A List of Mildly Pleasing Things.

The sound a rotary phone makes
When you hang up the receiver.


The smell of tires
And how you know before you walk in
the door of the auto shop
that the computer will be old,
and the colors will be red and black.

The sound of ice in a glass
And a something liquid gold
pouring slowly in.

When Monty’s Tail Wags While He’s Sleeping.

Riding in a cab
In New York City,
going anywhere.
The urban slideshow
through a square cracked window
slows down the fast city.
and the driver mumbling
in a quiet language an American girl
who’s pretty
will never need to know.

The way Gwyneth Paltrow smokes cigarettes in The Talented Mr. Ripley.


The second of stillness
When you drive under a bridge in the rain.

New showering products.

A woman tying a man’s tie.

The crinkling of a newspaper
When a man eats his breakfast
With one leg crossed over the other.

Being a woman
Wearing a dress
Smelling romantic
and the clicking of heels
on the old wooden floor
toward whoever spent the time waiting.

A fresh piece of chalk
on school chalkboards.
And the slowness and fragility
of that 90 year old librarian
Who stamps the due date in my book
with her veiny tissue hands.


That feeling you get
When you kiss someone new.
Like everything is different
Though everything’s the same.

Health, Happiness, and Tiny Little Pleasures.

Life at the Window.

I spent last Spring in a playground called New York City. My brother and sister-in-law had this great apartment in TriBeCa with huge windows and a doorman. As newly jobless, apartment-less, boyfriend-less- New York City felt like the perfect place to spend some time and  get to know myself again. I had lost all of my “identifiers ” and it was time to get in touch and adapt.  It was truly a treat  staying there while I reconfigured what my life was going to look like. My brother spent most the week in Boston teaching at MIT and Estee worked full-time, so I had this great little cube in the city to myself a lot.

Our cube with the light on.
Our cube with the light on.

My only responsibility as a guest there was to walk the dog, Lilly. Lilly was cool. Sweet and low maintenance, she was happy to spend day after day sitting on top of the heater with me and looking out the window to life below. I wrote, read, and occasionally played music super loud and danced alone in the living room. (One day I danced “the Dougie” too hard and exhausted myself for a week) If anyone were watching from the building across the street, it would have been quite a show. Lilly sometimes barked at a dog below or a UPS man unloading boxes, but mostly we just watched. It was a perfect, small existence for me at that window. New York City had a way of making me feel intricately connected to the pulse of life, even though I was sick and on the outskirts, and my only participation was mostly observation from the 4th floor. I never felt isolated in New York. Sometimes I ended the day feeling like I had interacted with so many people and in fact I hadn’t actually talked to anyone. There’s something so involved there, that even as a spectator I felt implicitly a part. I would watch the people walking their dogs or babies in strollers, laughing or yelling on their cell phones, entering restaurants and hugging friends hello, and it all made me feel incredibly human again. I could watch life from that window all day and never get tired of the sights. And most days, that’s all I did.

Life at the window.
Life at the window.

I really had to get used to the “free time.” I know that sounds like an illegitimate complaint, but going from working to not was hard to navigate. To strangers it sounds fun..”You’re so lucky! You don’t have to work.!”  But that’s kind of like telling someone in a wheelchair “You’re so lucky, you don’t have to walk!” Truthfully it can be extremely lonely and isolating having absolutely nothing but time on your hands, but possessing none of the means in which to do the things you used to. It took me a long time to adjust to not having a typical day schedule to follow. Such is life. We notice things more once they go missing.

It was surprising how responsible I had to be with my free time. You can’t just do nothing. Nothing is the gift you give yourself after you’ve done something. But if you’re not actually doing anything, the nothing part becomes completely sad. You have to be responsible. It occurs to me now how much security and diligence there was in my fulltime job. A schedule is basically simple. Follow the rules 5 days a week, get paid, go home. There are things you say in an office and things you don’t say. Wear and don’t wear. I worked at that gallery because that was the progressive step after college. It was safe there. I knew exactly what was expected of me and I was good at what I did. And on the 1st and 15th of every month I was paid 1,060 dollars for following the rules and doing my work dutifully. There was a time work began and ended. And there were two entire days a week you had to yourself. It didn’t matter what you did on those days. It only mattered that you showed up on the right days and were on time if not early.  Then all that was left was following the rules. Performing tasks. I do miss the stability of that old life. The one where at least I felt  like I knew what I was doing and where I was headed and what was coming my way. Now there is none of that routine or structure. There isn’t really anything expected of me now.  No tasks to check off, no paycheck twice a month. There’s no real order, and it’s a strange thing to very quickly lose something like that. There is ease in order.

As easy as it is to complain about work, to dislike your boss or co-workers, there is something very essential in human beings that gets fulfilled in just getting dressed and going to work every day; contributing  to the “whole” some way and getting paid to do it. Even if the work is  mundane or repetitive. Even if your co-workers are punks or your boss is a turd-sandwich, there’s something gratifying about good old fashioned compensated  labor. Life becomes pretty different without it.

