Choose Our Own Adventure

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Jonathan Safran Foer is Death, and other Deep Thoughts (jenn)

May 29th, 2009 · 281 Comments

I know writing is like running, and the pages are miles. If I just start again, a little bit a day, I’ll be back in shape in no time. It has just been safer to stay away from the computer altogether, than to sit here overwhelmed by the stillness of my fingers, and feel as though the most me part of me was dead. I wouldn’t have been able to run a marathon without a schedule, telling me each day how many miles, when to rest, when to cross-train, which days were for strength and which for speed.  I just don’t have the same discipline when it comes to words. Or chocolate. That fucking guy from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, who dictated his life story by blinking one eye, could have written War and Peace in the time it takes me to type a sentence.










I am.

I am holding my breath until I die?

I am too sexy for my life support machines?

I am allergic to shellfish and you’re feeding me oyster puree through my feeding tube?

I am suffering from an uncontrollable eye tic and everything is meaningless!!!


I hate stories about the triumph of the human spirit. They make me feel so inadequate.

Even though I have all of me to work with—two hands, two eyes and 16 personalities–I still feel the claustrophobia of this body, how we die when we cannot express how much we want to die. When I can write, it kills me because I love it, love it more than baking vegan banana bread every fucking day, love it more than teaching books I hated at 13 and hate now, love it more than everything not-writing. Love it, but can’t live from it. When I can’t write, it kills me because that means everything has gone. My ability to read, to taste food, to sleep despite a whole-bodied exhaustion–to do anything but wake up, work, sleep, wake up, work, sleep, and suddenly weeks have gone by, and all I have to show for it is calloused kitchen hands and a very deep sense that I went missing.

I think, therefore I’m fucked.

Don’t make your pain pretty. - Ryan

But what if it is. Pretty. -Me

I write because I eat. And when you eat, you shit.

I write because it makes me feel like things are less terrifying, when I write–“I write because I eat. And when you eat, you shit”–someone says back, “Me too.”

I write because I still have hope that one day my words will feed me.  I mean, only as much hope as that last morsel of caramel shared by one Jewish family in Schindler’s List.  A few calories of empty hope that burn off the second I start dreaming.

I do not write because its cathartic—if I called it cathartic I was parroting other writers who compared writing to cutting, writing to purging, writing to anything that lets the fucked up parts of you out. Catharsis reduces a torrent of existential angst to a stomach bug. Catharsis is blowing your nose when you’re allergic to oxygen. Catharsis says, O pain, you little fucker you, come on out to the page and everything will be just fine.

I feel like life is a game of Candyland.  Every turn I draw magenta, but there are no magenta squares, so no fucking shit I can’t move forward.  I hate this magenta-less world.


A Buddhist monk once told me the other night at my house—“It is easier to control the body than the mind.” I can’t tell where I feel exhaustion first. I slept through a 10K. The old me would have never even questioned sleeping through a race. Who does that?  I am trying bigger vitamins, trying liquid SAM-E which I occasionally confuse with my saline and get salt water in my mouth and one really happy left eye, trying more protein smoothies, trying Holy Basil, trying The Power of Now, trying to not be lazy in my sort-of vegetarianism and just eat three bowls of Frosted Mini-Wheats and soy milk a day instead of the much more sustaining raw beet salads, lentils, tofu scrambles. My tiredness thinks sugar is the zip lane back to normalcy. I hate being a vegetarian, because it takes so much effort, even when you do work at a heath food market, surrounded by red chard, golden beets, and other beautiful produce all day. But I can’t stand meat anymore. No matter how dismembered, how cleaned, how sauced and sauteed, it just seems too close to something living.

Dear Life,

Can’t I just eat Chicken Stir Fry like a normal fucking carnivorous person?

You’re an asshole.


Let’s recap. Spring. Ryan turned 37. Mati turned into a triple-necked Shar Pei, as she’d rather I drag her fat furry prostrate body along concrete than walk without Ryan, Fat Sister, or Grandma. I don’t know when Mati became such a social walking bitch.

