Daddy Long Legs

A few months ago, I drove up I-93 to New Hampshire’s White Mountains to go for a hike.

This was the time of year when the White Mountains aren’t white. Mostly, they’re different values of green – the dark cool green of narrow pines; the wild chaotic green of leaves dancing in the mountain wind; the fresh, dewy green of wet ferns, long grass; and moss so bright it seems impossible, bursting with the juice of the forest floor to the point where you can imagine its cool mineral flavor on your tongue. Even the mountains capped with granite aren’t white – they’re green, too, tapering to white at the summit. And Mount Washington, the highest peak on the East Coast at 6,218 feet above sea level, is never anything but a deep, distant blue.

Green. Bright. Silver. Blue. Uninterruptible nature, wheeling and whizzing through space, lush and perfect under a soft and flawless sky, everything flowering with beauty and joy and life and


The highway’s shoulders, littered with garbage. Breakdown lanes, grassy medians, edges of rambling forests surviving and thriving mere inches from an interstate and caring nothing for the interstate – waist-deep in garbage.

That day stands out to me because of something I saw heading both north and south on I-93, on the way to the mountains and on the way home. Both ways, on the side of the highway going north and south, I saw dead deer, limbs tangled up, beautiful white breast exposed to the world.

After I saw the first one, I thought about how on a recent day, my sister had said that if anyone she knew ever hit a deer on her road, she would never speak to them again.

My sister lives on a beautiful country road in the suburbs of Manchester – New Hampshire’s most populous city – but you’d never guess the presence of a city flashing and murmuring only nine miles from her home. My sister’s yard is a thoroughfare for turkeys, porcupines, foxes, owls, and, especially, deer. Sweet, soft-eyed, and skittish, they visit nearly every day, picking their way across her yard, eyeing her garden fence where her tasty lettuce grows, wandering through the small patch of woods behind her house, leaving trails of droppings behind. They move slowly, gently, taking their time, only breaking into a canter when my sister’s dogs notice them and set to howling.

When my sister said that she’d never speak to anyone who hit and killed a deer on her road, I fell silent. I’m always driving down her road, often at night, and I know how deer miscalculate the point at which it’s safe to cross the road. I’ve heard somewhere that deer think the lights are the danger, so they try to cross immediately after the headlights pass. The problem with this, of course, is that the car always comes after the lights. I know, too, that they move without warning, blending expertly into trees, as they were born to do, before darting into the road. I fell silent because I knew I couldn’t promise my sister that I’d never hit a deer on her road.

“Of course,” she said, noticing my reticence, “of course, if you hit one, I wouldn’t stop talking to you.”

I had miscalculated before, not noting the hyperbole was aimed at all the world, and not myself as a member of it. A tricky distinction.

Driving by the first deer on 93 north, I was reminded of that exchange between my sister and myself, and thought that even so, I was happy – proud, even – that I could truthfully say I have never hit a deer.

Driving by the second deer, I thought the same sequence of thoughts. How horrible, of course, is the first thought – pain, sorrow, and regret that a soft, sweet-eyed friend could have been murdered by the thoughtless invention of cars, which force us to live fast, complicated lives and clog this earth with trash. The second thought was of my sister. Then a third thought came – a dull pang, a memory, one I’d forgotten ‘til now.

When I was young, we hit a deer. We were in my family van, which was packed tight with my parents, my sister, and our six other siblings. My dad was driving.

We hit it hard. It was dark; it must have been winter because I distinctly remember it being early evening. We had to pull over to the side of the dark, rain-flecked highway to assess the damage to our twelve-passenger Chevy Express.

I remember getting out of the car. I remember looking at the front of our van in the darkness – a nostalgic thought, now, since the van is long gone. I remember my parents and older siblings talking together. As is always the case, their volume increased at an exponential rate as they each tried to talk over each other while my dad explained what had happened, heartily dismissing any blame that could fall on him. I leaned against the closed car door, trying to understand.

“We hit a deer,” was what my dad had said. But to me, this was no answer.

I didn’t know what a deer was. It had scampered away, so I couldn’t see what it looked like. I couldn’t conjure the proper image. In my mind, it looked like a giant daddy long legs spider. I’m not sure why. Terrified of spiders, I was relieved when my dad said the deer must have run off into the woods to die.

