physical contact after being in confinement? We share same dry throat from the silence. It's as if you’ve forgotten how to speak. My lips stick together when I try to shape my mouth into a polite smile and I know I'll miss the opportunity to make contact with my own community if I don’t look up fast enough.

People say long trips become a blur after some time, but if you're whole life is one stretch of highway to another long stretch of highway- then how could I not feel insulted?

Monday, October 25, 2010


At the end of the day its words you are left with.
Words that keep you whole- vowels knit your bones to your skin, semi colons & exclamation points weave nerves with veins so blood doesn't pool at your feet so that your heart isn't floating next to your liver, soaking up digested skin milk and Kahlua.

On a Monday night in late October you find yourself with not a word to speak, not a person to turn to, just the swoosh of deep breathing, a steadying calm that has reached out for a synonym, but your mouth feels dry. The words you cherished are stuck.

It's so hard to find peace when the muscles in your throat stretch your skin and all you can think is "who will love me now with this turkey neck.”

You think you are asking for help, but your consonants come out as giggles, your tears are from laughing not crying- sitting in front of a cup of black coffee, stealing French toast off the plate across from you- it’s the happiest of moments where you find yourself welling up.

You wonder why this thickness has clogged your esophagus. The uncertainty you feel turns out to be apostrophes that built up in your lymph notes, the doctor prescribes The Elements of Style by E.B. White. It will teach you that everything has its place. A period belongs at the end of a sentence; a sentence is a complete thought- but what about conjunctions and run on sentences and phrases- where do semicolons come into play?

I once knew a boy, now a young man, who tried desperately to correctly use the semi-colon. Days were spent considering the placement of commas and parentheses, looking for the perfect adjective to describe yellow. But he never said “this is yellow”.

A winter with no snow is upon us. Dead leaves greet me each morning, crunching at the weight of my feet. I walk in silence from home to work, and in reserve. The phone rings and the movement of my lips produce nothing but gasps.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Driving down the road I'm living 10 years from now. I pass vacant townhouses that will be lit up one day. I'm not sad, but this is not happiness. All the noise around me starts to fade away; from this position the steering wheel is my only confidant, my best friend. The rear view mirror is my only audience.

I take the long way home- it used to be that there was no time to think, and now I'm wearing holes in my socks from running circles in my brain.

I can see our bedroom, and the sheets that we sleep in. It’s winter still, so the flannel drapes against the carpet, the comforter creates mountainous waves and under our bed sits a black leather hat box.

Pale pink satin lines the inside; holding crumpled yellowing pages and envelopes with my name on them. The addresses vary but the pages are all the same- they keep me awake at night promising adventure, romance, the possibility of being somewhere besides here. And I find myself clinging to a life you have no knowledge of.

I listen to the stairs as I climb slowly, my feet sinking with each step & I feel weak by the time I reach your face. Cupped in my hands I can feel the coarse hairs of your beard finally grown in completely- instead of commenting on your victory, I'm lost trying to convince you that I'm really here with a kiss.