Thursday, November 9, 2017

One.At.A.Time.

If I take it one step at a-
one blink at a-
one moment at a
                       time
line by line
will I cut through
                       black tape
editor in session
judge and jury in session
Con-fession
my sweet beloved self-censorship
reminding me just how truly bad a writer I am...
might it make it to a second paragraph?

And I remember the time when I was told I was not a poet.
I remember the moment
my words were stripped
                        from the page
shot down and cut to size
resized my imagined ties
to the image I have of myself.
And I remember the time when I wrote spoken word that never met the inside of a mouth.
That time, this time, my time
for all time -
What is risk?
If "vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage,"
what the fuck is being a mother?
I tell my friend that I have always loved spoken word, I tell my friend how Hamilton was the best thing I have ever seen, I tell my friend how the experience broke my heart.
What was once sewn shut
becomes
unsutured.
What would've, could've, would never have...
and I am lost
an anger at sea
all churn and no wave.

I want to believe that it's still inside me.
That bravery to put myself out there
and not give a fuck.
One step at a
One blink at a
one moment
one word
one breath
one letter
one
time.







Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Open Letter to Lin Manuel Miranda

It's been a long time since I've felt inspired. It's been a long time since I've felt that rush of feelings come flooding into my nervous system, the kind of thoughts that make me question all of my life decisions and though I hate to admit it, for a moment make me doubt and wonder if I have made, not necessarily the right choices, but good choices. In 2003, I graduated with awards and honors and grades from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a prestigious BFA degree and a compliment from my teacher who said to my father, "She's got it." It is now almost 15 years later and I do not have awards and honors in writing. I have a defunct blog I quit writing on the minute I had children, a new career as an early childhood teacher and two young daughters all under the age of 3. I can't blame my absence from writing on the girls. It didn't start with them. But something did happen when I found out I was pregnant. I became exposed.

There are thousands of mommy blogs and Instagram accounts and twitter feeds and there are books and television shows and movies, but for me none of them get motherhood right. For me, motherhood has meant stepping into an abyss. I have never felt more alone and more connected, more joyous and more fearful, more vulnerable and more ashamed and typically these couplet feelings are wedded in the same moments of excruciating, beautiful, time. I have always written what I thought was the truth. I have tried to write with guts. I have tried to live a brave life. I have led a life with my heart. I have quit jobs I couldn't stomach. I have imprisoned a man who wronged me. I try hard to forgive my mother.  I have moved across the country for love. I have traveled the world and I have continued to make art in any way I could whether it be a documentary or a play, an essay or a photograph, a blog post, even if it was a private Instagram account with tiny letters to my daughter, I have always done something to try to move the conscious of the world into a place where I would want to raise two girls. Becoming a mother has cracked me open like a motherfucker and yet, it has zipped me up just as tightly. The fear of what you so beautifully name "the unimaginable" always feels like it has its fingers around my throat.

When Ava was born, I would sleep with one hand on her belly just to make sure I could feel the rise and fall of that tiny breath, inflating her body with life over and over and over again - the reassurance that she would be there tomorrow and because of that, so would I. For someone who has lived my life successfully avoiding putting down roots, I have become tethered in the most profoundly terrible way- five fingers wrapped my thumb. I had already lived through Sandy Hook and the Isla Vista mass shooting (an old stomping ground of mine) my own grandparents murder-suicide by gun before having children. I had already stated I was a one-issue voter. I signed up for all the gun-control websites. I donated money. And then I had Ava and I froze. And then it was November 9, 2016 and I cried. And then I had Violetta and I held my breath. I have been holding my breath for quite some time and tonight I finally exhaled and the pain took my breath away. My stomach cramped. The tightness fractured, sending loose parts of tension knocking around my nerves settling in tight knots in my back, wrists and ankles. When I breath, I want to cry so I stop short. Every breath, I stop short.

A couple months ago, I found a deal for cheap Dodger tickets and my husband and I went for an impromptu and rare date night. While standing in line for a hot dog, something inside me started spinning. It always starts as a stomach ache. It always starts with that fear that I am about to throw up and then is quickly replaced with the wish that it was that simple. Anxiety, panic, fear, distrust...I furiously whip out my phone and shoot off a text telling my friend that this email serves as an official record of who my girls should go to in the event that their dad and I are killed at a public sporting event. Tonight at your show, I found myself feeling that same dread in the middle of an incredible song. I suddenly desperately looked for the exits. I imagined being stuck in the great center row orchestra tickets we had and wondered if I would try to play dead or claw my way to an exit. I do not think about foreign terrorist attacks and I lived in lower Manhattan during 9/11. I think about being at the grocery store with my girls and an active shooter walks through the automatic sliding doors. I think about being at Disneyland or at the mall or the park and wondering if I would fight back or if I would flee or if I would freeze and just lay my body on top of them. I think about getting my own gun and I fucking hate guns. I hold my breath a little tighter each time news of a mass shooting airs as I await some impending unimaginable doom that feels like its one step closer to my door even though it has already been at my door, even though its at all of our doors.

I cried tonight when I watched Eliza Hamilton say goodbye to her son. I cried when she forgave her husband. And I cried when her husband died from a gun shot. It is all so fucking unimaginable. I long for the days when I could march in the streets and take risks without even thinking of them as risks and donate to causes and cures and rights and freedoms without any pulse on the fear and pain so many have suffered. And yet if I were given the chance to go back in time and undo motherhood, I wouldn't change a damn thing.

I feel fucked up after your show. Inspired and raw but mostly fucked up and exposed. I bought a pen they were selling that says, "Pick up a pen, start writing." I'm hoping that somewhere that "it" is still inside me. Life is too unimaginable without it.