Some essays take 4 years to write.

I mean, this one did. I turned it over and over again, like stones in water, finding things that glimmered and caught the sun. But there never felt like a real sense of cohesion.

I’d also add that it’s one of the more experimental essays I’ve done. So experimental and feeling/sensory-oriented that I considered categorizing it as something else. But the truth is, it’s the truth. It’s real life. So regardless of how uncomfortable I was putting something that was abstract out there, it is what it is.

1-OL1Mn10E4XdYjbOaRfESIw,

Here’s an excerpt, and you can read the whole thing on Medium.

I think we were supposed to run away with each other long before this. There was that night on the motorcycle, the loud buzzing engine that cracked through the air heavy with rain threat, as we took the backroads and their curves too fast in a rush to get to the lake, my white fingers pressed into your ribs.

You write to tell me you have not stopped listening since I left and your faith startles me. I cannot handle the music right now. There is too much noise, or too much feeling, or too many words. After the song’s opening seconds I am already switching to the next. There is no irony here, only direct correlation. I am, have become, noncommittal. “I am not the girl you feel in love with,” I hear myself say. I am almost telling the truth.

Read the full essay.

How to write about blood

“Basic laws of physics: how to lodge a hook in your head. Treble means three. Simple motions. Hold, run, cast. You tell the story for show now, choosing words carefully, measuring impact, showing ownership of memory. I can tell it too, that is the subtext of what you’re saying. But you’re not trying to compete. You are sharing. This is our memory. You should have some say in its resurrection.”

This essay is about blood, literally: brother and sister and other. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I’m grateful to Rappahannock Review for giving it a home, especially among so much fantastic talent (Brian Oliu and BJ Hollars, to name a mere few).

Read “Of Blood” in Rappahannock Review here.

 

What it’s like to learn you’re semi-deaf

fanzine

“It’s like being underwater: the loudest thing you hear are your thoughts. Voices are garbled syllables with distorted time signals, they are far off and distant. It is easy to ignore, easy to give in to the indulgence of living in one’s own head. This is what it’s like to be semi-deaf, to be increasingly deaf.”

— You can read my essay on FANZINE, as part of their incredible Body Maps series.

My Top 10 Books of 2013

tumblr_ms3ryuc2XU1qakcfno1_500
READ IT: My Top 10 Books of 2013

I hate listicles, but I like Mensah and books, so I agreed to write this. My disdain for the year-end tradition of list-making is trumped by my belief that sharing books we love and our reading practices are incredibly important for human beings. Some books that have made the biggest imprints on my life were not ones I would have voluntarily chosen, they were recommended by others. The choices in my list are completely subjective, as most listicles tend to be, and aren’t listed in any particular order.

I had a valuable moment of self-discovery in writing this: my reading choices are rather indicative of where I am and where I’m pushing myself to, mentally. It’s important to understand outside views of America. It’s important to know how others stumbled through the mess of art-making as a woman in a world dominated by men. It’s important to give voice to and to be lifted by those labeled “subversive,” “problematic,” “different” and “difficult.” With that, cheers to all our good reads of 2013.

Many thanks to the editors of Specter for inviting me to contribute!

When you read something awful-terrible about yourself

“The act of hurling something to the Earth is an interesting one. It connotes a dismissal of physical/material form, both in terms of the thing being hurled and a violence toward the dirt-planet at one’s feet. Furthermore, the act of presenting an object to someone in this way exaggerates the act of looking down, and requires one stoop to retrieve it, bowing, in a way, to the one who made the initial gesture. It’s an act that anticipates complicity.

The night things went shitty between us, Isabel — the night when it became clear to maybe everyone but me you were a liar — was Halloween. While you were on your phone desperately trying to get a cab to leave the party under the false pretense that your sister was having an overdose, this guy way trying to hit on you. I took his hat off his head and threw it at his feet and demanded he pick it up.

You often talked — almost fondly, Isabel — of how your ex-boyfriend threw you down a staircase once. Infidelity, you said. You learnt your lesson, you said. I didn’t yet suspect your pathologies. This was a scene you returned to more than once. Nearly bragging, sometimes smiling. You lived mostly in your past, or else were scheming futures. Either way, your lack of presence — it sucked. And tho I loved to see how your hands would move around when you excitedly told your stories, how you would interrupt yourself with laughter — I resented that the person I was falling in love with was mostly a former version, or your own invention, and that these things you told me had nothing to do with how we were together.

Later, I wished it were me that had thrown you down the stairs. Maybe then I’d have meant something more to you.”

That was Garett Strickland, in an essay on HTMLGIANT. The whole essay is great, really, and I highly recommend reading, but that particular section was increasingly painful.

All I could keep thinking was, Oh, that’s me. Definitely me. The worst parts of me, maybe, but definitely me. It’s hard, sometimes, to think of one’s self as more than just the things that have happened to it (does that make sense?).

Have you ever painfully recognized yourself in literature?