Guess Who’s Coming to Ohio?

My lady love and I are, that’s who!  One of my friends, Kylee, got hitched a while back and is having her reception in the good ole Toledo, Ohio.  It’s the first time I’ve been back home in a long while-since at least March and it is the first time I’m brining Mirs along with me.

We’ve been dating for 28 months and we’ve only met a few of each other’s family members.  Actually, now that I write this down it has occurred to me that she’s met more of my family than I’ve met of hers.  Still, meeting the parents is definitely a big one.  It means that we’re serious.  Things are serious.  Our relationship is serious.

When we first started dating her parents came into town and she casually asked if I wanted to meet them out.  We’d only been seeing each other for a few weeks, perhaps a month or so, and it seemed way too soon to meet her folks.  I politely declined the invitation and waited impatiently for the long weekend to be over so that I could come to her house or invite her over for that really hot first-few-months-of-a-relationship-crazy-sex phase.  Since neither of our parents have come to NYC the chance to meet again hasn’t come up.  When the invitation for Kylee’s reception came in the mail I asked Mirs if she wanted to come up and the way her face lit up is still imprinted on my mind.  She was genuinely excited about the prospect of coming home.

Now, with only a few days to go, the nerves are kicking in a bit.  After eating an amazing dinner of veggie enchiladas that she prepared and a bottle of wine we started to unwind in bed.  She asked me what she needed to know about my mother, my father, what to expect.  I answered her questions willingly but was sort of puzzled at her sudden concern.  I told her that there were thing she could expect from both of them, but mainly that they were warm and welcoming people.  We talked about what we’d bring them, taking them to dinner and sleeping arrangements (my parents are painfully old fashioned.  No bunking unless you’re married).  When we snuggled under the blankets and started to watch ProRun it dawned on me that this was a big deal for her.  I’m going home and bringing her along but she’s getting a crash course into our family with all of its ups and downs.  Completely out of her comfort zone, she will be the lone white girl in a black household and she’s nervous, rightfully so. 

Her mother extended an invitation to come home for Christmas which I politely declined.  I’m not sure how I’m going to tell my own parents I won’t be home for Christmas and it will have nothing to do with my Judaism.  There’s no way they’d hear of my flying down south to spend an important holiday like Christmas with another family instead.  But when my time comes to visit her home I’m sure I will be an even larger bundle of nerves.  She’s a southerner coming to Yankee land but it’s no comparison for this Black girl going below the Mason Dixon into a white Republican household.  Thank G-d I’ve got the Jew card in my pocket to play.


What is Love?

Love can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people.  In high school I learned that there were 3 different types of love; Eros, Phileo, and Agape Love.  The first being physical love, often referred to erotic love, the second being friendship love, and the third being “unconditional love”.  The idea being that the first two kinds of love could be considered love of condition, it could fade with the friendship or the affair and the third type, Agape, is the kind that is the hardest to achieve because it implies that there are no conditions; it’s a godly love.

This theory of love has been taught for centuries and I’m not here to dispute them on theory rather than to argue that one could love a person, possibly one person, on all three levels.  For instance, you could meet someone and instantly be infatuated with them, Eros.  After your infatuation subsides you begin to see the depths of the person, perhaps you start dating and as you learn more about them the Eros is combined with the Phileo.  After some time more you are in love and committed and this is where the Agape comes in.  You love this person because of who they are, not despite of who they are. 

Mirs and I are listening to some vinyl she found on the side of the street.  Some asshat threw out amazing Funk, R&B, Soul, and Old School Jams like Chaka Khan, the Village People, Diana Ross, and Donna Summers to name a few.  We’re listening Luther Vandross’s 1986 album, “Give me the Reason”  and it instantly brought me back to my childhood.

I grew up in a Victorian mansion.  Did I ever tell you all that?  I did.  It was built in 1903 by an architect I still cannot find online.  The home was beautiful and a truly magical place to live.  Long story short (wait for the memoir) my parents and I moved out of the house in 6th grade.  Almost two decades later they have purchased it again.  There was nothing more magical than me going back to the house of my childhood to babysit my nephews who are growing up in the place that I did.

