Monday, March 4, 2013

New and improved

Big news! Writings in the Raw has a new home on my brand-spanking-new website. I owe a huge thank you to Heather Reed of Creative Fuel, an enhanced web design and development firm based out of Santa Cruz. More exciting news to come. Check out the blog's new home here. Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Still Life

Monday evening still life:

My aunt April gave me these wonderful sock puppet gloves with button eyes and blue noses. Occasionally they'll get separated, as they are now, one on the hassock, one on the sofa, its button eyes staring up at me, imploring.

A road map of the U.S. pinned to the wall with two different routes highlighted, one in orange, one in pink.

Blue and white lights curled around our standing light, making the corner glow.

A solitary orchid perched by the window. There's only one flower left.

The gift Ryan's grandmother gave us for Christmas: a small candle holder with four cookie cutter horses suspended above it, ready, as always, to spin once the wicks are lit.

The sound of light rail humming down the street: an urban murmur.

A paper chanukiah still taped to wall, three months later.

And, barely visible from my seat on the couch: Ryan pulling hot macaroni and cheese out of the oven.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

In case you missed it...

...the wonderful, amazing A Practical Wedding reposted my "Miracle of the Latkes" piece on their blog yesterday. A Practical Wedding is a truly useful resource for anyone considering marriage -- everything from the intricate details of event planning to the bigger political and social questions that relationships imply. Reading APW has helped me own the excitement of getting engaged and offered a cajillion helpful ideas for honoring personal aesthetics, setting a budget, including family and friends, and acknowledging the marriage equality movement.

Thanks APW!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Culture jamming

Our third floor at work has these pristine erasable walls that no one seems to use. Last week, on my lunch break, I left my mark.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Yesterday was a beautiful, sparkly day, a cold day, the day before the Pope resigned, the Lunar New Year. Yesterday I ran 6 miles, programmed my first website, made lasagne with Ryan. I thought about the blood in my veins and how, after twelve years with diabetes, I still see it - every day. And how trivial that seems. And how funny it is to get used to adhesives on your stomach. And how, over time, you grow to really love those little sticky patches, because of what they do for you. And how tiresome this narrative must be, the preexisting-conditioners-speak-out-story, the let-me-show-you-how-tough-I-am story.*

I saw a new endocrinologist for the first time in several years. While reviewing my blood sugar charts he said something about a common trend toward hyperglycemia after meals, and completely without prompt, I burst into tears. He waited a beat and then said, "I certainly hope this isn't causing you psychological stress."

There are a lot of ways to interpret that. What this man doesn't know is that I am a master at interpreting things a thousand different ways. It is, at times, my job to do just that. I looked at him and said, "This shit is frustrating." Because the truth of it is, no matter how boring that narrative gets, it's there for you like any terrible reality tv show or late night drama. Yes, the last twelve years have been amazing. I have gotten to travel the world and study things I care about and work with really interesting people and live in beautiful places and spend time with my family and friends and fall in love and go on adventures. And on a good number of those days I've been downing Gatorade on my bike or waking up shaking in the middle of the night or taking an injection because my site doesn't work. I imagine other people's bodies as these machines that tick involuntarily; mine is a watch that must be wound, every two days, using a 7cm needle.

Know that this is not a call for sympathy. This is an acknowledgement that days can go by and years can pass and we can accomplish great things while still honoring, for one day, that nine or ten or eleven or twelve years ago our lives were unaffected in a way that they no longer are. That this is, for better or worse, a reality, one that occasionally causes stress, but one full of awe, and honesty, and true, real love.

So that was yesterday.

*I want to mention, too, that when other people living with, well, whatever it is we humans live with, share their stories about their own conditions, I feel a kinship and compassion so strong that I know this narrative will always have its place.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dudebros and red pumps

I bought my first bridal magazine yesterday. I couldn't help myself; I had to editorialize a little. This is how the intro paragraph to my wedding would read:
The perfect dazzling white gown lacey vintage short dress, hair and make-up that make her feel every inch a princess an awesome badass woman, from the tip of her tiara crown of flowers to the toes of her bejeweled slippers red pumps, a fabulous grand ballrooman open night sky, and of course a handsome prince responsible yet spontaneous dudebro. It's a timeless dream for most women, as it should be.