This spring we’ve had visitors, wonderful visitors. Visitors who snuck into our closet of a life* from around the world. Visitors who lived here and left. Amazing connections, because they were transitory, because those people weren’t here to stay, and now was the whole of our time together. We fit years into days, when days are all we have.

And climbing! Climbing with strangers! Lots of them! Strangers I hand my Gri Gri to, trusting they’re going to keep me alive. And they do, these strangers who become the wonderful friends I share a clean shard of my life with. A biweekly 7:00am sitcom, where we drive to the opposite side of the island, park next to an unmarked indentation in miles of super-weeds, and head straight up with a day’s worth of gear and conversation. Somehow, it’s always the best time ever. I love being the first ones up, love the post-climb Mate Lattes (Iced Yerba Mate with soymilk and honey! O Heaven!), love coming home and it’s Saturday night! Woot Woot! And I pass out before 9, waking up at 4:30am Sunday morning, working hard with my sister and favorite ‘Umeke peeps, a ten-hour blur of kale, quinoa and cookies. And yes, vegan banana bread. Yelling KNIFE and HOT PAN and MOVE IT FATTY. Every time my hand grabs a knife and my forearms burn from the crimpy 5.10 face that kicked my ass–I feel the tension of doing what I love and doing what I have to.

Just another day at the office.

*(In stories, it’s the monsters that hide in the small, dark spaces. In my life, I sprint-crawl into those spaces to get away from the monsters I see everywhere else, working mindlessly, possessing mindlessly, talking about bullshit that makes me wish their bullshit could be welded together to form a one-shot gun I could use to blow my brains out.)

(I have strong opinions on bullshit.)

(Even though everything I write is bullshit.)

(It’s complicated.)

My favorite belayer in life and on the rock.

Kathy, a Climbing BFF and friend to Fatty Mati.

Leyla, Badass Newbie.

We miss you Matt!

I feel in the midst of a constant identity crisis. And this crisis leaves no time for the important things in life, such as writing down my goals. There is constant struggle between my nerd and hippie selves, which apparently do not merge harmoniously in one body.

Nerd Evidence: I went to Harvard. I am obviously a fat nerd. I must conform to Harvard stereotypes and make something of myself for the sake of making something of myself. I will continue my well-rounded high school extracurricular habits into my 30s by balancing work, family, property ownership, soccer clubs, and responsible caretaking of the earth, because the universe is really, really big (and expanding!), and this planet and in particular my life are super important.

As we were told by the deans at graduation–if you’re not curing cancer, you ARE cancer.

I was in the Peace Corps. Peace Corps = government’s attempt to make productive use of hippies.

Nerd–I want to apply for MFA programs AGAIN. The people I respect the most don’t even have Bachelor’s Degrees. Fuck conformity in its super-tight asshole! Fuck Ivy League drinking nights. I’m a hippie! I want to live out of my car. I want worms to eat my compost and then use the nutrient-rich drippings to grow my own marijuana, which I will use for underground vegan baked goods in an attempt to make the world a more beautiful place. HIPPIE!

I hate my obsession with Patagonia, lululemon and overpriced athletic clothing. I am a poser of the active lifestyle! I exercise once a week! This is a toughie.  Harvard with a touch of Hippie?

I think raw food is the manna-est of all manna. Tree-hugging Hippie with expensive tastes? I hate myself.

I hate being naked. I definitely went to Harvard.

I hate shaving. HIPPIE.

I am 87% vegan. This seems hippie, but I don’t do it for environmental reasons—meat disgusts me, and I believe dairy and other animal products makes me FAT. I don’t care if cows die, I care if my ass is disproportionate to the rest of my body.  If I control what I eat, I can control my entire life.  Harvard.  So Harvard.

I heart kombucha.

I wake up and aspire, despite my best intentions not to.

Hi, Harvard called and wants its degree back.

Maybe I just need to take a Facebook quiz to find out which Lost character I am, and all my crises will be solved.

Breaking up is hard to do.

