summer’s end.

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IMG_5916Lately I have been doing so much work there isn’t room for anything else. I wake up and make coffee with eyes still closed against the morning light. I work in bed with the pillows propped up behind my back and I don’t shower until three or four, when I’ve written or revised thousands of words and accidentally get a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

My first niece was born yesterday: Harper Arden. She is tiny and she yawns a lot and she keeps her eyes open. 

I’ve been dreaming of a small, quiet vacation. We’ve been recording music and I’ll listen to the songs as I drive up the coast or out into the desert, letting the heat swallow me up until I’m floating, boiling.

Yesterday I spent one hour outside photographing a beautiful girl who kept asking me how she looked. Afterward we ate fried avocado tacos and split an enormous piece of cake made with too much lemon. My scalp sweat under a wool hat but I haven’t done my hair in weeks. 

I feel like I have a better handle on myself than I’ve had in the whole past year. I still change my mind a hundred times a day but at least the decisions are closer together. They are no longer night and day. The variations are at least, now, related. 

photographs of Bridgett taken in my back alley, Los Angeles. 

2 hot 2 live.

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It is too hot to do anything.

In Connecticut, the humidity was like a fluid blanket you couldn’t get out from under. I come back to LA and it’s no better.

It is too hot to write. The words stick at the ends of my fingertips. It is too hot to follow through. It is too hot to edit. It is too hot to do anything other than fill up my water glass and walk from the kitchen to the living room a hundred times, checking for minute drops in temperature.

It is too hot to be concerned. Too hot to wonder what more I could have done.

I take two or three showers a day. I buy linen summer dresses and they wrinkle so easily that I stop caring. I don’t own an iron. I hang them in the bathroom when I shower but the water isn’t hot enough to steam. They just get wet and I towel them off after I towel myself off.

I write on my bed with bare legs and my laptop sticks to my thighs.

My cat won’t come near me anymore. He sprawls on my unused desk or spreads himself across the wood floor. It’s too hot for being pet.

I write songs too hard, too long. My fingers hurt against the keys of my laptop. They sting in the water of the shower. I make coffee and stick it in the fridge and then I keep checking back to see if it’s cold.

I sing the same moody lyrics over and over and my best friends texts me to say I think this is the best thing you’ve written yet.

2 hot 2 live I text her back.

She sends me a string of nonsensical emojis. We FaceTime without speaking.

I melt.

My cat is afraid of the guitar.

I am out of paper towels and cannot clean up the mess of melting.

We work around it.

 

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photographs taken in Connecticut. my young nieces. 

a long absence.

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I haven’t been to Connecticut in over a year. I watch out the window as the plane descends over farmland and greenery and a line of bright yellow tractors and I think: OK, I’ve made it. I’m back. 

It’s a particular feeling to return to the place of one’s birth. You feel at once a stranger and someone returning, triumphantly. You almost expect people to stop you in the nearly-deserted airport, to congratulate you on the journey you’ve just completed (both metaphorically and actually), to ask if they can touch your hand.

More people than we expected show up to the wake. I don’t know all their names and so my cousin and brothers whisper to me and I whisper to them if they look confused. My grandmother’s casket is closed. It was what she always said. I don’t want anybody to see me dead.

I don’t blame her.

It starts storming during dinner. The three little girls, my cousins, are all scared of thunder and lightning in an obligatory, resigned way. Like they just know they’re supposed to be. The rain hits sideways against the windows of the restaurant and the sky lights up in flashes of gold. My oldest brother and I drive to pick up his wife from the train station in Windsor Locks. It’s by a river. We get there as the train is pulling up. It looks exactly like a noir film, all mist and steam and bright headlights.

We stay up late every night. In the mornings there are tiny, kid-sized footprints on my parents’ hardwood floor. My father vacuums. My mother watches a soap opera by fast forwarding through all the boring parts. The sliding deck doors are covered in palm prints and fingerprints. The mornings go much too quickly. Time does not listen; time does not rest. So I don’t rest, either. I bounce around where everyone tells me to bounce around. By the end of it, I feel tired and worn out. A whirlwind of a trip, everyone says. I sort of smile, glossy-eyed. I have another cup of coffee and ignore the ulcer ache of too much stress and travel.

My little cousins hug me in turn, one after the other, and call me auntie and throw me balls and kiss my stomach, the highest part they can reach.

Do you remember me? I ask the littlest one.

She puts her nose against my neck and laughs laughs laughs.