Part of my biggest adjustment in getting sick has been surrendering to a schedule that I can’t control. I don’t know how I’ll feel one day to the next, what I’ll be capable of. I don’t know if Ill sleep at night for 12 hours or 10 minutes. (Or if I’ll be up at 2 am writing this blog like I am now)  So in a very bizarre way, the illness has literally forced me to live one day at a time. One moment at a time. What am I capable of right now? OK, I’ll do that. It has become that specific.  And I think after nearly two years of no “real” job and crashing my siblings couches, I am finally understanding and accepting life without schedule, rules, tasks, and order. Or what I was perceiving to be order. The funny thing is  now I see that even in my highly organized, scheduled life, I still wasn’t in total control. It only felt that way. It looked that way. I still got sick. Life still “got to me.” My life is no more or less in control now than two years ago. It is truly, just perspective.

My brother Nick encouraged me to read while I had so much downtime, and that was good advice.  Here I was writing all the time, but never reading what was done before me. And you need context in everything, especially literature. I still have a ton of reading to do, but I’m really glad I discovered the real joy of it. Growing up it always felt like labor– a requirement that didn’t interest me. Now I find real freedom in it. There is nothing like getting lost in a story. I admit it’s more fun to read than to write. There is anxiety in me sitting down to write. But there is total surrender in sitting down and investing in a story.

Anyway now that I didn’t have a schedule to adhere to or  specific tasks to perform every day,  I was now up to my own devices. I realize that sounds like a really spicy thing to say. But mostly it was  me in and out of dreamworld on the couch or sitting on the heater, looking out that window, and drinking coffee with Lilly.  Every once in a while we mixed it up. Like when I dressed her up in my hat.

Lilly wearing my hat with attached scarf.
Lilly wearing my hat with attached scarf.

Or put her in my laundry basket.

Say cheese!
Why are you doing this.

Or if it was a healthy day we’d walk to the piers and watch the joggers and boats.


As nice as our walks were, I think I was most content at that window. In general, I am happiest by windows. I gravitate in every house to the room with the most light. I like to see outside. Hopefully one day, I won’t be the girl at the window, but the participant outside. The subject of someone else’s observation. But truly, I ‘ve become happy with this spectator form of my life. I don’t think it will always be this way, but it has granted me a unique perspective. It has made me step back and examine. It’s given me stillness in a very fast world. Even sick in bed, I can still examine life, ask my questions, read and write for the answers. None of this could happen in my old busy life. There was simply no time for it. There was work during the week, and sick recovery on the weekends. Now I have a new kind of work. It doesn’t pay well (as in, it doesn’t pay) but my boss is cool (that’s me) and every day is “Bring Your Dog to Work” day. Maybe the best part is, I am never too far from a window. For me, for now, that is enough.

“Participate with joy in the sorrows of the world.” -J Campbell

Health, Happiness, Windows

My friend Gabe took this picture of me at the NY window at night. Thanks Gabe!


Sick and the City

I discovered the cure for insomnia–it’s waking up!  So here I am. Totally tired, but unable to sleep. Go figure.

I’m writing from the luxury of an aerobed in the living room with New York City rain slanting down our windows. There’s something about New York that makes me feel connected–which is funny because it’s a large city of strangers who don’t know or care about me, but on a walk outside I feel like an absolutely intrinsic participant in life and that things are as they should be. Even inside an apartment, on the third floor, behind shades..the pulse beats in. I like watching people walk down the sidewalks, enthralled with their busy lives. I like seeing every breed of dog and owner pass in front of our building. And I like seeing a light go off in one room and on in another. No one seems to notice me at the window, but I smile at them if they do.

It’s funny how at home I feel in NYC. And I sortof cheated at New York. I lived and worked here for two summers and spent a few months here last year when I was sick and jobless. My first job was an unpaid internship at GLASS Magazine in Brooklyn. It was unpaid, so my brother let me stay with him for free, and he gave me the bed. The next summer I came back and served drinks to tourists and New Yorkers on a sailboat called The Shearwater that toured the Hudson River. That job seems way too cool for me to ever have had, but my brothers friend got me the gig and I took it. That job paid but Nick let me live rent free anyway. I say I cheated at New York because as most New Yorkers will tell you, it’s a hard city to sustain in. Not just financially or career wise. It can be a dark city too; isolated, unapologetic and relentless. Most people here have gone through some sort of struggle tied to the city in order to get where they are. I on the other hand never really had a struggle to overcome here, because Nick did that for the both of us. He moved, worked hard, met cool people, found all the best spots, and then just sort of shared them with me when I came. In that way, New York has always been glamorous to me. It’s the New York in the movies. All my attachments here were temporary and I never owed anything to it–except those $600 in parking tickets I accrued that one summer. Shit, I still need to pay those.

I’ve spent the last week making art, listening to music, and wondering what’s in store next. I’ve started to become a lot more comfortable with the uncertainty of my life. There is no plan. There is no “mine.” And there’s not much money or organization. I don’t even unpack my suitcase when I go home anymore. But that’s something I think I needed to go through. There are no certainties in life. Even the most promising plans aren’t resilient to fairness or the universe. As much as I used to think there was, I see now there are no rules, and no fair or unfair. There just is and I just am.