In case you haven’t noticed, we keep breaking up with the blog and getting back together for a random hook-up.  It’s over, the magic we had, but the memories, the places we’ve traveled, our mutual friends—it’s hard to cut the cord.  Forever.  What if we run into each other at the Mai Tai bar and blog has a new girlfriend and she went to the same high school as me and was a slut then and is DEFINITELY a slut now?  These are the conundrums that make the final break up with blog hard to do.  So we keep coming back.  Just to check.  To make sure what we used to feel is the opposite now.  We weren’t meant to be long-term.  Choose Our Own Adventure is not marriage material.  Maybe our next blog we can really settle down with.  Start a family.  Secretly resent each other for not being the kind of blog who likes to sing and dance in public.  Say we support the blog in its nonconformist attitude and artistic desires, but simultaneously tell the blog to work on its resume, just in case.

Moving on means picking a new website, choosing a mission, and deciding whether it deserves a statement.  It’s deciding whether to blog together (high five!) or blog apart (boo).  It’s starting over from post one.

We made Choose Our Own Adventure to record our travels across the country, but when we stopped moving, for the most part, we stopped creating.  I love this blog, love it like the child Ryan and I will never have, love its recording of our best and worst.  It’s travel scrapbook meets someone’s really fucked up diaries.  And that someone was us.  Ryan, Matilda, and I.

A Moment with Kyann


Jenn:  Hi Kyann, how’s school?

Kyann:  I don’t know.  How’s your fatness?

Jenn:  Real fucking funny.


Kyann:  Aims 4 year-old butt towards my face, farts, and uses hand to waft it in my direction.

That’s a gift for you.

Auntie Jenn:  Aw, thanks.  Do you know what I really want?

Kyann:  What?

Auntie Jenn:  A D-I-Y Tubal Kit.

Kyann: Farts conclusively.

Everything I Learned, I Learned from My Reusable lululemon Bag

Yes, I make $11/hour and shop at lululemon. Don’t ask me how this is possible—it isn’t. But, as my lululemon bag says: “Do one thing a day that scares you.” Well—shopping at lululemon.  That counts.

Buying one glorious clothing item at lululemon is worth a week’s worth of hard-earned pennies—because what lululemon luon pants do for my ass is truly magical. I can go from 2008 Oprah to 1997 Tyra in 30 seconds.

I love you, lulu.

And now…
Ryan Adventure Face!


Jenn Adventure Face!

Mati Adventure Face!

Jonathan Safran Foer is Death

Sometimes, I’ll say, “Ryan, I don’t want to talk about death.”  And he’ll say, “Well, Jenn, what do you want to talk about?”  And I’ll say, “Jonathan Safran Foer.”  And he’ll say, “Jonathan Safran Foer is death.  Everything is about death.  There’s nothing you can talk about where you’re not talking about death.”  Then I get really tired, like the computer when I’m trying to run ten programs at once, and it smells like it’s burning up inside.  I don’t have any good thoughts, I just feel like I’ve taken a double dose of Ambien, and my screen is frozen and needs force quitting, unsaved changes may be lost, and I don’t have the answers, and I don’t think I’ll ever get past page 19 of Infinite Jest, and when will I ever write something funny again?  I just want to be smart, really smart, smart enough to have THE answer that everything is not about death, even though I know it is, because I find a loophole, a trick, a trap door down a rabbit hole–and deliver this answer to Ryan with gusto, charm, and Ha-Ha Motherfucker brilliance, like Uma in Kill Bill, but with sharp logic instead of a Hattori Hanzo katana.  I want to never run out of words.  But I do.  I run out of words because I don’t want to say empty things, like “It’ll get better.”

(All words are empty things.  We fill them up like balloons, and the more inflated they become, the more likely they are to take off and disappear past the places we can see.  We never know how far they travel, only that once they leave our mouths, they are not the same.)