How different I am now from how I was at the age of six or seven. I lived with my parents then, where I would live until I was twenty and finally moved into my own apartment in the city. At age six or seven, I didn’t know what a deer looked like, couldn’t imagine one alive or dead. I pictured a daddy long legs sprinting away into the woods, hobbling maybe, one of his spindly legs injured beyond repair. I pictured the daddy long legs cowering on the forest floor, in a clearing, ethereally lit with a gentle wash of moonlight. I pictured a larger daddy long legs, maybe the wounded one’s mother, standing over the poor thing. Good, I thought. Stay there.

Now of course, I can picture a deer – a shy, delicate doe, tiptoeing her way across the lawn with her dainty hooves, looking sharply through my sister’s kitchen window when her dogs make themselves known; I can picture her little fawns, following her closely, just as cautiously; I can picture a buck, usually traveling with a couple of friends, treading more heavily than his female counterpart; he is brisk, businesslike, antlers sitting on his head like a crown.

I can also picture these same sweet faces sprawled out against hot asphalt, making the gravel and roadside debris dark and sticky with their sun-warmed blood.  I can picture their entrails spilling out, swarms of flies very much alive and animated against their stillness. I can picture their legs akimbo, their necks unnaturally twisted, their dark eyes bulging, their corpses decaying before my very eyes as I zoom past.

One night, a few weeks after my trip up to the mountains, I visited my sister at her house. I went home late, maybe around midnight. I had the window down, the cool summer breeze threading its fingers through my hair as my hand floated upon the waves of wind winging past the car. I breathed in the sweet air and thought how peaceful it was.


Peace evaporated at the uncontrollable moment when I saw one.

My headlights had flashed into the mirror eyes. I saw its brownish gray coat against the gray of the tree. I was driving too quickly to see an expression on its face, but it seemed to watch me go by. I felt the volatility of this moment, the unpredictability of this creature, of its intentions, its instincts, of how it would choose to proceed.

It didn’t dart.

It remained immobile.

My rearview mirrors were black; it faded into a mystery.

My heart was pounding uncontrollably. My mouth was dry as sand. I had only just recovered when the same situation repeated itself, suddenly.

A flash of bright eyes.

A glimpse of brownish gray.

Nothing but blackness in the rearview mirrors.

And again:


Brownish-gray fur.


My heart pounded in the utter terror, my mind crowding with thoughts like flies crowd around a corpse. How different I was now, I thought, from when I was about six or seven, feeling relief at the death of a spider at my father’s hands, thinking that such a terrifying monster was better dead than nearby.

Yet, my mind whirred, if I’d known then what I know now – that a deer is not a monster, but is elfin and docile and can only cause harm to my sister’s pear tree sapling and nothing else– I would not have been relieved. I would have cried, as my sister said she did.

So what, I thought, makes a deer so much better than a daddy long legs? Why did a daddy long legs deserve death, but the sight of a deer on the side of the road incites ire in me against the capitalist machine that has sent us all zipping down the road at breakneck speeds?

And what if, I thought, I had killed hit and killed one of the three deer on the way home from my sister’s place? Would that have meant the end of our relationship? Could I, indeed, be included among the number of the reviled deer-murderers, those who drive so carelessly, those who give no thought to their fellow creature, who toss trash into the woods, who will one day leach all the green from the New Hampshire forests?

Or am I the exception? If I hit the deer, if I throw plastic out the window, if I clog the atmosphere with black smoke – am I exempt from the ire of the world, because I am myself? Because my sister’s perception of me has made me guiltless?

Or am I just like everyone else?


Camp Anxiety

This past week, I went on a backpacking trip that was meant to be 5 days but had to be shortened to 3 days because of the cold, rain, and insufficient gear for the weather. Below, see my stream-of-consciousness panicky ramblings as I waited for my sister and her boyfriend to meet me at our campsite.


It’s now nearly 3pm. I say this to be generous with myself – it’s 2:44 but I’m going to be alone here until 7:30 or 8. I’m going to make a schedule of how I’ll while away the hours, so I don’t go crazy.

