A Call For Help (Or Something Like That)


**I need your help!**

Yes, you — person who is literate and also possesses the ability to click a blue button.

(I’m assuming.)

One of my not-yet-published manuscripts — In The Event The Flower Girl Explodes — is now part of a Kindle Scout Campaign on Amazon, and I need nominations.

How do you nominate me?
1. Click on this link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2B6XOMFOADEN0
2. Click the little blue button that says, “Nominate.”


It is SERIOUSLY as easy as that. Nothing to sign up for (assuming you have an Amazon account — and at this point not having an Amazon account is like saying you don’t have email, like how do you function in the modern day), no email lists to be a part of. And if Kindle Scout chooses my book for publication, you will get a FREE e-book of In The Event the Flower Girl Explodes.

(Not a bad deal, amirite?)

If you’re interested, the link also has a shortened synopsis and the first 25 pages up for a free read. (And if you’re not interested, skip all that and just click the blue button.) While not a “most votes win” type of situation, Kindle Scout uses the nominations to gauge interest in the book, so more nominations = more interest = my manuscript looks more appealing to the editors.

Within the first 10 hours, In The Event the Flower Girl Explodes landed on the “Hot & Trending” list and has, for the most part, stayed on said list.  It’s beyond anything I could’ve asked for, and I’m praying I can stay on that list for as long as possible.  While not a guarantee, being on “Hot & Trending” tells the Kindle Scout editors that my book has commercial potential (which means they’ll be more likely to publish it).

So I turn to you, readers who put up with my babbling for the last 3 years.  Can you do a girl a solid and click a blue button?




It’s 2013, and I’m at a gas station in Nevada, having the best phone conversation I’ve had with my father in a long, long while.

The details behind the conversation are long and complicated and best left for another time and another storyline.  I am on the phone, early morning in Nevada, closing in on noontime in Boston.  I had braced myself for whatever the call would bring, but instead of what I had anticipated, I have an effortless and connected talk about road trips.

I’m in the middle of my road trip to San Francisco, just a day’s drive away from California.  My father is hours away from being discharged from the hospital, brought in for what would turn out to be simple dehydration.  And from his hospital bed, he tells me about driving to Mt. Rushmore, about trekking across Wyoming with nothing but his camper trailer and his two buddies by his side.

There is a camaraderie in how we talk, as if this has always been our relationship.  I eventually hang up, carrying the thought, “So this is what it’s supposed to feel like,” with me as I return to the car, as we set off for the Pacific Ocean.  It is our best conversation in years — decades, potentially — and it will be the last good conversation we ever have.  And I don’t know what tires my bones more: the fact that it would be our last good, meaningful conversation before he’d pass, or the fact that it would be two more years before he’d pass.


There was a man I never met, a man I wish I had met. Continue reading

Dashed Upon the Rocks

Part 1.

My favorite thing about flying out of Boston is the aerial view of the islands.

Almost every flight does some type of turn above the Boston Harbor Islands, and I watch them until they go out of sight.  The islands hold something familiar and mystical for me.  They hold teenaged and early college memories.  They hold a source of pride as I’d point out Peddocks and tell anyone who’ll listen, “They shot Shutter Island there!”  They hold a reverie and solace as I remember the ocean waves rolling in, the view of the islands from the mainland, the feeling as the harbor island boats gently bumped against the docks.

But they also hold something heavy.  They hold a memory of my best friend calling me up one night, telling me that she’s heard there’s been an accident on one of the islands — an island another friend was currently on — and that she couldn’t get ahold of him.  A memory of me and my blind optimism, saying that it was all alright, that she’ll get in contact with him soon, that there is nothing to worry about.  A memory of me learning how naïve I had been, learning in the light of day the next morning that he was the one in the accident — that he didn’t survive, and that absolutely nobody, directly and indirectly involved, would ever be the same again.

To this day, it makes me think of all the mistakes we are granted clemency on in life.  All mistakes that could’ve — or should’ve — killed us, and the fact that some of us don’t get that grace sometimes.  Sometimes dumb mistakes cost you your life and you don’t get a chance to look back and say, “Whew. That was a close one.”  Some are not given that opportunity to dodge a bullet and feel grateful that they’re alive. Continue reading

Burdens, Strains, and Fruit

“It’s like the tree doesn’t want to survive.”

We’re stringing up our peach tree in essentially reverse-bonsai fashion.  The branches have gone horizontal and dipped down, semi-ripe peaches inches from the ground.  It looks like all it would take is one strong wind and every major limb would snap.