Once I let go of my words, I can’t footnote what I really meant.  I can’t jump in front of your thoughts and say, “No, it’s not like that, I’m not the poor girlfriend, I understand wanting to tag death and scream, ‘YOU’RE IT DEATH!’ and then run, run as fast as I can until he catches me, and I lose, but secretly I win, and because I’m free, free from a world that makes me feel not good enough, free from having to wake up only to seek freedom from having to wake up.  It’s true–everything is about death, whether by freeway or side streets–how we live every moment is guided by our gauzy mortality.  Most of us set up our lives for living 60, 70, 90 years–just in case.  Just in case we have to live that long.  We tell ourselves we want to live that long, because quantity is quality.  We can do more, in time.  We’ll have children, and when these children play too loud or cry for no reason, we’ll yell at them.  We’ll scribble all over their blank slates with our permanent markered dreams, pass on lies we were told about Santa Claus and god.  We’ll have a million causes, knowing for every race we run (down with leukemia!), or fundraisers we attend (feed hungry children orphaned by flood/earthquake/war!)–they’ll be a million more problems.  It’s an impossible ratio.  I think saving the planet is a ridiculous fight.  It’s a planet.  We can’t cure depression, but we think we can save the planet?  The motherfucking planet?  Everyone thinks it’s cool to be green.  I think it’s cool to be BLACK.  Black makes my brain look SKINNY.

(This whole blog is the reason I don’t write anymore.  Because I feel so fatalistic.  Because I feel toxic in the presence of optimistic company.  Because I’ve said all this before and it doesn’t matter.  I’m here.  I’ve got one foot in this life.  I lied.  I have my big toe.  I am unsteady, trying to figure out what the fuck comes next.)

What Comes Next

Dear Ryan,

May we never become two people who wonder why we ever.  Why we ever fell in love with each other over everyone else.  Why we ever left behind our fractions of selves to create one life, as a redefinition of math, as 1/4 + 1/4 = 1.  May we never ask how.  How we could touch one another and feel yes.  How we could spend every living hour together and it wasn’t enough.  How we could write cliched lines like, “How we could spend every living hour together and it wasn’t enough,” and mean it.  How we thought we could save me.  And you.  May we never ask what.  What desperate circumstances forced us to seek shelter under each other’s half-roofed shanties.  (We know the desperate circumstances—life, just life.)  May we never ask if we were really in love.  If it was more or less love.  May you never be the part in my brain I want erased Eternal Sunshine stylee because you hurt me or I hurt you or we hurt.  Let’s be pillows for each other.  Let’s not give up on love, because love isn’t real.  I am someone who looks back on old love and wonders why and how I ever.  And as love as our love is, one day I will change, or someone else will be wow for you, and will fill the parts I do not fill.  When love leaves us, may we not revise what happened.  May we read our love like a favorite book, and shelve it next to all great love stories.  Let’s always tell the world that yes, yes I loved that book.  And while I won’t remember every plot change, the minor characters, the conflicts and resolutions–I’ll remember that our love moved my heart to another part of my body.  If you put your ear to my ear, you’ll hear it there still, skipping like a broken record.


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Clean Bitch.

April 22nd, 2009 · 150 Comments


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Booty and the Beats

February 17th, 2009 · 137 Comments

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60 Seconds with Kyann!

February 10th, 2009 · 134 Comments

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Curtis Kamiya and the Uncle Dannys

February 10th, 2009 · 111 Comments

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Jenn Hee - Giggler/Chef Extraordinnaire!

January 16th, 2009 · 34 Comments

Segments 2 and 4, bitches.

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Banging my big box. [ryan]

January 14th, 2009 · 36 Comments

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You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Cyanide…

January 2nd, 2009 · 47 Comments

The Good: I made my television cooking debut today on “Hawaii’s Kitchens.”  If you weren’t up at 6:25am watching the Channel 2 Morning News, that’s cool, it’ll probably be online soon.  Next month I get to do vegan baking.  Channel 2 today, Food Network tomorrow!

Okay, the good’s over.

The Bad:

There is a girl driving home.

This girl, she’s crying.

I’m watching myself, and it kills me to see how sad I am.

I’m crying for the both of us.

And so on.

And so on.

It’s unbearable.  Not being able to live with your best friend; not being able to live.  Slipping into debt; slipping away.  Falling into routine; fuck you routine.

What makes me insane today?

I’m glad you asked.