I always have this fear that when I sit down to write or draw that what I create will be terrible. I guess the fear is that if I create something terrible, then I haven’t succeeded with the purpose, and then I’ll be cursed and everything I create from then on will be crap. But I see now that not only is that fear irrational, it’s useless. I know this sounds a lot like an after school special, but the real failure is never sitting down, and never giving voice to the things that move you. When I was here last spring I was strongly considering doing stand-up comedy at a comedy club run by my friend Mark. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, at least once. Because the thing is, if I bomb, then I’ve got this great story: I did stand up comedy  in NYC when I was 27 and got booed off the stage. WINNER. And if I succeed, then I’ve made real New Yorkers laugh–and that’s a hell of a story too. I was speaking with my mom about it and admitted I was nervous to try and she said “What’s the worst that can happen? You get on stage and no one laughs?” “Uh, right. Yeah. Exactly that.” That was the worst that could happen, and that scenario is kind of a nightmare. But I think going for it is a success in itself. The very act of braving the audience and swallowing the risk of humiliation is half art in itself. One day New York..I’ll tell you jokes one day.

Anyway, I’ve decided I’m just going to keep trying things. I’ll keep drawing even though I’m not very good and I’ll keep writing even though I don’t really know where it’s going. There have been few certainties in my young life so far. But I do know that every person I look up to has continued and persevered  even when they didn’t quite know where they were going. They took risks and they didn’t always play it safe. So I’m going to keep creating. Even when I’m tired, even when I fail, even when I have no idea what in God’s name I’m doing, I’ll just keep going. And hopefully along the way, it will happen one day. Whatever it is I’m looking for, I’ll find it. Something tells me I’m close. Or maybe it’s just begun. Either way- like the struggles and people and persistence of  NYC, I won’t spend so much dissecting everything–I’ll embrace change as it comes and forgive all the plans I had. There’s just no other way to do it.

Here’s the most recent drawing. It’s titled: “As You Can See, I Don’t Have a Job” 8.5 x 11. I’ll post the rest tomorrow.


Health and Happiness and 

I Know I Know. Don’t Freak Out.

You’re in the right place. This is still the blog about fibro, pills, humor and attempted awesomeness. I gave the blog a little makeover and I’ve been putting it off  for a while now, but the time has come my people. First, I shortened the address from 25pillsday.wordpress.com to just 25pillsaday.com so we can all breathe easier knowing we have 9 less characters to type. Also as someone who’s 5.3 feet proud, I always argue that shorter is better. Secondly, all the crap that used to be at the bottom of the page is now easily accessible at the top. See?  Right over there. >>>>>>>>>  And that old picture of all those drugs that were the colors of library furniture have been replaced by bright neon cascading pills in the background. It’s all so magical. It’s funny that I would even consider so heavily the design or lack thereof of something that makes me no money  and is in most people’s eyes just a hobby. But truthfully, it’s my baby. I care a lot about it. And in recent nights I’ve woken up like Wait, should I put the links on THE LEFT SIDE?? Then I’m like OK there are wars going on and the location of links and font color is not so big a deal. I just needed to pull the trigger. So bang. I’m also reminded of the time I spent an hour picking out a dog collar for Monty and I guess it makes sense I’d take so much time with this. If you don’t like it, just give it a few days. If you still don’t like it, feel free to email me with only these words: YOU BLEW IT! I’ll know then what I’ve done. There will be some new additions to the blog but I thought I’d ease into those slowly. We’ll start just with cosmetics.

What else? I’ve spent the last two weeks in California at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Orange County, California. (Side note: I recently realized my life is whole lot like Rob Kardashians, and that makes me have quiet moments of extreme discomfort.) It’s funny, because both my sister Amelie and my brother-in-law Keegan work full-time jobs, like most normal people. So in the morning they’re getting ready for work and I’m laying on the couch lifeless, half conscious. Sometimes I don’t even wake up to them scrambling around because I think my sleep schedule is so incredibly screwy that I’m in my REM cycle at 8:30 a.m., but that’s something different altogether. Last week Amelie was putting the final touches to her work attire in the bedroom and Keegan was getting ready to walk out the door. I was fumbling through pills on the couch. Before he walked out Keegan asked “Are you sure you don’t want me to leave the car here for you? Like are you going to get restless?” Amelie and I answered in a monotone voice in unison: “No.”  “You’re not going to get bored?” Again, from both of us. “No.” Then we kind of all laughed, maybe for different reasons, and the functioning people went to work and I opened my book.

I am reading two books. I must admit, after I finished reading Freedom I felt like there was this new hole where something solid used to be. The way it feels after you lose a tooth. Then when I was in New York, my brother told me Strong Motion written also by Franzen competed heavily with Freedom so I brought it with me and have been enjoying that one too. It’s written in true Franzenian form and I once again feel like I’m getting a literary/science education just by reading the work, so it’s fun. But I don’t know that anything can top Freedom. OK I’ll stop talking about that now. Except wait I have one more thing. On NPR people with cool voices were all telling Jonathan Franzen he needs to keep an eye on Nell Freudenberger and there was all this jabber about the book The Newlyweds and so I decided to give it a try. So far it’s really good. She isn’t as inventive with the prose as he is but her writing is clean and the storyline has me going; a mail order bride from Bangladesh marries a 30 something engineer dude in upstate New York and there are hints of secrets and controversy and all the good stuff that makes good books good.

The other book that I just finished is The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav and it was really, really incredible. Not as dense as A New Earth but just as enlightening and really reassuring, especially if you fear death. And for a while I think I became a little too obsessed with this idea that I was going to die. In the sense that I would actually start to wonder, maybe I just won’t die. Like maybe I’m exempt? But duh, I’m not. And it’s cool, because he says all this stuff that makes so much sense and I basically underlined the entire book. I feel like I’ll just keep it at my bedside forever now. Until I..you know, die.

