Wednesday, April 5, 2017

sing a sweet song of catharsis

a bit of barely-edited work I wrote in writing group the last two hours. It endlessly fascinated me how three different prompts yield three different works, but there always seems to be a through-line. I never know my brain until I start writing, and even then...

the tendrils of our roots
intertwine. I don’t know
what’s yours
and what’s mine.
but we’re stitched together,
you and I
bound up like dry twigs
ready to burn with the world.

I know you are there.
Sometimes you’re the bird, and I’m the cage
and sometimes we switch
I don’t know which I like more
to hold you, or to be held

these steps to my heart are small,
like rungs of a dollhouse ladder.
you can scurry up them
and get here quickly.
and just as swiftly
you may also leave

There are ancient scrolls that say
many great things
many great things
many terrible things
about the world
how it was made, how it died
while God flew over
and watched us burn the world
over and over and over
and over and over and over and over


I was really going there.
Those were the two sides you needed
and I, of course, had been all of those.

It’s a dirty place, scattered and
I don’t remember thinking
"she’s just lost her mind"
I just think:
most of the good things
toward the end
was a bit like love

I didn’t cry
the first time I saw it.
I didn’t go up with tears
in my eyes
I said “Mine.”

You hated me for that
and I thought it too.

You said ,
“You only get an exciting chase
I could hardly breathe
I was just part of the landscape
along with drugs and a big glass ashtray
turned upside down.

You sat on a glacier
snorting cocaine
and I quit until I became sober enough
for you to stitch me

I should have done it


the bird cried
the ice caps are melting!
the ice caps are melting!
into the sea!
into the sea!

I was aware once
of things that brought me joy
I used to know how to fade like a gradient
into the background of the party
and be happy enough there
the textures of people places and things
adjusting, scooching, scraping in such a way
to make the world a bright light
you could see from space.

I was known once, by a man
who knew my name that no one else did

he asked me
min qalbi? Who is my heart?
in broken Arabic I answered “ana” “I am.” 
min eayni? Who is my eyes?
min habbi? Who is my love?
ana habibi.
min rruhi? Who is my soul?


You went away, I do not know you.
You disappeared, melted, sunk, drowned
like those ice caps
just as the bird said:
into the sea!
into the sea!

min habbi alan?
min habbi alan?
who is my love now?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Operation GSD

Today I started physical therapy again. It’s been far too long, and my body has degraded again down to the functional mechanics of an 85 y/o. This year has been discouraging for so many reasons, some of which I am not ready to talk about yet. In time, I will, but it’s not time yet. Suffice it to say that physical ailments and mental health are very closely connected and affect each other greatly. And I still feel like the fixing needed to get my body back is so extreme it feels impossible. Pneumonia really knocked it out of me. I can’t reach my arms up to get a plate off the shelf. The idea of walking a few blocks sounds exhausting to even try. I get mad when I realize I left my phone upstairs and have to retrieve it when I’m already running late and I can’t just jaunt up the stairs.

I am apprehensive. I have hated this body I’m trapped in; it’s been a constant uphill battle that never seems to cease and desist, or even plateau. I’d take a plateau, honestly. But nope, pneumonia and seasonal depression etc. etc. have set me back to square one. Do not pass go, do not collect 100 dollars.

But I’m starting small. Very small. As in, take a deep breath, right now. Do it. Just pause everything, and do it. Done? No? Do it. Close your eyes and do it.

Okay good. We default to exist in such a small amount of breathing space. But there is something cleaning, refreshing, manually calming, that ‘turning the corner’ feeling that happens in that brief moment when you allow yourself to do nothing else but take a deep breath.

So, I’m starting there. Again. And I don’t know how many more times I will start again. But I can. Even if I’m faking it until I actually believe I can.

My life path has been divergent, to put it in one word. And I do struggle with feeling disappointed in myself, and generally not feeling like I exist at all or for any real purpose. Depression is an unruly animal. But I’m starting again. #OperationGSD. aka, Operation Get Shit Done. Whatever it takes. Here we go. Again. Goals, I’m coming for you. #GSD!

I am learning so much about myself and why and how I work (and don't work). I am trying to take every bit of knowledge, every insight, every critique, every hope and dream, every disappointment; and turn it into something beautiful. That's what this means to me. It's not easy. But I hear my Self say: Take a deep breath, right now. Now, get shit done.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Equinox: Her

This is a quick piece I wrote last night during my Sunday night writing group. It has not been edited and it is not finished, but as it is Spring Equinox today I figured I would share it anyway. But enough of these apologies. Here.


Her legs grow up from underground, her spine is the equator;
Hot and electric,
each vertebrae stacking
and un-stacking as she spreads herself across the globe.
 Her brain stem the core of the world.
The tectonic plates of her shoulders press together
when she’s worried or upset;
relaxing into deep waters when she sleeps.
Each limb is an ecosystem
And she has many;
More than you can count
Each arm emergent and bustling with busy lives
of bees and inchworms, katydids and whales
half of which are dying out
as she watches, giving all of herself but losing it all the same.