I just heard a loon call on Center Pond near where I’m hunched over in a shelter, so melancholy. Everywhere I look it’s so splendidly green. I think I’ll have a nip of a drink to warm my heart, so cold at present. I don’t know why I’m talking like this.

I’m at Crider shelter and a man just came to interrupt my hours of solitude. I’m comforted by the proximity of human life, but I’m unnerved at the invasion. Now I won’t fear bears. I’ll just fear the discomfiture of being a young woman alone near a man. I can’t blame the man, though; he seems pleasant enough. He’s mid-40s, of medium build, flecks of silver in his short beard. He told me his trail name is Popeye “because that’s my Facebook name.” Well, now that I mention it, he didn’t tell me that – I just saw his entry in the trail register after he handed it back to me. He asked me my name and I said “Kris,” and he asked if that’s my trail name or my real name. I said it was my real name and he shrugged.

The wind is brushing its chilly hands on all the leaves, making the woods heave a collective shudder. Rain has started tapping hesitantly on the shoulder of the world. I can hear the tapping, but for now it’s just a suggestion. I can’t see any droplets yet. Amidst the uncertain noises of the rain beginning to fall, I can hear the long call of the loon on the pond. It’s achingly insistent, full of tears, announcing its sorrow, its unfulfilled desires, to the water, the grass, the white clovers that carpet the ground of this campsite wherever the pine needles aren’t.

It’s 4:38. Earlier today, I scheduled a nip of a drink for about this time. I think I’ll have it now.

I feel sorry that the stranger, alias: Popeye, has to crouch in his tent while I selfishly stuff the shelter to capacity with my stiff demeanor. My sister won’t be here for another 2 hours, 22 minutes. Maybe longer.

An online camping/backpacking forum admonishes that you shouldn’t drink alcohol if it’s cold. You’ll feel colder because it constricts your blood vessels or something. I don’t know anything about that, but I want some alcohol now.

I just reached into my bear canister for my nip and almost took the top off my liquid camp soap and drank that. Is there a metaphor here?

I grow concerned to hear what sounds like the gentleman breaking sticks to burn. Fires are not permitted at this site, nor anywhere on the greenway. Then again, open containers of alcohol are not permitted anywhere outside of private property, so I’m no saint either. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a false equivalency.

Whewee, that nip sure cleared my sinuses.

Do you see how easy it is to write when you haven’t the slightest intention of its being for academic reasons? Also, as an unrelated sidenote, it is quite cold here in these woods, but if Ronja could handle it, so can her descendant and distant relation who, alas, has too much Irish blood coursing through her constricting veins.

The rain is wonderful. I can hear it now, rapping its knuckles smartly on the roof in a syncopated rhythm. The rain isn’t heavy yet, so only a few drops sift through the canopy at a time.

I plan to call my sister in 4 minutes to get the lay of the land, namely her arrival at this campsite.

This is the present lay of my land:

I just took two photos, first of what I can see right now, second of my own face. My lips are bright red at present because they are so chapped. I just barely applied chapstick so now they sting dully, but in a good way. Maybe I should try to write some fiction.

5 min later

I called my sister and she said she’ll be here at around 7 at parking and arrive at camp 10 minutes later. That is far better than what I expected. I should probably make dinner and get ready for bed at 6pm so I have something to busy myself with whilst anxiously waiting.

I have some words to say about Ronja, since I’ve just finished the book for the second time while on the greenway. My problem with it is the cruelty that it’s not longer. It’s the most amazing book ever in the history of the world. Ronja would never be afraid of these woods. I’m not sure how she’d fare with encountering humans, but she’d never fear a moose nor bear. The population of earth was so much smaller when she was (fictionally) around. The world wasn’t as scarred by the big black demon that makes cancerous tumors grow on trees instead of fruits.

It’s getting chilly now. I was so warm right after the nip but now I’m shivering again. I’m so tired.

Hello, fair souls. It’s now 6:23 and I’m cold. I’m waiting for my sister and her boyfriend still, but at least now I’ve had something to eat! I wasn’t really hungry, but I was getting tired of visualizing in my head the act of making dinner. But now I have to pee – but best wait ‘til they get here, since I’m not alone.