We’ve done this before — peach trees bear fruit once every three years, and, when we first got the house four years back, we were stringing up what was essentially a sapling, clearly too young for the task at hand.

Three years later and it feels like little has changed.  Every week, the peaches grow bigger, and the branches sag a little more.  I check the fruit daily, seeing when I can finally pick the fruit — relieve the strain before a branch breaks off.

After a major rainstorm, one of the major branches does snap in half. Continue reading

Returning to Pain

It continues to be a time of deep reflection and soul searching.  The moments can get so overwhelming that I can only hope that I’ve hit an era of purging, of watching the wrecking ball go at old outdated structures, and clearing the way for something new.

One of the biggest pitfalls for Type 4 people on the Enneagram chart is dwelling.  But I don’t necessarily need a personality analysis to tell me that.  One of my biggest pitfalls has always been dwelling, of coming back to bad experiences and over-identifying with the pain & hurt — of over-identifying with getting hurt — and finding myself in a world of sad songs & tears & unresolved issues.

Sometimes things come on their own volition.  They’ll show up like uninvited guests, under the guise of giving me a clearer view on things — things I glossed over as they were happening only to now reveal themselves in full.  Moments that hit me all at once with how terrible, how unfair, how manipulative they really were — moments where I am furious with others for what they did and furious with myself for allowing it to happen.  I harness that — or try to, at least — and say, “See how this makes you feel now? Use that as fuel to make sure you never get into something like that ever again.”

But sometimes I call them over like a vulnerable lover in the middle of the night.  I invite them back in and relive moments and feel the heartache and grief and anger and pain.  Relive, and then perversely proclaim, “I never want to feel that way again for as long as I live!”

…But how can I proclaim I never want to feel that way again and yet revisit the feeling like an old friend?


Continue reading

An Ode to Hiking (pt 2)

I’ve been trying to up my hiking game this summer.

My teaching schedule — once a scattered mess that had me teaching in smattering amounts every single day — has consolidated, leaving me my Thursday mornings and weekends free.  I’ve been dedicating that free time to solo hikes and group hikes, quick jaunts around local trails and longer expeditions further north.

I hiked avidly as a kid, I barely hiked at all when I lived in Boston, and I only hiked sporadically during my first few years in New Hampshire.  With each passing year, I try to become a little more deliberate, a little more focused.

My parents are/were members of the 4,000 Footer Club — a designation for those who’ve climbed all the major mountains in New Hampshire.  If I’m doing the math right, I’m now the age that my mother was when she finishing scaling the last of the 4,000-foot summits.  I don’t think that’s influenced my uptick in hiking, but given the connection between hiking and that untainted purity from my past, I won’t strike it out.

I don’t know how to explain hiking to those who don’t find resonance with it.  It’s a lot like running: either you get it, or you don’t.  It looks absurd on paper: devote a morning, a day, multiple days to a hill, to scrambling up that hill — surrounded by bugs and oppressive humidity, with a handful of snacks and worst-case-scenario provisions in a sweat-collecting pack, until your legs quiver with fatigue and you can’t ever seem to catch your breath. And all for…pretty vistas?  Calorie burning?  Blatant masochism?  What, then?

I can talk about being in nature and challenging the body, but it all falls short.  I’ve already sung an ode to hiking essentially this time last year, and perhaps that should be enough.  But, still, it feels like it’s only scratching the surface.  It’s a pragmatic explanation to something a lot more visceral.

I remember studying what the mountains and the woods meant in one of my literature classes in college.  Shakespeare’s characters would retreat to the woods for mischief and scheming and fantasy.  The mountains were a source of mystery and peril and adventure for medieval characters.  Modern characters used the woods to disclose secrets or have affairs or find salvation.

There has been and continues to be something encasing in the wild.  Something larger than life.  And we are able to step right into the middle of it.  Even if we don’t believe in anything else, the forests have this feeling of enchantment, as if the Fae could actually be lurking behind each tree, watching you on the trail.

I continue to be knee-deep in the Enneagram personality types, if only to have that avenue where aspects of myself can be validated (while other aspects get the calling out they need).  Type 4s tend to dwell on the negative.  I tend to dwell on the negative.  I’ll go back and replay bad experiences and then play out lengthy (typically dramatic) conversations in my head.

My solo hikes are never fully solo.  The hypothetical conversations always seem to join me.  My head fills with dialogue that hasn’t happened and probably never will.  Every “how could you…” and “who the fuck are you to…” and “do you have any idea how…” swims around my head.

It’s not unlike any other time in life.  The hypothetical conversations can sometimes be a constant companion, filling my head with the words I never said.  Sometimes they can be redirected into dialogue for a manuscript.  Usually they just drain me.

