Friday, June 26, 2015

My 84-year-old toddler is dying

When my grandmother turned 84, my mother put this note on her mirror. I felt bad, because I had some kind of freak pneumonia and couldn't go see her that day. I called. She didn't remember it was her birthday. She didn't remember who had called and who hadn't. I dropped my guilt and went on with my day. That was in November.

My brother and I went to see her yesterday. She was all tucked into bed, her wheelchair sat empty in the corner. I saw that sign on her mirror and realized we probably wouldn't be making one that said 85 on it. We're in the home stretch now. Soon there will be no more mushy, one-color meals and there will be no more matching of socks. There will be no more bringing her fresh tubes of Biotene toothpaste. In lieu of motherhood, I've thrown myself into taking care of her while my cousins were all busy with their babies.

Soon I will no longer be her caretaker. I will only be her granddaughter.

I wore lipstick and covered my tattoos as not to give her an unnecessary heart attack and speed along the process. She was pleasant, though uncomfortable and confused. Before we left, I kissed her on her forehead and told her not to party too hard. Her smile curled upwards as she chuckled. That may be my final memory of my grandmother. For her sake, I hope it is.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


when your little girl
asks you if she’s pretty
your heart will drop like a wineglass
on the hardwood floor
part of you will want to say
of course you are, don’t ever question it
and the other part
the part that is clawing at
will want to grab her by her shoulders
look straight into the wells of
her eyes until they echo back to you
and say
you do not have to be if you don’t want to
it is not your job
both will feel right
one will feel better
she will only understand the first
when she wants to cut her hair off
or wear her brother’s clothes
you will feel the words in your
mouth like marbles
you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to
it is not your job

by Caitlyn Siehl

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


One day you forget his bitter smell
and one day you forget your shame.
You remember how your small cry
rose like a black bird from the corn,
when you picked yourself up from the earth
how the clouds moved on.

Mariela, by Sandra Cisneros​

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's loud in here.

I don't remember a time when I wasn't questioning things (I imagine my mother would agree.) I was a talkative child, always processing things I didn't understand out loud. We had long conversations in the car about complicated subjects like race and sexuality and faith on the way to elementary school. 

Something about hearing the words was affirming to me, as if I were making progress simply by asking the questions. Solid answers were never necessary.

This has followed me into my writing. It's a tragic flaw-- a gift, because there's always more to understand, but a curse, because I'm exhausting company. 

All that to say I'm finally doing the work. Not in a "yeah girl, do work!" kind of way, but in the way that involves a lot of heart and a lot of tears and a lot of standing up to big things and screaming at them until they back down.

Now, more than ever, I'm craving answers. WHY did these things happen to me? WHERE does this all fit in my story? WHO will I ever love as much as I loved my ex-husband? HOW will I even bring myself to date again? WHEN will I get to the other side of this? WHO will be left when I do?

The bigness

I'm poisoning people every time I get a pedicure. Non-organic bananas aren't part of the "dirty dozen" but  the grossly underpaid workers that have to spray them down with pesticides are feeling the painful side effects of the pesticides that are sprayed all over them. Working a job where I sit all day is detrimental to my health. Chickens are being bred and tortured so I can buy eggs at the "low price" of $1.19/dozen.

Existing is scary. Existing when you don't know your purpose is even scarier. And now I have to worry about killing people with bananas and chopping chickens' beaks off? Everything is so big, and I care so much while doing so very little. And there's never as much time as I want there to be. I never feel like I'm conscientious enough. I always feel like I'm eating the wrong things, using too many resources, spending too much money, buying into the propaganda, not doing enough yoga, relying too much on medicine to fix things that changing my diet alone could probably fix...

Caring is exhausting.