I don’t know where they come from.  I haven’t figured out what triggers them.  Maybe it’s hormones.  Maybe it’s the weather.  Maybe it’s the food I am eating, the amount of time I’m spending with other people, the skipping of a yoga session, the waking up to a phone full of things that need tending to.  Maybe it’s the weird dreams or the social media comparison game. All I know is that I hate them.

They are why, for a long time, I stopped admitting to having good days. Or saying that “I’m enjoying this season” or “feeling so healthy.”  Because then when the hard days or moments inevitably hit again, I feel naïve, I feel like I lied. Or jinxed it.  Of course, nobody thinks that just because I am doing well in the moment, that I will not struggle any more.  Only I expect that of myself.  And then only I am shocked when another wave of anxiety-sadness-existential crisis washes over me.  Nobody thinks that my words are carved in stone, that everything I say is unchangeable, accurate, timeless. Only I expect that of myself.

“Yesterday you said how much you had grown, how much you were enjoying this season, how grateful you are for the ability to pursue your own artistic endeavors.  And now today you are crying because you feel directionless and unable to cope with your emotions. How fickle. How unstable.  What a liar.”

And the spiral begins.

I know I have grown.  I know I have coping mechanisms that I didn’t have four, three, or even two years ago.  I know these emotions are temporary (even when they don’t feel that way… when it feels like I will forever be in a cycle of normalcy-depression-breakdown-normalcy-hope-depression-breakdown…) But mind knowledge and heart knowledge are two completely different things.  And in the hard moments, my heart is so much more persuasive than my mind.

Sometimes I just need a good cry. To let the toddler in me throw a tantrum and wear herself out so that when she takes a nap, my adult self can actually get shit done.  But then if my teenage self is still awake and feeling angsty, there is still another hurdle to climb.

The conversation of the day is going something like this:

Adult self: What are we going to do today? What needs to get done? What goals are we trying to accomplish?

Teenage self: Does it matter? None of the things we did yesterday made any difference.

Adult self: Of course it matters! We have bills to pay, a household to run.  We need to be functioning members of society.  Adding value to the world.

Teenager: And you think we’re doing that by making dumb illustrations and shopping guides? Self published children’s books purchased by a handful of people?  Planting basil and rosemary on the windowsill?

Adult: Our impact doesn’t have to equal that of bestselling writers, celebrities, and activists.  Why can’t you be content with more modest goals? Plus, none of those people making big impacts got to that point in a day!  They had to build up to it.  Work for it.

Teenager: Okay sure, but what are we even working towards?  You’ve just been running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to ‘produce content’ but what is that really doing?  Are you even having a small impact?  Are you bringing in enough to pay the bills? Are you happy?


Teenager: See! You don’t know what you’re doing either! You just pretend to, so that we think everything is under control! So we don’t freak out and just keep mindlessly chugging along.

Adult:  Well, maybe we need an entrepreneurship class or to reevaluate our business plan.

Teenager: We reevaluate our business plan every other day!  We’re losing the little credibility we have every time we say, ‘we’re revamping/rebranding/moving in a new direction.’

A: Well, maybe we need to find worth an purpose outside of our ‘day job.’ Let’s start volunteering or…

T: Volunteering doesn’t pay the bills!

A: Why does every conversation come back to money??

T: Because you’re always harping on making a living and paying the bills and being a functional member of society and retirement and saving for a house and future children and—

A: Okay, yes, money matters. But it isn’t everything!  There’s friendship and caring for the environment and creating beautiful things—

T: “Beautiful” things for people to consume, adding to the consumer culture that we so desperately despise, and destroying the environment that we claim to care about.

A: Well maybe we need to go work for an environmental agency then!

T: We have no skills pertaining to that.  We have a degree in architecture and design, remember. And not the type of design that lends well to infographics and marketing.

A: Well, maybe if you spent some time learning those things and actually committed to something for once…

T: This conversation is getting out of hand.

A: I wish I could write for a living.

T: See!! Neither of us know what we want or what we are doing…

A: Let’s go for a walk.

T: It’s like 18 degrees outside.

A: Indoor yoga then.

T: Fine.  …But that’s not going to make us any money.

A: But we’ll have toned thighs.

T: Ah, yes. Finally the meaning of life.


Letter I Wish I Could Send // (mature content)

(I feel like this one should include a disclaimer/trigger warning… There’s definite swearing and if you have had a traumatic sexual experience that you are still working through, maybe skip to another post.)



What is fascinating about this process of writing (and moreso, sharing) these letters, is that I can’t help but wonder if I am overreacting.  If I am being exhibitionistic. If I am oversharing. My aim is to be authentic and real.  To let you know that you are not alone. To share my process of, well, processing. Of healing. Of dealing with my emotions. Maybe the internet doesn’t need more of this.  But the internet doesn’t really need more cat videos either, and those keep popping up so…



Letter I Wish I Could Send // (mature content)

Letters I Wish I Could Send


And thus begins a new series comprised of:

Letters I wish I could send

to people from all aspects of my life.  People from the past, the present, and who knows, maybe even the future.  People who I love, who have hurt me, who I miss.  I’m going to do my best to not get too into specifics… I don’t want to slander anyone, or hurt anyone.  Just process and vent and maybe connect to some of you readers who can relate to these letters I wish, for one reason or another, that I could send.