When I was a girl my parents would host large gatherings of family and friends on the weekend.  My uncles, aunts, and cousins would come.  And those adults who were not related to me by blood but I called “Auntie” and “Uncle” just the same.  The men would work on multiple grills, cooking ribs, chicken, burgers and hot dogs.  There was always enough kool-aide for us kids, and beers for the adults.  The music would billow out from our music room onto our large front porch and we’d dance and sing and play hide and seek while the adults danced, talked, smoked cigarettes and enjoyed life.

One of the songs, I can’t remember the title now, played and I instantly thought of my parents.  They got divorced after twenty-odd years of marriage for about a year.  There were many stresses in their lives, too many for me to understand as their daughter but at the time I was happy my mother was rid of the burden that my father could sometimes bring with his words.  They separated, found their own individual condos, and for a year they were not man a wife.  Until my father came over one night to ask my mother on a date.  They courted, had dates, did the deed while they were dating and one day he popped the question.  Presented my mother with a new ring and asked her to marry him, again.

They’re technically and legally divorced but will be getting married, again, on the same date they did so those many years before I was a thought in their minds.  As much as I don’t understand the things that they do I understand that the underlying emotion must be love.  They are in love with one another because of their faults, their good times and their bad times.  You can’t find it every day and ony a few are lucky enough to experience it.  I feel like I’m one of those lucky ones.

Black, Gay, and Jewish Part One

Like the title?  It’s a play on Rebecca Walker’s memoir, Black, White, and Jewish, which is on my long list of books to read about Jewish Identity.  Now before you page back trying to figure out what you’ve missed rest assured you haven’t “missed” any big announcement.  I’m not Jewish, I’m still a_______.  It’s just something that I’m considering.  This considering converting issue has been a little bit of a debate as of late.  I suppose the word debate is completely wrong because no one has really been debating with me.  Folks just seem to have really strong opinions and strong reactions.  Funny thing is, most of those opinions and reactions are coming from all of my non-Jewish friends.  None of them are strongly affiliated to any religion that I am aware of.  Some of them affiliate with family beliefs, others don’t talk about religion and don’t seem particularly observant to me.  Yet, everyone’s got an opinion from a raised eyebrow of suspicion to a pointed “Why?!”  and the latest, “you should do some soul-searching” 

The soul-searching comment came from my sister and the funny thing is, I’ve been wanting to tell her to do that for 10 years!  I’m not getting into that shit because it pisses me off.  I will say this, you’d think that the one person who maybe would save the judgement call would be her.  For all of her faults, my frustrations and anger at her decision making I’ve tried so hard not to pass judgement on her.  Here I am making an adult decision that would virtually only affect me and my future children and she’s judging me as though I’ve announced that I’ve decided to worship Satan. 

Rant about my sister is over.

There is a saying that goes, “Not all who are lost wander.  Not all who wander are lost”  This is the perfect metaphor for me and my life.  It can be and has been said that I am always searching for something.  That something is most definitely, without a doubt, my identity.  I’ve been searching for what and who Erika is for as long as I can remember.  It occurred to me about 5 years ago that I was looking at myself right in the mirror-but I’d chosen to ignore me.  I was talking and I wasn’t listening.  Instead I was really, really good at making myself into the mirror images of everyone around me.  I’m astoundingly good at making myself into what someone wants me to be, a.k.a, what’s comfortable for them.  As a result, I’m still a wicked-good liar.  It was going to happen that way, I’ve spent the majority of my life lying to appease others.

There was something amazingly cathartic about leaving home.  For some it is unmentionable, something you’d never do, never consider, never an option.  For me, it was my only choice.  And it’s not that I’m turning my back on my parents, my home, my history per se moreover I’m allowing myself to better appreciate my parents, my home, my history.  In terms of coming out I made a choice.  I could live the life I wanted to live privately and continue to lie to my parents or I could live the life I wanted to live openly and risk losing them.  Knowing my parents I was quite certain that I wouldn’t lose them but rather my history of molding myself into the image of others would be thrown back into my face. 