OK, that’s all the housekeeping for today. Or should I say book-keeping. Get it? Health-wise I’ve been managing pretty well. This morning was my first migraine I’ve had since leaving NYC two weeks ago. That’s a long time for me! Good stuff. Maybe I just need to be by the ocean for the rest of my life. California is awesome, but weird. I’ll talk about that next time. Cliffhanger!!

Health, Happiness, and Give It a Few Days.

Right Now O’Clock.

I bought a watch in the airport on my way to New York. The battery in my old watch stopped ticking not too long ago, but to be honest, it mostly served an ornamental purpose anyway. It’s not like I have a real job and am constantly under a time crunch. But after wearing one for a while, I realized how nice it was to flip my wrist and know the time, instead of wondering around the house to find my phone, which was usually dead, plugging it in, and waiting for the numbers to appear. (There are three clocks in our kitchen at home: The one on the stove. The one on the microwave. And an old clock that hangs on the wall. They tell three different times.) Anyway I found this store in the Atlanta airport where everything was ten dollars. This impressed me. It was the equivalent to The Dollar Store with a less than typical airport markup. So I found this basic orange watch and purchased it for $10, which in my opinion is the deal of the century. But now I’ve been doing all this reading and studying about the concept of time and how letting go of the past and future, even immediate pasts and futures, is an important step towards consciousness, presence. Of course the telling of time serves practical purposes. In my case, it helps me know that I am always ten minutes late for everything. Anyway, I was watching Oprah interview Deepak Chopra and he showed her his watch and you know what it had on the face of it? RIGHT NOW. I was like dude, that’s what I’m talking about! I thought about scribbling that on the face of my new watch with a sharpie. That would of course ruin it aesthetically, but hey, it was only 10 bucks. Bargains rock.

I have been practicing presence. Lucky for me, I am so conditioned in slipping out of the present moment that it has become seamless, so each day gives me plenty of practice. I catch myself becoming sad at feeling sick, disappointed in my productivity, jealous of others resilience, or irritated at not feeling understood. I say three words to get me back to the present: Here and Now. The best way to handle these scenarios is first, not to judge yourself for the feelings you have. Just recognizing when these feelings arise and acknowledging that they exist is the beginning of progress. (If I’m understanding what I’m reading correctly) The second step is to not react to these feelings. And that is the harder part. But as soon as you have created a gap, the tinniest of gaps, between your emotions and a typical reaction, be it yelling, throwing, saying something hurtful, manipulating etc., you’ve done it. You’ve conquered that moment. You’re far from done, because your life consists of a gazillion moments that you can accept with grace, or resist and pay the emotional or physical price; pain, in any number of forms. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Now the goal becomes to live in the gaps. As Gary Zukav so beautifully puts it: “Live your life like a feather on the breath of God.” Cool!

I have been thinking a lot about the new state of mind I am consciously trying to move toward. And I’ve been thinking about the illness and its role and whether my state of mind makes a difference. Truthfully, I am not incredibly better physically than I was this time last year. Certainly the first few months of 2011 were the worst. I remember before seeing the specialist in Miami, we had to take data a few weeks before going. One of the assignments was to stand for 10 minutes and then have my blood pressure taken. I remember finding this exceptionally difficult. For the last few minutes I had to lean against the couch because I felt too heavy, too weak to stay standing. We found later this was predominantly due to low blood volume among other things, but the point is, while I have made progress, every day is still somewhat of a battle. There are constant symptoms showing their faces, coming and going, almost as though they have a life of their own. As though they make up their minds to visit me, then leave. Like the last two weeks where I had a migraine every day for nine days. I was doing nothing different but my head seemed to… hate me. Anyway, I just try to deal with each day as it comes. But what has shifted more than anything is my personal assessment of where my life is. I’ve let go of a lot of anger and resentment. I had to go through the emotional work of it, grieve the loss of my old self. But in a strange way, I have come to see the illness as a gift; not a hindrance, not an enemy. It is what I needed in order to evolve. This has not resulted in me getting all better. There is a real possibility I could be sick the rest of my life. But that’s not the point. Although if that turns out to be the case, so be it. I’m learning it’s still entirely possible to live well, love well, and find peace–sick or not. It really isn’t up to me to judge these circumstances. It’s only up to me to persevere with what I have and what I am with grace and wisdom. The part of me that wants to call my set of circumstances unfair, unwise, unlucky, or stupid, is only pushing me further out into the ocean of despair. (Haha, ocean of despair. Yessss) I’ve never met a happy or successful person who was working against themselves, against the pulse of life. Everyone I’ve met who is joyous and successful has taken what they’ve been given, and put it to use, not tried to cast it away.

So that is how April 2012 is different from April 2011. In simpler metaphors, I’m like a crappy car. I have this somewhat dysfunctional body, but that is not so serious of an issue in terms of achieving my purpose. The soul is not heavily effected by external circumstances like these; the personality is. And making that distinction is important. Our bodies are just a vehicle. So, my body is like a car that can only go 10 miles at a time and frequently overheats and needs constant oil changes and runs out of gas quickly. But even 10 miles at a time, a car can still get to where it’s going.

We can’t all be Ferraris!

Health and Happiness, 10 Miles at a Time.

For the Loved Ones of the Sick Ones

List of Characters:

Gabe: Boyfriend, Likes to be doing things, Going places, Shooting things.