But it’s different on the trails.  It’s almost as if the trees absorb everything my mind comes up with, to the point that, by the descent, all the hypothetical conversations have lost their potency.  All the “if you only knew…“s eventually silence themselves, tagging behind at a distance before getting lost on the trail.

It’s part of why I love to hike alone as much as I do.  Let everything bubble to the surface.  Let the woods take it in.  A cosmic reset button, in some ways.

Your pack naturally gets lighter on day hikes.  You drink up the water you lugged along the trail.  You eat the snacks you packed.  You might even start wearing the layers you brought with you.

But something else gets lighter.  The things that hang like weights around your neck start to fall by the wayside, if only temporarily.

I think of a 16-mile hike I took the summer of 2015.  At the risk of showing that Type 4 side of me — revisiting and dwelling on old, negative experiences — the summer of 2015 had been one of the hardest times of my life.  My father’s decline was in freefall, my family’s dynamics were in shatters, and practically everything else in my life had just blown up.  I was a frenzied mess of anxiety and dread and heartache and pain.

I remember that hike vividly.  I had gone with my husband and two of our friends.  I remember burning brightly with that anxiety and dread and heartache and pain as we drove through the White Mountains, as we set off from the trailhead.  I remember how candid and wonderful the conversations (real, actual, non-hypothetical conversations) were, how the trail just seemed to take in the burning I was radiating out, how the world felt surreal and hyperreal at the same time.

And I remember — somewhere, somewhere on the return — feeling this acceptance of it all.  Acceptance of where my life was at in that moment.  Acceptance that things had gotten bumpy and the trip was far from over.  Acceptance that my heart had been breaking and probably would break a thousand more times before I could even think of picking up the pieces.  Acceptance that things were changing and there was no going back.  It was a feeling I held dearly and carried for as long as I could, holding it long after I shrugged my pack off my shoulders, praying it would stay with me like the dirt on my shins.

In some ways, that day was a miracle.  Days of acceptance and peace were few and far between in the months leading up to my father’s death.  And in some ways my hikes pay homage to the fact that the trails can perform magic, even if the spell is temporary.

The longer the hike, the more it feels like a spiritual journey.  In a world filled with anticlimaxes and loose ends and unresolved cliffhangers, the hike has a set beginning, middle, and end.  A crescendo and a decrescendo.  Challenge and a payoff.

Especially on the solo hikes, I emerge from the forest feeling like something has been exercised and exorcised.  I bask in that somewhat bewildering feeling, when you leave the trail and find your car and vaguely remember that the real world awaits.

I turned on my car after a recent hike, the preview songs of Kesha’s upcoming album beginning to play through my radio.  Her song “Learn to Let Go” started to play as I set up my GPS and took one more swig from my water bottle.

I was a prisoner of the past, had a bitterness when I’d look back.

I had preordered her newest album on principle alone — making a statement with my all-mighty dollar that I support women who fight to get back what had been taken from them.  But the album speaks to me outside of that context, outside of Kesha’s battles with the studio and her abuser and the court of public opinion.

Another thing the Enneagram validated for me was my almost obsessive need for music.  Type 4s use music to amplify what they’re feeling.  If they’re unhealthy, they’ll find sad songs and use them to stay in a depressive rut.

But, if they can stand on both feet and get back what’s been taken from them, they can spin it to their advantage.  The music can amplify something more positive.

So I think it’s time to practice what I preach
Exorcise these demons inside me
Oh, gotta learn to let it go.

And that feeling — that surreal euphoria, that precious hold on what the trails brought me — lingered as my GPS started to navigate me home, snaking through the smalltown roads until I’m on the highway I know by heart.

Meek, Strong, Big, Small – A Story of Strength in 7 Snippets



Scene: It’s 2006.  19-year-old me behind the register at a local pharmacy.  My summer job until I return to school for my sophomore year.  A woman comes into the store and starts perusing the aisles in a peculiar, suspicious manner.  My supervisor — a petite, blonde girl, who is maybe a year older than me, at best — has me follow her.  Standard retail procedure: pretend to clean the aisle, to put things away, yet all the while a presence around a potential shoplifter.

The woman doesn’t purchase anything, but she also doesn’t steal anything.  She just leaves.

“Thank you so much for doing that,” my supervisor said. “I would’ve done it myself, but you’re so much more intimidating.  I’m too tiny — I wouldn’t scare anything.”

I smirk self-consciously.  Me?  Intimidating?  I’m 5’11”, but the idea of me holding any weight or space is foreign to me. Continue reading