Monthly Archives: March 2014

2014, Week 6: Untitled



His face is a shroud. His face is itself
faceless. It is every face softening
to mere thaw, running a river, turning,
turned, around the bend. Gone, away.

I had a dream, was delivered from it to
a lightless morning. The clouds outside
mutated slowly into shapes and figures,
symbols never seen before, already seen:

his lips covering the mouthpiece of a milk-pearl
abalone flute, his fingers sifting through
blessing powder the worn color of turmeric.
After that, I did not dream for many nights

and days were spent driving the blue-gray coils
of a sleepless highway. At a gas station the pump’s
TV monitor blazed, wordless. His face flickered
in and out with the poor reception — first a man,

his nose angled and proud, then a boy biting
the inside of his cheek. When the picture
came back on he was a bear cub, hunched
over and shoulders drawn, but eyes bright,

black, sharp like the stones in the creek
outside my bedroom window. The gas pump
jerked against the car, the clouds rolled in.
The screen went dark. His face was still there.

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Deja Vu

“Whoa. I just had total déjà vu.” We all recognize it when it’s happening. How is that? What is it? Happens so fast, a fleeting sensation, awareness, connection to… What? A dreamworld? A past life? Another dimension? A glitch in the videogame of life. What is déjà vu to you? What does it mean? Is this real life? Xoxox


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[sic] cycle


Tea and quotes: essential components of my writing process.

I am in this space again. Dark, oppressive. Last month, I wrote fervently. This month, I have eked out a few words here or there, but most of my life has been consumed by other responsibilities and sorting out too many issues. It always goes like this: productivity, crash, frustration, stress, breakthrough, productivity, crash, etc. etc. etc.

The cycle continues.

I know I need to extend those periods of productivity. When I create, I feel alive. I create life in a series of words–images when I’m making collages–that make sense, even if to no one but me.

Spring is coming. I have been preparing by clearing out the old things, the useless and the overtly nostalgic. Skirts I purchased in a market ten years ago that I no longer wear. Broken pencils. Itchy tights.

I’m creating space. I have carved out a little niche for a desk. It has to be small and streamlined, but that’s my aesthetic lately, anyway. Proportion. Controlled volume. Billowing but not swallowing me whole. No clutter.

This morning, I managed to write more than I’ve written in a week. There is a renewed life in my work. Must keep the words living, breathing, moving, but they must be committed to telling the story.


Here are some songs that help me vent my negativity and get back to a better place.

Listen here! Cycles

Pompeii-Bastille: “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?”

Violet-Hole: “Go on, take everything! Take everything! I dare you to!”

Farewell, Mona Lisa-The Dillinger Escape Plan: “The echoes of the past speak louder than any voice I hear right now.”

Wish-Nine Inch Nails: “Wish there was something real, wish there was something true. Wish there was something real in this world full of you.”

Safe-Kittie: “In this darkness, troubled waters, lies a flicker of hope’s fire.”

When It Comes-Incubus: “Yes, I feel emphatic about not being static.”

Find My Way-Nine Inch Nails: “I have been to every place, I have been to everywhere. I’m just trying to find my way, oh dear Lord, hear my prayer.”

Malibu-Hole: “Oceans of angels, oceans of stars. Down by the sea is where you drown your scars.”

Bad Blood-Bastille: “If we’re only ever looking back, we will drive ourselves insane.”

Scheisse-Lady Gaga: “I, I wish that I could dance on a single prayer. I, I wish I could be strong without permission, yeah.”

Listen, cry, sing, dance, write, repeat.


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Send in the clowns.

“One thing you’re going to need to do is stop comparing yourself to other people,” she said.  “You can’t measure success or happiness or progress by other people’s standards.  Nobody can.  But especially not you.  You’re never going to fit.”

Her name was Pam, and she was doing a psychic reading for me.  She looked at my soul, she said, and while most people’s souls look like philosophers or sages – calm, collected, focused – she said mine was a circus performer.

No, not a circus performer.  The whole three-ring circus.

“I see you on the trapeze,” she said, “and swallowing swords.”  I told her that explained a lot.

She had told me to come prepared with a guiding question or two, and I told her that I was often uncomfortable in my own skin.  There were so many things I loved to do, learn, make, and talk about.  A little insight into which direction I should be moving in would be helpful.  When she was led to my soul by her spirit guide (bear with me, okay?), she started laughing.  I made a face.

“Is it that bad?” You don’t want your psychic to laugh at your soul.

She caught her breath.  “I’m sorry, Tessa.  It’s just – you have led so many hedonistic lives, and you are obviously trying not to do that in this life.  But your soul is your soul, and it wants experience.  It wants to experience everything, and you have to let it.  For a little bit, anyway.”