Mary: Girlfriend, Likes to lay around, Drink coffee, Talk about death.

Monty: Dog, Drinks out of toilet, Plays hard, Sleeps Hard.

There’s something sick people tend to forget sometimes, and this is that being sick isn’t only a struggle for us, but also tends to be a struggle for the people around us, too. It’s nobodies fault really, it’s just the reality of these circumstances. Spending the last month with Gabe, I saw how the illness effected more than just me, and the trouble it can stir up in our everyday relationships.

Gabe seems to me, limitless. It’s like he never tires. He can go and go and go and then he can go some more. Sometimes I tire just watching him. I envy his energy and resilience. He can only sit around for so long before he starts to go stir crazy, and that’s a huge fundamental difference between us. I don’t feel the need to be going places and doing things, and Gabe, well, does. “Do you want to go drive bumper cars today? Do you want to go to the shooting range? Do you want to go hit golf balls for a while? Do you want to go camping tonight? Do you want to get it on? Do you want to go jet-skiing? Do you want to go to an amusement park?” All of these questions are usually answered with somewhere between a grunt and a moan, sometimes a staunch “No” and sometimes a yawn and a “Maybe” if I’m feeling dangerous. Poor guy. How he ever ended up with a girl who barely moves I’ll never know. It’s easy to see how how he’d become disheartened.

It’s depressing, I know. The fact that an “amusement” park sounds like everything except amusing is depressing. But I’m just so used to the consequence of me saying “yes” to the normal activities that normal people find fun- and that is, a crash–that it has become my conditioned response to say no. I can’t drink anymore. I can’t be on my feet for long like I used to. I can’t stay up late or get up early. Sometimes a trip to the grocery store puts me over the edge and I pay for it. When you’re barely keeping your head above water, the slightest activites can drown you. So I’ve become conditioned to say no to a lot of things, simply because I know what will happen when I say yes, and often it’s more than I can handle. Sometimes I say screw it, I go and do what I want, knowing somewhere deep down that I’ll pay for it later. Every now and then, it’s worth the price I pay. But it’s rare. More times than not, I’m kicking myself for saying yes.

But as tired as I get in saying “No,” I see that it’s just as waring on Gabe in hearing “No.”  I’m so used to thinking “He’ll never understand what its like to be sick all the time” that I never considered that I’ll never understand what it’s like being healthy and dating a sickley. Especially one that shoots down your ideas of fun and takes up ample couch space. The truth is, if you’re going to be with someone who has this illness, you have to be independent and comfortable with leaving your loved one behind and doing the fun things without them. I know it seems incredibly depressing, but what is harder for a sick person, is trying to keep up with a healthy person. It just doesn’t work.

What’s also hard is the desire not to disappoint people. I hate the feeling of letting someone down, canceling on plans, or suggesting activities that only a 90 year old would be enthused about (How about we play scrabble again for the 90th time?) The problem is, no one else will say no for me. No one will suggest we stop and rest every thirty minutes. No one will make sure I’ve taken all my pills. No one will play lifeguard and see that I’m waring down and suggest we cut off the fun and go home. Only I will do these things. Which sort of turns me into the negative nancy of fun and activities for others. It’s exceptionally difficult to suggest to young, energetic, tireless twenty somethings that we wind down the day and lay on the couch and talk about life and existential questions. Doesn’t that sound GREAT?!?! To most people, no, it doesn’t. And that’s where the trouble lies.

This illness has strained many of my relationships- intimate, friendly, and familial. I remember once my brother and I had a shouting match outside an NYC restaurant because Nick wanted to go on a walk to digest his meal, but I was feeling especially fatigued and didn’t want to go. “It’s just a brisk walk! It’s good for you!” And he honestly thought it was, but I knew it wasn’t. I was at my physical limit that day, and a 5 block walk was out of the question. He stormed off on his walk in frustration and I taxied it home with discouragement. But I hadn’t really educated him on just how sensitive this illness was. I was sort of still trying to live like a normal person back then, so when the sickness would come out and demand  I obey it, it left everyone in a state of confusion. We’ve come a long way since then. Now I hear him defending me to others, even suggesting we cab it home when I consider walking. We’ve both learned a thing or two.

One question I ask is: Where do you draw the line? If I keep saying no to everything, won’t I eventually turn into a hermit trapped in a dark house with zero friends and zero fun? Because that sounds especially awesome. Wait no, that sounds terrible. The lesson for me has been finding the middle. Finding the area of compromise which keeps me alive with the pulse of life but doesn’t land me crashed in bed for 3 days. There is a middle ground, and part of my education in the last few months has been finding it. I’m still learning, too. In truth, it’s painful saying no all the time, when what you want to say is yes. But again, I have to be the master of my own domain! My domain happens to tire out after about 30 minutes of doing almost anything..standing too long, sitting too long, walking for too long…it’s ridiuclous, but it’s reality. And it doesn’t mean you have to turn off the fun. You just have to get creative. It’s also sort of a “Pick Your Poison” kind of situation. Do you want to say no and momentarily suffer sadness? Or say yes, and physically suffer for at least the next day?

Gabe and I are never going to be on the same level physically. This is someone who chased down rabbits on foot and wrestled an alligator on our first date (hence his nickname Gator) and worked 12 hour shifts of manual labor on an oil rig. (I’ll get to these stories, soon.) I..um…showered yesterday. So, there’s a little space between us when it comes to physical capablilites. But, we’re learning. I’m learning how to say no but stay positive. He’s learning to do the things he wants without me, and somewhere, in the grey of life, the circle of compromise, in the middle..we meet. All we can do is try.

