In his essay “On Becoming an American Writer,” from the collection How To Write an Autobiographical Novel, Alexander Chee writes about being a writer in our current climate, “after the election, the election that for now we all speak of only as ‘the election’ as if there will never be any other.” Setting aside my fear that, based on current events, there actually won’t be another election, reading Chee, I felt relieved. I thought, oh good, we are writing about this now—this being “the election,” this being what it means to be alive—and to try to make art—in this crazy, disorienting, devastating time.Read More
After I finished my undergrad degree many years ago I worked for a small newspaper in the mountains of Colorado. It paid $19,000 a year and offered no benefits, so I lived in my parents’ basement for a year and waited tables on the weekends. Most nights after dinner I went to the local coffee shop and wrote pages and pages in my notebook. Sometimes I was journaling, sometimes I was responding to the prompts in Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, sometimes I just needed an excuse to feed my secret addiction at the time—smoking cigarettes.Read More
When I was young—eight or nine maybe—I learned that two of the mountains near where I grew up used to be volcanos. My first question was whether they would erupt again. My older brother and my father explained why they wouldn’t. The volcanos were active in the Paleocene era—around 65 million years ago. Whatever they had to say, they had already said it—they had already spewed and exploded and raged. Now they stood quiet, content.Read More
Yesterday, for the first time in months, I started writing something new. As I did so, I almost welled up with tears. I was excited, relieved, inspired. I felt like someone had connected my arm to an IV drip after months of severe dehydration. Finishing my essay collection for grad school last month took every last bit of original thought and motivation from me. I wasn’t sure when or if I was going to be able to write again. But there I was yesterday, typing away. I felt like everything was going to be okay again.Read More
It's day 30 of my photo project, which means if I'm following the advice of life hacks everywhere, I've successfully created a new habit. When I decided to take a photo every day for a year, I initially just wanted to practice taking photos. Photography is one of my hobbies, and it's something I've always wanted to get better at, but I always push it aside for other things, like writing, making money to feed myself, and practicing yoga. Seldom do I have a lazy Saturday afternoon when I can just walk around and take photos. So I started the project thinking that taking a photo every day would be an easy, small way to work on my skills.Read More
Yesterday I posted the above photo to Facebook and Instagram. A friend at my yoga class took it. Before class started I was telling her that I had started a photo-a-day project on January 1st. My teacher overheard and suggested we take a photo of me in handstand with the lights above me.
I loved this idea.Read More
It’s December. To quote Linkin Park, “This is my time of the year.”
December is like cocaine for an introspection junkie like myself. I know it’s a crazy time for a lot of people. There’s shopping, parties, and time with family, which alone can be an overload of stress. But there is also oodles of darkness, and if I’m mindful about it, lots of nights in, plenty of quiet time for reading and writing, and a Costco-worthy stash of tea.Read More
Last week I had a day where I felt "less than.” I was online looking for a writing class or a way to meet some other writers. I used to have a group for this, but we all disbanded a couple of years ago and went our separate ways.
I followed the world wide abyss and found my way to the works of some wildly successful contemporary essayists. After reading several essays, I began to feel inferior. The essays were really, really good. Each author had websites detailing their long lists of publications and awards.Read More
“He had been drinking heavily for the past few days,” his wife said yesterday morning. “He was a very lonely man.”
That’s from an article in the New York Times the day after Jack Kerouac’s death—October 22nd, 1969. Yesterday was the anniversary of his death, 45 years ago. I wanted to write something all day yesterday, but was busy at work, then went to yoga, then came home and did freelance work. It was long past my bedtime on a school night before I had the chance to say anything.Read More
On Thursday I finished a piece of writing and sent it off to my writing coach. Which is a really good feeling. But all week I felt like there was something coming after me. I knew the second I hit “send” on my email that I would officially be free floating in the in-between space again—between a completed piece of writing and a not-yet-started new piece of writing.
This is the scary place for me. This is place where everything I’ve been working on is in danger of crumbling. I will either continue doing the work, or I will falter like I have so many times in the past.Read More
It’s a little after 8:30 on an October evening and the rain is lightly falling outside. The drops are tapping the skylight in my living room. I’m eating a Larabar for dinner because it’s all I had in the house that didn’t need to be cooked. I got home from yoga a little while ago. I washed my face and fed the cat. I was just starting to make my dinner when everything went black. I felt around the countertop for my phone, knowing it had a flashlight. My cat kept eating.Read More