Exciting news, friends: I've been chosen as a 2018 Artist-in-Residence by the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. I'll be heading to Omaha in January to begin my three-month residency alongside artists in a number of different disciplines, including painting, sculpture, performance, printmaking, architecture, fiber arts, and photography.
My mother hates it when I write about her.
Although, knowing her, she would object to my use of the word “hate.” When we were children, she wouldn’t let us use it.
“You might not like something that your sister is doing,” she’d say, “but you do not hate her.”
So let me start again: My mother does not like it when I write about her.
My mother has never asked me not to write about her, but when I show her a piece in which she figures prominently, she is always quiet afterward.
“It’s good,” she says, but after that there is nothing.
“What?” I ask, and she’ll look at the page, scanning it for something other than what she wants to say, and then her eyes will fill with tears, the rims like sinks that never completely drain.
“You make me sound so weak,” she says, like she always says, and then I say nothing. Because what can I say that won’t hurt her, and what can I say that won’t be a lie?
Here is the truth: my mother is weak. She has had sixteen surgeries in her lifetime. Physically she is held together by rods and screws, her bones overcompensating in equal and opposite measure so that each year there is always another surgery, always another revision. My mother’s body is a version of her body the doctors have edited to within an inch of its life, snapping joints and drilling holes until it seems strong.
“There,” I imagine them saying after eight hours reinforcing her spine, her hips, her shoulders too. “That should do it.”
But then we are back in a year—two if we are lucky—taking another stab at it. They fine-tune the bones in her spine. They replace the replacements in her joints.
Continue reading in the Spring 2017 issue of Prairie Schooner.
I am happy to have my fierce and fiery story, "The Day Diana Died," named as a Top 25 finalist in the Glimmer Train Family Matters Contest.
This is what I tell people to try to get them to understand: When Jamie and I broke up, I cried for a day. We cried together, actually, and maybe that’s what made it different. We cried on the way home from our counselor’s office, we cried through the lunch we told ourselves we needed to go eat, we cried in our bed, our backs turned toward each other.
We cried for a day, and then we were fine.
But ever since Cody died, I feel as though I may never stop crying.
That’s as far as I get in trying to describe how it feels to lose him, his quick-beating heart, his impossibly small head, his chest that was warmer on one side than the other, his neck soft and folded like a flower. Then I just tell people, “It was terrible,” because it was, and it still is.
It had been a year almost to the day that Cody had been experiencing pain. The kind of pain that made him not want to get out of bed, that made him hold up his paws in the middle of a walk, that forced me to carry him to more vet appointments than I could keep track of, cradled in the same bed that he eventually would die in. You think a year is enough. Even in the last few weeks, I thought it was enough. I thought I had had enough. I thought Cody had had enough. I thought his little body—hopped up on so many pain meds he slept most of the day and only got up to beg for a walk—had definitely had enough.
But it wasn’t, because when I pressed my forehead to his forehead and felt his fluttering heart finally stop beating, the only thing I could think was that I wanted him back.
When my relationship with Jamie ended, I turned to metaphors to make sense of it. The plant and the house and the crumbling wall. They were all signs. They made sense of the mess we had made of each other’s lives, and there was comfort in the sense-making.
But there are no metaphors to make sense of this: I still expect to hear his nails on the tiles when I open up a bag of cheese. When I throw something heavy onto my bed, I still worry mid-fall that it is about to land on his head. I still flinch when the doorbell rings. When I’ve been away from home for longer than eight hours, it still feels wrong, like it is time for his walk and time for his meds and time to walk into my apartment and see his small head resting on the edge of his bed, waiting for me to open the gate and set him free.
I can’t think of a metaphor for that kind of missing. The kind that is so close, I can’t even keep up with it.
Everything red in my closet had disappeared. That was the thing I noticed first. It happened slowly—so slowly I figured the missing things had been claimed by the greedy dryer we shared with our neighbors or our new puppy. But then I noticed they were all private things: a pair of underwear, a see-through camisole, impossibly high heels that Lou bought and asked me to wear while I washed the dishes.
I wasn’t exactly upset when they went missing. They were mostly clothes Lou had bought for me, which meant none of them fit right or were in anyway forgiving. When I put the camisole on for the first time, it pulled across my chest and flattened my breasts.
“Your tits look great in that top,” Lou said from the bed where he had been watching me struggle to get it on, but something was off. He wasn’t looking at my face, which made sense, but he wasn’t looking at my chest either...
Continue reading at Monkeybicycle.