It’s a bit morbid, to think of her there- buried in the ground
sprouting trees from acorns fallen into animal carcasses.
But she is not alone. She has the world to care for.
And as a mother, there is nothing else but your offspring,
to offer. Your womb’s handiwork, your baby blues
blinking at the Sun,
gazing upwards from the oceans--

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You are only one, but you are not the only one.

Life is powerful. It can be
powerfully destructive:
tearing babes from mothers' chests
ripping through dead rain forests like a dragon
breathing fire
sucking dry
the oceans that feed us,
spreading famine of
tears that make us beating hearts;
spilling blood
on unholy ground
as the dying rivers cry
their songs of weariness--

But we
who rise from the ashes 
over and over again, 
dawning like a phoenix flecked with gold
after choking on the dust, after 
breaking every limb; 
climbing the spines of our own backs 
up again
and again
and again
racing our hearts to beat
faster, live longer,
love deeper.
We are the beauty of this world. 
We can 
claim that for ourselves and 
be beautiful and free, 
in spite of the slavery.

Wash yourself. Again and again.
Be beautiful.
Build your life
as if it were a work of art.
You fall, get back up. Be brave.
Tell your truth. Live.
This is what beauty is.
And you are a part of it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


And time goes by, and we are halfway through the second month of 2017. There is much to say about the state of the world, but do not fear, I really don't have the energy to talk about it here. Not my platform.

What I can say, however, is that seasonal affective disorder is real; and has been hitting me pretty hard. With weeks without a single sunbeam to sniff at, the all-consuming grey has a certain way to dampen the soul.

Additionally I just got out of the hospital after spending four days in there for the worst bout of pneumonia that I've had so far. I seem to get it at least once every year, thanks to my GvHD and lung damage, but this one hit me pretty hard. It will be months before I'm back to where I was...which was not great to begin with. So that's hard to take. I'm fatigued and weak and sleepy- but have abs of steel thanks to all the coughing. #blessed

I also dyed my hair (the bits of it that are left: I shaved my head on January 1st) a bright crazy purple yesterday and that is giving me a little lift and life in the 50 Days of Grey. #YOLO (am I now going to end every paragraph with a hashtag? Who can say.)
But in addition to SAD (oh aptly acronym-ed...#CRYING) I'm also realizing that I really owe it to myself and to anyone who might find this blog at any point who can relate so they don't feel alone: let me say it loud and clear: GRAFT VS HOST DISEASE IS THE DEVIL INCARNATE.

Not only have you endured cancer and all that shixxxx that goes along with it; you're stuck with an autoimmune disease that almost nothing is known about and can present in myriad ways from mild/annoying to life-threatening. Just as I am typing this my left hand is starting to spasm; one of my more painful presentations- which also makes it hard to do things...with your muscles. Which is pretty much...everything.

---break to calm hand spasms---

I've also been trying to gain weight to hopefully help with a couple of things:
1) being malnourished is just not good for you. My hair is thinning, and it probably contributes to my muscle spasms.
2) I want to be strong. I need to gain weight but I want to gain muscle and get my flexibility back. But this appears to be a very very V E R Y slow battle where there are more losses than wins.

Just these past two weeks with pneumonia, I lost 6-7 pounds; which, when you weight like 100lbs to start is not good at all. It is hard for me to go up even a short set of stairs. I get winded from my crapass lungs and my leg muscles (if you can call them that. I like to pretend like they are built-in crappy leg warmers) are tired and shaky.

Chronic GvHD is a real thing. Even if no one really knows anything about it. It's real. And it's real hard. It's often invisible; people tell me I'm looking great, etc. because I'm so skinny etc. I know they mean well, but can I just say on the record: let's stop talking about people's weight?!?!?!! I don't need to be told I'm skinny and it doesn't make sense to me that somehow that is culturally appropriate to talk about but the opposite would be incredibly offensive. So let's just stop talking about it. Let's make room for people to love themselves without an "affirmation" from you about their body. #rant.

I struggle every single day with cGvHD. My eyes don't produce tears (something I'm trying to work on, but there's just so many meds...), I have weird skin discoloration/hyper-pigmentation all over my body that makes me look like I'm covered in bruises all the time. Weight loss seems to also be a symptom of cGvHD; for unknown reasons at this time (according to several studies I have read). I know I struggle with appetite and nausea and difficulty swallowing, which probably all play a part to some extent.