What makes me insane today is that I’ve lived on this island almost my whole life, and I still get lost, take wrong turn after wrong turn with escalating horror at the truth of the metaphor—dead end, dead end, we’re all going one way, merge or hit us head on, we all must go the exact same speed.

Almost every time I get behind a wheel, I wonder if I’ll make it to where I’m going.

“Living, naturally, is never easy.  You continue making the gestures commanded by existence for many reasons, the first of which is habit.  Dying voluntarily implies that you have recognized, even instinctively, the ridiculous character of that habit, the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering.” –Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

I’m searching for meaning in the meaninglessness.  I am looking for the fun I lost last year between the couch cushions.

Ryan is the only person I feel safe around, and this neediness overwhelms him.  Friday nights I want to go out, laugh, merry-make, extricate my inner hippie, be all jah love and shit—but a shot of vodka is no longer a shot of short-lived freedom—and if I’m out all I can do is worry about how the hell we’re going to get un-broke.  How I don’t have the right to be carefree.  Panicking over when we can get our own fucking place to live.  How it’s already January.  2009.

I wonder when I will stop being a bittermelon and start being a honeydew.

But when I’m in, alone, all I can do is resent the fun lovers, the carefreers, the world that looks so perfect, from where you writhe, inside your restless prison of a body.

Can’t go out, can’t stay in, can’t move.

I usually just annoy the shit out of Ryan, wherever he may be, until I pass out mid-tantrum, like a two year old who has no words for what he wants, where it hurts, and is terrified by the size of the dark.

I feel like I’m riding a rollercoaster that is actually just a Kalanianaole Highway that stretches on forever.  So.  Fucking.  Boring.

Ryan spontaneously went to Vegas (see entry below), and since he’s been back, we’ve been loving, patient, BFF’s.  Last weekend, the Entire Island Power Outage gave us permission to just play.  Dad Hee worked the gas stove, making coffee, bacon, pancakes.  We read Outliers (Ryan) and The Stuff of Thought (me), ate breakfast on the lanai.  We borrowed Scrabble from the neighbors (I won), played Transformer Monopoly (I won), had a Tangoes-Off (I won).  Winning is never boring, friends.  Never boring.  In the afternoon, when the lights and television surged back on, we went back to our Facebook, our blank pages, but it was a wonderful catastrophe, and most mornings I want to wake up to that same dim stillness, where there is less that can be done, and so much more to do.

The first drizzly sunrise Mati-walk of the New Year.  The first evening run, hip hop mix, one extra valley for good luck.  Family breakfasts, hikes with Mom Hee, getting to boss my sister around at work and write things like, “Make Tofu Poke—FATTY” on the white board.  It’s not all intolerable.  I just want to go back to living like every day something amazing could happen.  And does.  Something worth writing about, worth photographing, worth capturing.  I want to live like I travel, not wait until I travel to live.

So I suffer and it doesn’t matter—to the universe, to anybody.  Blah blah blah.  So it’s the same shit, different year.  Unless.  We make a radical change.  What is that radical change?  Leaving each other, just for the shock, even though no matter who we are with, ever, we will always be single, because no one can ever understand who we are.  Close is still Pluto.  From Pluto, it’s hard to even hold hands.

I’m grieving for the girl that used to drive and sing Tristan Prettyman, Ani, Journey at the top of her lungs, windows down, hair down–and that was all there was to driving.

Oh life.

You can only fake it so much, until you begin to fake the faking, and you lose all that was real.

Everything is so nightmarish that I can’t begin to articulate it.  It’s just a sense.  Of everything falling apart.

Of the pieces changing shape so they can never be put back together.


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Ryan Pee’d on an Old Lady…

January 1st, 2009 · 33 Comments

Read all about it…

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Fucking Bon Bons. (jenn)

November 13th, 2008 · 73 Comments

What would I do if I didn’t have myself to plagiarize?

Essay C: What writing means to me

Write an essay, not to exceed 5 (five) pages (please number C-1 through C-5), in which you answer the following question: What does your writing mean to you? Discuss your writing, its importance to your life and everything else pertinent to this question.