My coming out letter (I don’t recommend sending a mass e-mail) catapulted a serious of heated e-mails zipping back and forth through the internet from my father to my cousins to my mother and always back to me with the great and amazing horror that became the “Reply All” button.  In the end those who know that I’m gay either don’t talk about the fact that I’m gay or have forgotten the entire incident.  My mom knows who M is and that we’re together.  She’s even gone as so far as to tell me which US cities are gay-friendly.  Yet, when I told her that I wanted to talk about something with her this weekend in DC she asked if it was about my “condition.”  Okay, I don’t think she actually said condition-she actually said “situation” which is equally appalling, like it’s some sort of under the table, back door, dirty family secret I wasn’t to discuss.  (Am I a dirty family secret?)  Seriously, everybody know’s I’m a homo!

I told her not to worry, M and I weren’t married or engaged yet and she breathed an audible sigh of relief.  So when I told her that I was thinking about converting to Judaism she dismissed it, as she’s done with my sexuality.  I suppose I understand, I have thrown a lot of things her way but the reaction that I got was a bit unexpected.  Maybe it’s because I chose the words, “considering” rather than just saying, “I’m converting”  The reason I did it in that way is because I’m still not sure.  I’m strongly leaning in that direction but I only stepped foot into a synagogue last week and the idea of not doing any type of work on Shabbat is still daunting.  I’m already knee deep in shit at work for the mention of applying for the Peace Corps (did I mention that part, too?) how am I going to explain to my boss that I need to start observing Shabbat?  I’m sticking with my guns on this one. 

Everything.  Literally everything from playing grade school basketball, to running for class president, to attending UD, to pledging a sorority, to my brief stint as a pagan has been to fit in to whatever group I wanted.  This living my own life thing is harder than I imagined and it’s taken until now, 30 years old, for me to feel comfortable with rejection of those closest to me, my family.  So welcome, readers, to this fun new world of self-discovery.  Black, Gay, and Jewish will be weekly observations and I hope you enjoy it.

it’s actually sunny in NYC

33 Days from now I’ll be boarding a plane with some of my friends to Costa Rica.  63 days from now I’ll be boarding a plane with my parents and my two nephews to Hawaii.  Yes, I’m lucky.  The Hawaii thing was a complete surprise.  A brief bit of back story-(if you want the whole story read blogs with Tags or Categories like “My Sister” “My Family”) my parents have been raising my adorable  nephew, Jullian, since he was born and my newest nephew that I call JD (Justice) since he was born.  50+ parents on the verge of retirement raising a 3 year old with a mind of his own and a 6 month old. 

Since Jullian was born I’ve gone home for any where between 5-10 days to babysit while my parents jetted off to places like Rome, Spain, Hawaii.  They’d leave me in Toledo, Ohio to watch my adorable but quite a handful nephew to get some much needed rest and relaxation.  Problem was that I’d use valuable vacation time from work to not take a vacation.  I’d get back to work a week later more tired and haggard then I’d been before I left and my boss or co-workers would say things like, “you just got back from vacation!  why are you tired?”  I’d have to remind everyone that babysitting a 1, 2, 3-year-old with a mind of his own is NOT vacation.  Ask any parent.  This year not only was I going to have to babysit Jullian but JD as well all alone for 7 days.

I felt horrible denying my parents a suitable vacation but I didn’t think I’d be able to handle it.  No lifeline when your folks are across the continent and the Pacific Ocean.  I was about to throw in the towel because my mom really does need a break when she told me that my father added me to the trip.  My sister would be coming to but when you’re addicted to drugs and the court mandates you attend 1 year of rehab you don’t get to go to Hawaii.  She’s 28 and I’m 30 but I can’t help but stick my thumbs in my ears, wag my fingers around, stick out my tongue at her and boast like I’m 6 again.  She’ll be in Toledo remembering that drugs are bad, she needs to be a better mother, and I’ll be in Hawaii laying on the beach, getting sand kicked in my eyes, waking up at the crack of dawn to feed them, running around after them,  manning poopy diapers and applying SPF80 sunblock to my nephews.  But it sounds a lot better doing all that in Hawaii.

I have a crush on Staceyann Chin

Yup, that’s right.  Wicked mad crush on Staceyann.  It’s not the way she looks, although she’s very beautiful it’s not even her bangin’ body, which is bangin’.  It’s her memoir, “The Other Side of Paradise” that I started reading this week that has made my crush on Staceyann Chin what it is today.

