2017 in hindsight

Cleaning has always been my tool of procrastination. My mother raised us to value productivity. She woke us up early to go to the gym; she made us complete chore charts; she didn’t let us watch television.

These days, when I can’t bring myself to finish the task at hand or I’m bored, I clean. I rearrange my furniture. I workout.

This year, I’ve been cleaning a lot.

I’ve worked from home many, many days this year. I sit on my couch, computer lap top, avoiding eye contact with the blank document screen, glancing into the corners, spotting the shadows cast by the small tufts of dog fur piled against this wall or that.

And I clean the old fashioned way. Sweeping and mopping the floor. Scrubbing the bathroom on my hands and knees with Ajax. Even so, my apartment never really gets clean enough.

If it’s time spent, that’s really what comprised this year. Scrubbing in avoidance. Last year, in the midst of a quarter life crisis, I was dwelling on the concept of vulnerability — of inhabiting my emotions.  But life is an endless rotation of cycles. I’m leaving 2017 avoiding questions of what I do or don’t believe.

I want to believe we’re headed toward equity. I want to believe we’re headed toward parity. I want to believe that we believe Black Lives Matter. I want to believe we’re headed toward equal pay.  I want to believe in equality.  I want to believe in basic human goodness. I want to believe in institutions. I want to believe in leadership. I want to believe in democracy. I want to believe that police officers are mostly good. I want to believe in middle America. I want to believe in white men. I want to believe in karma. I want to believe in past lives. I want to believe that when I’m talking to my dog she understands me. I want to believe in home ownership. I want to believe that having children is a beautiful thing. I want to believe that there’s nothing wrong with telling your kids Santa Claus is real. I want to believe there’s nothing wrong with telling your kids Jesus is real. I want to believe Jesus is real. (You know, the died and rose again and eternal salvation kind of real.) I want to believe in monogamy. I want to believe in marriage. I want to believe in falling in love. I want to believe in retirement. I want to believe in art. I want to believe in the person who sits next to me at the bar. A parent, a sibling, a friend, a lover. And I think at the end of 2017, I just really want to believe in myself.


And so I clean. I clean until I’ve bleached my inner conflict. I clean until it’s an hour before a deadline and I can’t put it off anymore. I clean until my dog nudges me in the way she only does when it’s really time to go for a walk, which means I have to put on pants. I clean until I can dissect a situation down to its emotionless facts. I clean until I decide maybe not what I believe in but what idea or thought or story is damn close to some kind of capital-T truth. I clean until a friend or a sibling or boyfriend calls and says it’s time to go to dinner. And then we sit at a bar and talk for hours about what we don’t believe in.

Maybe, leaving 2017 I should do this instead.
I believe in young people. For nearly 15 months straight, I’ve been surrounding by sub-22-year-olds from across the region and the country and they are more globalized and issue-oriented than I was then.
I believe in my family. We’re fierce supporters of each other, even in the worst of times.
I believe in the human capacity for friendship. I’ve never been good at holding onto friends, but this year I’ve been able to hold tightly to people.
I believe in the expansive definition and power of love. “Whenever the lover utters the phrase ‘I love you,’ its meaning must be renewed by each use.”
I believe in my toothy, derpy dog. She has patiently let me try on fostering dogs, which is an exercise in masochistic, ephemeral love.
I believe in women. Thanks in no small part to the insane exercise that was Women Galore last year and the bright, evolving future of this feminist festival.
I believe in not taking things personally. This is the first year of my life where I’m able to listen to, receive and implement sometimes very harsh critical feedback. Sometimes the implementation is simply, “No thanks.”
I believe in gentleness and eye contact in human interaction. And asking more questions than I answer.

All in all, 2017 wasn’t such a bad year in my book. In no particular order:



Ladybird, Greta Gerwig


All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg


Women Galore


Collaborating with one of my best friends.


Roni Horn, Nasher Sculpture Center


love of my life.


New full-time job


Wonder Woman


Abandon Me, Melissa Febos


Storytellers Without Borders


Atomic Blonde

Sneaking into Zoe Keating at the Kessler

Miller, Mississippi at Dallas Theater Center


Vital Fitness Studio



A summer of pooltime and late nights with Kristin

the_shape_of_water_sally_hawkins_courtesy_fox_searchlightThe Shape of Water


Doug Aitken: Electric Earth at The Modern


The Wild Detectives

friedman-kraus.w710.h473.2x.jpgSpeaking of which, here are some of the women they let me invite to Dallas this year: Chris Kraus, Ann Friedman, Morgan Parker, Jessa Crispin, Liz Silver, Deb Olin Unferth, Amelia Gray, Melissa Febos, Jami Attenberg, among others.

IMG_2006.JPGPalm Springs


Oh, and this guy.


A Ghost Story, David Lowery

Marfa Intensives: Making theater with old friends and new.




lunes con Vicky, my new friend and collaborator


Teaching a writing class to middleschoolers at The Modern


Universal Harvester, John Darnielle

IMG_2758.jpegGalveston with grandma.