It’s very cold. I keep thinking I hear voices, but I suppose it’s only the woods talking to the trees. They won’t be here for another hour yet. I’m So Cold, but I’m Also So Tired so maybe I’ll catch a wink or two.

Hello there; here I am again. It’s hard to believe it’s only been about a half hour, but the bright side of all joy is that I have put on my rain cover and am now so much warmer, though still as cold as I’ve ever been in life. You will notice that my handwriting is much improved. That would be because I’m no longer writing while lying on my side.

“Unfortunately no, though medication has helped in a few cases.”
– Spencer Reid

Writing is so slow. I just wrote down some random shit Spencer Reid said on one of the Criminal Minds episodes I downloaded, which I’m listening to now, and writing is so much slower than speaking, which is slower still than thinking. Do you know what else is slow? Hiking. I want to move twice as fast as I am capable of moving.

I AM COLD but it’s by my own choice for now. I am wearing clothes that are okay to get a tiny bit wet when I go pee, but they’re not my warm clothes.


It is sometime later, probably after 9. After saying she’d arrive by 8, my sister rolled up at 8:59.

I apologize for my unruly outburst above. I am pleased that my sister and her boyfriend came all this way in the pouring rain.

After taking my sleeping pill, I am making another smart decision in writing this to calm my mind.

Please pray I do

not die

       of cold


I did not die of cold, but I did sleep for approximately two hours, only to wake up in terror, my fingers and toes numb. I then proceeded to sprint 0.8 miles in a blind panic through every puddle known to man so I could sleep in my sister’s car. The next day, we did a short day hike and my sister drove me back to my car. Not my most successful trip — but certainly a story.


It’s a late May evening and it’s 87 degrees and I’m sweating in the too-tight dress pants I wore to work today, typing this on my phone over the spine of the book I’m not really reading, the dreamy notes of a new song swaying in my head, the same rhythm as the heavy air brushing across my cheeks and hair as the ceiling fan does its best to push the heat away.

Way back, way back.

When I was 12, I wrote 151 pages of a novel, and up ‘til now it’s been a joke, a funny joke, how bad it is, how young I was, how huge my dreams were, how they have since flitted away, insubstantial as a feather, and so ten years have gone by and I blush and giggle at the existence of these 151 pages, these 10 year old pages no one would ever read or care about or love, no one but the 12-year-old who wrote them.

Way back, way back.

And today, age 22, I read the book, the whole book, and somehow I was able to disconnect from the 12-year-old’s dreamy heart and say This was good practice. She wrote good scenes. You can tell she read a lot. It’s still terrible, though – heartlessly aware that this would never have been enough for the fragile kid, the anxious kid, the one who was desperate to be different, but still wanted to belong, the one who’d raise her hand in Sunday school to repeat (with some variation) a story another child had already told, just so the teacher would notice her, think she was special, think she was brilliant, think she was there.

And today, age 22, I read the book and wondered What happened to you?

But of course I have intimate knowledge of what happened to you, little kid, typing feverishly on an ancient laptop, sweating under your blankets so the computer light doesn’t disturb your sleeping sisters in the bunk bed beside you. People say “life happened,” but really, it’s people that will happen to you.

I don’t remember writing it, but everything you said, kid, is so sharply familiar. I know exactly what you mean, every word, though your writing isn’t meaningful. It’s laden with too much unnecessary detail. It’s boring, unfocused, and too excited about itself to make any sense — but there’s a moment where the main character is outside on a rainy day in the city, looking for a place to be safe and dry, and she sees people in the street, just existing. She sees teens talking loudly with each other as they carelessly walk through puddles; she sees a woman on the phone, laughing, under an awning; she sees a mother, a father, a child huddled together, the father holding the umbrella.

Alone in the unfamiliar city, our hero sees these people and feels afraid. She feels looked at. She feels hated, judged, and somehow, ignored, all at once. And I read this and thought, I know what you mean.

And today, I read the book and felt confused, a dull tug yanking me back to those days, those days I think of as being before anything really happened to me. At age 22, I think of the version of me that wrote this book as me in my raw material. Still homeschooled, it would be over a year until I attended high school for the first time, my first foray into mainstream society. It would be over five years until I attended college, for the first time allowing my long-held, concrete belief system to be eroded by some probing questions, sweeping against the intractable hardness, seeping into the pores. And it would be ten years until today, when I read my book for the first time.

