All posts tagged: Life

Living Under the Threat of Alzheimer’s as a Writer

I’m going to disappear one day. Both sides of my family have Alzheimer’s, so I’m sure I have the gene too. When I can’t find my keys, I think early onset Alzheimer’s. When I can’t remember why I’m at the grocery store, I think about how the youngest person who has ever been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was twenty-seven. I’m thirty-two. Some people write because they have something to say. Others write for fun. I write because I’m afraid I’m going to disappear, because who am I if I’m not the stories in my head? Who am I if I’m not the words I use to tell those stories? When I’m sixty-five and I can’t remember my own name, will I still be me? I remember being afraid of family dinners with Yeh-Yeh, because he was loud and scary and had no idea who any of us were. I was told he had Alzeimer’s, but to a ten-year-old, Alzeimer’s was like having the chicken pox. Sure, it sucked, but eventually you’d recover, wouldn’t you? I remember …

To the Owner Who Lost Her Dog Today

I’m not a doctor, but I can tell. Sometimes, the animal is already dead. Sometimes, they’re dying. I rush him to the back all the same, because I’m not a doctor. Maybe I’m wrong. I wait up front with you. You ask me: Will he be okay? And I lie. It feels like a lie. I tell you I don’t know. I can’t tell. The doctor is working on him right now. I emphasize that last one because if the doctor is working on him, then maybe he really will be okay. My job is to keep you calm until you fill out the required forms. My job is to listen so you can tell me all the things you think the doctor needs to know. I help you clean the blood from your hands. Get you a cup of water. Then the doctor buzzes up front, and you look at me when I call your name. It’s too soon. You know what the doctor’s going to say, but you ask me: Is he okay? …

On Ego

The more I give up my ego, the stronger writer I become. Sometimes I feel like the world and its many personalities distract me from the meaningful. When I worry I’m not good enough, I start writing for the wrong reasons. To put it another way, I shouldn’t write to be heard; I should write because I have something to say. For the last two years, I’ve been thinking a lot about nothingness: no good or bad, no right or wrong, no incorrect or correct, no ego. This concept of void ended up being a predominant theme in my manuscript, but I still struggle to achieve this state of zero. Strip away our cities, our walls, our rules, our senses, ourselves. Strip enough away and nothing remains. Like a post-apocalyptic world… “Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.”—from The Road by Cormac McCarthy I don’t know why that quote has stuck with me for so long. Maybe it hits a little …

On Faking It

Even though I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for almost a decade, I still sometimes go to Fisherman’s Wharf and pretend to be a tourist. I take pictures of sea lions at Pier 39 and try on funky hats from that one crazy hat store. I’ll even buy a pretzel from the hot dog stand I used to work at. When you’re a tourist, it’s okay to be out of place, to be lost, to be in a place that’s not home. Every now and then, I need to remind myself that. I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like to these days, and sometimes I worry that the older I get, the more comfortable I become. The best parts of my life happen when I’m in an uncertain place. Like I’m trying to find my balance on an edge as sharp as a knife, except it’s not about balance, it’s about picking which side to fall off from. I found this tidbit on Neil Gaiman’s blog this morning: “I loved how comfortable I’m …

On Being Left Behind (pangs of a childfree life)

I used to have an imaginary friend. I’d see her while riding in the back of my parent’s car. She rode a beautiful white horse that ran alongside my window, and no matter how far we drove, she was always there. I’d roll down the window to reach for her hand, or if we were on the freeway, I’d press my face up against the glass to be as close to her as possible. Sometimes, I’d pretend I was her. I’d cease to exist, and my body would flicker into dust in the wind. My friends are all growing up. They drive their own cars with their own children riding in the back seat. I look into their cars and see what my life might’ve been. Each car is a different story driving down a path I cannot follow. Other childfree women embrace their lives with flare, but I only feel broken. Seeing a destination I will never reach hurts me. “That pang is about feeling out of step with the stages of life more than of having …

On Depression

If I were to use words to describe depression, I would leave the page blank. Words have power; they hold meaning, evoke emotion, inspire change; but depression takes it all away. Even though you never forget how to say individual words, you forget the meaning behind them. Conversations go much like the first day of a language class. You recite your words and respond to questions with proper answers learned by rote. “Hello.” “How are you?” “Good. You?” But if you’re depressed long enough, you stop speaking because words take too much effort. You stop seeing people because pretending takes too much effort. You stop doing anything because the silence in your head, this emptiness of spirit, offers relief from the absolute knowledge that you are worthless. The only thing sharp enough to cut through this numbness is physical pain, but you hate it. You hate your body’s stubborn ability to keep on living when you’re so tired of being alive. And no one sees what I’m going through.  I mean, it’s not like there’s anything anyone can …

On Solitude

I lock myself inside the car. Music set to repeat. If I sit long enough, the car’s chassis becomes my body and the music becomes me. If I sit still enough, the world goes away, and I am finally, finally alone. “Teach me how to love you like I wrote. And say it like I mean it when I don’t.” —Teach Me by Keaton Henson “I consider myself a writer,” Henson once said, “but being a performer is a vastly different thing.” Sometimes I forget they aren’t the same. It’s easy to smile, easy to mean, hard to feel. Matching your insides up with your outsides seems like an impossible task. It’s better to be alone than to behave. But solitude and loneliness are two different things. I like who I am when I’m on my own. I like who I am when I’m writing. No one has to see me for me to exist, and I get to live in the space between words. A valediction of self poised on the edge of meaning. Source: …

On Failing

I fail a little more each day. My life a trail of half-dones and never-beens scattered every which way. The world says, “No.” I say, “Okay.” But I’m really not. Not okay with failing, that is, and I don’t think I ever will be. “There is a chasm between me and the world outside of me. A gap so wide my feelings can’t cross it. By the time my screams reach the other side, they have dwindled into groans.” —Isaac Marion Meaning comes from the strangest of places, but I’ll take whatever I can get even (especially?) if it comes from a zombie novel. Warm Bodies is the only, and I mean THE ONLY, zombie book/movie I will ever read/watch. You see, I turn into chickenpoo in the face of scary things. The only twenty minutes I’ve ever played of the original Resident Evil still haunts me to this day. I cannot and will not have a ticking clock in my house. But the older I become, the wider this chasm grows. Failure infects failure, and each time …