I’m not that far into it, truth be told.  This really cute (possibly queer) girl at Greenlight books in Fort Green sold the hard cover to me.  I’d been eyeing it for a month but was working on finishing “Wuthering Heights.”  I make a point to only have one new book in my possession at a time, otherwise I’ll drop one for the other and most likely not return to the first.  I just finished “Wuthering  Heights” and had about 15 minutes after yoga and before Tongues to get to the bookstore to buy “The Other Side of Paradise.”  My book store crush asked if I knew anything about the author, that she’d been wanting to read it.

“Well, she’s queer…” I started (to see if she was, too.  She gave me that knowing look.  Aha!  One point for Erika gaydar.)  “She’s a feminist and activist, she had a one woman show on broadway in the mid 2000’s…”  I went on and on spouting my Staceyann knowledge and she agreed that she’s buy it too, when she was finished with the book she was on now.  She also made mention to another author, Dorothy Allison, that I should look into when I was finished with “Paradise” 

innocent flirting at the bookstore.

I’m still in Part One and just wrapped up page 46 through teary eyes on the C Train.  I love when a book can move me to tears.  And it wasn’t just the book or its content but the way that a good writer can not only make you feel like you’re there with them in the text but their ability to make you feel what the protagonist is feeling.  In that moment of feeling like a helpless 7-year-old girl being ridiculed by her Aunt while her grandmother helplessly watches the abuse, I felt like I was Staceyann in that brief moment of prose. 

I’ve never had to watch a woman I love do domestic work, as Staceyann watched her Grandmother.  As I’ve disclosed many times here I lived what most would describe as a priviledge life.  Reading “The Other Side of Paradise” awakens so much of my race identity and the itch that was my memoir (lost in computer oblivion) comes racing back into my mind and the memories of my childhood come pouring to my frontal lobe.  (it is the frontal love of the brain that controls memory, right?)

My parents are both black so my race identity isn’t lost in that.  It is, however lost in my education, my speech, my back ground.  Here’s a little snippet, that “Paradise” has forced me to remember.

I remember being in fourth grade.  We’d just switched from the YMCA day camp to the Catholic Club.  I went from having a mixed race group of friends to all black friends.  I am and always have been a social butterfly.  I walked up to the girls who looked my age and asked their names.  Their names I don’t remember.  I do remember, however the looks they gave me.  The way that made fun of the way that I spoke.  The entire summer, even in the small cluster of friends I managed to make I was mocked and taunted for “sounding like a white girl.” 

Funny thing is, as I grew up and my parents continued to enroll me in predominantly white, upper middle class schools in which I excelled socially and kinda sorta academically my father became the taunter.   It wasn’t just him, though.  At family reunions cousins, aunts, uncles would look at me bewildered when I spoke.   I was told that I wasn’t proud of my color, I didn’t embrace it, I was trying to be someone that I could never be.   Looking back, I’m not sure what else was expected of me.  Was I supposed to ignore the rules of the English language in favor for double negatives and slang?  It’s not who I am.  I sound ridiculous trying to “talk black” whatever that means.  

 Now at 30 as a proud black lesbian when I see him he asks why I don’t relax my hair.   “You’d look more professional with straighter hair, Erika.”  “I was going to buy you a comb for your birthday”   A little ironic, no?

This blog doesn’t make much since.  It’s a stream of thought, ideas, and memories evoked by a special lady whose childhood was way more, dare I say, fucked up then mine ever was.  When I listen to the poems and prose from some of the women in my writing group-stories of mixed race childhood angst echo.  Stories of what it means to be a black Latina, what it means to have a white father who didn’t acknowledge your existence or a white mother who tried to mold you into a white daughter are experiences I can’t relate to.  On the other hand, what does it mean to be a black child and never really know you were black-or more accurately, never know what it meant to be black.

Mirs and I talk about race identity all of the time.  What it will mean for us, as partners, to raise black Jewish children.  Our future children’s Jewish heritage is just, if not more, important to Mirs and our children’s black heritage.  No one will know, looking at them, that they’re Jews.  But they’ll sure as hell know that they’re black.  We have to have answers for them.  We always discuss when you start talking about race, identity, religion, and the injustice of so many peoples in our society. 