In my raw material, I wrote dialogue like a Victorian author. I maintained that my main character was not like “other girls,” never really having met any. I wrote with authority on places, people, and stories that I had never seen or experienced except in books. And I felt like a grownup. I felt finished, ten years ago –a flower in full bloom.

And now I’m sweating in the heavy evening heat, the book I’m not reading splayed open on my chest as I write this, still in my too-tight work pants, and there’s some kind of ache in me, the strange ache that comes when I reread my old journal entries of events and dates that are important to me and find that the story I remember is so different from the event as it happened, as I wrote it down. I remember this novel, this 12-year-old, differently, with 10 years of distance between us. It’s not really a joke anymore. My fresh, fervent, unfinished 12-year-old self isn’t really a joke.

I’ll still laugh at her, the silly thing, not sure how people act but bravely trying to put it on paper anyway. But I won’t laugh at her like before, with the apologetic half shrug that replies to the question You wrote this? with a sheepish Yes, I wrote it, but don’t look at me. I’ll laugh at her quietly, mournfully, uncomfortably, the way you might laugh at a joke when you know that its author is dead.

Now I can’t find you
Oh, where have you been?
The opened closet
The terror begins

Way back, way back.


Note: I’ve blogged about this novel before. Click here for a blog post containing my previous derisive treatment of it. I also referenced it in my admission essay for graduate school as a mistake I didn’t learn from. I probably should’ve read it before being so confident about what it was. You can read the novel here (it’s also linked in the post above). I won’t deny it’s very bad.

Lyrics taken from “Way Back” by Manchester Orchestra from their new album, “The Million Masks of God.”

September 2021

Today my suede shoes
brushed against wet grass,
green and bright, gleaming
in the yellow noonday light.

The sun brushed its fingers through
the leaves of trees that used to be
crowded with some kind of blush colored
blossom I don’t know the name of.

That was back in May, but today
the trees are green. They
still pulse with the passion
that spring poured into the veins

of each unfolding leaf,
even now as summer fades.
But winter’s coming even quicker
than September outstripped May,

so as I walk, a thought
brushes against me, gentle
as wind threading through my hair:
I can’t cling to the assurance of summer —

can’t deny that it’s seeping from the soil.
I don’t need powdery pink blooms, warm summer rains,
dewy grass or trees between whose verdant leaves
the sun loves to peek.

There’s a firmer assurance than summer
brushing its fingers against my cheeks.

An Update

Hello there!

It’s been a very long time since I last posted anything on this blog, and as usually happens when I have a blog, I have been extremely tempted to start a whole new blog altogether where I don’t (yet) have a track record of going months and months and months without posting anything. But instead, I decided to do the brave thing and post here and try to carry on as if the last year or so didn’t happen. I’m sure you don’t mind.

Unfortunately, though, I’m forced to observe the fact that the last year or so did, in fact, happen. My only blog post last year was in March, and it’s funny to go back and read my lighthearted ramblings about a roadside bra, completely unsuspecting that COVID-19 was steadily slouching toward us.

I’ve just started a Masters program in Professional Writing and one of our first prompts was to discuss how the “quarantine” affected our writing. In my response, I said I didn’t think it had. 2020 saw a change in my writing, but I’m not sure I’d say it was because of the pandemic; mostly it was that I had just finished my BA in English Writing in December of 2019 and was looking for a break, a change, an abandonment of structural requirements, due dates, and the general memory that school had once been a thing that happened to me. I had also just started a new job, 100% remote, which was another wave of differentness to interrupt my routine of shrugging sameness.

So of all the things affecting my writing (or, ahem, lack thereof), I’m not sure if the pandemic makes the list. I’m an introvert, living in a low-population area where COVID isn’t as worrisome a threat, so I’ve had the privilege of being a bit flippant about everything. In fact (for proof that I, a writer, was not lying entirely dormant during a time when I was purported to be “living through history”), here’s what wrote in my journal very soon after COVID “hit,” as we like to say:

April 18, 2020

This is the third week in which I have been gainfully employed, and I’m not sure what number of weeks we’ve been supposedly “quarantined.” Let yon record show that I have worn the mask Mom made me out in Society, which I did not particularly enjoy. No one among the strangers at Sully’s could see the requisite tight-lipped smiles I offer strangers so they know I’m a cheery, social, friendly kinda gal who likes her space but also wouldn’t mind if they came up to me to say something interesting if so inclined.

