sometimes professional isn’t what you need

I dreamed my sister had a black dog, like the one we had when we were younger, Katja.  I dreamed someone was getting married, a thin blonde white woman, she was in a stunning, cinched dress, material clinging and then cascading, her hair up in long tight ringlets, she was frustrated with how tight they still were, she wanted them to loosen, she bounded up to the window, the  mirror, she bounded up and then kept flipping her head over and back up,  over and back up, then she would shake her head in the mirror, she wanted the curls to come loose, not look so tight and obvious.  All the women around her wanted to help, but she was a whirlwind of energy all alone in the middle.  There was more to the dream.  Sarah wanted the dog to come sit with her — mom was there, too.  We were all staying someplace, like guests at a hotel or a rented house or someplace not our home.

I dreamed of a gathering of transfolks, like a community center sort of meeting, and Fresh and I were rushing through for something, we stopped to get water, during the meeting, and maybe Fresh had to check in with someone, and I was alone, the only cis person with there I think, during the drop in casual support space, and I was talking about how going to wedding is so frustrating because it’s broken down, split into genders, just 2, and I wanted that to change, to open.


My sister goes to the gym three days a week.  I think, for me, there would be something about having the motivating of the presence of other people — it’s a reason that people come to the writing workshops.  Someone said on Saturday, I’m a lazy writer. She needed to be around other people to motivate her.  Is it laziness, though? Or is it just the way one works best?  I’m not motivated to exercise unless I do it in the service of some other task — my exercise is walking.  I walk the almost-a-mile from the bus to work, and always take the 5 flights of stairs once I get there — only taking the elevator when I’m with someone else who needs to. It’s not enough, and by enough I just mean wanting to figure out how to feel fully fine in my skin.  I understand that’s not just exercise, it’s deeper work, too, but there’s the way that I want to know that my body and me are in sync, we speak the same language, we’re wrangling with aches and losses, we stretch loose what’s clotting us, we find a way through in sweat  and soreness to a looser, softer other side.


I had the second Writing the Flood workshop on Saturday, and have a Write Whole workshop tonight, then the first MedEd writers meeting on Thursday (for Medical Education staff at UCSF — very excited about this one!  We’re working with writing practice as professional development).

What can I say about the Saturday workshop? It was gorgeous — we had nine writers, all different (of course!), each powerful and strong. A couple of the exercises:

  • write about an animal you had a strong (whether positive or negative) relationship with (thanks to Chris DeLorenzo for that one);
  • pull a quote and write in response. We had quotes like, “Long ago I was wounded” (Louise Glück);  “If I had no memory / I would say this is perfect” (Jane Rohrer); and “You were the gentle one (Pat Schneider).

This is what I wrote in response to that last exercise,  my quote was “half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you” (Kahlil Gibran)”

Push down hard into the body and lift up.  Take an angry weight and sink whole into it, lift the trauma into morning.  This is  record of tomorrow.  This is a weighing for yesterday’s distance.  This is a stripping down the bed, burning the sheets, taking flight.  This is a single percolation, the bubble hollow and brown, rising shallow to the surface and turning.  This is singing what used to be forgotten. This is baking the small brownies.  This is feathering the wait with your anger.  This is my long walk from the bank, $15 in my back pocket, feet hard on the cement sidewalk, backpack too heavy on my sunburnt shoulder. This is why you should never have answered. This is all of your questions.  This is the cramps making bloodstains of my hours. This is telling the phone to go quiet.  This is one more inkstained Saturday. This is what I do with all my time.

Outside, the birds are all still quiet, it’s that early, dark staining still the new day’s sky. You are snoring as I lift myself up into the day.  Our house is so old it doesn’t even creak –it sits quiet around my skin, gone cold now to gooseflesh as I move from bedsheets to hallway to kitchen, where I set the coffee going.  I light a candle, and open my notebook, I put myself in front of the page.  These are the only answers I have, pen moving across the paper, these questions, these dreams and resiliencies.  When the whole world is quiet around me, outside cats even sleeping, then I can crumble apart. I can break open, then in that hour. I can see what I am made of.

(Can’t wait for the August Writing the Flood meeting, 8/21, 1;4:30!)


I want to say something about being with my sister, about how simple and straightforward the weekend seemed and how tired we both were after.  I mean it was a weekend of late nights, of being up all of us talking, and so of course we were tired.  but there’s more there.  Whenever we are together we have more present, a world of history there in its invisibility, how do I want to say this?

When you’re around us you’re in the presence of something enormous.  It’s not just being in the presence of survival, it’s something fiercer, something more carnivorous, or more feral.  Feral.  Something wild.  Something neither of us can control. On the surface we look like normal, middleclass white women, we look like we have good teeth and know how to smile and be polite and kind and gentle, we look like you might be safe with us.  You don’t know what’s about to implode every moment when we are together, near each other, in the same physical space.  You don’t know what’s alive and writhing beneath the surface.  You can’t see it.  Maybe you can feel something throbby and angry and awake, something chaotic, some energy that nags at your quiet places, something that keeps your third eye open and wary, something that starts looking for escape routes.  When I started thinking about this writing, what I wanted to get across was how much of an honor it should be for anyone, you should now what an honor it is to be around us, you should know how much we were never supposed to be together and safe together again, you should know what we have had to crawl through and emerge bleeding from just to sit in the same room together and look normal.  And look normal. This is not a professional blog post, but sometimes professional isn’t what you need.

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