HOWEVER there is good news, among the grey days and hospital stays... I've decided to go back to school to pursue an MFA in Directing. I've been looking into several different programs: getting the ball rolling early for fall 2018. It's good to have something to look forward to. #excited

Just trying to remain the superhero of my own story. Which is much much harder than I could have ever anticipated four years ago. I want to remain that strong human who beast-ed through cancer and came back with super powers... but it is getting more and more difficult to stay positive. So, sometimes you just gotta start outside in and dye your hair purple.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Once, all at once, I saw it all

When I listen to the world,
besides the never ending ringing in my ears
and the air vents vibrating the room
and my dog having a dream
and the microwave telling my mother her leftovers are done
and the cuckoo clock ticking in the front hall
and my fingers plunking away and scratching my chest
and the air rushing in my lungs and out
and the birds outside the window
and all the other noises these sounds are drowning out:
is it silent? No. The world is not silent.
The world is telling us what needs doing, all the time.
Learn, and Listen
with ears
with eyes
with closed mouths
with open mouths--
the music of it all,

the cacophony. The dissonant humming
making its way
in through our ear canals
up into our brains and
down into our hearts
where it echoes like lost love
as it grieves its own death
and rejoices in its new birth.

Once, all at once,
I saw it all.
All at once.
Crying and laughing and crying and laughing
louder and louder against
the wind and the darkening clouds while the ground gets ready
the tide creeping up carrying messages from the deep sea
the moonrise a year in the making:
the empty moon, blacked out and hollow like
an empy heart
ready to be filled.

That is how the world answers me
when I ask
What do you need?
Your heart.
Your heart.
Your heart.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

full moon got me like...

Maaaaan, this full moon cycle is hitting me really hard. Not sleeping well, and the waning hours of daylight are heavy and depressing. Lethargy is pulling my body around my house while I wait for something to lift. Depression isn't just mental, it's deeply physical. Mostly in my stomach. Body aches. Disembodiment cloud of fog. I am here.

Just last week I got great news from my transplant doctor: basically I'm doing really well physically. I've stopped my immuno-suppressant drug; which I have been on for over three years. It was what was keeping my new immune system at bay until it got used to living inside my body, a foreigner. I'm lucky that I am able to get off of this drug- any other type of transplant, you have to be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life and you will always be immuno-suppressed. Mine's a special case: since I got my immune system replaced, there is a chance that I would be able to get off the drug eventually. And, hooray. It's happened. It is no small thing. I've been off of it for a couple months now, and none of my organs are shutting down.  It is no small thing.

I'm grateful. My doctor actually smiled at me, told me: "You don't need us anymore" and then gave me a hug. It is no small thing. As I hugged him in his white coat; I said "thank you" and it felt like I was actually thanking him for saving my life, for the first time. I didn't need to say anything else. I couldn't, really. Just "thank you."

I just performed in a movement piece a couple weekends back- after devising the show for two months. It was incredible to be in my body for the first time and feel like it somewhat belonged to me. It's been a long time since I've felt that way. I loved performing. It is no small thing. I really didn't know, until now, that I love performing. That I need to do that.

I performed a heartbreaking physical theatre show four times in a single night: cried through most of it as I embodied a girl growing up, getting caught up into sex trafficking and drugs, having an internal war with herself and finally finding an arm up, which was from inside her. It doesn't end happily. It ends hopeful, I guess. But it was where the real work began. The end was the beginning.

Getting to the point of embodying the headspace of trauma was not what was difficult. I have a well to draw from. We all do. The hardest part was that exact realization. There is no other. We all embody trauma. The woman I embodied was me. It was you. Your daughter. Your sister. My sister.

I was overcome after creating this work (and discovered even more while performing it) of the strength once again of human beings. This woman, this one story we told through movement, is the story of strength. It isn't the story of pity, or the story of weakness. It is the story of bravery. No one is immune to trauma- internal and external. What amazed me was embodying this woman who went through most of her life hating herself, disembodying, disassociating. But in the end, her liberation came from within her. She had to choose to get out. She made the move to do it. Every single time we got to the end of the show, there is a reveal- and even though I knew- actor-brain-wise what was going to be revealed... I was shocked every single time. Honestly, earnestly and authentically. I didn't feel I was acting. I was embodying. I've never had this experience before. Not like this.

So here I am, approaching the end of 2016: job searching, a totaled car, lethargy and depression steeping in me like earl grey. And yet. This time last year I had recently been released from the hospital after one of the most dehumanizing experiences of my life; depressed and entering the literal darkness of this time of year. I am not her anymore. I am a year older, wiser. I see what is happening to me- the full moon or whatever it is, and I can call it out on its' shit. I see you, depression. You are not me. You are not who I am. You try to own me sometimes, but you don't. And that is no small thing.

Approaching this new year with a curiosity. I have almost no idea what will happen in the future. Job searching is lonely and difficult, but I am also just curious. What WILL happen?

I'm lucky to have what I have. I have a body that is still alive, for better or for worse (bit of both). I have discovered what I am meant for: theatre. performance. directing. devising. writing. creating. Not everyone can say either of these things. I am lucky. It is no small thing.

So, full moon: effing bring it. I'm gonna put on my running shoes and leave the house today, even though most of me is saying no, just curl up and die. I'm gonna put on music that inspires me to be a better human. I will be unafraid to read or think things that make me cry or feel overwhelmed by the idea of the world. Beauty and Terror in everything, is everything. Because feeling these things reminds me that I am alive. And that is no small thing.