Panels on Panels (mostly about feminism, journalism and theater)

21055183_10207562803867054_8936051821205782478_oCollaborations with Christopher Blay

Better friendships



And where will I begin when I can’t keep beginning again?

Where will happiness be found without rejecting sadness?

How will I measure up when I cannot slouch?

What will I see when the mirror is true?

Will I be able to accept the eternal in between ?

Nevermore a renewal;

Nevermore empty space cleared for newness;

Nevermore an imagining of the person I’m not yet;

Nevermore potential.

Suddenly here;

Suddenly forever.

2016: Out of Order.

Burn it down.

img_5225Everything I owned was in the garage with this car when it burst into flames.


img_4753I left my dream job.

11889703_10103839381884960_263398717098383517_nSaid goodbye to this special home.

img_4991My beloved green Prius was totaled by a drunk driver. Bought this little bug.

22822858Life will break you down.

You can never really know another person.

unnamed“The Triumph”

“emotions that diagrammatically analogue loving and hating, leaving and having left.”  -Michael Dean

“I had added meaningful layers to things that were meaningless many, many times before.”
“Things do and do not remain ‘only what they are.'”

A beautiful month before leaving for the summer.

A good job.


13932897_10206991331877380_2323808292043409883_nBeing gone.


Allegheny Mountains.

img_5778Finding people who keep you sane.

img_5724Lost in Wisconsin.

img_5668The people who always show up.

img_5852The people who show up to bring you home.

All three Smart sisters in Dallas for the first time in six years.

hillary-clintonWhat almost was.

41r8yicxm-l-_sx339_bo1204203200_“We know less when erroneously think we know than when we recognize that we don’t.”

12745624_10205812878176774_7268804294503940935_nThe time I accidentally created my next job.

14322501_10205935188892469_6071364536212943108_nNo moment guaranteed.
Letting go.








ambition won’t kill you but it might come close


riproduzioneproibitawhat went missing when I wasn’t watching?
don’t look.
traced down corridors
at the end of which I’d find,
who knows.

who knows, I screamed into the wind,
who knows.
who knows.
who knows.

It’s the siren call of apathy
not to wonder what could be
to sit in it
the echo of nothing.

nothing, I asked myself quietly,

Crumbs of agony
scattered by ambition
through time,

not who I thought you’d be, wailing,
not who I thought you’d be,
not who I thought you’d be,
not who I thought I’d be

Circumstantial denial
betrayal of hope,
no longer linear,
no longer  there,

Who am I? a familiar voice,
who am I?
who am I?
who knows
not who I thought I’d be

junk drawer.

move into a place when you’re in love.
a city
a neighborhood
a street
Grab the hand that holds you and run toward home.

move into a place when you’re in love,
With everything.
Greener grass,
new paths,
concrete glitters
and the old man down the street,
maybe he’s a magic man.
A colony of Monk Parrots in the vacant lot:
an assembly of cheerleaders.
The corner dive:
a pleasure trove.
Stay in love,
Everything seems to say.
Stay in love,
if you can.

move into a place when you’re in love,
unpack bags.
fill shelves.
drape curtains.
color walls.
let the disposal growl!
collect a pet,
rearrange chairs,
if dust gathers
break a dish,
break your heart,
search for glue.
junk drawer.

stay in a place while you’re in love,
spiderwebs may crowd corners,
unwieldy trappings,
eight eyes watching,
lost in the chaos of proximity.
a ceiling can only  contain so much.
break your heart,
break a lease.
never fear the open door,

move out of a place when you fall in love,
let not past murder future,
exist in perennial renewal,
harbor up discontent,
eternally attempt
to discover home .

accidental threat


Nothing is what it was before.
I knew that.
I know that.
I’ve known that would be true.
I’ve wanted to say it to you,

We were rainclouds and honeybees
accidentally threatening,
billowing together overhead,
fearing what is to come,
a sting dislodged,
a cloud broken.

You cannot hurt yourself and stay the same
you cannot hurt another and be all to blame
your heart my dagger, your thrust my fall.

your poetry before mine

I’m reading your latest collection
when suddenly
I’m lost in the idea of you.
Who are you?
Why do you write?
What do you look like?

Much older than I expected
brows furrowed in pretension
head cocked in judgment
or curiosity?
It’s too like me
Writing my first poem about someone else
drifting in your mind, hoping to find myself
and you, unaware of my existence
my absence from the annals
my silence stunted by paralysis
my inability to fail
causes nothing
exactly nothing
and you, your glorious third collection
I’ll write it’s a stunning array of fits and starts
interrogating the line; flourishing with cathartic epiphany
revelatory but not redemptive
a perfect example of a poet who knows his own mind
mine shrinking ever further back,
a soldier deserting,
a rodent burrowing in summer,
a fish drowning at the surface of a pond,
a wick stuck inside the wax,
a spider suicidal in its own web,
words falling in the uninhabited forest
of my mind.