To all the loved ones of sick ones out there, I know us sickley’s are a pain in the ass. But we do appreciate even the effort to understand. I see now, I need to try and understand, too.

Health, Happiness, and Compromise.

Speaking of Death, Let’s Talk Birth.

Before I begin about birth, I have to share quickly a dream I had the other night, after I wrote the post about death. As I laid down to sleep, I sent a little prayer to the universe. A prayer to help me not be afraid of death or the unknown. Since I happen to know a lot of people on “the other side” I asked them to show me, give me a little hint of what dying was like, in hopes it would calm my fear about it. I fantasized about having a dream in which my dad took me through the stages of death and we ended up at the end, at the gates, where all I felt was love and happiness and I most defnitely did not feel pain or sorrow, and I would wake up reassured. Maybe he’d show me what it looked like. Maybe he’d even tell me how I’d go. And in my morbid little mind, that would be a fun dream. After dying so many ways in my dreams for years, I’ve become somewhat desensitized on the matter. Well that and experiencing death at such proximity at the age of 12. What I’m getting to, however, is that I did not have a dream like this. In fact, I hardly remembered any of my dreams from the night before, which for me is unusual. But there was one dream–if you can even call it that. It was more like a very short “scene” I was in. I was crouched down under some flat rocks. I don’t remember being alone but I don’t remember who accompanied me. Above us, over the flat rocks, was a stampede of rhinoceroses, running full force and I could hear the pitter patter of their feet and watched as little tiny rocks spilled into the hole in which I was huddled in. That’s it. I remember knowing in the dream that this was my answer from the other side, and sort of chuckling about it. I’ve never heard anyone relate death or the afterlife to a rhinoceros stampede, but the subconscious works in symbols, not plots. So I’ll have to get my mom to help analyze this one. It was still fun to at least feel like someone or something had heard that prayer I sent. Ask and you shall receive.

But enough about death for now. Today wasn’t filled with thoughts about death and the end and the sometimes mentally paralyzing mystery of life. Today, I thought about life and beginnings. Last night, I had a dream that my brother Nick sent me a text message which read “It’s miraculous. It’s real.” Somehow in the dream I knew that he meant his wife was going into labor. When my eyes opened this morning around 9:30 to yet another killer migraine, I picked up my phone to see a text message from Nick. “Estee’s water broke.” I smiled with relief. Finally, she was going to be here, and I was going to be an aunt for the second time. No more talking about the baby in future tense, no more guessing who’d she look like and whether she’d have Estees genes and be on time or Nick’s genes and be late for everything. She was going to be here in physical form now. She was going to be her own governing self.

As much as death mystifies me, the process of conception, pregnancy, and labor mystify me just the same, if not more. I remember learning in anatomy class many of the things that have to go right in order to conceive and carry a child. Once hearing them, the idea of it all sounds impossible. And yet, we do it. It is natural somehow. Nick’s text message in my dream is just how I feel about all of it; that it’s miraculous.

Welcome to the World.

At 6:41 this evening, I received the first photo of her. 8.2 pounds. “Say hello to Olive Marie Gelpi,” it said. I stared and became a little lost in the photo. She has these big cheeks and beautiful hair and looks excessively calm. Something about a new life inspires even old souls; looking at the photo I felt this strong sensation that humans are the most capable creatures on the planet. Here Olive is only a few hours old, and already her path is being built. The energy is changing. I’m not even her parent, but here I am gazing at this photo and thinking of all the things she can do. I want to tell her that too–that she can do anything, Like some cliche high school year book signature. Dear Olive, Reach for your dreams! You can do anything! But these were the feelings popping up in me. Mostly I just feel happy she made it. 10 fingers and 10 toes as they say. Baby and mom doing well as they also say. The most beautiful part of today, is that a child was brought into the world first to two parents who want her and love her, unconditionally. Just for showing up, they love her. This is a good start. And then to two sets of grandparents who love her and will inevitably spoil the crap out of her and show her that she matters. And then to three aunts and two uncles who will tease her to toughen her and help raise her in every way we know how. If it takes a village to raise a child, I’d say she has a pretty good start. Today I’m not thinking about sickness and death. Today I’m thinking of human possibility and what we’re capable of. And it suddenly feels like a lot.

Happy Birthday Miss Olive Marie. I can’t wait to see who you are and what you will do.

Health, Happiness, Possibility.

Couch Crashing.

There is something I’ve become pretty good at over the last year that I would’ve never really expected, being a sick kid and all, and that thing is adaptability. Since giving up my apartment last March, I haven’t had a real home that I consider all mine since. All mine: that’s a phrase we humans love. I have jumped from house to house, state to state, with a small bulky suitcase and a bag full of pills for a solid year now. I’ve turned into a professional couch crasher. I have found that I encounter home in many places. That studio apartment that was all mine was just one of them. I remember cramming the last of my remaining boxes into my corolla and turning in my key to the landlord last year. It was a terribly sad day. Currently I’m writing from Tampa, Florida, nearly a year since that day, and I am suddenly feeling the freedom of not owning anything anymore. For so long I was trying desperately to keep everything I had, like a squirrel stumbling around hanging on to too many acorns, because they were all small symbols to me that my life was together and I was together and I could do it on my own. But finally letting those attachments go (and accepting what was true) has opened up a new freedom. Basically everything I need I can fit into this green bag I bought a couple of years ago. Except Monty of course, he doesn’t fit. But he made the 10 hour drive to Tampa, and is an incredible teacher of what it means to be adaptable. See?