Just when I think I’m ready to grow up.

I’ve lived my life in a swirl of phases.  I learned the clarinet, no, the oboe, no, the violin – because I just had to.  I wanted to be an actress, a writer, a veterinarian.  I wanted to live in Ireland, in France, in New Mexico, and each time I got wrapped up in a new obsession I thought it might be the thing where at last I’d found my niche.  I thought each would bring me some kind of peace, some feeling of belonging and expertise.  There are many people in my life who take my interests as jokes, almost.  These next big things are fleeting, best left alone, never to be encouraged.  I understand the sentiment.

So my soul’s a circus.

“Don’t worry, you’ll feel really comfortable and settled by 45,” said Pam.  I think she saw my lip twitch.

“That long?”

“We’ll put it this way: you’re a three-ring circus now, and you’ll settle on one ring around 35.  But there’s still a lot going on in that one ring.”

And I wondered what this meant for all those normal life goals that people have.  Even I, a circus, have them – marriage, kids, a house on a farm with a horse.  Or at least the marriage, kids, and a place I call home all the time.  I didn’t ask her about these things, because I thought that finding my niche would lead to the comfortable settlement that leads to these things.  That’s what people do.  In fact, that’s what many of my friends and family have done, and I feel I’m falling behind.

But according to her, I’ve been spending too much of my life trying to fit pegs into holes, because they just don’t.  They won’t fit.  I won’t fit.

So all this energy I’ve spent trying to figure out how to be a grown-up, now that I’m 30, is just short of a total waste.  I have to think of what to do with my five years’ reprieve.  She told me to travel, to write, to work in a theater.  These have all been tugging at my insides for months, causing such anxiety as I tried to numb them.  I told myself to shut up, to be reasonable, to think clearly and rationally.  Whenever I tried to think of a five-year plan I was intimidated by a blank page, not sure what to do when there were so many impractical desires clouding my mind.

As usual, I was doing it wrong.

“You need to know that your soul wants to experience everything – art and travel and everything else that makes your heart race,” said Pam, and I nodded, teary.  “And you need to stop thinking that’s a problem.”

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They…is that so fucking hard to say?

He. His. Him. Guy.
Is this what they think when I’m walking by?

She. Her. Her’s. Chick.
Is that what they think, can they tell I have a dick?

Hey Bro! How it hangin’ guy?
I hope they don’t know I tuck it up inside!

Hey slut! What’s up bitch?
The way women talk to me makes me itch.

What’s up homo? Who’s this dude,
with the fagot face, and the bitch attitude?!

Excuse me please, as I don’t mean to be rude,
but don’t call me by a gender I don’t wish to exude!

What should I call you, sick fucking runt,
which end do you eat on, a cock or a cunt?!

Whatever I eat, my gender won’t say,
but as for what you can call me, you can start with “they”.

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2014, Week 5: She

There was never a time when I was not she,
the long hair, tangled, the breasts (unimpressive,
akin to the flat russet stones I’d sought as a child
on the riverbank), the territory, hidden and strange,
some slick pink undersea thing, which the boys
admonished, said shave, shave, and I did.

I was never not she, never not one who did not
want hands, his, like the great green wings
of the luna moth, opening and closing, once more
smearing dust onto the skin of my waist; never not
one who did not, with her own mouth, ask for his.
I did not enter the world with a painted face,

I did not enter it with rouge rubbed onto either cheek.
Instead I slipped from the womb bearing precious salts
as my gifts to give, only to relinquish them to modesty.
I was never not she: foolish girl, foolish woman, scorned
and loved, a treasure, a burden; but then, suddenly

Saturn turned. The constellation points that ran down
the length of limbs and legs wavered, whole galaxies
mislaid. She? — me! — me, a foolish beast brimming
with lost bounty. Me, eyes dry and belly taut, barren,
biding time on the edge of a breast, a body, a blizzard.


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Growing Into (Grown Up)

I think that I am all grown up and blooming. I think that I am fledged fully, and ready to take womanhood head on. But even now I’m still growing up and out; I can feel my bones lengthen and the skin follow, stretching along to cover them up, to stop them from breaking through at the finger-tips. And if there is more space now, expanded and filled with more blood and more fat and more muscle, why do I feel things falling away? Why is it that I feel like I’m feeling less, even though there is more of me?

I was a teen ten years ago, thin skinned and thoughts thick with uncertainty, with desire to make noise and to remain unseen, invisible. And the joy was so easy to touch, and so easily taken away, sucked out like a vacuum and held from me until I found the conduit that might take me back; the book, the song, the laughter of a friend, the voice of a crush.

