November 30, 2015

St. Louis.

I'll have so much to tell you about someday.

November 16, 2015

North Country Fair.

(Dan. Beacon, NY)

I went for coffee but couldn't find a seat. My eyelashes stuck together from old mascara and from the cold. I stood in the bathroom, waiting for a table to open, and shifted from foot to foot, holding the tips of my fingers underneath warm water. In church, I wept with my eyes wide open and my head in my hands; watching my tears hit the wooden floor of the back pew. From the alter, a young girl pleaded: "God, why do you allow such things to happen?"

On Thursday, Dan and I met on Ridgewood Avenue at 11:45. I got a too-big tattoo to match his: laughing at our impulsive need to document ourselves to our ourselves.

The week was pure shit. But walking home in my Michigan hat, head bent low against the wind, there was nothing left to do but laugh, count the change in my pocket, and climb the stairs to bed.

October 14, 2015

Back in Brooklyn.

I made this rule in the midst of some short-lived breakup with Z that I could never date another boy who slept in a mattress on the floor. It seemed to say so much about the priorities and stability of a person's life. Now I sleep in a mattress on the floor and it's the most settled I've been in over a year.

I guess that's what I've learned about rules.

August 11, 2015


4:50am and I sat on a suitcase in the driveway, feeling prematurely tender towards the cool mist, the low-blinking buildings, the creaking backdoor I spent four months swinging through. The cab to the bus to the airplane all came and went before sunrise, and I hardly noticed any of it. I felt a giddy, quiet sense of freedom, like I was sneaking out the door after a one-night stand.

I turned twenty-two the next day, sitting in a Waffle House in my hometown. It was 12:15, and all I could do was try to keep my eyes open.

I think back over the year, and have to laugh at all the hair-brained scheming, and the skin-of-my-teeth adventures. I've never felt such intense emotions, never cried so much, never wondered at the world with such depth.

All in all, I'm writing it off as a success. I visited four countries, lived in five different cities, made a handful of new friends that I'll cherish for years to come. I feel more at ease in my own skin, and more comfortable with living in uncertainty.

People have been asking what I'll do next and the answer is so simple: All of it.

July 29, 2015

Past the Feeling.

(L'Abri, photograph by Christena Dowsett)

Cornered by a spot of sunlight, / I sat on the back porch  / listing words that made me feel simultaneously / dead and alive.

blown, sun-choked,

July 24, 2015

Oogum Boogum.

I hesitate to call any day in Ann Arbor "good," because even in peaceful moments, I feel a deeper sadness. But it was green and yellow. It was the kind of day I spent reminding myself to inhale fully, to reserve an hour to sit in the sunshine. I know in a few months I'll miss the warmth, and regret not making the time for any heat.

I watched Blue Is The Warmest Colour in the late afternoon, smothered with light from the window by my bed. What I loved most was the physicality of Adele. She eats voraciously, with no sense of shame at her own hunger -- no need for daintiness. She fucks, she dances, she blubbers messy, snotty tears... all her sensuality and allure derives from how in her body she is.

I'm through with apologising for myself. When I'm hungry, I'll eat. No more hospital IV's, no more meetings with nutritionists after class. When I'm in love, I'll say so. No more climbing through the bedroom window when the front door is unlocked.

Last weekend, Dan and I danced barefoot in Andrew's back yard. It was the first time I'd felt like myself in months. The rest of the party stayed standing in a cluster on the concrete, snide and self-assured. I didn't care. Why deny wet grass, Duke Ellington, the glow of the porch light, the sheen of the picket fence?

I clenched and unclenched my toes against the dirt. I thought: I'd rather die than get that old and quiet inside -- like an empty room.

June 21, 2015

June Phone Log.

(Joy and I. West Michigan. April 2015)

I called my dad today.

I put my head in my hands when he said what he always says: I'm confident that you'll figure it out. You always do.

