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snowy day free write 3.13.18

i think about dying a lot

but only cuz i’m looking for the endings

to all my losses

some things outlive our bodies

 

like love & regret & the space

we leave behind with nothing but our smell

u ever scream and make no sound

u ever think this is it

 

and still wake up w/ the sun coming

through ur blinds, u ever

hold on for too long

or laugh harder than everyone else

 

sometimes i shower just

to be naked, sometimes

i disagree just to be heard, sometimes

i believe it when they say

 

they love me. i like sad songs

and girls who don’t say my name and

rainy days, how they all got me wet and

breathing through my mouth, desperate like

 

somewhere between hungry and drowning

i dance like i’m becoming the air and

love like i already am, at least i think

this is how we keep on living, anyway

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For the Love of Basketball

My mother coached my middle school basketball team because

she liked to empower kids. I remember the desperation that crept in on the court

as I’d watch girls stare suspiciously

at the woman on the bleachers who

smelled like endless cigarettes and wore the print

of my mom’s lipstick on her mouth.

I could smell their judgment over their

sweaty pinnies. I didn’t know then,

what homophobia was. I just knew what it felt like.

 

My mother

put me on point guard every scrimmage, she knew

I would never be the fastest, and she’d probably

be the only one to cheer my name, she taught me

I would always be on defense,

that’s how we lived our lives together, never scoring

any baskets, too busy defending our own. I swear

I was born with a pivot foot because I’m always

turning my cheek. What do you do

with a game like that? You’re always staying in the same place.

But you don’t have to be running to feel out of breath.

 

I was sitting in the passenger seat when she first said it: Homophobia–

Darling you will spend the rest of your life trying to swallow those five syllables,

running against it’s etymology like it’s a buzzer that you just can’t beat,

I could tell, she already felt suffocated just thinking

about all the people like her

who live with eyes in the backs of their heads, wearing the Bible Belt like

nooses around their necks,

and Matthew Shepard was one more notch in the belt that

in 1998 swung up to Wyoming, I

had only lived five years then, but each were long enough

to round out every syllable of that word,

 

he was really just a boy when his head

was beaten in by knuckles of discrimination, she said he died

tied to a fence and all I could picture in my head,

was Jesus, saw his wingspan, his arms spread open, dying,

for loving a man that much.

 

Hate does not know state lines,

I rode the school bus, and counted the number of fences I saw.

 

By the time I was in high school, the basketball program was

over and everyone knew who the woman on the bench was

and how that lipstick got on her face. The girls

traded in their pinnies for popularity, saw

how I was so much like my mother, the way we both

wore loneliness like numbers on our backs, so

 

I walked around the hallways with adrenaline in my throat like

I had the ball for the first time and I

knew I wasn’t fast enough to outrun an insult.

 

When I told my mom that we played for the same team,

she bowed her head, said she wished we didn’t, said

life is easier

when you’re not playing on a losing team.

 

But if I learned one thing, it’s that people should love

the way that my mother coached, like

 

even though you know

every damn person in the stadium is

rooting for the other team, love–

is sticking up your middle finger and saying:

 

I will always cheer your name.

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Hope: A Working Definition

I’ve been having these moments where I feel like my heart is literally expanding, and it makes me lose my breath. Looking out the window on the bus, late in bed by myself, walking out of my apartment. I don’t know how to describe it, but it feels like my future stretching out in front of me. Like my time here, alive, is growing. And I can see it. I can see Thanksgivings and poetry nights and work achievements and friends’ birthdays and all of it, all of it mixing together, coming together. It’s coming together, right here in front of me. It takes the breath right out of me; I’m afraid to want a future like this but I want, desperately, to be around to see it. Maybe the best way to explain hope is being able to see yourself in the future, for time being both finite and boundless, and you, beautiful you, come undone and ever eager for more, still here. Still here.

 

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The Weight of Things

Rejection is tied to me

like my footsteps.

I’m used to the fall of being unwanted,

by employers and girlfriends and

mothers and presidents.

 

No

is simply gravity.

All around me,

soundlessly anchoring me to the ground.

I am earthbound in desire.

 

Is there a name

for being not yet

six feet under?

Just marked

by the mud of it all.