Now, everything is soft, and warm, things are good, and comfortable, and I love it, but where’s that vibrant kind of joy that used to be so easy to touch?

 I looked for it this past Saturday night, in the places I knew I had seen it before. I looked for it through the smoke, in the bright, pulsing lights, in the low hum of the loud bass. I looked for it, and I got worried because I was straining my atoms but I just couldn’t feel it. I think maybe it was because I hadn’t had enough to drink, and that I needed to open up my hands, (clenched) and my pores (closed) and let the music surge in and fill these new, heavy spaces and lighten them. I shook my body to try and stir something up, but it was all just a soft buzz, stirred and settled and pressing down on my receptors like a thick layer of cloud.

 On the Sunday, hungover and sensitive to touch, I lay in my hammock, beneath the oleandar tree; everything was stretched out beneath the sun, and I was writing. I was writing and I knew I was onto something good, because I could feel the familiar surge, the adrenaline that comes with the fast motion blooming of ink on paper, the insect click click click of my fingers on the keyboard. I could see the words, written on the waves of the corrugated tin shed wall, and I was so filled by what I had made with my mind and my hands that I could barely sit still; the hammock rocked as if it were tethered to the masts of a ship, charging through the seething sea.

I felt the joy moving in me, blooming like roses in time-lapse motion.


Is this it? Have I grown into a simpler bliss? I’ve always been skeptical of those people, the ones who fill my Facebook feed with demonstrations of their simple happiness, and that if only we all ate paelio and took more baths and stopped watching reality televsion, then happiness would come so easily, but. What if that’s the place that I’ve grown into? The life of growing my own vegetables and drinking tea instead of vodka sugar and writing, writing, writing. These are the things I want to sink into.

 I stretched my bare foot out to touch the the tip of the Aloe I had planted the morning before. The leaves are still thin, a young green not yet ready to practice healing. I remember looking not for joy, but for healing as a teenage girl; I was feeding on the world, devouring the gifts of books, of music, breaking things and running through the suburban darkness like a wild thing, uprooted.

But now, now I am making. I am building something of my own, I am creating a world! I am the one who is planting the flowers, and making the magic. I am still a girl, still growing, not up but into life. I am rooted, but I realise now, that I am not a flower, delicate and easily trampled. I am a girl,who is a garden. 

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Kindred: Grown Up. No one can tell me I can’t say FUCK.

I’m not sure I ever took the time to contemplate what it means to be grown up. As a kid my thoughts were on owning a house and getting married and having kids and doing what’s supposed to happen next. High school led to undergrad. I always wanted to write.


Write write write.


In my head my future was writing, publishing novels, living in a city and traveling all the time. But I never took the time to fill in that fantasy and figure out what it means to be that person. That I would have to show up and do the work.


So now I’m on the last months before I turn thirty, and I’ve been thinking about it more and more. My entire twenties have been a sort of quarterlife crisis. You can say that doesn’t exist, but maybe our entire generation* is in the midst of a crisis. We can’t figure out which was is up or where to put our next steps. We can’t see a straight line into our futures. Being thirty for me is different than for my parents, having two children and settling into the house they still live in more than twenty-five years later.


The reality for me, right now, as a “grown up”, avoiding the word “adult and still referring to people as “girls” and “boys” as in I want to find a “boy” to date, it means living in your childhood bedroom, working a  9-5, taking graduate level classes, filled with wanderlust, reading books meant** for teenagers, and trying to find my way through “what is next”.


In ways that I’ve come to conclude, being “grown up” has come to mean doing things, being responsible, losing passion, giving in, settling down, giving up, forgetting dreams, holding your breath, doing whatever you want, responsibility, being able to be alone, knowing what you want, paychecks, owning something, facing problems, drinking coffee and wearing lipstick. ***


I’m surrounded by peers and strangers who have their shit together, who are fumbling, who live this image of what life is supposed to be like. Last year someone jokingly asked me why I wasn’t married yet and I responded with “I don’t have the time for that”. Being grown up is, really, what you perceive it to be. It’s more than an age and a status and a maturity. It’s more than what society tells you it is, but in reality sometimes you have to define it while pushing against the ideals and norms that society tells you. A grown up is someone (usually) taller than a toddler who children physically look up to, someone who chooses to use their wisdom to be or not be whatever the fuck they want to be.


A grown up is someone who can say “fuck” without apologies because there’s no one there telling them “you can’t say that bad word”. Or if there is, you don’t have to listen because you are grown up.

* Okay, some people have it figured out.

** I know, YA as a “genre” is almost a fake thing, more adults are reading YA now than ever before and I’m not alone in this.

*** all of this and none of this, but you’ve probably figured this out by now


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