tops of 2023

Recently one of my therapists (plural) told me I talk too much. Well, technically she said that while doing EMDR, she needed to interrupt my highly intellectualized storytelling more, so that we could prioritize reprocessing rather than letting me tip into re-experiencing trauma. And she said it very nicely. But a little part of me heard "You're too much for your therapist, and now you have failed," and of course that kind of thinking is why I'm in therapy. Today I listened to this episode of This American Life, in which Yousef (above, with his family), an incredibly determined, kind, and good-humored Palestinian man, talks about how his two-year-old son wants "a thousand kisses" before going to bed. He laughs and says he doesn't mind. In nearly the same breath, he says he regrets having kids, because what's the point of having children if you can't protect them? I wanted to jump through my car radio and hug him, or some other useless action, be


Our cat brought in a mouse today. I knew as soon as I heard her huntress meow, but I forgot until I plucked a sheet from the top of a laundry pile, and there it was: onyx-eyed, shell-eared, running for new cover. Except, not running, exactly. Pulling itself along on its front legs only, dragging its pink hind feet behind, the way our baby used to do before he learned to crawl. Except then he learned to crawl, and to walk, and he's nearly running now, whereas the mouse probably took a fang to the spinal cord and was on its way out.  I say "it" for clarity. I don't know the mouse's gender, and "they" seems precious in this context, or confusing. I'm thinking of all the things I do for my own comfort and clarity.  I caught the mouse twice; I have a system now, thanks to our cat's prolific haul. I thwap a tupperware container over the creature, then slide a magazine underneath. Sometimes it's The New Yorker. Sometimes it's the nonprofit punk

ritual for the amelioration of a bad dream

An old woman came to our door  selling potholders she’d woven, a little grubby from her grip,  the wear and tear of having offered herself  so often You bought two, added them to our drawer, saying, “That could be me.” My dad earned good money,  but your own mother had filled a drawer with unopened bills You’re twenty years gone and I’m pushing your grandson in his stroller when a woman on Figueroa holds out a stack of potholders, a prayer written in yarn No tengo dinero, I say, and it’s true, but a block too late I realize I could have gotten cash and found her again. I could have summoned you I dream of telling your other grandson that I’m dying, trying to be honest  while softening the blow, as if  such words could ever be anything but an earthquake That could be me: leaving them, joining you. To lack the audacity of confidence—in clear bloodwork, a steady paycheck—is to leave them anyway, my head perpetually turned Lo siento, lo siento, I say to her and you, and your grandsons,  th

weathering, or: little house on the prairie fan fiction

It was nice to log into Blogspot for the first time in ages and read my happy AWP post from March, just to remember that I haven't consistently been a human dumpster fire for the past one to five years. I am  inconsistently a dumpster fire. My current problem is unemployment. I was fortunate to be steadily employed for twenty years(!), weathering the great recession of 2008 and the pandemic. But budget cuts came to 826LA, and my job didn't survive them. I am good at diligently applying for jobs, but so far I haven't actually landed one, and I am bad at dealing with uncertainty.  All of which is to say I have not used this time to make my house fabulous or have a creative renaissance. But I did write one short story, which is basically  Little House on the Prairie fan fiction. I'm posting it here because I don't think there's a huge literary market for Little House fan fiction.  In one of the books, Little Town on the Prairie, Laura teaches at a tiny country sch

the good kind of magic: onward and awpward

Photo by Ben Dutton on Unsplash I'm writing this from the lobby of the Seattle Convention Center, which is strangely beautiful for a convention center. Escalators going up to the sky, flanked with warm wooden stair-seats that look out over Downtown Seattle.  Somehow this is my first post of 2023. Time is a motherfucker. I'm here with C.C., Dash, and Joey for four and a half days of the AWP writers' conference, smashed together with a family vacation. I desperately needed a change of scene. I think we all did. My Great Mental Health Relapse of 2022 hitched a ride to 2023, despite nothing bad happening. I'm going to therapy, doing EMDR, taking more Effexor than I was before, but it's been hard to shake the feeling that something terrible is around the corner, and that feeling becomes its own trigger. Am I afraid of doctor appointments, or am I afraid of how afraid I get of doctor appointments? It's like "live in despair for a week" is an item on my to-d

tops of 2022

I’m starting this post on the first day of winter. It’s 70 degrees outside. I don’t know how to make sense of time any more than my LA body knows how to make sense of weather. This year we trained to become foster parents, endured our fourth disrupted adoption , and then welcomed the closest thing to a “surprise baby” that queer adoptive parents can have. I like the baby; I don’t really like surprises, because even good surprises remind me of bad ones (see: four disrupted adoptions). So discovering Joey’s sweet disposition and falling in love with him was threaded with the worst mental health period I’ve had in years. I’m good-enough now, if I get enough sleep and don’t scrutinize anything too closely. That’s why this isn’t a personal 2022 recap—that story is told in all my obtuse angsty poems below this post—but a list of what I read and watched and loved. I recently got to interview Adam Bessie, whose graphic memoir Going Remote documents the bleak business of teaching community co