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modern dating sucks tbh

first girl made me her fool

second girl made me her secret

third girl made me her side chick


in the dark i am a collector of shame, something stable they

like to hang their hearts around when

it’s convenient, and leave when the tide comes in, see

how the moon lights me up, makes a shiny thing

of all these turned cheeks, isn’t it just the way of things, how

the broken glitter better


today

over drinks with my friends —

i swear i am nobody’s rag doll,

on the train ride home —

nobody’s second choice,

at dinner —

nobody’s garbage to be thrown out again and again

today

i am nobody’s

and other things a

bad bitch would say


somewhere in the sea

there’s a pile of trash the size of

texas and i have never identified so much/at all

with texas than in thinking

of what it’s like to be the total sum of

what all these hands have discarded, to be

what has remained, floating and at the will of nothing i can control.


and really

this is just to say

fucking recycle.

and treat people well.

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Homophobia is sly AF

So I’ve been casually dating this girl who isn’t entirely out to friends, family, and colleagues (understandably so). Recently, we were supposed to go on this date to a cool event that was like three or four hours long. I was really looking forward to it, but was tentative as I have been the whole time I’ve been seeing her. It really is not a good feeling to be somebody’s secret, something they’re ashamed of. As much as you try to understand and support them, it’s still pretty erasing and painful for you, too. Anyway, so right before going to this event she texted me that her friends were going too so she told them she was bringing a work colleague from her tech company. I immediately felt anger overwhelm me and heard this resounding “NO” inside me. “How dare you?” I said out loud to myself. I did not want someone to make a liar out of me. At first I thought I couldn’t imagine sitting there, for four hours, having to lie about literally everything about me — my job, my identity, who I was to her, my interests, what I studied, my friends, my family. I might as well have taken on an alias at that point. But the sad thing is, I could imagine it. Because I’ve done it before, made up imaginary straight lives I didn’t really exist in to make other people comfortable since I was a child. Which, let me pause and say that I am willing to do that whole-heartedly in a situation in which I’m in love with someone, committed to them, and, most importantly, have agency around when and how I decide to do that. But in this case, I had no agency, no choice.

I thought back to one of our dates, how she kissed me confidently and quietly on the sidewalk. We sat down on a bench outside some restaurant, the quiet clamor of dishes and laughter in the background of that moment. I tried, desperately, to enjoy it. But I just didn’t. I didn’t because I was completely in my head the whole time, wondering if the people walking by were disgusted by seeing two women kiss, if the group at the restaurant set their beers down, disturbed. I was so surprised at myself about this, because I’m not one to be embarrassed about PDA. And again, later, as I settled into my Uber after she kissed me goodbye on the corner, my mind immediately shifted to the driver and his thoughts on that exchange, wondering if I was safe. Each passing second, a knot growing in my chest, my breath quickening, my awareness heightening, like my heart was training for the Boston Marathon and just now realized it was a fucking horrible idea.

And it’s this feeling in my chest, like I was running, that returned to me when I got that text.

Shame is a dangerous emotion — it only duplicates and duplicates until there is no space left for you to exist in with your shame there with you. And being around someone else’s can be toxic. I realized, then, how quickly I let shame in, and then I’d begun to feel ashamed about my shame. Homophobia is one slick motherfucker, and it struck me how easily it snuck itself into my very body, as such a proud person. Made me feel like I had to run away from myself, split in half, choose which parts to bring with me and which to leave behind. I don’t want to leave any of myself behind.

I have never identified with the coming out narrative. But I do identify with the feeling of people trying to force me into a closet I’ve never been in, building a cage around me, covering me up until I’m invisible. I’ve been thinking back, now, on all the times I’ve lied about my identity and my family — in the backs of soccer moms’ vans, in classrooms, on barstools, at work, first greetings, and car rides.

These days, I try really hard to live an authentic, honest, and proud life, and I never want to put myself in a position where the things that define me are compromised. For anyone. I try to transcend every facade I gravitate towards. I’m scared that the things I run away from will consume me.

How many times can I tell a lie before I become it?

If I shout out who I am does it make me more real? Safer? Stronger?

I’m not sure. But I refuse to live again in the moment my mouth closes and my eyes look away. I want to exist forever in the feeling of looking someone in the eye, as nothing but my whole self.

And I hope I can get there; I hope I can bring people along with me into that. It was easy for me to break things off with her for good, but harder for me to have said no to someone, even once. I hope, maybe, that that’s how it starts. Simply, by saying no.