It's Father's Day and I miss him, so I couldn't yell what I wanted: I need your help! I don't want to do everything on my own anymore.

Sometime after his fourth or fifth brain surgery scare, (I must have been nineteen), (that first summer when I still couldn't eat or sleep), he climbed the steps to my room. I turned my face to the wall when he said: I don't worry about you doing the wrong thing. I worry about it being done to you.

He's always had too much faith in me. (That's a nice way of saying something else entirely.)

- -

I called my mom yesterday.

After I talk to her, I mark it on my calendar with a small blue dot.

I'd like to call her twice a week just to cry, but I don't want her to think I'm as weak as I am, so I'm keeping track. I'm only calling twice a month.

- -

Dan called from Paris. I kept quiet when he said: You gave it the old college try. You can be done now.

- -

Joy called a day later. Dan says you're sad. More sad than usual. Are you?

- -

I re-read that scene in Franny and Zooey -- that one at the very end -- when Zooey calls Franny from the other room pretending to be Buddy. Afterwards, she seemed to know just what to do next.

- -

Who is it I need to call, and who is it I need them to pretend to be?

May 26, 2015

On Decisions, Transience, and Faith.

(Dan and I, Brooklyn, Summer 2014)

I've never been very good at making decisions. A big part of this is simply that I'm a creative person, and the world is endlessly fascinating to me. My brain and my life both move quickly, and when I find myself standing still, I get bored. But I'm noticing my friends and family struggle with decision making and commitment lately, and while many of them are artists, some aren't, and they're still struggling.

There are so many options and opportunities for my generation, especially for those of us economically and socially privileged to have been born as white, middle-class Americans. It's a privilege to have choices, and one that I think every human being should have, but lately, it has also felt debilitating. For our grandparents and even our parents, the choices were simpler, and the definition of "success" more polarising and particular. Now, I can imagine and achieve so much. The world is smaller and experiences are more attainable. I'm constantly distracted not just by social media or Netflix, but by the idea of a tent in Hawaii, a commune in Canada, a train in Boston. I've always wanted an adventurous life, and I've had one. I've lived all over the country and the world, and I've been daring in my relationship with myself and with others. But I'm reaching a moment in my young adulthood where I feel trapped between the desire to continue to live adventurously, and the need to live responsibly.

The longing to create a home, to have my own space and life, is seemingly at odds with my longing to see the world. As it is, I'm stuck somewhere in between. Ann Arbor is a stop along the way for me. That would be okay if I felt that there were a destination. I've got "a stop along the way" stretching out before me without end.

Most days, I feel completely lost. But I've been taking a lot of comfort in these words from Amy Poehler: You can only move if you are actually in the moment. You have to be where you are to get where you want to go.

So, I'm practicing that. I'm taking hope in the idea that life always leads to more life. Every stop along the way is meaningful and worthwhile in its own right, but every stop along the way also propels us forward.

I would never have moved to New York for university if I hadn't done a summer internship and lived in Manhattan as a high school student. I would never have gone to Belgium four years later if I hadn't done that summer internship with the same company. I would never have gone to Canada if I hadn't read a book about L'Abri in a college class.

Life leads to more life, and I'm looking forward eagerly to what "more life" will look like in the fall.

In the meantime, here's to what life is now: a bicycle with a basket, four jobs, a front porch, an empty closet, a little homesickness, and the sweetness of learning to walk by faith.

May 21, 2015

New Things.

In my continued efforts to revamp this blog into something a bit more eclectic and inclusive, here's a bit of a personal life update.

Working here: Hobart: another literary journal
Attending this: Anne Carson and Anne Waldman
Reading this: 100 Years of Solitude
Listening to this: Lurid Glow

(Brooklyn, April 2015)

May 10, 2015

Joy - Ludington State Park, Michigan

May 8, 2015

Holland, MI.

I was right about the warm weather.

It makes all the difference to smell the grass and honeysuckle again.

Georgia had little for me. But Lake Michigan makes me miss the gulf.

