Looking Back on Writing

Thank you to Raluca Albu for prompting me to write and to BOMB for publishing the following piece:

To me, writing is always like walking up a flight of stairs with giant gaps in between. I lose my breath, my limbs start to shake, I worry I am going to fall and awaken in a chalk outline of my mistakes.

For full article and many other wonderful writers’ responses including Lidia Yuknavitch go to: BOMB

https://bombmagazine.org/articles/looking-back-the-past-decade-in-literature/

Dear 2019 and the years before that,

I learned that the color of a bruise is synonymous to the sky right before a storm. And just like the sky, the body can thunder and lightening itself until it is unrecognizable.

There are billions less birds flying above us. Instead of the flapping of wings, we hear clouds tangle and cough like flu victims. I walked around the Metropolitan Museum of Art and lost count of the humans wearing face masks. I held my breath for as long as I could. What are we really breathing in?

Blame it on the squall.

I learned that articulating the correct pronoun can save a life.

Sometimes the most difficult decision one can make in a day is to turn off their Internet.

Sometimes the second most difficult decision one can make in a day is to exist for twenty-four hours and post zero photographs of what you ate.

Learned how to embroider; learned how to walk outside; learned I can stay inside; learned how to say no; learned how to leave without causing a scene; learned how to sit still (even if just for five minutes); learned how to approach my body (carefully, as though we are meeting each other for the first time);

I still have no idea who I am.

On January 1st, I will not eat differently.

On January 1st, I will not join a gym.

On January 1st, my scars will not erase themselves away.

On January 1st, I will have still done that.

Haruki Murakami wrote, “Most things are forgotten over time. Even the war itself, the life-and-death struggle people went through is now like something from the distant past. We’re so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past are no longer in orbit around our minds. There are just too many things we have to think about everyday, too many new things we have to learn. But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone.”

I learned that I don’t have to forget all of this, but I don’t have to carry it every day. I can live amidst war, even when it is inside me. I can search for peace amidst the screams and slashings.

Sometimes, just saying hello to a stranger can save a life or at least remind each other that we are visible even when we are not trying to be.

Some words, questions and (hopefully a bit of) hope

Thank you to Denise-Marie McIntosh from Fairy Tale Access at Nashua, New Hampshire Public Access for asking such thoughtful questions and for giving me space to speak about my novel, “Everything Grows”.

 

The inside of my body is like a buffet/ but all the containers are empty

Dear Rebel,

I write to you because when we speak, all my words come out in the exact shape as it lives inside me. Everywhere else, my letters bulge and bend inaccurately. My teeth slur. My knees shiver so loudly that nothing else can be heard.

Have you ever been pronounced correctly? What does that feel like. I hosted a party inside my body the other night. No one came; no one else was invited. There were snacks but nothing was touched. Actually, handfuls were taken, but then everything just turned to dust.

My body is a dust storm of uncertainty.

When I was a child, my favorite food was: buffet. All-you-can-eat with more choices than I could ever need. I didn’t have to choose just one option. I’ve never just been one option. I could sample the flavors I was unfamiliar with, maybe even declare something new as my favorite.

Couldn’t bodies, can’t gender, can’t identities be like buffets? An all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of choices and possibilities? I may be in the mood for mac and cheese today, but tomorrow, I may desire beef stew or vegetable lo mein.

Do all these choices have to define me? How are my choices, how is my appearance defining me?

Dear Rebel, my hair has nothing to do with my gender identity. It is long now, gets caught in zippers and, at night, it tries to strangle me. What if I am just this mix-and-match unmatched being?

What if my only declaration is: I have nothing to declare.

I am trying to empty all this out. All of this. All of me. Rinse and repeat.

The inside of my body is like a buffet. But all the containers are empty. And I am searching for what I want to eat now.