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what wrestling taught me

My brother and I used to play like we were WWE wrestlers,

and that’s not a metaphor. The majority of the memories I have

of my brother are when we were children, and not yet monsters.

Friday night meant watching large, sweaty men perform hyper-masculinity

in a spring board ring with Nick. Everything about it was

overdramatized and terrible and I fucking loved it

in a way that shocks me to this day. We’d sit there, mesmerized

in the glow of the television, hoping our favorites

would be pinned against lesser men under the bright lights.

My mama used to think I only watched it

because it meant my big brother thought I was cool as he quietly

and not so quietly shifted into puberty, but

to be honest, I liked it. I liked seeing violence and having a name for it,

for violence to be black and white, to be able to see it coming, brace for it,

and leave it behind in the space between the taut ropes. Nick and I

would play wrestle in his bedroom when we had nothing

but our boredom and abandonment to keep us together.

His signature move was what he called the “steam roller”

in which he would throw me on the ground and literally lay

his 200 pound body on top of me and roll back and forth,

stopping only as he steam-rolled across my lungs,

there was something in him that liked stealing the breath out

the women in our family, and I’d be caught dead before I’d tap out.

Even then, this is how I thought about power — the strength to withstand

the sum total of all your pain, even as it crushes you.

The more pain I could tolerate, the more powerful I felt.

I don’t watch the wrestling anymore but I still have an affliction with

tapping out. Sometimes, I feel like I am in that ring, my body slamming

into the sweat stained floor, the brittle ropes cupping my spine,

springing me helplessly and heavily into all the fists the world clenches

against me. And I pride myself on being able to take it,

for all the teeth I’ve lost along the way, for never tapping out, not yet.

It’s possible, yes, that I think myself a heavy weight champion,

contending against life, if life were a hairy, cocky, grunting man

in unfortunate spandex, which I think is an accurate description of life,

while the world just sees another body crushed under the rubble, but

maybe that’s how power looks, anyway,

not a balled fist, held valiant in the air, but a woman

pinned under the weight of everything

with a ribcage that can sustain the pressure of whole societies,

breathing, saying, not yet, motherfucker,

not yet.

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self control // frank ocean

tonight i felt the us of you and me breathe again

for the first time in a long time

& i know i should be outraged and keeping my distance but

it just felt like breathing and i don’t know how to call that wrong

even though

//  i know you got someone comin

how many times can you come back for me

just to leave me in the same place

// i know you gotta leave

keep telling yourself

// it’s nothing, it’s nothing

i have to believe

// now and then you miss it

don’t you remember how

// i made you lose your self control

and now here i am, hangin on your words

// you made me lose my self control

i can still hear your laugh; it always sounds like applause

// wish i was there

i want to know what rhythm lives in you these days

when was the last time you opened the curtain of yourself

// some nights you dance with tears in your eyes

i can see you, no matter how many rows back you seat me

i’ll keep a place for you

// keep a place for me

// for me

// keep a place for me

// for me

 

 

 

 

 

(// lyrics from Frank Ocean’s “Self Control”)

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Coming Home / 20something Problems

So, I’m back in Boston. And it feels SO WEIRD. But also so good. In a way it’s like coming home, and in others it’s like being in a completely new place. To be honest, I’ve been avoiding downtown and some of my old spots for fear of the overwhelming nostalgia and mixed emotions of memories this city holds for me, but something is telling me it’s not going to be as intense as I may imagine. It’s bizarre, but most of the time when people talk about college and how it used to be and the things we used to do, I feel like I can’t even remember it. Like it is just so, so far from my consciousness, the mindset, the details, just out of reach of my fingertips.

And it’s strange to be back in a place where so much has changed, and yet nothing has changed. To see people and communities of people I know or used to know who all stayed, continued on here after college, shifting into jobs and apartments and relationships so laterally, seemingly so easily and comfortably when I feel like everything I’ve done has been on such a steep ass incline. I don’t regret it, but sometimes I look at them and wonder why the fuck I’m always doing this to myself and choosing strife, choosing the jump, the heat of the fire.

