Tuesday, September 20

Golden tears,
The price and reward of love,
Are memories cloaked in grief,
Shining as they


Saturday, August 27

Their touches should burn one another, but-

my joy and grief hold hands, marching through moments like unexpected best friends. 

"Together," they whisper. "Together."

Sunday, August 21

Not That Girl

I recoil when people touch my shoulder, 
whisper, "I'm so sorry."

I want to tell them to take it back because
I am not that girl.

I am not the girl who lost her dad.

I can't be. 

The girl collecting a thousand sad stares, the girl with pocketfuls of ache, is carrying a burden with which I can't lock eyes.

For to look is to crumble.

And I already crumbled yesterday.


Tuesday, July 12

Dear Dad

I can’t stand that all the stories I’ll want to tell you
Will have to be whispered to the sky
Instead of into your ear

And I can’t stand that when I wrap myself in blankets of memory,
Comfort is followed by sorrow, love by missing.

And I can’t stand that I know the answer to,
“Can humans run out of tears?”
Because I googled it twice.

And I can’t stand that I had to write your obituary 30 years too soon,
And I can’t stand that I wrote it in past tense.

And I can’t stand that Alan and Laura
Is just Laura now,
And that just Laura had to buy a casket and cemetery plot,
And had to fall asleep
In a bed that’s now too big.

And I can’t stand that you won’t get to hold my children,
To toss them in the air,
And read their favorite children’s books.

And I can’t stand that my children won’t know
How it feels to be loved by you,
As I am loved by you.

And I can’t stand that you aren’t going to call
As you edit photos,
Hoping, instead of music, to listen to the sounds of your family,
Because you loved nothing more.

But, Dad, I hope you know that I would feel all of this pain,
Over and over again,
Just to have you as my dad for even one day.


Saturday, April 23

Over and Over Again

If we hear something over and over again, it becomes normal.
Repetition, expertly applied, becomes a sleeping pill, a chemical designed to lull us into compliance.
What at first seems sharply wrong is soon softened by the cascading words, crashing against the shore over
-and over again.

If we hear dads tell their sons to, “toughen up,” over and over again,
It becomes normal.
Toughen up
Toughen up
Toughen up.
Because apparently feeling is a woman’s sin
And boys aren’t allowed the temptation.

If we hear, “you throw like a girl,” over and over again,
It becomes normal.
Like a girl
Like a girl
Like a girl.
Spit out of mocking lips like a taste they didn’t like.
The words acidic, burning skin, a scar left to remind us that
XX chromosomes mean shame and, “like a girl” means embarrassing.

If we hear people greet each other with empty, “how are you?”s over and over again,
It becomes normal.
How are you- good
How are you- fine
How are you- actually, I’m-
The phrase left to echo in the spaces between asking and caring.
For to treat a platitude as anything else is a stamp of naivety,
A breach in social contract.

If we hear people say, “you can’t take a joke,” over and over again,
it becomes normal.
Can’t take a joke
Can’t take a joke
Can’t take a joke
The implication slapping our pain in the face,
Because even though their words slice through our thin, carefully woven beliefs,
And even though their words will leave us with a days-long stomach ache,
And even though their words chip away at the pieces that make us us,
We’re choosing to be offended.

And if we hear people say, “I love you anyway” over and over again,
It becomes normal.
I love you anyway
I love you anyway
I love you anyway
Stipulated love masquerading as real.
They tell us they love us despite our flaws,
Not realizing that the word we hear isn’t love, it’s flaws,
Their pity-sharpened claws scratch at our souls,
But how lucky that they love us anyway.

The repetition is a carousel we can’t seem to exit
And the circular justifications for cruelty
Instead of making us dizzy, make us numb.
Because if we hear something over and over again,
It becomes a normality
And those normalities, so often raised out of the ashes of good intent,
Can become a noose,  
Ensuring permanent numbness.

And numbness is the desertion of feeling, the product of a society that tells you your experiences aren’t valid. Their pre-packaged viewpoints are available for consumption, though, if you can force yourself to swallow the pill.

But if repetition has the power to normalize,
Then we should be able to normalize words and actions too.

Instead of interrupting, we can listen. Over and over again.
Instead of saying, “how are you?” Out of robot lips, we can wait for an answer. Over and over again.
Instead of looking for cracks, we can look for beauty. Over and over again.

We can use repetition not to numb, but to validate.
We can let waves of acceptance crash over and over again.

So let’s say, “I love you, all of you” over and over again,
Until it becomes normal.
I love you
I love you
I love you.