When we talk about my black identity, especially as a child, I always have to think about it really hard.  Clearly, looking in the mirror I could see that I was black but what my skin color meant; the struggles of my people, were never relayed to me.  When I honestly think about it I’m pretty sure that I learned the most about the Civil Rights movement from a white nun in school.  I asked my parents, and was given a book on MLK. 

My mother had the most insight, she lived in the segregated south until she was twelve.  She would tell me stories about visiting her mother, a domestic worker, at her job and having to use the back entrance.  She told me stories of using separate water fountains.  And I would listen to them and her and appreciate her taking the time.

My father, on the other hand, never told me anything.  Like so many instances in my life his childhood, his experience of being a black man living in New Jersey during the Civil Rights movement is a mystery to me.  I could ask him now, sure, but for a person so formative in my black identity or lack thereof as he often reminded me his imput is completely obsolete.  It doesn’t exist.  But the scars of his constant ridicule is.

Clearly, another reason for therapy.  Or excess money so I can quit my job and spend all of my time writing my memoirs or a work of autobiographical fiction.  So, thank you Staceyann Chin for what is shaping into an amazing and inspiring memoir.

Hear Come the Holidays

I work retail.  I’m sure I’ve said that on this blog once, twice, about a dozen times.  Thankfully, our store hasn’t started consistent playing of Holiday music so working 9-10 hour days isn’t as annoying as it could be.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas music.  In fact, last week when I made my fifth batch of Vegan Shepherd’s pie I was listening to the Mariah Carey “All I Want for Christmas is You” station on Pandora.  Yet, standing in the crazy-long line in Trader Joes on 14th Street with people jamming their carts into your ankles, getting out of line to continue their shopping keeping you “in charge” of pushing their cart along with your own “Jingle Bell Rock” is probably the last thing that I want to hear.

It’s about this time of year when your stress levels seem to sky rocket because just after the turkey coma wears off and you are back at work the following Monday the Calendar reminds you that you only have X amount of days until Christmas.  For me, I only have 12 days until the first night of Hanukkah and after that I will worry about the Christmas presents.

My three-year-old nephew and light of my life, Jullian, is having hard time buying into the whole Santa Claus thing.  He’s arguably the smartest 3 year-old I know.  I’m not just saying this because he’s my nephew-he started talking at 10 months, and could identify colors before he was a year old.  He’s wildly opinionated, passionately stubborn, and very strong-willed.  For instance, he refused to get into the costume my mother purchased for him for Halloween because he didn’t see the point in dressing up for candy when you could just get candy from the store.  (Ahh, consumerism)  Christmas and Santa Claus are the same way.  He thinks it makes no since to wait for Santa to bring you presents and toys when you can get in the car, go to the store, and buy the toys there.  Just when my mom almost had him believing a Toys R Us commercial came on the television and he made his point once more-Why wait when you can get it now?

As a result I have been sending him letters from “Santa” starting last week.  I use information my mom’s given me on how he’s been naughty or nice and write to him from the voice of Santa Claus.  I went to Target and found some Holiday themed paper, got some stickers and sparkly pens and perfected my penmanship to convince my nephew into believing in something he’ll stop believing in in about 7-8 more years.  I have to admit that it’s fun to pretend to be Santa.  I’m even looking forward to staying up all night and putting presents under the Christmas Tree for him to discover on Christmas Morning.

death and dying II

One of my favorite and most heart breaking SATC episodes to watch and re watch is My Motherboard Myself.  I’m not sure which season it is but it’s the episode in which Carrie’s computer crashes and Miranda’s mother passes away.  It’s such a painful and moving moment at the end of the episode when Miranda is walking down the church aisle alone and starts to break down crying.  She’s looking frantic, sad, and in need of support.  Carrie, from a pew, comes to her side and the two of them walk to the end of the church together hand-in-hand.

My freshman year of high school, my then best friend called me on spring day to inform me that her father passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack.  I remember listening to her tell me the news in shock.  I listened and said the things that you say to a friend so far away in a time of crisis and pain.  When I hung up the phone I ran down the stairs to the floor below to let the other girls who’d attended our high school of the news.  We all cried and when we’d finished I returned to my dorm room and called my father to let him know how much I loved and cared for him.