I often still find it really difficult to relate to people, even friends. I feel I am forever marked by being ‘the one who left.’ Or maybe that’s all in my head, but I feel such a distance at times I wonder where it’s all coming from and if it will ever shrink. For a while I just thought it was from the time that passed while I was in Spain (and New York for that matter), from my own bitterness for having been forgotten and left behind in a lot of ways, things that would be mended with time. Some of it has and some of it has not.

Sometimes being here feels like seeing who I could have become, but didn’t. It feels sad, but mostly evokes a feeling of deep envy for the comfort, security, ease, and ‘loving relationships’ so many people here seem to have. Maybe that’s just part of this whole coming of age thing — mourning all the worlds you don’t get to exist in, all the versions of yourself you can’t possibly be but can still see. After all, the most common loss is of the self. Maybe finding out who you are is just as much about finding out who you are not. And you don’t always get to decide which is which, but you do get to decide how you wake to every morning you have here.

Because of my year in Spain and then my year in New York City, rebuilding my life over and over, and learning how to be relatively completely alone for most of it, it’s becoming more and more apparent how I’ve changed, how my values have shifted, my perspectives and perceptions of life and people have evolved. Not only are those things often at odds with this culture but what’s more, is many of the people I see haven’t changed or grown much, are unwilling to see things from a different perspective, to think about what really matters in life, are unhappy but never change anything, numb themselves, and create public and private facades. And this is another kind of alone for me. One I am getting very used to.

And this isn’t to say I’ve got it all figured out, because I certainly don’t. I struggle with fear and doubt and resounding sadness more often than I’d like. But then again we weren’t wired for happiness, we were wired for survival. Happiness was just an afterthought. And I can say I’m surviving pretty well.

While much of the time I feel stuck and controlled by life’s catastrophes and really really generous helpings of shit I seem to get, I’ve also seen how many things are malleable, that sometimes, not always, but sometimes, I can choose. And I’ve made lots of choices the past few years. I’ve moved across the world, come back, moved to a new city and rebuilt my life a few times over, cycled through countless jobs and various hustles, put my time and energy into a handful of different endeavors and adventures and efforts. I haven’t been held back by relationships or by myself. I’ve done many of the things I never thought I could do, what I thought was only for other people. And I don’t worry so much about being alone anymore.

Because I guess I can’t say no one really cares about me. That I’m completely alone. I always have my back and look out for me. My best friend is myself. And yeah it sucks and I hope it isn’t always like that, but bless the fact that I’ve got me. Being on my own has made me who I am now. I hope my life fills with love and connection and joy. But it’s good to know I can have that and lose it all and still survive. I know that. And that’s powerful, albeit dark. But anything can happen. Because the world doesn’t give a crap about your shitty or wonderful life. The world doesn’t have feelings. We give the world feelings, perceive it with our own selfish projections. The world is a fact. And we are an opinion.

In my opinion, I’m just trying my best. In my opinion, I am good and honest and kind. In my opinion, that counts for something. In my opinion, I’m always gonna give this my best shot.

I want to live a life in which I am thankful for all the trauma and heartbreak and losses because it has made me exactly who I am.

I want to greet experiences that banish the storm in me.

I want to welcome the sun with deep knowledge of darkness.

I want to live.

And it is the quietest victory. It is the light glowing between the leaves, falling on every terrible and magnificent crevice of the earth around me as if it is all romantic and meaningful just the same. Despite what I assign it today — my grief or my glory. It just is. I still am. And that is enough for now.

 

(hope I don’t sounds like a total jerk in this)

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last year // next year

When I think about what this past year was I think:

the evolution of me crying in public: while I hide it and casually look out the bus window; on the subway avoiding eye contact; me straight up weeping on the sidewalk as I push through the line for Halal Guys without a single fuck about who sees me, listening to Bon Iver in the bath on dark winter evenings, lots of take out, even more podcasts, perfecting my fast walk, complete isolation, slowly being overcome with an old darkness and crawling back out of it, clarity, debilitating loneliness, overwhelming possibility, humid subway stations and the smell of urine, rats, more rats, trash, a million things I’ve never seen, fashion inspiration, hearing different languages everyday, hating New York, loving New York, hating New York, loving New York, claustrophobia, getting outrageously angry on commutes, the best food, cement everything, shedding and pushing away so much shit that does not matter, inspiration, wonder, being deep in my head everyday, so many events, avoiding my bank account, pulling away from everyone and everything, no one coming after me, independence, knowing myself thoroughly, reprioritizing, doing everything by and for myself, getting let down, exhaustion, about every single thing feeling like a struggle, floundering, making my own, bewilderment, panic, feeling both the pulse and the hardness and marveling at it all