Maybe its all gotten to be too much. Montauk last summer, the river in Antwerp, the canals in Amsterdam, the Seine in Paris, the briny Pacific off the coast of Vancouver. It's all beautiful, but it only makes me feel far away.

I'm rarely homesick. But this week, the thought of Savannah makes me want to cry.

How do you be in love but be apart? My feelings for the South mirror my feelings for him: heady, lazy, thick. Everything I want to leave and everything I long to return to.

I can't distinguish the line between theory and practice.

I keep taking things too far, but never finishing the task.

He was right when he said "We talk to much. We think too much." My only response was to climb out of the car and pack my bag.

I haven't unpacked since.

But the weather is warm, and Joy and I are going camping today.

If growth is happening, its happening in these simple tasks my dad never quite taught me to do: chopping fire wood, driving the highway, pitching a tent, loving and not leaving.

April 29, 2015

A Privilege, Not A Loss.

I sat in the kitchen at 260 Pacific Street. The open windows reminded me of last summer: that same sense of possibility, that same safeness.

I watched my favourite movie while leaning over the kitchen counter. Sometimes I just don't want to be comfortable.

Life in that city is all muscle memory now. No growth or goodness. Still, it felt good to be her again. Tall, moody, sure of it.

I've been living too many different lives too quickly. The speed is disorienting, and I find myself counting down through the past months: how many airports, how many apartments, how many friends?

But the speed is better than one life lived repeatedly. That's what keeps New Yorkers young. Nothing changes. Every season of life is exactly like the other.

But I want to be my age! It was wrong to act like a thirty year old at eighteen. I should have known better. Instead, I skipped over twelve years of my life as if it were a privilege and not a loss.

On the way back to Detroit, I had to walk myself through it.

"You are in Newark, New Jersey. You are drunk and alone at an airport bar, but you are not sad, so don't tell yourself that you are. You live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You are twenty-one years old. You are not sad. Don't tell yourself that you are." 

April 21, 2015


(Miranda July)

It felt like an intervention.

Curled tightly into the couch in a matching flannel pyjama set; wet hair, dry skin.

I clutched a crystal glass of grappa in one hand and kept the index finger of the other inside page 372. It stayed there the whole hour, saving my place, so that at the end of it all, I could return to where I was and pick up as if nothing had happened.

I've been staying quiet about it, but they know to ask. Teary-eyed, I say something like, "I'm just gonna tough it out through the summer."

(I think everything will get better when the weather gets warmer).

I'm tired of telling old stories to new people. The experiences like some sort of bartering chip: I'll trade you this anecdote for an hour of your time. I just need a friend.

I've been leaving my fingers in, thinking I'll go back.

But where will I go back to? And will the words still read the same?

March 5, 2015

New Distance.

On the second day, I got so deep into the internet I felt dizzy when I emerged. Fasting makes you hungry. My head spun.

The coffee shop played songs I'd listened to days before, driving at dusk from Athens to Atlanta. No matter how far I get, everything is the same, down to the very chords.

I looked at everyone dully. The hope to change or to be changed numbed.

It felt too lonely last night: curled in front of the wood red stove, wanting desperately to lean my head against a friendly shoulder, or to read a stanza aloud.

When we broke up, we were sitting side-by-side on a swing set.

He swung high, rattling every foundation. I turned and turned, the metal twisting into itself with a grate and squeak as my toes dug into the wet brown dirt. When I lifted my ankles, the seat spun three times. The motion repeated was violent and dizzying.

There's nothing quite like processing pain in the midst of play.

February 25, 2015

Not Dark Yet.

In the South, snow is something to celebrate.

The liquor store was packed with the kind of men who walked with their legs far apart, and looked at us too long as we laughed in the parking lot, our eyelashes and teeth cold and wet. 

Erin drove too fast, and we skidded slowly down a back road. I thought briefly of the forested trees outside the window, (wondered how it would feel to wrap metal and bone around their branches), but we adjusted and kept moving forward. 