I wouldn’t say this COVID-19 situation is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, since it’s prevented me from having to make plans I would later shame-facedly cancel, either due to double-booking or inexplicable lack of desire to associate with other living breathing beings. However, it’s unlucky that this situation coincided with the beginning of my gainful employment, being that I am an anxious wreck. All I do is watch Scrubs and try to play online games while I wait for emails to come in, which is brain-melting. I should practice piano or learn Arabic or read or write, but I ain’t been.

I also scroll facebook and twitter like a mindless zombie whose brain has been half-eaten away by a different zombie. I want to start to try and accomplish things so I don’t feel like a worthless selfish freeloading bag of broken candles whose dirty wicks need a-trimmin’. So I will write a poem. One that is light and airy and evokes a mood of gladsome goodwill. The fact is, everything is fine and normal no matter how much I believe everything is bad.

You’re in the water
dripping from the moss
onto the rocks.
First your drops cling to the stringy knots,
you settle into the black earth,
and then a shoe sinks into the spongey ground
and the water squeezes out.

You’re in the water,
cold and fresh as melted snow
on a mountainside,
colored clear against the bright
sunlit green of the ground.


I included that poem because it was inspired of a really impossibly green patch of moss on a hiking trail that I’ll be backpacking through next weekend.

That’s part of my update. I’ve been doing a lot of hiking lately, most of it on a long trail called a greenway in the western part of the state. It’s around 50 miles from end to end so there’s a lot of potential for day hikes of varying lengths. My sister discovered the trail last year, and we spent all the warm months of 2020 exploring it. This spring, I’ve been exploring it more, mostly alone. And next weekend, I hike the whole thing. Here’s a video showing incontrovertible evidence of the greenness of the greenway:

I highly recommend **SOUND ON, VOLUME UP** for the music of rain and bog.

I’ve also been reading a lot lately. I’m determined to meet at least half of my 100-book reading goal this year — 50 books where last year I only read 40. As a result, I’ve been very busy, so busy I often wish there were more daylight hours, or that I had more energy, or that sleep wasn’t necessary for the continuance of my life force.

Anyway, the point of this update is to say this: hello. Long time no speak. I just started my MA in Professional Writing. You’ll be hearing more from me.

Poem the Ninth

Old Patterns

This emotion is proper 
but flowing down 
the improper channel. 

Somehow a street is flooded,
carts and kiosks bobbing along
like apples in a pail. 

There was supposed to be a parade
and then a fair —
a celebration, at last,

after a long famine — 
but the misdirected flow
has drowned it all. 

I am praying that I
can drain the streets, 
reroute the canals,

plug the flow and pour the water,
like from a pitcher to a basin,
so it can well up, brim, and rush back

over the river that should never 
have been reduced to such a trickle. 
I believe this can be done. 

Where the river belongs,
it waters, quenches, and soaks
what should never be dry,

and life can carry on, and 
if you can’t swim, you’re free
to leave that to the fish,

and only drink as needed. 
I believe
this can be done.

The Story of a Roadside Bra

There’s this bra I really like on the side of the road. Or at least, there was. I think it’s still there, but after all, it’s March now, and it’s New Hampshire, so the side of every road is just a stiff bank of gritty, brownish old snow. This late in the winter, it has both the consistency and the appeal of a snow cone you’ve just dropped in the sand.

Back in June, though, when I first saw the bra, it was lying in the dirt next to someone’s mailbox, almost two miles away from my sister’s house. I’m a runner, so I’d see it whenever I took my usual four-mile jaunt.

This bra has been a source of inexplicable joy for me. The first time I saw it, it was all spread out on the pine needles, telling a bizarre story of either a surprising landing for a swift out-the-window toss, or of a purposeful planting – someone tenderly laying it down. Maybe it was meant to be a memento of some lost love, or some passionate tryst gone awry. Maybe it’s evidence from some unsavory crime. Maybe someone was wearing a bra that didn’t fit, and in a spasm of mild discomfort, spitefully cast it to the ground. In any case, it delighted me that no one else had yet picked it up, and it looked so out of place on the rocky dirt.