Letters I Wish I Could Send

No Hope, No Disappointment

It’s easier to just share the highlight reel, easier to only show the happy, exciting moments.  Just like it’s easier to be cynical, easier to give up, easier not to hope for anything.  Because it’s hard to deal with disappointment.  It’s hard to fail or feel like I didn’t live up to expectations.  It’s hard for things to not go as planned.  And so I think I have had a tendency during my life toward cynicism.  I have spent a lot of time looking at the potential pitfalls and expecting the worst.  The thing is, you’d think this would make the unexpected goodness more joyful, but instead it tends to just rob the joy from the whole process.  It stunts my ability to authentically care about the things I care about and to get excited about the things for which I am hopeful.

To put this in context, months ago I found out that Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine was going to be one of the artists leading a session at Penland School of Crafts this summer.  I have wanted to learn to screenprint for quite some time now and am in love with Jay Ryan’s work (to prove this love, I can attest to having four of his prints hung in my apartment, in addition to his book on my shelf), so this news definitely caught my attention.  After looking into costs, however, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to attend without a scholarship.  I spent weeks putting together an application, choosing what to include in my work sample, and getting recommendations.  I was really excited about the possibility of learning a new skill and getting to meet other artists. Even if I didn’t get my first choice of session, I was excited about any possibility of attending Penland.

After waiting months to hear back, I got a response in the mail today.  As you can probably guess, based on what I’ve said so far, I wasn’t awarded a scholarship and thus won’t be attending Penland this summer.  After reading the rejection letter I went outside to sit and think for a while.  I found myself oscillating between emotions, trying to convince myself of apathy yet also feeling definite disappointment.  My thoughts kept returning to, “See, this is why you shouldn’t hope for things.  Getting excited just leads to disappointment.  How did you let yourself fall into that trap?  Haven’t you learned anything?”  I kept trying to tell myself, “It’s better this way anyway.  Now you won’t have to face that social anxiety, won’t have to travel, and you won’t have the chance to make a fool of yourself in front of all those other artists.”  But then something caused me to stop and looked at what was going on in my head.  And as I did this, I noticed a newfound desire within me to fight these thoughts.  I want to give myself the freedom to be upset, to feel disappointed.  I want to use this as a way of helping to gauge what I am actually passionate about, instead of pretending, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t that interested in it.  Now, of course I don’t want to dwell in the disappointment.  I don’t want to let it consume me, but I do think a healthy level of it is okay.  Especially if I can somehow use that emotion to propel me forward try again, to work harder, to keep chasing (and helping to identify) my passions.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

No Hope, No Disappointment

He said; He said.

The water of brain
in the pool of her skull
and the endless reverberations of ripples
Ad infinitum
Of a voice she never actually heard
And ever since she put pills as plugs in the drains of her eyes
There’s still two ways in and one way out
But trapped by the tongue
So no way out,

“I see no architecture here”

They said that to him too
A variant
(Why the constant connections)

“I see nothing here”

She thought he was dead
And he may be
For the emotions surely are
She killed them
Gagged them
Anything to forget them
Because they were
A constant confusion
Though it was simple,

“I see something here”

He seemed to say,
And she had been waiting,
waiting for so long
To be seen.
Not the facade fabricated,
the person of performance,
The Seen Self


a gentle thread to a
fragile whisper
of a being
so long protected
it was mistaken for myth


Seeming is dangerous,
For to seem is not to be,
And she’s always been
too trusting,
And she’s always been
too hopeful,
Blinded by her belief
in her own doubt and cynicism
and their perfidious proffer of protection
against the hurt of hope

Now left with simultaneous aches
from the words said and silent:
An ache to return and remember
and an ache to flee and forget,
She sits
wondering if she would have done anything different
had she known.


He said; He said.

On Using & Being Used

The feeling of being taken advantage of is one of my biggest triggers

Feeling used and naïve

Whether it is by a friend, a company, a professor

It reminds me of how little control I actually have

Everyone has mixed intentions, I know that

And maybe it is the reminder that I, too, have mixed intentions that bothers me so much

But it almost always comes back to that question I asked my parents all those years ago

That question I have continued to ask again and again over the years:

Are we all just God’s puppets?

Am I just a pawn?

If companies can just change how things run

“I am sorry, but those are the new rules.”

The government can just adjust the hoops that have to be jumped through

“That’s just how it is.”

What power do I really have to fight?

What can I really change or control?