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doris.

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My grandmother dies in the middle of the night. My mother said her blood turned septic, and it was quick. Later I will google what that means.

2.

Dangerously low blood pressure, the result of a severe infection that has spread through the bloodstream.

3.

S goes out to buy muffins. I stay home and make coffee. We write a song using chords I can barely play. Except the chorus is easy, so I help.

4.

The chorus is this: D A Em G and it is a chord progression I have been playing for years. Since I first learned to play the guitar (poorly) this is the chord progression I play when I pick one up. This is the chord progression I dedicate to my grandmother, who spent the last years of her life in a nursing home, sometimes not knowing who we were.

5.

The last memory I have of my grandmother before the nursing home: I pick her up. She asks me to take her to Walgreens. She loves going to Walgreens. She has the beginnings of dementia coupled with a tendency to hoard and a confused sense of kleptomania.

6.

My grandmother has worn lipstick for years. She buys the kind that is green in the tube and then red when you put it on.

7.

That day, in Walgreens, she pushes a cart around the store. I watch her take a tube of lipstick from a shelf and put it into her purse.

8.

My favorite picture of my grandmother is her and my mother on my mother’s 21st birthday. My mother is sitting on my grandmother’s lap. My mother holds a phone up to her ear. They’re smiling at each other.

9.

In the car I ask her where the lipstick came from. She doesn’t know. And it’s the truth. She really doesn’t know.

10.

The thing about grandparents: they are always there. They are there when you are born. They are there for every birthday. They give you Hallmark greeting cards with twenty dollar bills crisp and new from the bank. Snickers bars chilled in the fridge. Altoid containers hidden in every drawer in the house. They are always always there, until they’re not.

the give & the take.

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It is so easy to explain happiness!

Here, I will show you.

I am so happy because my book came out on Tuesday. It was the most perfect day. We woke early and S rolled over and said something like, is there anyone in this bedroom that had a book come out today? and I pretended not to know and then he asked again and I still shrugged and it became a sleepy, half-dreamy game we played until I took my phone off the bedside table and saw so many messages, so many emails, so many kind people all emerging from every corner of my life to tell me I have done a good job. I have put something into the world. I have made a thing. I have seen it through to its creation.

Harder to explain:

The last thought I had on Monday night, the last thought before I let myself slip off into sleep, was: I have actually made it. I did not die before my book came out

Easy to explain:

The overwhelming, heart-pounding, palms-sweating, breath-failing sensation of walking into the first bookstore that carries my book. Seeing it on the shelf in its appropriate alphabetical order. The blue and pink and white of the cover. The gloss and the ghostly stare of the nameless girl on the cover. My whole heart soaring out of my chest, leaving my body to inhabit some space outside of my body, momentarily, floating up like a ballon until finally I catch it in my fingers and wrestle it back into my ribcage. Where it will be safe. Seeing my book on a shelf for the first time. Yes, it is everything I imagined it might be. I stand in the bookstore for fifteen minutes, pretending to be lost.

When I leave, I tell the security guard hi instead of bye. 

Harder to explain:

The suffocation that is almost simultaneous. The hallucination that every single book is a living, breathing creature that has recognized a weak, susceptible host. There are so many books in this bookstore! Thousands? Tens of thousands? I try and count them all but I lose track very quickly. I press my fingertips against their spines and mouth their titles to myself and absorb their colors into my skin. My stomach hurts.

Easy to explain:

The first text message from the first friend to finish my book. It comes at two in the morning her time, eleven at night my time. It says, simply: Loved it.

and I feel this weight lift off my shoulders and dissipate into the air around me. Suddenly it is so easy to breathe! Suddenly breathing is the easiest thing I have ever done. We are all born knowing how to do this! We are all born breathing!

Harder to explain:

I remember then that I was not born breathing. I was born blue, my mother tells me. The color of the hardcover of my book. A bright, brilliant blue.

Oh, my mother said.

Oh, this? The blue? She’ll be okay, the doctor said.

Yes I was okay. But it did not quite come naturally.

Easy to explain:

I have only listened to one album this week, over and over. And when I try to listen to anything else, my ears protest. Like I am maybe conditioning myself to associate good, positive things with this music. I hear the first chords and I remember—this week! Everything has happened! You are the luckiest!

Harder to explain:

My roots have grown but I don’t know where they are. 

