A sanctuary of black and white
where everything’s clear
clearly one or the other
no shades of gray, not a single color.
Only two options
as clear as it gets
no time to waste thinking maybe
just maybe, if it’s not a no
then it could be a yes.
There are no maybes and
there are no mightbes
no I’ll think about it
no I don’t know
no waiting, no wondering
just a stay
or a go.

A strange thing, this in-between
it strangles me
and I can’t breathe.
Uncertainty wraps its crimson scarf
around my chest
to smother my heart
but then—

Then it isn’t too tight,
it’s warm and it’s bright
and it fits.
I drape it around my neck, its tassels dripping
the drops never falling
it feels good not knowing
Uncertainty, yes
it means possibility
anything, everything.
Black and white,
like day and night,
just colors that blend into one another;
the purple of dusk
into indigo twilight
to golden pink of waking dawn
I was wrong;
I don’t want black or white
why would I with these vibrant hues?
one or the other? I don’t want to choose
I want lilac and periwinkle,
pink and rose and salmon and peach
(but maybe not coral
I never liked coral)
just no more box of black and white
of this or that
of yes or no
charcoal and soot and ash and snow
I want them all and all at once
I don’t want to fall
back into my pattern
back into my prison
I changed my mind,
don’t hold me to it

I sit and watch as the walls close in,
as the two extremes shut out in betweens
no maybes no mightbes
no possibilites
no maybe it could be
no might be anything.
Nothing but an answer
and no other color to soften the blow
of no.



Lovely Friday

This morning I’ll
wake up
work out
hang upside down like a monkey.

make my mom breakfast
play with my dog
stare at a box of truffles
consider opening it

Then I’ll
buy my cousin flowers
because I want to
because she deserves them
because they’ll make her happy
and I want to see her happy.

lounge on couches
play with mermaids
color pages of princesses
act like children
because we always will be.

Later I’ll
go to work
teach a class
make you stretch
make you sweat
make an hour of money.

spend it on food
and wine
to drink
with a friend
while we cook
while we eat
while we watch movies.

While we do nothing
and love it
on this day of love.




Busy Hungry People

“Ahhh beddd,” said Alex, the banner at the top of the screen pulling my eyes away from the blog I’d been browsing.

She and I had enjoyed dinner together at a fancy burger place by my house, delicately stuffing our faces with gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese and ridiculously tall burgers. One trait I value highly in a friend is the ability to discuss pertinent recent events without sacrificing a crucial step in the bite-chew-swallow-breathe process. We’re busy hungry people, my friends and I, and we have to make the most of our time together.

Alex had apparently arrived home safely and gone straight to her bed; I could picture her collapsing onto the coverlet fully dressed, relishing the idea of imminent sleep. We’d responsibly decided against adding coffee or alcohol to the milkshake we’d shared for dessert – the marshmallow caramel cookie concoction containing nothing to hold off our oncoming food comas. Counting out cash, I had already been picturing the reunion my bed and I were to have upon my arrival home. Alex and I had parted ways in the parking lot, both eager to get home and sleep.

Alex lives an hour away as opposed to my ten minutes, and her text found me slumped on my couch, reading a blog post on a page I didn’t remember how I got to. Somehow an hour had passed and I hadn’t moved an inch. What happened to going right to bed? Wasn’t I exhausted? I closed my eyes for a moment. Yep, still exhausted. So what was I doing sitting on my couch? Puzzled, I relayed my inquiry to her. She suggested that maybe my body was already sleeping without me. Intrigued by the thought, I sent a command to my left foot, propped up and snoozing on the coffee table. It took longer than it should have for the foot to budge, and even then it was no more than the slightest of budges, the twitch of a toe. Indeed, my body had decided to go into sleep mode without my consent. The insolence!

Enraged, I wondered how long this mutiny had been going on, right under my nose. Last I knew, my body would wait up with me until the bitter end, only resting when my mind decided it was time. It used to be the two of us against the world, in it together, you and me babe. Apparently my body had figured out how to sneakily slip into sleep mode and leave my mind to whatever pointless processing attempts it wanted to make in the wee hours of the morning, and probably all through the day as well.

Tonight, so as not to be discovered sleeping on the job (or so I assumed), my body allowed me marginal digit usage, just enough to hold my phone, to tap and scroll. It let me use my eyes, figuring I would notice if those were nonfunctional. Clever. I’m on to you! I informed it.

Upon being found out, my body released my tired eyelids, allowing them a brief repose before my mind hoisted all of us up and ordered us into the kitchen; my legs aching and groaning every step of the way; my back stiff against the unwanted movement; my arms complaining about having to reach up and open the cabinet. We just need to get water and then we’re going right to bed, I assured them. They gave up their sullen resistance, hungry for sleep.

Oh, to be old, I thought as I filled up my Disney princess cup and dragged my sleepy body to bed.


