Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Risk / Reward

18 cyclists have been killed in NYC this year, 3 in the last week, but my friends, the sheer joy of moving lickety split through the night in the part of Maspeth that's carless at 9p.m., bike lit up like a Christmas tree of self-preservation, and the weird community you build briefly on encountering a bridge blocked by barriers for no apparent reason, asking another cyclist to hand your bike over an obstacle after you crawl gracelessly under, doing the same for him, laughing inside a bit when he calls your precious baby "really heavy," and saying goodnight as you go separate ways -- again, lickety split.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Richard Siken

Richard Siken's second book of poems was always long-awaited. My friend Matthew always compared it to waiting for the next album from your reclusive favorite new indie band. His first book was so much raw grief. His second, ten years later, is...a quieter thing.

Excerpt from "The Worm King's Lullaby":

Someone has to leave first. This is a very old story.
There is no other version of this story.

He was pointing at the moon but I was looking at his
hand. He was dead anyway, a ghost. I'm surprised I
saw his hand at all. All this was prepared for me. All
this was set in motion long ago. I live in someone else's
future. I stayed as long as I could, he said. Now look at
the moon.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Things you learn fast when your leg is broken

1. Breaking your leg doesn't necessarily hurt as much as you think it might. I still can't tell if I saw my ankle twist with my eyes or just watched it with my nerve endings. There's a clear picture in my head that is outlined bright red with sensation. A popping. A wrenching. A numbness. A yelp. An inability to feel my toes, followed by the relief that I could feel my toes. My insistence on narrating all of this aloud to whoever first came to see what was wrong. The pain when they took my skate off. The moments of hilarity in the whole process. The moments when the hilarity was almost too much and I nearly lapsed into hysterical laughter. The calm when the pain subsided and it felt like being in the ER was a waste of time when clearly I just had a bad sprain. I kept saying to my friends -- "This will probably be less annoying if I can go to urgent care when they open tomorrow. I'm sure it's nothing they'll be able to help with." Thankfully, they kept me there.

1.5. The fact that I've seen this happen to at least half a dozen friends and teammates is SUPREMELY comforting. I kind of know the routine. I have a ton of people to ask for advice. I have a sense of what will be mentally and emotionally difficult as I grapple with how much time and work it's going to take to get back to feeling strong and capable in my body and, eventually, on the track.

1.75. Going from identifying as an athlete who measures herself in strength and capability to move really fast and lift really heavy things and ride her bike all over NYC and play a fast-moving aggressive sport to someone who measures herself in how many things she can do before she has to sit down and elevate her leg again is...as eye-opening as I suspected it might be. I've grappled with my own ableism over the years, and still am, but my biggest points of empathy have been with mental disabilities (via depression and anxiety) until now. And I recognize my privilege in being able to know I'll be walking again in XYZ weeks.

2. Putting a cast on hurts more than you think it might. That's all I want to say about that.

2.5. Putting lists in rational chronological order is for suckers.

3. You can't use crutches on stairs. I've been sternly told not to try to crutch on stairs. I've been going up and down on my butt, using my arms to propel me, dragging my crutches down with me every four or five stairs. It feels ridiculous.

3.5. It takes exactly one day to stop caring if you're ridiculous.

4. I am learning so many creative ways to carry things. Sports bras are the best pocket in the world. Draping things on my shoulders also works. So do my teeth. I am the Christmas tree of hobbling humans.

5. In theory I can get places. I took a taxi to the doctor yesterday with exactly 30 minute's notice that they could see me for a referral I really need. In retrospect, that was crazy, but now I have the assurance that I'll be seeing a specialist before it's too late to get surgery. And I got back home without incident, even after having to crutch a block in the cold to meet my ride home. But I'm still learning how to open doors on crutches, and get into cars on crutches, and the entire world has become a giant problem-solving exercise that I, medically speaking, should not be taking too fast. My world is mostly my apartment and I'm learning to be okay with that. Like Rear Window, but for the moon out my bedroom window. Like Rear Window, but for the slow crawl of morning sun up the side of the building next door. Like Rear Window, but for the last few brown leaves clinging to their trees, daring December to strip them down.

6. Asking for help is hard, even when it's offered with great enthusiasm.

6.5. Counting your achievements helps. Yesterday I made myself coffee and washed my breakfast dishes. Today I will feel good if I successfully take a bath. Maybe some day I can get a friend to give me a fresh haircut!

7. I observed this when I first moved, from the hypothetical perspective of a person who could walk, run, skip, bike, etc, wherever she wanted, but: NYC is a terrible place to have any kind of mobility impairment.

8. I have good friends.

Friday, December 9, 2016


John Glenn is dead.

I feel like every death this year is going to ring out like a giant tree, falling, and the name of the year. That's what happens on Facebook now. People say, '2016' and then there's a link to the latest terrible thing. We all know it's a garbage fire. The sun itself is probably a giant trash can, burning.

I know we'll lose people every year. Time doesn't pass without some loss or another. And really,  '2016' is a construct and not a discrete, cursed piece of time. The good and the bad of it extends well before and well after the space on the calendar. And fucking yet.

Monday, December 5, 2016


"Let me tell you a story about war. A fisherman's son and his dead brother sat on the shore. 'That is my country and this is your country and the line in the sand is the threshold between them,' said the dead brother. 'Yes,' said the fisherman's son.'
You cannot have an opponent if you keep saying yes.
Bird 1: This is the wrong story.
Bird 2: All stories are the wrong story when you are impatient."
Richard Siken - War of the Foxes