Wednesday, April 6

Around Here

Tonight I stared up into the darkness and sighed as Conlin's sporadic snoring pushed me rather ungently from bed. I was restless and Conlin's snoring was relentless and so I rose. And here I am, my curser pulsing and my words teetering from foot to foot, anxious to arrange themselves. 

I have so many things I want to write. Lists of things. 

My desk has become a boarding house for post-it notes on which hastily scrawled to-do lists live.  Occasionally, optimistically, I add, "blog," to the list and then watch as everything else gets checked off and the purple-penned blog begins to discolor, the orphan item on a list of completed tasks. 

But here I am. Me, my words, and the illogical urge to write lists. 

Buckle up. I'm 'bout to list at you.

//the inconsistent tone of this post //the nutritional value of pizza //donald trump //but seriously. donald trump //watching humans use tradition as an excuse for hatred //seeing the smiles slip off my students' faces when they think no one is watching //the way my student's voice quivered as he told the carpet he didn't think his parents loved him //seeing my students hurt //see any of my students hurt. 

//reading books, good books, particularly in the early morning or late at night //sipping half crio/half coffee while reading //spending time with friends that make me feel whole //strawberries //laughing hard and laughing frequently //getting enough sleep so I feel restless at night //making up narratives to explore the lives of the people a few treadmills over //stumbling upon a sentence that makes life sharpen //dancing when I'm alone //dancing when I'm not alone //walking barefoot on warm pavement //watching sunlight glint off car tops //teaching //watching one of my students wait for his bus while whispering his slam poem to the sky like an offering//my students //all of my students.


Tuesday, May 19

To My Students, Whom I Love

I am about to proffer a smattering of advice and thoughts. I know, I know. Who am I to offer advice? I’m 24-years old, look relatively like the other thousands of students with whom you are packed into the hallways like sardines, and am, truthfully, overly familiar with law and order SVU episodes & lipstick brands. I’m not an expert in much, except perhaps the exact amount of pizza & Nutella it takes to send you to bed clutching your heart and wondering, somewhat seriously, at what point you should call an ambulance.   So why, amidst my abounding imperfection, do I insist on writing this letter?  It comes down to this:

Imperfection does not negate the value of one’s words.  Imperfection is at the core of the human experience and our stories, our truths, are all worth sharing. Even the silly, imperfect ones.  So, from one imperfect soul to another, here are some of my truths:

1. To truly love, you must be willing to fail, to crumble, to cry.  Love means opening yourself up to vulnerability and walking, arms outstretched, into moments that could break you. Moments that could hurt you to your very bones and make you wonder whether you'll ever be okay again. 

Love is scary, but hiding is scarier. 

If you run from vulnerability, your life may feel safe. But it will be safe and small and numb.  Love means taking risks when you want to run.  Love means giving help when you're strong and asking for it when you're weak.

Love is being seen.

You are all worthy of love, no matter how broken and bruised you feel. You. Are. Worthy.

2. For some, high school is a beautiful time of self-discovery and growth. For most? It's a time in the trenches, a battle against oneself and the world.

If teaching's taught me anything, it's that everyone is fighting a personal war.  The beautiful, fragile souls you pass in the hallways are in an arena fighting self-doubt and loathing, fighting abandonment, fighting depression.  They’re winning some rounds, losing others. 

There are many versions of the people we pass in the hallways, and most are only given a single, incomplete narrative.  We assume, we judge, we compare, we critique.  We get it wrong.

We don't have to keep getting it wrong.

We can get it right by looking for the whole story, instead of accepting the convenient pieces being passed around. We can get it right by loving others.

Don’t love someone despite their flaws. Don’t love them anyway. Just love them. All of them. They need it and you need it.

3. There will be times in your life when your mind and soul will be too broken to recognize your value. Maybe that time is now, maybe it's coming.  In these inevitable dark moments, you may think your absences go unnoticed. You may think, even, that no one would care if you simply disappeared.

I would care. I, with every other person on whom you've left a print, an echo, would care. You have touched and taught and helped more people than you know.  We need you here.

4. Becoming the best version of yourself may be lonely.  It may require asking difficult questions and feeling isolated as you seek those answers.  But being honest with yourself is always worth whatever pain may follow. 

Ball up your fists and ask the difficult questions.

5. We’re all off-brand versions of an unrealistic ideal and hallelujah, my friends. How boring perfection would be. Perfection has never been a requirement for value, whatever people may say. I’m imperfect, you’re imperfect, and we all have things to offer.

We must be able to stand proudly with our gifts in one hand and weaknesses in the other, the good and the bad both wholly a part of our identity.

The world needs us, all of us.