When I think about what I want this next year to be I think:

coming home while also starting new, getting back to feeling like myself, being better, being more at peace, laying down in the grass and staring at the sky, breathing deeply, practicing gratitude, autumn breezes and fall foliage, old memories surfacing and swallowing them back down, leaning into the discomfort of changes I didn’t want, finding pride in loss, a quieter chest,  sunsets, nature, a slower pace, teaching myself how to bake, making new and interesting foods no matter how long it takes, learning new things for the sake of it, resisting consumerism and comparison, writing regularly, throwing myself into every possible manifestation of art, traveling, telling people how I feel and being more forthcoming about my thoughts and struggles (not just on my blog), letting go, being less easy for other people to ‘handle’, finding people to look me in the eyes and really see me, comfortable silences, human touch, being a more thoughtful and caring friend, showing up, being less jealous of other peoples’ intimate relationships and happiness, less envious of friends’ successes, saying yes more, getting out of the habit of hiding myself away and closing my mouth, presence, long walks, giving more, listening better, being in touch with my body, preservation, putting my mind and time into my goals, accountability, curiosity, cutting out things that don’t matter, dedication, calling things by their name, being more imaginative, finding a new perspective on time and success, patience, discounting shame when it comes, love and love and love, god, I hope a swelling of love

 

See ya soon, Boston.

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stream of consciousness from Brazil

what makes a body a tool

and what makes a body music?

what makes a dream

different than a pulse, when a dream

is just looking desire in the mirror

of morning light? what makes the unknown dark

and yet not exactly night? what makes you right

or me right when we all live from different centers?

and what’s left after it all?

what if the answers are inside all the kids

we silence? and what if God was your mother

this whole time? I don’t know much for certain, but

I’ve seen some things. the only thing I know I want

is everything. and isn’t it enough just to want?

maybe it’s foolish

to still care about things that don’t care about you

like an ex-lover

or a country

but I like the way I look

with my heart always pressed up against my skin

trying to escape. sometimes, breaking free and coming home

are the same thing,

they’re always the same thing.

what if my body is a tool and also music?

what if we can be practical and magical

at the same time?

what if this is all just symphony?

what would our song say?

and is anyone listening to it?

or does that even matter?

what if life is just a practice in listening?

to each other.

to ourselves.

what if that is the most useful and musical thing

we could do? my body

is a tool and

my body is music.

I walk with pain and dreams, steady as heartbeat,

necessary as bass drum, trying

to find love in the melody

of everything.

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my uncanny ability to run into everyone I never want to see again

Nothing good ever happens to me on the 6 train / and today is no different / coming back from the doctor / I happen to catch the same train / the same car / and sit directly across / from you / girl who ghosted me on Bumble / And that is the great irony of New York / one of the most populated cities in the world / and yet somehow so small / like the suburbs I ran away from in Connecticut / faster than I run from the rats near the 6 / and speaking of running away / hello again bumble girl / I’d like to say you didn’t see me / but you did / raised your eyes from your book / just once / and looked directly at me / for a time that lasted less than a heartbeat / I don’t exist in the hearts around me anymore / just float / somewhere between passing time and / all the skin I don’t touch / invisible / forgotten / It’s funny really / that they call it ghosting / when here I am / realist ghost of them all / feel like I could walk right through these concrete store fronts / Maybe the doctor will call me back / concerned about all this inexplicable gray matter I call / a body / this exhale I call / a heart / Maybe Casper had a sister and / plot twist / she’s me / Maybe running in to you on the train is a metaphor / because truly bumble girl / I don’t know what could fuck my day up more / you / or the MTA / Jokes / it’s def the MTA / I’m lying / anyway / I only talked to you then because I was bored / and you were pretty / I can see it still / your carefully sculpted eyebrows / the pigment of your lipstick / But I’m flatlining / This doesn’t even deserve / to be a poem / I guess I’m still bored / I’m not a ghost / I’m just a gay girl / I’m not a ghost / I’m just a femme girl / waiting / to be seen