Marie Kondo

I do not have the words for us. When I wake up in the middle of the night, it is my brain searching for the words. Surely, now, in the dark and the quiet of the nights, I can put them together. Sort it out. I can quiet this ache, no, this hum in my chest. You make everything hum. You are not the storm, you are the pulse of energy that sweeps the yard before the storm. (I am the storm.) I know that you are coming but that does not feel the same as when I am overcome.  

I think about how I ask you questions I already know the answer to out of respect for you. I should not presume to know. But then you jab back at me, like I should know. Like you shouldn’t have to answer. Like I am wasting our time. I should stop poking at you, but I keep doing it. It is a weird, validating game for me. I know how you think. Not what but how. There is not a word for our dynamic of obvious question asking and answering. 

You walked in, and I felt joy. You bring joy to my life. I did not know what joy felt like before. You are here and here is joy and what a lot that is to feel. 

I’m awake trying to find better words than this, but this is all that keeps circling, so I write it down. I tell myself this might not be what I expected but these are feelings. They work this way. This is a way of being in the world. This is something you might not be able to parse out and name. Because it is whole, complex. It has developing flavors. 

Silent night

These things may never fit together, or make sense, but that doesn’t mean they will stop happening. 

It’s Christmas Eve, do you know where your children are?
I’m on the couch in front of the fireplace eating cheese quesadillas and drinking reheated coffee I made in my roommate’s chemex. I don’t have any cholula, but I supplement with my roommate’s srirchacha. My mouth is hot from the spice and then another hot from the coffee. A Christmas Alone– finally the Christmas I’ve been working for, dreaming of. No gifts to buy or wrap, no new traditions to learn or practice, no shitty food to pretend to enjoy. None of that weird dread hanging in the air–will this be the year that…?

Instead I sit on the couch, watching The Fits. I shoveled snow three times yesterday. Whoever decided to to snow blow the block at 2am had an easier time of it. This house is one of the best things to happen to me this year. I braved the snowstorm last night–big, wet flakes. I drove to Cafe Chanson, a place that feels more like mine with each time I post up at the bar. Rebecca voiced relief at my arrival. My memory is fuzzy, after 1 then 2 Oktoberfests and a shot of whiskey with Rebecca. She shared her burger with me and the fries were crunchy and delicious. Aaron the chef came out eventually and sat with me. He seemed tired, agitated. I had moments to myself at the bar, watching the others, watching the keyboardist, watching Rebecca serve drinks and dish it back to the patrons. I have all this time to myself. I answer my housemate’s text in between comments to Rebecca and Aaron. I drive home in the snow and leave my things willy nilly around the house. My phone on the tortillas. My keys on the bench. My rugelach in my jacket pocket. It feels so good to be alone. Alone in the house, alone in the world.


My life has collided with a record-breaking number of others this year. At the end of the year, I think about all twelve months. It does not matter if there is a cycle to life or if we recognize it.

I drink to soften my mouth.

I’m drunk, and it’s the middle of the day. Two and a half years in Wisconsin, and I have finally discovered my preferred old fashioned. It is warm in my chest, even with the ice, and the brandy seems to complement the sunshine.

There are places more familiar to me than this, but this is the first to feel like my own. My mouth is the softest now. I drive myself home.

It’s 63 degrees inside. The thermostat does not recognize my body in the house. I flip the switch on the gas fireplace. The brandy continues to seep into my veins. I morph from soft and warm to unfocused and antsy. I form ridges where there were rivers. In this new state the dishes get washed. The trash gets sorted from the recycling. I clear the surfaces to make space for the waning afternoon sunlight.

I chug sparkling water in a quest for my equilibrium.

It’s quiet in the house. My house. I run my palms along the banister. My feet search the floorboards. I watch the cobwebs in my room. I can smell the gas from the fireplace.

My senses spell out Wisconsin.

The inebriation results in detachment. I feel like my shadow has detached from my body. I run my hands through my hair–searching for groundedness. Although I’m home and standing still, my brain is overcome by the intoxication. I curl up on the couch and let myself give in to sleep.

I dream. I dream of everything. My dreams take on reality. I wake without distinction between dream and memory. My dreams clear the brandy from my veins. Sober now and the house seems fuller. I feel a little more familiar to myself. Reattached to my context. I’ve found the perfect house for all the rooms.

Aren’t you grateful that despite everything–the world can still offer up something strange and unknown? That there are still things to make sense of. Still things to write about. We collide and carry little pieces of each other away. Like ants in a line. Everything back to the queen.

I was born into lines–into boundaries–and I had them well charted. “The boundary’s been moved.” 2016 was the year I lost sight of the borderlands. What else will collide? The boundaries became semipermeable membranes. 2016 was the year of osmosis.

To have solitude

Between Solitude and Loneliness

When James Wright Cheered up a Lonely Poet (With Bananas)


  • Exhibit A: “Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. ”
  • And here is B: “What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours — that is what you must be able to attain.”

My sister showed me a picture of you. Isn’t that funny–how we can do that now. Here is a person you used to know. Living without you. Living beyond you.

I smiled. I found reassurance in the smile on your face and was reminded I did the right thing. It’s been 9 years since I sat in the shadows of the mountains and wondered what would be the right thing; 5 1/2 since I determined the right thing. We were alone together, but it was never solitude. I could create an aloneness which you could not follow. I could be out of reach in the next room, in the same chair, with my back to you in the bed. It was loneliness which crept in while you played video games late into the night. While I drove home in the snow. The loneliness I was escaping when I followed another to the bar, when I sat with another in the car and felt my day fall out of me. We got it so confused. We are better off for it. Well, I am.

A sun but no warmth

I don’t know if you are trying to help yourself or help the world. I forgive you.

“Strike a match. Remember you can make fire.”

“The larger the world gets, the harder it is to see yourself truly. There are ways to know yourself in relation to the forests and the sky, and ways to know yourself in relation to the baby you were once. Remember this, and you can move forward again.”

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Things I learned from R

It’s generally regarded as a rule of thumb that when you’re writing about ‘true’ things, you do not include the person’s name of whom you’re describing.


I’m gonna disregard that.

A student first informed me of Reg’s existence. The student didn’t say the right things. I didn’t have enough motivation to seek out this person known as Reg. Two years later I am told Reg will be moving in with me, and I think, there are probably worse things.

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I wish we talked about this more: The Forgotten History of Chinese Immigrants in this Mexican border town

When I’m abroad, I’m sometimes struck by the lack of diversity of places. The lack of miscegenation; the lack of heterogeneity. We take for granted the variety of shades and voices that live dispersed in the U.S.

I’m a mixed bag of people. My ancestors share and deviate from cultural bases. In Ireland, I was struck by the very few number of non-white seeming people I saw. I remember running into a person of Asian heritage in Sligo and feeling like, oh, yes. A moment of dissonance as I remembered.

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