My mother lost her mom when she was only 25 and I consider myself lucky to be at age 30 and to not only have my mother but to call her my best friend.  On Friday one of my best friends in New York rushed to the bedside of her ailing Father.  Today we talked briefly and my heart absolutely broke into pieces listening to her agonizing pain.  I felt helpless here in New York while she’s so far away.  Her father’s not doing well-the family is praying for a miracle and the possibility is there.

It occurred to me a few months ago, when another high school friend lost her infant child, and then again last week when another friend miscarried, that we’re at the time in our lives when mortality is a very real thing.  It’s become something that happens to you and not just to other people.  The reality of the situation his that as we get older and become the adults that we may or may not be ready to embrace death is a very real fact.  It sounds silly-everyone knows that eventually we all will die.  It just seems, though, that it is becoming more evident-mortality is more evident as we age.  It’s not just that person who we knew back when but my friend’s child died, my friend’s mother died.

It’s always been quite obvious to me that one day my parents will die.  When I think about this time, though, it’s still far off in the distance.  It’s after my wedding, after my first child, after my second child, when they’ve retired and moved to Florida to live out their golden years.  In my mind, they die peacefully in their sleep on the very same night holding one another.  How easy it is to imagine a death like that-in bed with your spouse.  I’m comfortable believing this illusion of death rather than face the fact that one day, any day, they may die and what would I do then?  Death is far from convenient, it doesn’t take into consideration your plans or its timing-it just is.

At 18 I couldn’t imagine losing a parent and now, twelve years later it’s safe to say that I still cannot.  My heart goes out to my friends and their family and my prayers that I find myself subconsciously whispering to the unknown go out to them.

Verizon and other woes

Yes, you read correctly.  Still without internet.  I can’t even get into it.  Let’s just say a woman in India got another piece of my mind and I cancelled the service entirely.  I got a bill the very next day for internet I never had but that’s another story.  I was talking to Dez about my internet woes and how I planned on making a phone call to Time Warner to get internet from them and she informed me that she was quite certain that Time Warner didn’t service our neighborhood and that, surprise, surprise Verizon is my only option.  Tsk. Tsk.

In other news I found out from my mother last week that my sister is back in rehab and that she was using while pregnant with my newest nephew.  The good thing is that JD is doing wonderfully.  So far he’s physically and developmentally doing well.  Me, I’m fucking pissed.  I cannot even begin to talk about my frustrations with my sister.  Immediately I get pissed off and annoyed that I’m almost in my thirties, I have only one sibling and she’s the worse possible excuse for s sister.  I get pissed that I don’t have a connection with her.  I get pissed at her selfishness.  People, Christians, tell me that I’m pissed off at her addiction and not her.  I have to say-I’m really just pissed off at her.

About a two years ago I went back to church.  I would go every Sunday religiously and when I worked at Saks I would be done with work in time to go to St. Thomas on Fifth Ave for evening prayer service.  I would pray for my sister.  For a year straight I would kneel at my pew with tears streaming down my face praying for her.  Every time I was in church my prayers went to her.

There’s this line in my favorite Dave Matthews song that goes, “I pray but they fall on deaf ears”  Thats how it feels.  I’m not mad at god, though.  I’m not mad at cocaine, I’m only mad at her.  The person who choses to make the decisions that are deciding the fate of two innocent lives.  More than the lives of my nephews, her children, the lives of my parents are effected.  Two people in their mid-fifties who are raising children again.  My life.  When my parents die, and they will die, who will care for these children?  Me.  I’m not selfish, do not misunderstand.  These are the facts at hand.  My parent’s have custody of two children with different fathers.  Said fathers are worthless excuses for humans, let alone fathers and the courts have decided such.  So when my parents pass away and their fathers have been deemed unworthy and their mother, my sister, also deemed unworthy instead of turning to the system who else is there but me?