Because controlling my reactions to things hasn’t really seemed to help

Controlling and containing the anger and frustration and helplessness isn’t doing much

Besides making me want to tear down ‘the system’

Break down ‘the rules’

Confront the people hiding behind ‘corporate policy’ and “there is nothing I can do”

And it’s not just those situations…

Because when I really stop to think about it those employees may feel just like I do

Helpless and powerless

Unable to respond any differently because of The Man and The Rules

They’re just doing their jobs

But what about when it is the manipulation of just one person

One boy who just wants you to “come over and go swimming”

With all sorts of ulterior desires and motives hiding under his bathing suit

What about when it is one professor who “really wants you to succeed”

With dreams of tenure and awards floating around in his brain

When it is the one girl who “would love to catch up”

But really just needs money for an upcoming mission trip


Am I just a cynic? Seeing through all the motives

Am I being selfish? Using this as an excuse to avoid what I don’t want to do

Am I being hypocritical? Because of course I am no different

Surely I, consciously and subconsciously,

Intentionally and unintentionally,

Jumble my motives

Contaminate my acts of love and friendship

With selfishness and greed


So what?

What now?




On Using & Being Used

journal / unedited grief / days 1+2



This is shock Is this shock
tingling in my limbs my fingers
that celery bad idea. it’s in my throat something coming up the vibrations in my body bring it, bringing it to the surface my legs walked me here, well, legs, were they mine? crumpled to the floor, how did I get there?  hand on mouth a sob escapes the voice still speaking. They say that’s what it’s like..speaking but not hearing. I understand now. I feel it now. Is this grief? Welling up pushing up forcing up my esophagus which is what started the problem but on the other end going the other way that started the tear the chain reaction the hospital waiting room waiting waiting but we thought they said… no but the dream… the hope… the end… the beginning…no the end “the uncomfortable truth”
“there might be other factors in motions”
I am in class and they are talking and I am here and I am not and “that’s what he says by his body”
“adjacent to, alongside, within the space”
“it’s always gonna belong to that person”
should I be in the car? on the way to roanoke? I haven’t taken my meds. Do I make food? Buy flowers? Sit here? Keep writing. I can’t breathe. My eyes are stinging.
“the disconnect between the literal action and the imaginative (?) action is so wide” / “erased them” / “bold of her to do this”

“if you let in the excess emotion you will recall the Atlantic Ocean breaking on our heads.”
“a strange reverie”
“sit down and pull together”

such a sunny day for her to die. Is that God smiling? Does God smile? Is the sun happy? Is God the sun? Where is she? Who is she? Is she being born? Is she who she was? Eternal self still self reunited, never un-united. Can a mom be a butterfly?
This isn’t actual processing because it still feels fake and I’m making the motions that seem like healthy motions because you’re supposed to process, right? You’re supposed to sit on a bench in the sun and just write about your feelings, right? Gotta do all those steps of grief quickly so you can be sturdy for everyone else… you aren’t even her daughter, she wasn’t even your mom…but yes, she was and is and…
she’s in heaven right? Celebrate right? hope right? rejoice right? death…dEATh…death…saying it enough will rid it of emotion right?


its the weight of this death
and the death of your grandfather
and the twin you did ballet with
and the glassiness of his eyes and the quiver of her lips
and the shaking of their shoulders
pressing in and down and causing the sigh
breathing is not enough
or too much
or maybe I am holding my breath
waiting for the news
because this isn’t the end
though it is
for them
no, it’s only the beginning
of the sighing, crying, goodbyeing
somewhere in us we know
we know this one
and that one
they are all were will be
and nothing
they change everything
and nothing
because life goes on
they say
tomorrow will come
they say
but what they don’t say is this weight
this weight of all you’ve loved and lost
the weight of seeing him in the wooden box
peering over the edge
your sister on tiptoe
touching his hand
standing in a room of caskets
“this one’s pretty”
watching tears shed
the weight of the dirt
and the tears
and the newly bought plot
the weight of the shuffling feet
and the “I’m so sorry”s
and the hands on shoulders, knees, arms…
the weight never really leaves
it just piles on
keeps piling
(how will the grass ever grow?)
until one day I, we won’t feel that weight anymore will feel all that weight always will be that weight.
We’ll be weighted and floating and nothing and everything. We’ll be on our backs in that room with the man with the teeth too spread apart whose job is to make up our face make up life and peace and rest make up enough color, not blue, enough color, rosy, so we can greet everyone coming…coming to see and cry and put their hands on shoulders and knees uttering so so sorry’s…

sliding the matchstick back into its matchbox
feminine though, it needs to be feminine
it needs to be sturdy to keep the weight of the feet and the tears and the grief of the children and husband and parents from pressing in and crushing her already frail frame
(always put your toys away when you’re done playing with them
back in their boxes. buried treasure. time capsule)
what will he do in this house all alone?
what will be do without his bride?
’til death parts up. then what?
you see someone, half someone, half there because their other half has a hair appointment tomorrow…and plans to get the mortician’s makeup.

journal / unedited grief / days 1+2