1. I resist, too, a limited definition of risk, of emotional intensity, that implies a ‘domesticated’ life is a bland life–that marriage and motherhood is equivalent to giving up the burn. Because there is no greater risk than loving something more than you love yourself, be it a political cause or a child. I can promise all the young, wild people out there that living a life of intensity does not end when you stop going home with strange men, stop snorting coke in the bathroom of the club, stop starving or cutting yourself, stop sleeping on the floor of the overnight train or ferry on which nobody speaks English, stop living in the squat, stop letting somebody tie you up who probably shouldn’t be trusted to drive a golf cart. I can promise that self-destruction or partying or adventure is but the surface of risk, and that bigger risks happen later, when you have more than your own body on the line and still dare not to numb out and cloister yourself inward to maintain the illusion of safety.
  2. Things that alleviate migraines; on the third day you compile a list.

    Long hot showers.

    Dark cool rooms.

    Calling in sick, especially if you break out into gaspy, uncontrollable sobs on that call, terrifying both you and your boss.

    Turning off your phone.

    Listening to Terry Gross.


    Aspirin? Results somewhat unclear.

    Gasping and sobbing into your palms for no predetermined acceptable amount of time.

    Having a person you can call who will not be terrified by your heavy crying? Have not yet tried, imagine it would very much help.

    Admitting that sometimes our blinding physical pain is mostly mental pain and sometimes that makes it hurt even worse.

    Warm thick soup and hearty bread.

    Bringing your knees into your chest and holding on tight.

    Repeating: everything is going to be fine.

    Repeating: this is not a panic attack. (May very well be a panic attack).

    Not standing up to quickly or perhaps at all.

    Down dog when it feels safe.

    Staring off into space when the colors behind your eyelids become too overwhelming.

    Soft light blankets.

    Soft loose clothes, better yet, no clothes.

    Sitting on the edge of the tub, elbows on knees, head in palms.

    An eye mask, a thick fabric headband works equally well.

    A quiet mind? Have not yet achieved, imagine it would work wonders.

    Once the migraine has passed, transportation rejuvenates, mostly empty trains are magic, driving on an open road is good. 

  3. I said it out loud so I knew it was no longer taking up space inside me. I knew it was no longer a secret I needed to keep. I knew it would no longer be true. 

  4. How to find happiness: 1. Think of where you last saw it. 2. See if it’s still there.
  5. Can someone please explain to me how women memorize their beauty routines? What bribe do they use to get themselves to take their make up off each night? How do they keep track of what all the different acids do? How do they remember to use body brushes dry and pumice stones wet? How do they remember to dry their face before warming the exfoliator between their hands and rubbing with their finger tips for 30 seconds and their palms for 20 seconds and rinsing before using the glycolic acid wash and rinsing again and patting dry before using a serum? How do they know what the fuck a serum is? How do they distinguish it from moisturizer? From lotion? Do they have a special tool to reach their backs? How did they know to start shunning sulfates? How did they know to put crushed aspirin on blemishes? How many of them are actually oil pulling? How do they make sure to only use a body brush 2-3 times per week so they don’t lose all their skin? How do they make sure to only use shampoo 1-2 times per week so they don’t lose all their hair? Do you think any of them have those childhood chore charts and gold star stickers to help them keep track? I could really use the incentive of some gold star stickers. Can someone who has this down please send me a starter kit? Is there an app for that?

  6. Jubiläum

    Today marks 2 years in this city. Today I will lounge on my best friend’s roof and try not to think about her leaving the city in a couple weeks. It seems like a lot of friends picked up and left this summer. For big things: grad school and new jobs. Big, next level things. Friday after work, I bought myself a new book and a strawberry ice cream cone to eat on the walk home. New York and I get along just fine. September 1st has always seemed much more suited to resolutions to me than January 1st.  Early fall has always felt much more like rebirth to me than early Spring. September through December is my favorite anywhere, but especially here. Last week’s Madame Clairevoyant said: This is a week for letting go of what makes you feel small, it’s a week for letting go of what makes you feel less alive. Worlds can end this week and it will not be the worst thing. Whole worlds can end this week, and you’ll be surprised at all the space that opens up to you. You can say no to so many of the thoughts that crowd inside you. You can say no to so many small cruelties. You can create so much clear bright space inside yourself that you almost start to glow. Here’s to that! All.Fall.Long.

    In three weeks it will be 20 years of survivorship for my mother. I’m not quite sure how she counts. It may be from the day she received the 1st diagnosis. The day she started proving doctors wrong. I may be more likely to count it from the day hospitals stopped being a regular part of our lives, and that is closer to 10 years ago, but boy does that discount much of the work. I’ll mark it in whichever way she likes. My mother’s Italian/Irish/Catholic roots are strong. In three weeks a mass will be said honoring her life. “I hope the priest remembers to say in life rather than in memoriam,” she said over the phone. “You can remind him,” I said. If I were home with my parents I would surely remind him. I don’t always understand my mother’s deep commitment to the Catholic Church, especially when measured alongside her beliefs in Eastern Medicine, Homeopathy, Yoga, Buddhist Meditation, Feminism, Montessori Education, etc. and so forth, but I am also perhaps guilty of not treating my mother with the complexity she deserves. Sometime in my Montessori middle school I told my mother I would no longer be going to church. The fall out was not particularly graceful on either side. I was disowning something so basic to her being, something she believes kept her with me here in this world, helped her avoid saying goodbye to her 4 year old baby girl, something that she and her mother bond fiercely over, something that kept my grandmother from helping my mother get ready on her wedding day because she was already 3 months pregnant, something a little feral inside her. The institution may not be for me, but whatever peace it grants my mother, I am happy to support. Getting to keep her has always been a miracle and a blessing.

    In October it will be a quarter of a century for me on this planet. A favorite professor in college used to say, “Congratulations,” on our birthdays. That‘s really the best thing someone can say. On practically any day. 

    *Like so many things, the German word for anniversary is so much better.

  7. I have a friend who wears sunglasses indoors for just a little too long when she’s been crying. It allows her an extra minute to compose and adjust and gives those around her a chance to take note and be a little more tender. It’s a habit so ingrained in her that she has a hard time imagining sunglasses inside indicating any thing other than sadness, but sometimes you just get bit by a mosquito on your brow bone in the middle of the night and wake up with a puffy and heavy eyelid and you need to give yourself the simple favor of feeling inconspicuous while walking through a crowded lobby. People do things for completely different reasons than our own. This is not a revelation, but sometimes I need someone to say it out loud. Sometimes I need to say it out loud. 

  8. The last time you were happy about nothing: the first time you were afraid about nothing. Which came first?
    — Jean Rhys
  9. We all want everything. I cannot blame him for wanting everything. Heartbreak must be people refusing to comply with your version of everything.