Pounded tough limes into giant green and orange plastic cups, disguised the taste of cheap gin and drank like we were kids at a driveway hose. 

In bed, I put on the one Bob Dylan song that doesn’t make me feel like I’m listening to a Bob Dylan song

The conversation felt right. Everything has gotten simpler, and when we talk about it the pain is like a bruise and not a wound. 

She smiles about her new relationship, cracks jokes about shaving too much these days, destroying her bedroom floor trying to figure out which shoes to wear. I get serious about my endings. “I’m thankful he’s been in my life these past four years, but I’m just finally realising I deserve more. I don’t just objectively know I deserve more, I actually want it.” 

It always surprising to me how simply endings come -- how quickly your heart can be vacated by every ghost. 

Knowing I could be gone for a year, I looked at everything with more joy and more sorrow. 

Deepan angled into the corner of the bar, serious-eyed but smiling. 

My sister sleeping by her window in the morning, pink and snowy. 

My own reflection, pale and reluctantly hopeful. 

I’ll be laughing for years at the memory of Erin running down the hallway naked, a fistful of weed clutched in her palm. 

When I lean back against the grey walls, the lyrics ring in my head:  I know it looks like I’m movin’ / but I’m standin’ still. 

February 24, 2015



I decided to go to Canada.

They sent me an email yesterday, telling me the best way to reach them from the Vancouver airport is to take a bus to a bus to a ferry to a bus.... and then to hitch hike the rest of the way.

So there's that.

Truthfully, it felt good to be asked, "How long will you be gone?" and to respond, "Indefinitely."

February 16, 2015

(our window in Zaventem, Belgium)

I've been back in Georgia for a little over a week, and already, the little life I lived in Belgium seems like something that happened to another person. I used to be very good at feeling things. When life happened to me, whether by choice or by circumstance, I knew how to work through the ramifications. Meredith and I used to die laughing at our reworked version of "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better." We changed the words to "Anything You Can Feel, I Can Feel Better." I've lost track of that ability.

One thing I've learned about myself and about writers in general is that we're constantly trying to frame our reality. I need my daily life to have a story arc. Perhaps my sense of displacement isn't merely culture shock, or some reaction to the stop and start speed of my life, but rather from my inability to tie the pieces together in a coherent way.

Technically, I'm supposed to be on a flight to Vancouver in two weeks. But I'm stuck again. Trapped and not sure what, if anything, is more important in the big picture. I can stay in Atlanta and battle my way through the bleakness of it. All money and laying low and wading through relationships I should have made my mind up about years ago. Or I can run away for two weeks or a month to new people and a new place. Snow and books and bread. The choice seems clear if I look at it with my "personal fulfilment" lenses, but more complex when I attempt to be responsible.

Amy called this morning. I haven't saved her number in my phone even after 5 weeks of living together in Zaventem. But when the area code read Florida, I knew it was her. She told me she was calling to say maybe I should become a Catholic. That was her reason for calling! I laughed at the absurdity of it, but sobered up when she explained. "From what I know, they see things in black and white. It seems like that's what you're after. It seems like that's what you need."

February 12, 2015


The whole time I was in Europe, I was itching and antsy to be sharing my experiences and thoughts with you. But I kept thinking, no, that's not what this blog is for. I've been nursing this little half-secret pet-project of mine since I was sixteen. When you do something for so long, you start to think you can't change the way that you do it.

But I've been changing a lot lately. My hair, my city, my job, my relationships. Why not bundle all those changes together and throw my little blog in with the lot?

So, here's what's happening: I'll be writing more.

More frequently.
More personally.
More wholeheartedly.

It might be a flop, but I love flops. They're so delightfully undignified.

January 28, 2015

I'm headed to Paris for the first time tomorrow!

January 5, 2015


here's a fun game:

every time you think you might want to stay, leave.

(I'm in Zaventem now).