My roommates and I don’t talk much, but sometimes we give each other important advice.

“Fuck,” I say. “My friend’s dad just died last night. I’m meeting him for coffee, and I– well, I know there’s nothing I can say. Fuck.”

He stares at me, concerned and apathetic all at once. Our lives are irrevocably separate beasts.

“Just… let them do all the talking, okay?” Turns to go. Stops. Turns back. “And buy the coffee.”

.

Buy the coffee, I repeat to myself on the long walk to the cafe.

Un.

The truth? The truth is that someone asking for truth isn’t likely to find it here. The outside has never matched the inside; or if it has, it’s been a rare, fleeting occurrence, concurrent with drunken lushness, a full red mouth, and mussed wild hair. I’ve always been more feral than I appear. So much less prim and proper, inner self defined by the mousy carriage, the sensible set of jaw, the sensitive imploring eyes.

It’s been a long quest to make the outsides match. I want comfy black yoga pants instead of ridiculous yellow pajamas studded with rainbow deers. I wear what comes my way because I am not picky–but is it such a crime to want to look the way I feel?

The person I look like doesn’t write the things I need to say. She can’t talk about the abuse and horrors she’s suffered; sometimes she doesn’t even think they were real. Or that she’s real. She thinks everything she loves and cares about may be some sort of construct. She’s afraid that she’ll die near constantly, but she doesn’t ever think it’ll actually happen. Her death is a room in a haunted house, a scene in a horror flick. A frightening possibility, but a remote one. One meant to scare.

The person I look like is afraid of what others might think of her insides. Her black lips and colored hair. Her odd clothing, the shit that she writes. “Who do you think you are?” Has never been able to be met with “Fuck you. Whoever I want to be.” She’s afraid they’ll think she’s a fraud. She thinks she might be a fraud, so there’s that. Who’ll believe if she doesn’t?

Her friends don’t believe, do they? Not anymore. She pushes them all away, and the thought scares her and doesn’t. Sometimes she finds it satisfying, bares her teeth and licks her paws. Sometimes she likes it (and that’s the scariest part of all).

Why I Feel Uncomfortable in Hipster Spaces

My partner made a joke the other day, about me not being “fancy.” I played at offended, laughed, but secretly thought he was wrong. After all, I love period fantasy and dresses. I’m all about sleek, slippery satin, and my taste in decor, to quote a friend, runs toward “a mix between sex dungeon and opium den.” Opulence and warmth is beautiful to me.

And yet, I’m most comfortable in worn t-shirts, roomy jeans, and big sweaters. And yet I think $1 is a reasonable amount to pay for clothing, and anything less is unheard of ($25 for a dress?! And my love reminds me that this is cheap.) Oh my, oh my.

So now I’m sitting in a cafe recommended to me by a friend and feeling… uncomfortable. I hope I’m never comfortable with paying $4 for a cup of coffee, even if I have the money for it. I’d rather have adventures. I love snakes and critters, muddy toes and sunshine. You can take the girl out of Hawaii, but…

Kitchy, well-heeled hipsters and minimalist mod architecture freaks me out. Give me elegance and warm color, wood and fur, silk and plants. Mulder and Scully on the TV and a mess to clean up later.

More Snake than Critter

I’ve been the absent gardener yet again. It’s a bad habit, I know, I know. Disappearing from the world, but I haven’t; I’ve been jumping into the pool with both feet, into freelancing (and it’s a ride.) It feels like the most natural thing I’ve ever done, and also so surreal at the same time.

Self-employment is turning me into quite the lion.

And yet I feel weak tonight, apt to crumble like brown sugar from the slightest temptation. More snake than lion, and it is Friday the 13th, isn’t it?

I had a dream not so long ago, that I got a 13 tattoo on a Friday like this one. I’m sick, so not this time. But maybe next time. I’ve come up with the comeback to the tired old anti-tattoo remark that “You wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley.”

…To that I say, “No, but the Sistine Chapel wouldn’t be half as breathtaking without Michelangelo’s work gracing its ceiling.”

I’ve been percolating poems. Dark, barbed little things. I’ll try not to vanish on you again, you wonderful readers who stick around for all of this.

Sleepy Writer in the House of Men

She came down the stairs, bare feet padding on the dusty hardwood. Her hair was a tangled mess that fell around her shoulders like a mouse-frizz halo.

His mouth dried up when he saw her. She quirked one side of her terracotta lips up in acknowledgement. It wasn’t a smile— it was what a smile would be with all the effort drained out of it.

She wore a too-big men’s white T,  worn and just a little grayed. It hit her legs just below her shapely buttocks, and he noticed. Oh, he noticed. He swallowed hard, and she caught him staring.

“I don’t need to be decent: it’s my house.” Deadpan and dead-on as a mind reader.

He quickly averted his eyes, returning to the conversation at hand. They were talking business, after all. Business in his friend’s living room.

His eyes flicked back to her when she emerged from the kitchen a few minutes later, steaming mug in hand. She yawned like a cat, indolent and unapologetic for rising disheveled from sleep at 2 in the afternoon.

He caught a glimpse of a tattoo on her arm as she passed— the barest hint of a spiked, scaled tail peeked out from below one sleeve, curled intimately around her arm.

Choosing happiness

“Choosing happiness,” “Creating our own realities”… These phrases get thrown around a lot in certain circles. I’m not convinced that they’re wrong, but I’m not ready to say that I believe in them either. At the same time, I find myself echoing these platitudes in my own life, through my actions. Living it out without consciously meaning to.

It’s choosing “Coconut Girl” over listening to one more round of the Avett Brothers. It’s listening to T-Pain’s “Up Down” (yeah, yeah, go on; judge me) instead of Bon Iver’s cover of “Coming Down.” I used to dwell on my sadness, wallow in it. Sorrowful songs were just another way down the rabbit hole.

I’m still not sure I had a choice to do it any other way. Depression is a bear of an illness, and I have no judgments for my younger self. No condemnation or reproach. You can’t bootstrap yourself out of mental malady.

And yet, I’m so grateful that I’ve found a different way these days. I seem to have developed a natural aversion to the things that upset me. Does that sound crazy? Is that just how humans usually are, fresh off the lot and out of the womb? Because it feels like a revelation to me, a wild wonderful innovation, that I can choose the other door. Take the flowers instead of the thorns.

I can put down the things that burn me and grab a cool drink instead. It’s blissful.

 

Wolves look like sheep look like wolves.

I’ve been pulling so many poems from my old files. I submitted this one to the WriteAHouse residency last year.  They passed over my application, so I’m glad I can share it with you now:


 

1.
When I was a child, still suckling on honey and God,
I tasted my own tears and called it Nirvana.
Thought I learned about life when all I learned was the taste of my own snot and disappointment
I pulled the wool over my own eyes over and over again,
and then grieved for the darkness
and named it Loss.

 

2.
I have had experience with love, with
this kind of love.
I’ve loved men who growled like wolves in the night,
turning shuddering away from my embrace
I’ve loved men who were
more bird than man,
flying, refusing to be caged by commitment
or monogamy,
or singularity of place.
Freedom that I wished to taste.

It took me years to realize
it was the freedom I loved.
The men were just
something I could wrap my arms around.

 

3.
(I’m the wolf that killed the sheep,
burned the barn down after it got dark.)