Midnight Mondays

I come alive in the middle of the night. The waves are crashing a few feet away and my forehead is buried in the sand.
“Kris,” I murmur, “Kristen wake up.” She stirs, her body shifting. We’re huddled together against the cold, a towel beneath us and two blankets on top. An empty bottle of Pinot Noir is stuck in the sand beside our heads. My phone is wedged between my ribs and the towel; I nudge it out and the screen comes to life, showing me a map of the constellations I had been studying before I fell asleep. Betelgeuse and Gemini stare at me from the lit-up screen.
“It’s past midnight,” I say, “I fell asleep.”
“Me too,” she says, and rolls over, pulling the blanket away from my right knee. “We’d better get going.”
There’s no one on the beach now, no one in sight. We slowly roll to our knees and then our feet, folding the blankets as we shiver, trudging through the sand in our boots. We reach the bike path and I look back at the ocean, the waves crashing and pulling back just like before, just like we had never left. The stars beam down at us, an ocean of twinkling light. We never found Scorpio or Libra but we’d searched, tilting our phones this way and that, falling asleep somewhere between Sirius and Ursa Major. Next time, I say to them as we climb into our car, the closing of the doors shutting us off from the crash of the waves, the glow of the moon. Until next time.


Reason Enough

I woke up today without a second to spare. The moment my eyes snapped open, I fell prey to my voracious agenda; sensing my wakefulness, it barged into my room and shot me full of bullet points, each unleashing a poisonous worry that riddled me with anxiety as it spread through my veins. The numbers on the clock told me that I had slept two hours longer than I’d intended, and because of that, not a minute of this day would be my own. After letting this news sink in, my agenda, frightful predator that it was, sank its claws into me and hauled me out of my bed, dragging me to the door with an unapologetic look that said hey, you’re the one who made me. The gray clouds called to me as I headed into the bathroom, telling me to stop, to breathe. But I could barely hear them over the whir of the toothbrush and the buzz of chatter from my agenda, satisfied that it had my attention, briefing me on the day’s plan of attack.

On the way to my car, the cold air begged me to stop, to stay. I felt the appeal of its suggestion like a physical pull, but my agenda was having none of that. I got to my car so fast I figured my shoes must be conspiring against me. Hey, it was your plan, they shrugged as they hit the gas pedal.

Stopping at Walgreens to pick up the allergy medication necessary for my next stop, colorful items on the shelves drew me to them like a bird to a shiny piece of metal. Can’t stop, can’t shop, said my fingers as they refused to pick up the new multiflavored Chapstick. My feet turned me around and started for the storefront, but my eyes stopped them and forced them down the school supply aisle. My hands made no arguments here, reaching for notebooks, grasping them, turning pages, my eyes picturing my words filling the empty space. Put them down, ordered my agenda, outraged at losing my attention. Just one, I said, grabbing a small spiral off the middle shelf and clutching it tightly to my chest. Just in case I have to write something down. My agenda glared at me for a moment and then nodded indulgently, giving me a sad smile as I speedwalked to the checkout counter. It shook its head at my surge of excitement, knowing I would have no such time.

It was right, I thought resignedly, three hours later. I was tired and full and packing up to leave again, the empty notebook still in its shopping bag, somehow weighing more than it had when I bought it. It was your plan, my agenda reminded me, your promise, and you know you had fun. I had, and I didn’t want to leave. The dog, lounging on its side at my feet, draped a paw over my ankle when I took a step toward the door. Stay, its tail pleaded, thumping an irregular rhythm on the floor. We want you here. I wish I could, I said with my eyes, and ran out into the rain.

It pelted my windshield relentlessly as I drove to work, the fifteen minute drive taking over half an hour. Come on, said the raindrops, you’re already late. Don’t go. I’m late because of you, I told them. You’re the ones making everyone drive idiotically; if it wasn’t for you I would be there by now. But my heart wasn’t in the accusation, and I wanted nothing more than to stop and enjoy them, this rarity of steady raindrops. I don’t know what it is about the rain, how it inspires in me a need to halt everything and close my eyes. To curl up and be silent, to listen, to think. I can’t, I told the rain. I’m sorry. You are the one who chose these hours, my agenda snidely pointed out, sitting in the passenger seat. But it too was staring at the raindrops wistfully, perhaps wishing it wasn’t so full itself.

The downpour eased up and I arrived at work on time, instantly slipping into the necessary mindset to do my job, do it well. I forgot about the rain. I didn’t notice when it stopped. My agenda sat silently, watching me with a look that said maybe it regretted pushing me so hard. I stayed late, after everyone was gone, and when I finally packed up and went home it wasn’t because anything was driving me there, it was simply the only thing left to do.

An hour passed inside my house. Two. My agenda ceased to be anything but a notion. I sat blank-faced, scrolling through pictures of high-end, highly expensive activewear, starting a mental list of the things I’d try on tomorrow. Quickly scanning the times of the classes I’d signed up to take the next morning, I grabbed my new notebook and jotted them down before closing my laptop and heading into the bathroom for a shower. Another day, another list of plans. As the hot water hit my neck and shoulders I stood there and thought about nothing. On autopilot, my hands moved around my body, feet turning me around and then back, head moving from one side to the other. All silent.

Into my bed I climbed, exhausted both mentally and physically, and drew the heavy layers of blankets up around me. I became aware of an odd dripping sound and thought for a moment that I’d left the shower or sink on. No, I didn’t. It’s rain, I realized, a smile growing on my face. My eyes closed and I felt content for the first time since I’d woken up that morning, content to do nothing but listen to the rain as it pulled me toward sleep. But it didn’t. Knowing what I wanted to do before I knew it myself, it whispered one last word. Write, it urged, and without a single reason not to, I did just that.