Category Archives: Uncategorized

the curse of the zero draft

Confession time: I am a zero-draft writer.

I have never had to work hard at this. I read a ton. I have always read a ton. I have always paid attention to the mechanics of a sentence. But I have never toiled over words in the way that many of my peers have.

(Well, okay. Pablo Neruda showed me how evocative language could be when I was sixteen and crushing on a guy I met at a German competition, and I learned enough Spanish to deconstruct the poetry in the original. But that was solely because the boy had pretty eyelashes.)

You know what that’s gotten me? Goose friggin’ egg.

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a promise for 2016

i have a habit-building app called Streaks on my phone. it gamifies all the little things you’re supposed to be doing regularly anyway. so if you have an exercise goal, for example, you can say you’re going to play tennis three times a week. if you achieve your goal for the week, you’ve started a streak. you keep it going by continuing. if you’re supposed to be doing something every day, and you miss a day, your streak starts over. but you can still look at all the days you accomplished something and feel good about it. so it’s motivating without feeling impossible.

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a confession

here it is: i know so many writers, really talented, amazing writers who will pull your heart out of your body slowly, in pieces, through your mouth and nose and tear ducts and whatever else they can coax a hook into.

here it is: i do not consider myself one of them.

of course i think i could be one of them, one day, if only i took my talent seriously, if only i practiced and fucking wrote every day or whatever it is that’s supposed to define you as a writer.

here it is: i do write every day. i write something, a tweet, a joke in an IM, a wry observation on facebook. i write a report for work. i write standup (in the past). i write poetry (in the present, because the slam community holds out the promise of validation, and i love validation more than i love the snooze button or looking at myself in the mirror or promising myself i can handle one more drink).

but i am not a writer. i am not one of them. i am not one of them.

i am not one. i am many. i am too many to know my own name. you do not start a life, a writing life, with too many names. how will people know who you are?

so one day, i will be one of them. and in the meantime, i am none of them, and i am too many of them, and their specters crawl under the covers with me and wake me into my own sweat.

here it is: i have stopped washing the sweat away. if i know what i smell like i have a name. i offer myself to the couch every day like a swinging censer. i am a baptism of words that do not get said.

every stitch i weave into myself gets dropped eventually. i am all the woolen yarn i have begun without ever becoming scarves. i still do not know if i can crook my fingers long enough to wrap myself around my own neck.

this? this is not writing. i don’t know what you are reading now. give it a name.

this is a work in progress

The precise moment you wish to stop
being drunk
is a train rocking on its track
and a conversation about you
that you are not a part of.
Close your eyes. Pretend it helps.
Pretend that in the morning,
when you stagger out of the cattle
car that swaddled your sweat
and emerge blinking into pain and
howling like the day you were born,
pretend you really did learn your
lesson. This time.
This time you swear you will change,
this time you swear you have been
anointed with fire water
for the last time. This time
the whirl of the room
will not be behind your eyes,
you will remember the steps
and they will remember you.
You will remember your name.
You will remember how you got
home. You will remember who is at

The precise moment you forget
you wished to stop being drunk
is an easy yes and a smile
and a warm blanket
and a chair to sit down in.
And every single time
it feels like a blessing.


i wake up. i look at the clock. i try to remember the last time i woke up, and the time before that, and the time before that. all in the same night. all in the same twenty minutes, maybe. definitely after i last went to bed. i count how many minutes until my alarm goes off again. i lie there. i sleep a little. i lie there some more. i wake up.

i count how many minutes until my alarm goes off again. i wake up.

i count how many minutes until i should have been up already. i wake up.

i count how many minutes until i should have left for work. i wake up.

i think of an excuse. i perfect my story. i lie there.

i lie there.

i think about the bills i have not paid yet, the questions i have not answered, all the people in this day i can look forward to disappointing.

i cry.

i wake up.

i put a foot out, feeling for the ground. i try to remember the last time i brushed my teeth.

i look at my hair, greasy and matted into strange patterns. i cringe as i pull it up. not enough to wash it.

i try to remember the last time i cared about anything.

i brush my teeth because my gums have started bleeding on their own. i contemplate the heart disease i have surely developed by this point. i wonder if this is why i have had heart palpitations for the last year. i start planning my reaction when the doctor tells me it is inoperable. i count how many months i have left to live.

i log on.

i try to focus. sometimes i succeed. mostly when people talk to me.

my cat yells at me. i step away from the screen long enough to give him food and shut off the coffee machine that i still haven’t used since my roommate set the timer for me two months ago.

i debate what pants i would be wearing if i were wearing pants.

i debate whether i should put masking tape over the camera on my laptop so my colleagues don’t see me in greasy hair and pajamas.

i try to remember a time my back didn’t need popping. i try to imagine what it feels like to have actual pain and not just emotional pain. i feel like a wuss.

i see a picture of my nephew and burst into tears.

i look at okcupid. everyone is stupid and no one interests me. i look at the messages i have yet to answer. another thing to feel guilty about.

i try to focus. i send a funny gif to a coworker, because that at least keeps me somewhat on task.

i wonder what would happen if i just laid here, if i stopped responding to everything, if i stopped eating, if i stopped even bothering to get out of bed. i have already lost fifteen pounds in a month. i wonder if i could lose the rest.

i start thinking about quitting time. then i realize it doesn’t matter, because i’m going to do the same thing i was doing before quitting time anyway.

i click links. i copy. i paste. someone asks me questions and i answer. i try to plan for tomorrow.

i am not going to have enough money to get through the rest of the year. i don’t know what to do about this. i try to plan for tomorrow.

everyone i love is far away and no one cares enough about me to find out what is going on. i don’t love anyone. i don’t care that anyone loves me. the only thing that exists is this bed and this couch and netflix. i don’t need love. i can live on indifference.

i turn on the tv.

please no one ask me how i am doing. please no one ask me how i am doing. please god somebody anybody ask me how i am doing. no wait.

i turn off the tv.

the day is over. now i can do whatever i please.

i keep my laptop open. i turn on the tv.

hours later, i go to bed. my laptop is open beside me until i can no longer deal with its bright light. i snap the clamshell shut and prop it against the side table.

i lie there.

i wake up.

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ain’t it feel right

she touches needle to vinyl, finds the groove, releases. closes her eyes. again.

the lights are out. late afternoon shadows shuffle into the room, making it cool and green. her feet trace circles into the matted carpet. she feels for the sonic sweet spot, then settles in and stills herself. the sound comes, full, embodied. it’s the same sound she’s heard for the past hour, three minutes forty-nine seconds at a time, before she rips the arm from the disc and searches for the beginning. as if finding it could somehow help her wriggle out of her skin, become frequency and amplitude. life feels all amplitude anyway these days.


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