I am the girl who won the all the creative writing awards in high school, who went to Harvard because of this, who became overwhelmed by living a life directed by her words.  I am the girl who tried to be other things: counselor, orphan social worker, aerobics instructor, cook—but these were just excuses with health insurance.  I am the 23-year-old who taped rejection letters from MFA programs onto her classroom wall, who taught Shakespeare to 13-year-olds at the most respected, academically rigorous school on the island (she knows; she was that 13-year-old).  She was the teacher who said Don’t give up on your dream kids, but whose eyes said I’m lying.  Be anything but who you think you’re meant to be.

I am the girl who thinks (sometimes) that dreams are chocolate bon bons of happiness, dangled just out of your reach, forever.  I am the girl who keeps sticking her tongue out.  Who wants her goddamn chocolate.  I am the girl who is still searching.  Who left Hawaii and moved to Bulgaria to be alone with her chaotic mid-twenties head.  Because no one (your father) will give you hell if you’re in the Peace Corps helping orphans and trying to write, but everyone (your father) will give you hell if you’re back at home sleeping on his couch making $11 an hour trying to become a writer.

I am always becoming.  I am the girl who wrote the greatest love story she has ever lived, words she sent across an intangible network.  Waves.  Particles.  And black sentences were shot back, thousands of morphine-filled arrows into her heart.  Words from a kindred non-writer writer.  We wrote until there was everything left to say.  Wrote until we got to the chapter where I left Bulgaria.  Wrote until I moved into the bed of this stranger.

Writing gave me love.

We wrote after he was fired.  We packed all our belongings into his Murano, and sped away from our fears, saying Screw jobs!  We’re writers!  Writers don’t work!  Writers write!

So I wrote, my first entry on our brand new blog, Choose Our Own Adventure dot com:

Your boyfriend loses the job he would’ve quit before he started, if only walking away from paychecks was as easy as drinking red wine. You take your Nissan Murano with its hit-and-run dents to remember Philly drivers by—pack it with your life possessions, favorite coffee shop mugs, your mutt from the mean streets of Bulgaria and 1,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce and thongs from businesses that didn’t work—but hey—at least you got hot sauce and thongs to barter with for shelter and maybe a hot meal. You make sure to leave enough room for your dreams to sit bitch, ‘cause you called shotgun, you with your wide slanty-eyes, sensitive skin,

your hit-and-run mind.

Before you go, you learn to write all over again.  You’ve been comatose, dreaming of orphans in post-communist countries, dreaming of grey. That was yesterday. Today it’s ?-to-?, writer’s rehab, no insurance, and you have to write.  Write feeling the countdown of days, about to exchange the comfort of an address for stories you’ll laugh about later. Write until it’s 3 am and you’re nauseous with exhaustion, afraid to stop, because it might not come back tomorrow, these words and possibilities. You might relapse. You might sleep forever.

In the meantime, you buy a tent and 0 degree sleeping bags, and wonder if that’s enough to keep your family warm. Fill your duffle bags with 1,000 Places to See in the US and Canada Before you Die of Hypothermia in Fargo, campground books, AAA maps, Writer’s Market 2008, neuroscience books, old comfort novels, unread novels, the photo book Ryan made your for your 28th birthday. You backup your files, your photos, your dreams in case of a crash.

You never wanted to live in Philly–Philly never made your top… 50 cities… but you fell in love, lost and found your license there. Left and returned from your Bulgarian adventure, drawing a neat circle in your life, if neat circles can include Bulgaria without sounding ridiculous. You’ll miss the Wissahickon with its endless trails—feeling as though you were in Bulgaria, running alone on a narrow trail, dodging branches, minding footing, when—holy shit–you’re in America!, running down Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill to the art museum, flashing back to the Charles river, to Harvard, to watching crew boats gliding under underwater bridges. Wondering which reflection is real.  How you can never know for sure.  Here, you made Ryan drive you everywhere for months, too afraid to drive after three years of walking.  When six months later you do drive, you realize it was nothing. It was just driving. It’s all just driving.