I think he likes it here.

I don’t know how long I will be here or where I will go next. At some point I plan to go to Colorado and stay with my grandma for a while. And at another point I’ll make it to New York because my brother and sister-in-law will be having their baby in a few weeks. I don’t have a distinct plan. Which is very much my style because about 95% of the plans I make do I ever follow through with anyway. So in this new style of life, I just sort of go where the wind takes me, and on my own terms. I am lucky to have such loving and welcoming people in my life who have all said in their own way “Sure, I have a couch you can sleep on.” Of course they don’t mean permanently and I never intend to stay forever, but there is sort of an unspoken agreement between me and my hosts: Stay until it’s time to go. Last year I spent two months in New York at Nick and Estee’s. (The soon to be parents) Then I spent a month in California at my sister and brother-in-laws house. Then a little time in Miami for Nick and Estee’s wedding. Then it was back to my parents house, and floating around on couches in New Orleans, recovering, writing, and living a non-traditional nomadic life. I have finally grown accustomed to living unplanned, undecided, and out of a suitcase.

I still look forward to the day when things are settled down, when I finally have a home base, and when I can answer this question a little more easily: “And so what do you do, Mary?” I love that question. And by love I mean despise. How does someone like me begin to even remotely answer that question? Usually I say “Oh, I live with my parents and yell at the TV when they watch Bill O’Reilly. Sometimes I take showers. What do you do?” I think now I have a better answer. I’m a nomad. But instead of wondering in fields, I crash on couches. At this point, it actually does feel like my vocation. Like I’ve been called to wonder around the world for a while, and figure out how to live well even though I’m not. It’s certainly been a learning experience, but I know I still have a long way to go. Like my mom always says, Just do today. Today I’m in Tampa, it is sunny and warm and Monty is fetching sticks in the bay. Somehow after the journey here, I still haven’t crashed. I woke up with a pretty killer migraine this morning but the medicine took care of it and I don’t have that typical Feel-like-I’ve-Been-Hit-By-A-Truck-In-the-Face feeling. So I am grateful for that, and trying not to harp on it for long. Sometimes I fear if I think too much about it the good feeling will go. So I’m not questioning it, I am just grateful.

I think more than any physical place, my notebooks have been my home. Writing often reveals to me what is true and real before my own mind can recognize it in the world. I know that writing is a way for me to find truth and tell the truth. It might be why I get anxiety just before I sit down to write, but after I finish, I feel better. Lighter. And if I’ve written correctly, I always walk away with more clarity, more light in the room than before. So I won’t concern myself too much with what house I call mine for now. Maybe home is more an internal thing than anything else. For the time being, home is on paper, and deep within.

Health, Happiness and Nomadic Tendencies.

The Day My Dog Sh*t on Park Avenue and I Didn’t Have a Bag

The following is a true story. For realsy.

It was August of 2008 in New York City and unbearably hot. And that’s coming from a Southerner. They were calling it the heat wave of the century. At least I was calling it that. People were basically stripped down to nothing and when you breathed you felt the heat expand in your lungs. The cement made the already hot air electric. It would burn you at times, only letting up for about an hour between 2 and 3 am. Walking outside was what I imagine the last two weeks of pregnancy must be like; simply uncomfortable. That being said, I was REALLY hungover.

There’s something about being hungover that makes heat…hotter. I basically just want air to be blowing at me when I’m under the weather that way. I used to stand in front of the freezer with the door wide open for far too long and just let the cold air rush past my face in some weird attempt at relief and to try and make the hangover go faster. Like it’s some guest I can get scoot out the door. But everybody knows…you just have to sweat it out. I still can’t believe we’re capable of growing seedless watermelons but we can’t figure out the cure for a hangover. That being said, Monty really had to pee.

Every dog owner knows that on the day after partying, the dog totally gets shafted. “Sorry buddy. Mommy blacked out last night and now my everything hurts and so we’re probably not going to play fetch or do anything remotely fun today.” I feel awful when it happens. I hardly drink anymore because, well, I feel dead all the time on my own. But there were those days. There WERE those days–When moving was all-too-painful and your pores smelled like candy and vodka and your hair was inexplicably sticky? It was one of those days. Monty needed to do his business. New York was exploding with heat. And I was deathly hungover.

I was staying at my brothers apartment. It was on the third floor, so I mentally prepared myself for the walk down the stairs I was about to take. I walked cautiously and told Monty “Go slow buddy. I could DIE at any second.” He seemed to notice I was out of sorts and behaved a little better on his leash. I pushed open the ridiculously heavy door at the end of the stairs and the sun and the heat and the smell of New York pour in and engulf me and I kindof throwup in my mouth. I swallow hard,  blink my eyes forcefully a few times, and hold my head still while my eyes catch up with reality. I turn right, begin the walk down the sidewalk and Monty wastes no time. He spots the first tree, lifts his leg, and I contemplate letting the semi driving down the street run me over. He passes. And business number one is done. Great, keep going. There’s a spot that he loves to poop a few blocks down, but I’m wondering if I can make it that far. My life is in Monty’s hands. Or butt. I have to get this over with. “Just go anywhere buddy. Really, it’s fine to go on the cement.” But Monty is a Southern dog and is still getting used to shitting on cement. I can tell by the look in his eyes when he does it, it just doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s the human equivalent to driving on the left side of the road in England. Or putting ketchup on a filet. Something like that.