I didn’t take a photo, though, when I first saw it. The second time was on the second of July. Here it is, and as you can see, it got turned around and looks a bit more unkempt:

This is photography at its finest

June and the very beginning of July were what I liked to describe as “shining and golden” (a sentiment I think I got from Anne of Green Gables?). I was running and biking almost daily and working only about four days a week. The rest of my time was spent either frolicking outside, cuddling with my sister’s dogs, or eating avocado toast in the hipster café downtown. I had had a tough semester, but things were starting to look up.

By midsummer, though, I hit a real rough patch. I was a sad kid, and through mid- and late July, my mileage decreased dramatically. I fell off the face of Planet Earth. Stopped running. Stopped cycling. Stopped frolicking. I kept cuddling with the dogs, but only out of sheer necessity. The bra vanished from my priority list.

I didn’t start running regularly again until October, and I was living at school then. But one weekend in November, I came home, went for a run – and there it was! This one’s a bit blurry because I was trying to get a PR and didn’t have time to stop running to take the picture. You can still see that the passing months disheveled the bra, scooched it aside a bit, and it’s been manhandled by wind and storms. Still, from July to November, scarcely anything had changed.

Another Pulitzer prizewinner right here

When November came, I felt like I had resurfaced. Seeing the bra again was like a sign from God. In fact, I can show you exactly how I felt in a conversation I had with my sister.

I ran eight miles that day. It was cool and sunny, and I saw a view of our beautiful hilly landscape. I don’t have a photo of that, though.

Then came December. Another bad month. I ran when I could, but graduation was looming stormily overhead, and there was a strange breeze coming in from the ocean that smelled startlingly like failure. By some miracle, though, I didn’t fail, and on the thirteenth of December, I officially finished college. I moved back home on Christmas Eve.

Thirteen days later, I went for a run.

January 6, ye blessed day. That’s the last time I saw the bra.

But here I am. I’m training for a half-marathon now. I run all the time, and with the warmer weather I’m even biking again. I cuddle with the dogs not only out of necessity. I have wonderful friends and an amazing family. I’m looking for jobs. Not much luck yet, but I’m still filled with hope.

So – maybe I don’t need the bra anymore. Maybe I don’t need some symbolic undergarment to remind me that I’m a runner, that I’m okay, that some things never change. Because as bizarre as it might seem, that’s what it was to me.

I often remarked to my sister how amazing I found it that no one else had ever picked it up or moved it. Maybe no one else noticed it. Or maybe a bunch of our neighbors also take their walks, runs, and bike rides in that direction, and during the six months I know for a fact it was there, they noticed it with delight, confusion, amusement, and just left it there like I did. I love thinking that.

With nothing better to do this fine Tuesday morning (except prepare for a nerve-wracking phone interview in a half hour), I have now spent 45 minutes trying to figure out what brand this bra is. As you can see in one of the photos, you can kind of make out a tag with some brand name and a logo on it. It took forever, but I finally tracked it down. It’s a fairly cheap Daisy Fuentes bra, and I’ve only been able to find it on eBay or Poshmark.

This is what it looks like when it’s not on the side of the road

I’ve considered buying one, even though apparently there isn’t one in existence that’s my size, just in case the original doesn’t resurface when the snow melts. I’d take it outside and lay it tenderly by the side of the road as a symbol of hope for the next runner, walker, or cyclist who is struggling to resurface, to remember who they are. If such a weirdo exists.

Still, whenever I bike or run that way, which is often, I always look for any suspicious-looking lumps in the snowbanks by that mailbox. Just in case.

A Brief Ramble On Writing

Hello, world.

I’m currently writing this as I sit on a stool at my sister’s kitchen counter, drinking a cup of coffee and eating a slice of zucchini bread, both fresh from the microwave. Since I don’t have a desk, I sit here to emulate the experience of a café as best I can with my limited resources, laziness, and unfortunate lack of transportation. I did once have a vehicle, but at the height of last semester’s awfulness, my brakes stopped working.