Easy to explain:

One by one my friends all visit bookstores and get copies sent to them in the mail and send me pictures of my book on bookshelves and propped up on their countertops or held in their hands. People I haven’t talked to in years buy copies! Friends buy two, three, four and tell me all the people they’re going to give them to. Five star reviews! Tagged Facebook and Instagram posts! Strangers tweeting and Goodreadsing and sending me tentative emails about how strongly they identified with Molly. It is exactly and perfectly true I’m not even sure why I’m sending you this emailIt is three in the morning and I am not-so-quietly sobbing in my lap because this is exactly the book I needed at exactly the right moment telling me exactly what I needed to hear. 

Harder to explain:

The feeling, out of nowhere, of whathaveidone and whatamidoing and whatamisupposedtodnow.

Easy to explain:

I have never taken anything for granted! I have worked so very, very hard at this for so very, very long. I can feel good about the things I have done because of how hard and long I have reached for them!

Harder to explain:

Midnight, one in the morning, two in the morning: but have I really done enough? Couldn’t it always be more? Couldn’t it always be greater?

Easy to explain:

The literal swelling of a human heart. The literal explosion of gratitude. The literal happiest moment in your life.

Harder to explain:

Followed by, perhaps, a moment of incredible, vision-clouding loneliness. But why? From where? Because of what? It is impossible to say. There is no reason for it. You are the silliness, weirdest, most unusual human.

Easy to explain:

Or, okay, you are not so bad. You have ups and downs just like everyone else. You grab on when you can grab on and you let go, sometimes, too soon.

The middle ground/ the diagnosis:

You feel overwhelmed by happiness so much that maybe you are always looking for its opposite. Maybe without this balance you feel too unstable, too unsteady, too easily undone. But maybe what you really desire is to be so wholly happy that it thrums through your veins like something more and thicker than blood. Or maybe what you really desire is to be enshrouded so fully in a shadow that no one else can see you. Or no. Maybe what you really desire is that exact center point. But you keep oscillating back and forth and back and forth and holy fuck, it is hard to get it exactly right.

No but okay, you are fine! What a great week! Calm down.

The devil is in the fluctuations. I could say—and it is true—I have never been happier.

But this might also mean, simultaneously, something else.

*

The disclaimer: 

This post is a very honest account of what it is like for me, a person living with depression (and without medication), to experience an enormous, beautiful, ONLY POSITIVE thing. I wrote about it in this way because I want to be able to write more openly and honestly about depression, if only to finally normalize and de-stigmatize something so often misunderstood. I hope  it serves its purpose. 

My previous post about being diagnosed with depression can be found here

film photographs taken in New York with a  Minolta X-700.

the first chapter.

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My first novel came out on Tuesday.

The past two days have been amazing & ridiculous.

I cannot yet put them into words.

So here is the first chapter of the book. I hope you would consider supporting my art & work & buying a copy, if the following excerpt interests you. You can also find & purchase it here & here.

All my love & gratitude.

*

THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE/ one.

There are long stretches where I don’t remember anything.

I wake up in my car.

I’m driving, but I don’t know where I’m driving to and I don’t know where I’m driving from.

But it’s my car. And my things are in it.

I just don’t know how I got here.

Continue reading

the day before.

 

 

This week arrived out of nowhere. This week! I’ve been waiting for this week for two years, for my entire life. I’ve been imagining the way it will go. I’m imagining the ways in which it will be important. I’ve been quiet about it. I’ve been letting it come to me; I haven’t gone out to seek it. And now it’s here, THE DAY BEFORE, and tomorrow it will be THE DAY and the next day will be THE DAY AFTER.

My first book, THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE, comes out tomorrow. I am eternally, stupidly, ridiculously grateful to every single person who has helped me along in this journey. And what a journey! What a week.

Please, if you have followed me and responded to my words, it would mean so much to me if you would order a copy of my book (and leave a review!) and help support what I have worked so hard for, always.

You have my immense gratitude.

The novel can be purchased here & here & here &, I’m sure, many other places.

guest post- how to become a successful author.

5129170873_78d6fca4f4_zI stopped by Addicted Readers to talk a little bit about my writing routine, and how I know when it’s the right time to break it.

Write every day. Write for fifteen minutes or a half an hour or as long as you want. Set up a routine and follow through with this routine, because it’s the routine that will carry you through the dry spells and deliver you on the other side of inspirationlessness. It’s the routine that will teach your fingers how to make words even when your brain is really, truly checked out. It’s the routine that will make all the difference.

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