As we walk on, my stomach starts to turn. Ah, the viscous waves of nausea that accompany the hangover. Will I puke? Or will it pass? The mystery of it all is fantastic. I look away from the sun and think of lemons. I always think of lemons when I am nauseous. I’ve done this since I was little and it’s the only thing that helps if I concentrate on it. Lemons lemons lemons lemons lemons lem…aaaaaand now my mouth is watering. The turning gets faster, the saliva is circulating in my mouth and I know it’s go time. We stop at a tree, I get on my knees, and share my insides with the streets of New York. Awesomely, my throw up tastes like gatorade. I find that Gatorade is the best thing to vomit. It tastes the same coming out as it did going in! I like the red flavor but really any of them will do. As I’m crouched over, puking, Monty tries to start licking it. “NO!” I yell with as much energy as I can get behind that word. Then I ralph again. I hear high heels walking towards me. I know she’s classy. I can feel how pretty and put together she is. She smells good too. “Hey, are you OK?” she asks as she hands me a kleenex. Is this rock bottom? I think so, but I can’t be sure. “Yeah, I’m fine. Thank you.” I don’t make eye contact. I feel so ashamed. I wish I were wearing high heels and expensive perfume and walking somewhere important. Instead I am upchucking on a sidewalk and my dog is trying to eat it. WHEN WILL I GET IT TOGETHER. OK, so the best part about puking is how good you feel after you puke. I take a deep breath, continue our walk, and bear the heat a little more easily. On to number 2.

We’re approaching Monty’s favorite spot, and we’re both getting excited. I can tell, he’s been waiting for this for a while. My relief after vomiting is short lived and by the time I get to his special spot, all my symptoms are back. Awesome. Monty does his business and I pick it up with a torn grocery bag, and it strikes me that picking up dog shit off the sidewalk with a damaged bag is NOT the grossest thing I’ve done today, and that is concerning.

We turn and begin the treck home. I am going to make it. Monty and I are both going to live and I smile at the idea of getting back to the apartment and not moving again until tomorrow. But suddenly, something is happening. I can feel it. I sense something with Monty. Why is he wearing that excited look he gets when he’s about to poop? He already did that. He’s sniffing at another tree and won’t come when I pull the leash. It can’t be. No. No no no. Not a DOUBLE POOP DAY. SHIT. DOUBLE SHIT. It’s a strange phenomena that happens once in a blue moon. The double poop. You never know when it will happen. But almost always when it does, you’re not carrying the bag with the extra in-case-of-emergency poop bag. SHIT. I am on Park Avenue. I am the human version of a car accident, and my dog is pooping and I don’t have a bag. Thanks Monty, thanks a lot. He wags his tail. My stomach turns and the road dizzies.

I have no explanation for what happened next, but it really did happen. There is a sudden breeze, and I close my eyes and just let the somewhat refreshing movement of air run over my face. It had been static air in New York for so long it felt like. Suddenly, a breeze. I feel calm. I try to think if this is a poop and run moment or what my plan of action is. Just as I contemplate options,  I feel something grace my ankle. I look down and see that a Duane Reede bag was blown right onto my foot. The wind carried it from who knows where, and basically delivered it to me and this train wreck of a situation. I can’t believe it. I look around and make sure I don’t see a dude in a glowing white suit say “You’re Welcome. By the way, I’m God.” I don’t harp on it too long because that breeze is dying down and of course, my stomach is turning. I disgard Monty’s second helping. We complete our walk and make it to the apartment, up the stairs, and onto the couch. I don’t move for the next 12 hours. I play that moment of the bag hitting my ankle over and over. And that was the day my dog shit on Park Avenue and I didn’t have a bag.

And then, suddenly, I did.

Health, Happiness, and Always Take a Second Bag.

Sorry I pulled the double deuce on you!

It’s Snowing In New York.

It’s quiet because of the snow

Clear because of the quiet

And it snows because it’s empty.

There is room for it here,

In the box with all the questions.


The window across the street

Is reflecting the window next to me,

So I can see the neighbor kids

On tip toes, checking

When I see movement,

I check too.

As of yet it’s still a black sky turned orange

We wait, we’re patient.


I didn’t have it enough as a child

Never had to shovel it before school

So there’s no headache about it getting dirty

No bitterness of what it turns to

No worry of what it ruins

It’s a novelty to me

It’s what airplanes used to be.


I sit at a window, waiting

Most the days of my life.

I hold a box, open

That carries every question

I’ll ever have.

Tonight while I wait,

I thumb through curiosities

Laugh at old questions

And try not to let future uncertainties

Weigh the box down too much.


It’s a soft pink, satin ribbon

That holds the thing shut,

And when the snow starts

To fall tonight

I’ll open it

At the neighbor kids looking

At the clarity of it falling

At the quiet of it sticking

The couple laughing

The street lights changing

The flag that’s snapping

At the snow that’s falling

And I’ll catch all the little truths

That come with snow

And watch God fall

And then I’ll know.