Yes, I am both carless and deskless. And everyone knows that if you want to be a writer, you either need a very cute and Instagrammable home workspace, desk included, or at the very least the ability to access a very cute and Instagrammable café. Above all, if you’re not Instagramming your writing escapades, you’re basically not writing. It’s hopeless for me.

A non-artsy photo of my setup, complete with a bag o’ dog food and a French press with three-day-old coffee grounds in it. No filter could redeem this. #writergram?

It’s February now. I’ve taken a long, long break from writing. I wrote a lot of hoarse, sticky, careless poetry in November and a bit in December, but January was a quiet month. I ate a lot of pretzels. A lot.

I wasn’t totally unproductive, though. Between pretzels, I read 19 books, and as my high school English teachers strictly maintained, you can’t be a good writer if you’re not a good reader. By magic, reading more books should have made me wicked talented.

Did it work? Well, to answer that question, maybe we should take a gander at something I wrote on my afternoon stroll the other day:

“The ways dogs poop is what I’m thinking about today. I’ve noticed pooping methods in dogs are peculiarly idiosyncratic (which makes me wonder whether, if human defecation one day slipped out from under the veil of taboo, it would be that way for humans too. Maybe we’ll never know).

I present for example my sister’s two dogs and my parents’ dog. All poop uniquely. Winnie, my sister’s puppy, is ladylike and usually terrified, going only where she’s gone before, hurried, wide-eyed, self-conscious. Pippin, a lanky lab mix, is also a bit frantic about it, swirling in circles, eternally indecisive, hunting for exactly the right place to plant it. Just now, Jack, my parents’ dog, whom I’m currently walking while on a brief sojourn in my hometown, stopped abruptly and got it done quick, businesslike, squatting only until the last loose bit slipped onto the brown February grass. Then he promptly stepped back onto the sidewalk like a practiced soldier, pulling at his leash as I squatted in turn to pick up his deposit.

There is no metaphor hidden here. It’s merely an observation. Another: I feel it’s strangely fitting to let him drop a deuce on the lawn of my high school alma mater. A third: it’s odd that, of all the things I’ve noticed on this walk, this is what I’ve chosen to document.

And one last thing: as I was distractedly typing this, my dog saw his chance to roll all over the flattened corpse of a roadkill opossum.”*

So I’m thinking the answer is no.

Magic aside, it’s probably true that if I don’t write, I won’t get better. Which might also have to mean that if I don’t write about dog shit, I won’t get better. I guess that’s where we’re at.


*Sorry about all the dog poop. I didn’t realize how gross that whole part is until I started reading it aloud to my sister while she was eating tomato soup and she asked me to stop.

Poem the Eighth

Eden Now

who knocked the clock down?
I think I see the snake
the dough is rising by the stove
it’s almost time to bake

tick-ick-ick tock
the broken sound of time
a serpent slowly slides across
the garden of my mind

just take a nibble
just try a little heel
it’s warm from the oven
smooth as an apple peel

crunch crunch crunch crunch
I made it all myself
the snake is gone, the clock is back
on the kitchen shelf.

Poem the Sixth


“…whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.
– Hamlet by William Shakespeare

I once imagined every line wrapping its finger
around a trigger, pulling back, firing,
hurting some make-believe someone.
I was scared to write about pain, scared
these words were useless, thoughtless, selfish,

though I wanted to write about feeling dark and numb,
about scoring the back of my hands with my teeth
when I forced myself to empty. But I was scared
to flood the world with more dark numbness,
to remind you of how it felt when the bullet hit.

I imagined writing to be the act of making emotion
eternal, so wouldn’t it be better, softer, sweeter,
to lie? Let’s sit on the surface and never sink
into the sea of troubles, I decided. Let’s never share
what makes us overflow with vomit and saltwater.

I wanted to help. But which is more helpful,
fleeing from facts or taking up arms?
I could eternally lie, or I could let the lines
do the work they want to do: to wrap
around the trigger, feel it, pull it,

to plunge us into the sea of troubles.
A long time ago, I asked empty air
why I’m a writer, and why I’m alive
if I’m always only to lie. Now, I imagine, maybe
naively, I know better what it means to be alive.