I've never been one for fairy tales--it seems to me that a wedding is about celebrating the raw humanity that is real life, real love, and real people. That, and sexy dudebros, and an entire happy crew and family and friends, and red pumps.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The eternal flame

UC Santa Barbara has a monument on campus entitled the Eternal Flame. It is a small sculpture located on the lawn between buildings, and in its triangular center it burns, as they say, incessantly. Our final week living together in the dorms, my friend Graham convinced a group of us to sneak out to the Eternal Flame after dark and - well - roast marshmallows.

This was the kind of thing we did. This is the kind of thing I would still do.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The places we go

Some nights are for driving.

Tonight I drove I-280 south from San Francisco on my way back from a raucous afternoon at the Golden Gate Races. It was one of those winter days that I think only happen in California. There really is only one word for it, that light: nostalgic.

The drive tonight reminded me of a summer night in Davis last summer, the night before I moved to San Jose.

I had completed grad school a mere 48 hours earlier and spent that entire weekend fitting two years’ worth of work into the back of my 2002 Volvo. It was one of those summer days where the sun goes on forever. When I was a child, playing outside on nights like that, I'd imagine that on the other side of the Berryessa Hills, Paul Bunyan would be standing there with his ox and a hatchet, lifting the sun above the hills. I was always drawn to follow that horizon, if anything to find him standing there, keeping the night at bay.

When I don't know where to go on summer nights in Davis I go to Fairfield School. That hot night last summer was no different. I got in my car and drove out on the county roads west of town.

There was an unintentional poetry to it; returning, almost without thought, to the place where I first learned to learn, the very first school that meant anything to me, just hours after completing an advanced degree. When I go out there among the oak trees, I still think of Debbie Clark, the second grade teacher who let me be shy, the woman who agreed to be my pen pal, even though we lived only blocks from each other. She had two beautiful grown daughters but had room in her heart for a dorky shy seven-year-old; this was the same woman who, a few years later, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in seventh grade and I still remember her dying wish: to be surrounded in flowers. Someone, I don't know who, organized a group of Fairfield students and parents, and the group of us gathered to rototill her new backyard, and all that spring we trimmed rosebushes and watered her lawn. A few months later she succumbed to breast cancer at the young age of 45. The complete lack of reason for it all - the irrationality of it, seeing a good person get sick, left an impression that remains with me today.

I go out to Fairfield and I remember her still, swishing between the desks in those long elementary-school-teacher-dresses, the ones with the alphabet on them, or flowers, and I remember the art of wonder. How that little two-room brick schoolhouse is a place that fills me with wonder, even now. How nostalgia can be different from sentimentality; how you know when a place is meaningful when your feet -- or your wheels -- simply lead you there, on instinct.

There are no Fairfields on 280-South, but there are these luscious woods in every shade of green, and there is this quality of light that shivers in the afternoon. There is Half Moon Bay. Sometimes, if you are lucky, as I was today, there are great white egrets that straddle the freeway divider, standing on one leg without a care in the world, their oblong heads almost invisible if they stand at the right angle.

Sometimes, if you squint your eyes, you can make out Paul Bunyan standing just beyond those hills, propping them up with his hatchet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

one hundred words: Takeoff

She feels what her twin feels, on the other side of the globe. He goes to the fish market and she feels his fingers slip over scales. He goes to the mountains and she feels air whipping against her cheeks. He goes to work and her heart grows thick and heavy. It’s a weight she didn’t know he felt. She wishes, from the other side of the world, that she could lift it. But how? She goes to the market, to the mountains. She sits very still and concentrates on the warm texture of his heart. She feels him lift.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What happens when we bring the dog

He drove up Christmas Eve. He’d cut his hair, she noticed, and shaved his beard. Please, he said, let’s go on a walk. Only if we bring the dog, she said. It had recently rained. The hills were gray and calm. The lane was quiet and empty. He held her hand. The dog ran ahead. His face was pale and clean. His voice quivered. He was on one knee. All the sugar in her body fled to her fingers. You’re quite sure? she whispered. He nodded. The dog returned, a witness. Yes, she said. The sun returned. They held hands.