You’ll miss the Manayunk scene you watched from afar, walking your dog at 1:00am on Friday nights in your sweats, watching the Yuppie-Somethings do whatever they do in bars, talking about whatever they talk about, thinking it all matters, this shit we do. Loving the food, god, oh god the food, sitting outside at our every favorite restaurant on Main Street.  (Yes, Main Street.)  Montage clips picking up speed: Laff House on South Street, Ryan emceeing. Your mom visiting, driving to Amish country. You as stage mom every Thursday at the Wired station studio. Broad Street run, Philly Half-Marathon, every friend you love coming to visit you, in Philly, a ten-month parentheses in time with everything you never expected.

You hit the restart button on your relationship, because for the first time your boyfriend is free. The man you love who can talk for hours on neurophilosophy, who had to squeeze, squeeze himself down into five second punchlines, no pulp, just 10% funny from concentrate that left a fake taste in his mouth. For the first time you are a team, fighting for the same life, Saturday morning writing fest ’07 baby–we’re ready to do it all, and say we did.

We’re ready. Ready to burn the vision board for fire kindling in Montana, ready to start over in California, or Hawaii, or Sri Lanka, or anywhere with a little more sun.

10 more days.  You don’t want to see life as just a series of countdowns. Years until degrees received. Months until Christmas. Days until next paycheck. Just minutes until dinner. I want to count up, eyes open, to 100,000 and yell into space, warning the adventures hiding off every highway exit–ready or not, here we come.

I am the girl who wrote those words one year ago.  Who ended up back in Hawaii, out of gas, Ryan’s severance spent, doctors saying that’s a bipolar symptom, all this running away.  We are more than our symptoms.  We brought our do it later into today, hoarded free La Quinta Inn breakfast and made it last until dinner, chased Mati chasing prairie dogs in the Badlands, never got lost until we got lost, realizing the only thing we were missing was our inner GPS.  All along.

Twenty-nine years, so many firsts. (She is 29 now.)  First time reading on stage.  First time applying for permission to be a writer.  First time cross-stitching lines of poetry into her skin, each miniscule x part of her promise to live a life not still, but stretching as far as words can reach.

I am the girl who wants her hands to be defibrillators, grabbing the hearts of strangers and shocking them back into life.  She wants to throw ice-cold buckets brimming with laughter onto the heavy-lidded going-through-the-motioners escalating down down down without a step to the contrary.

(I am the girl who hopelessly believes in happiness even though, like a firefly, she has never been able to capture it long enough to keep glowing.  I am the girl who no one told to just poke holes.  Let the air in.)

I am the girl who sleeptypes, who cannot live without her words, wherever they come from, electrical firings leaping synapses to hands to page to the world and back into me, a loop, a choke chain, ouroboros, a claustrophobic orbit that is sometimes galactically–slow and sometimes light speed.

I am the girl who donated 27 eggs for fast cash.  Who knew it was strange to use her body parts to put food on the table, to pay life on time.  Who injected herself with hormones and every other day went to the hospital and watched the little black dots of her DNA grow into massive globes, crowded into her ovaries. I felt like my own nature channel. Fish eggs. Jellyfish. There was everything in me except me.

All of this.  So I could write.

(I am the girl who is first and third person.)

I am the girl who has taken sleeping pills in the morning, to take her dreams into the day.

I am the girl who stole a speculum to write an object poem.

I am the girl who has been a writer ever since her third grade teacher gave her a magic wand pencil and said, You Jenn, you are a writer.

(I guess I’m lucky–what if she said prostitute?  Or—God forbid—American gladiator named “Xenon.”)

I am the girl who suffers from Borderline Thirty Disorder.

I am the writer who remembers having nothing left but this gift, this voice—who won this award because of an absolutely stunning essay that she wrote one fateful (and caffeinated) Starbucks session.  Who told her story, told it to heal and be healed, whose books never became remainders, but were carried over ad infinitum, who showed limbless people how to throw caution to the wind and line dance, who reversed global warming by teaching every human being how to stop existing.

Who opened a writing center for children, and threw these children chocolate bon bons by the bucket full, laughing, saying Don’t give up on your dreams.

And she meant it.

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