Last night at work was rough. In a moment tinged with exhaustion, melancholy, and general hopelessness, I turned around from the triple sink and heard Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” play. I’m listening to it as I write. 

In that moment, I flashed back to November of 2016, my first shift at the Chelsea location, a Friday night where we stayed until 2am (normally we’d be done by 12) because the two people training me couldn’t figure out how to balance the cash drawer. I remember being asked to sweep outside the front area while that song BLASTED over the speakers and Seamus, the first person to train me, danced around the back. I remember Seamus a few shifts after that, telling off a disconcerted customer who I’d given wrong information to because I was brand new, saying, “OKAY, THANKS, BYE!” I remember feeling like a part of a real hardworking team.

The company I work for is different now. We have a required playlist at every store. We were only playing the playlist I made in early 2017 (”CLOSE THE STORE” is its title) because I had been at work for 12 hours. The store was finally closed and I was very done with the the required playlist. Thinking of myself then, as I sit here now, I find it funny that I so often wish I could go back to the non-entity I was when I first started. I’m not going to flatter myself and say I am essential to operations but they saw promise in me and promoted me twice within 18 months. Now, I manage. Now, I lead. Now, I do stupid dances and sing bits of the song from the LEGO movie (“Everything Is Awesome!”) and Vine clips, to try and cheer myself up, while my staff members look at me funny. I have made some semblance of an impact. I’m still part of a hardworking team, I still feel protected. 

Also, my life is in fact better now. I took this picture in Windsor Terrace when I lived there last year. I have so many pictures that look like this but I can remember almost exactly where every one was taken. I could probably walk you there and point directly to it, almost every picture.  

But, this light was one of the only comforts I had in that neighborhood: the Prospect Expwy overpass at sunset, the big bed that took up the whole room, peanut butter sandwiches when I’d come home from work at 1am, 2am, 3am if I was unlucky (or went for a beer), sometimes with ice cream in my hair. I rushed, from everything, to everything. I had $50 every week, I was asking my boss to buy us Popeye’s at work. I didn’t slow down until I went home after I graduated from Pratt, for maybe four or five days. I haven’t put on makeup to get tips at work in months, and that alone feels nice.

I did roll out of bed this morning and long for writing papers instead of organizing a storefront, but, really, the grass is always greener, and at least for the time being, I’m glad I’ve found something I’m pretty good at. I think in the next life I will look back on this and remember the merits of this job, remember making kids excited about sprinkle cookies, making couples happy because I’ll split their milkshake into two cups for them, being the first person people see when they are getting their morning coffee. I’ll put my life into perspective, remembering the gratitude I feel for a customer asking me how I am (instead of just barking at me); I will remember where I came from. The pictures are part of this too, of course, but it’s hard to discount what I have spent so much time doing these past two years.


As soon as I get to the publish point, every single time, I notice something else I can change about the image.

A lot of the time I am worried that I’m losing my touch with image editing. I’m not, it’s just coming back to me a little bit later. All that takes is practice. You’ll be seeing more photos here.

I am listening to game 5 of the World Series as I write this. It’s been hard for me to stay excited about my team, which sounds like a travesty (in a lot of ways, it is). I think that requires practice too. It’s not so much that I’ve had trouble taking care of myself, but more so that I’ve maybe been too forgiving with myself. I think practice and discipline are what I need, going forward. Practice, discipline, and some more crisp images like this one.

But who knows! In the meantime here is a picture of a dead thing, no surprise here. The depth makes me happy, and I was able to get some nice gestures among the branches. Took a bit of pacing. Took some deep breaths high up a mountain I know well. I’ve been trying to come back to that calming place lately. This dead tree, if you can imagine, helps.

8/3/2018: “notes on Jumper”

I view life in stages. I am in the stage where all I feel I have to myself is my room, and even that is a messy, mostly uninhabited space that I vacuum every once in a while. I wake up after drinking and have all but torn it up because I had to open my Gap package when I got home around midnight. I am impulsive this way. I had the impulse to write today.


We listen to Jumper in the car, you do so begrudgingly. We switch the station to the song right before Stephan Jenkins says he would understand. We drove to a restaurant that’s close to walking distance and the luxury of your car provides us with an air-conditioned, serenaded commute. (I feel like using flowery language about you. It means I’m in deep.) You feign disgust while I belt the chorus.

I have such strong memories of that song. It probably has to do with how it was constantly on the radio when I was growing up. Of course I had no clue what he was talking about. People give that band a lot of shit. One of the only times I felt like a partner understood me was when Conor told me that my favorite band was Third Eye Blind, as a declarative statement. I remember him saying all the right things, it’s surprising that that’s all I remember now, considering how wrong we both turned out to be.

I remember it the first time I was gripped with panic for what felt like months at a time, right when high school ended and all my schedules were upended and I was faced with moving to a city I know nothing about outside of music and movies and the promise of money to go to more school. A stage. I remember listening to a band past its prime tell me I could, in fact, leave shit behind. The only times I’d left shit behind, before that, I had my friends drop out from underneath me, I had more people ignore me and talk about me behind my back than ask me what my day is like. Telling me I could cut ties with all the lies I’d been living in, and on that same album, talking about demons in my head I could relate to, speaking a language I longed to hear from absolutely anybody. Then coming to New York, and seeing them play at Citi Field, still alone, before I had any friends, but hearing them play that song and an entire stadium singing it along with them. Hearing an entire stadium sing along with the guitar part in the bridge.

And it just followed me around, like that, and stuck with me right up until I was, in fact, looking down at the East River one day in July 2015. People probably should not stop and do that on the Manhattan bridge but I did. Another stage. I remember that whole summer as though I experienced it in this frame of mind, which is the truth. I envisioned scaling the fence that curved off into nothing, my home and the city at opposite ends of a chain-link spiral. I was on my way to a date (it went poorly), I was in a skirt. Why would I care if someone saw up it as I scaled that fence, why would I care if I cut my hands on the way up? Who would stop me? Maybe it was the heat, I almost blacked out. It was maybe two months after Lowell died. I think the reason I keep reminding myself of that summer, trying to burn it in my memory, is to try and ensure I never get that low again. The reason that song comes back, the reason those words that are as old as I am, is so I can keep listening to it, no matter how many times the rest of America has heard it.

In stages, is how I view things. This is the stage in which I am hanging by a thread to not get so low again, in which I become more trepidatious about the emotional water I have been treading every day. How poorly adjusted am I that when my therapist goes out of town for a month, I fall apart? (It’s not just that; there’s more going on.) I cut my nails in a ham-fisted fashion, I have to make a conscious effort to exfoliate. Self-care has always come second or third or whenever I get to it. This is probably too personal. I don’t care. This is the stage in which I take everything off the wall and reapply whatever actually matters. The stage in which, horror of horrors, I tell people how I actually feel, the stage in which I have us listen to Jumper even if you hate it. The stage in which I pull out all the weeds today, in which I drag myself to the pool even after a work day that starts at 6:30am, in which I tear my room apart to clean it and not just to search for something. Even if it’s hard, even if I stare down that mortal coil every day.

Using Format