These are the thoughts in my head.  My sister, the fucking whore bitch who’s ruined the lives of so many.  The state of my immediate family and the roles that people play.  My nephews who have been adopted by my parents so that now they’re my brothers, legally speaking.  My guilt for leaving the family that’s turned into denial that they existed and now has developed back into guilt that keeps me awake at night-yet not strong enough to force me to return home to do anything.  What can I do, really, to undo all of these wrongs.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing so I’ve evolved to this place where I’m pretty numb to it all.  Except for the sheer blood red anger and hatred I feel towards the closest blood relative-my sister.

round two of the piece about my sister

My sister is a cutter.

I watched people on the train today looking at a woman with tattoos.  Her tattoos cover her arms and legs and back.  She was wearing all black and it seems that every area of exposed flesh was covered in black ink.  They watch her, diverting their eyes, so as not to stare because starring is rude.

People look at my sisters scars like .  Both wrists with uniformed lines of raised flesh that’s a lighter complexion than the rest of her skin.  You don’t notice them right away and she’s stopped being ashamed of them.  If you look closely you can see them; these lines of raised flesh.  Horizontal lines starting at the crease of skin where her palm and wrist meet and continuing up her forearm until about her elbow crease.
I remember when I first learned about them.  It was five years ago, the summer before I left for New York.  I got a phone call from my mother telling me that my sister tried to kill herself.  That she was in the hospital.  That I should come soon.  We found out later that her boyfriend had found her like that, in the bathroom covered in blood a razor in her hand.  The psychologist told us that she didn’t try to kill herself, really, the cuts (plural) were not deep enough and there were so many of them.  She was a cutter. 

A cutter.  In so much pain mentally, she needed to feel physically manifested self inflicted pain.  That’s what the doctors said.  She stayed in the hospital for almost two weeks.  After the hospital she spent two months in rehab before getting to go back home.  I left for New York a month after she left rehab.  She did it again, to her other wrist, about six months later and again to the first a year after that.

Sometimes when things go wrong in my life and I should feel pain but don’t I wonder if I’m a cutter, too.  Just one that’s too chicken shit to feel physically manifested self inflicted pain.  I’d rather not feel anything at all.  I’d rather allow myself to shut down.  I shut myself down; system after system going dark like turning off the power switch by switch in the breaker room a large warehouse building.  You see the lights going from illuminated florescent beams to still, quiet blackness.  Floor by floor the light goes out and the building is empty and quiet, still and black.  After a while the quiet black building is forgotten and is alone in its stillness.  There’s nothing there, it appears to the naked eye, nothing worth seeing nothing there at all but a deserted old warehouse that may have been something worth while once upon a time.

My sister is a cutter. 

She wears her scars on her arms for the world to see.  You can see the pain she’s been through, and though you may not know what caused the pain and you’re not sure if she’s still in pain-you know there was pain.  There was pain there.  Real pain, pain so deep that it’s left permanent marks as evidence of its existence.  It’s pain that can’t be forgotten because you can always see it.  It’s a permanent reminder of that time when she needed make herself feel.

inspiration on a subway

something i started today


My sister is a cutter.

I watched people on the train today looking at a woman with tattoos.  Her tattoos cover her arms and legs and back.  She’s wearing all black and it seems that every area of exposed flesh is covered in black ink.  They watch her, diverting their eyes so as not to stare because starring is rude.

People look at my sisters scars like .  Both wrists with uniformed lines of raised flesh that’s a lighter complexion than the rest of her skin.  You don’t notice them right away and she’s stopped being ashamed of them.  If you look closely you can see them; these lines of raised flesh.  Horizontal lines starting at the crease of skin where her palm and wrist meet and continuing up her forearm until about her elbow crease.
I remember when I first learned about them.  It was five years ago the summer before I left for New York.  I got a phone call from my mother telling me that my sister tried to kill herself.  That she was in the hospital.  That I should come soon.  We found out later that her boyfriend had found her like that, in the bathroom covered in blood a razor in her hand.  The psychologist told us that she didn’t try to kill herself, really, the cuts (plural) were not deep enough and there were so many of them.  She was a cutter. 

A cutter.  In so much pain mentally, she needed to feel physically manifested self inflicted pain.  That’s what the doctors said.  She did it again, to her other wrist about six months later and again to the first a year after.