becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.

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if i’m counting (which i totally am), i’m three days away from my 30th birthday! now i don’t even make resolutions or hopes or wishes on New Year’s because i think that the amount of things that can happen in 365 days is so mind-boggingly vast that trying to predict your progress is just counter-intuitive…but…

i’ve been thinking a lot about my 20s – what happened, what didn’t, what i thought would happen and if it did or didn’t – and relating it to my pending decade of good times and loud laughs.

i turned 20 on the last day of my sophomore year at cornell. seven months later my bulimia and cutting were out of control and i was admitted into renfrew and then, after about six weeks, transferred to a DBT-based program at columbia presbyterian in NYC.

i was 22 when i started my dream degree (voice) at one of a handful of dream schools (hartt).

when i was 25 i started dating somebody. i fell in love with her. i started to think about things like marriage and babies and happily ever after. i graduated from college, got into grad school – two, in fact! – and accepted a spot at the university of kentucky. 25 was a good year.

at 26 i moved 750 miles away from everything i had ever known, to start my master’s degree. i was 26 when i got engaged. i met people who grew to be cornerstones in my life.

and then 27 hit. my mom died. my family self-destructed. “i love you, don’t ever leave me” turned into “you’re not being fair, i can’t be with you any more.” i successfully defended my master’s thesis and graduated, but missed the ceremony because i had my leg sawed into by a wonderful surgeon whom i adore even though it sucked.

with 27 barely in the rearview, 28 brought the decision to stay in lexington another three years and become a PhD student. most of 28 was overshadowed by knee rehab; my physical therapist and my advisor kept me sane and alive that year.

on my 29th birthday i found out that what i had thought was just a bump in the road in my grandma’s health was actually terminal. i sat on the tennis court outside the gym and cried for an hour that day. i went home and booked a flight to florida to visit; it would be the last time i would see her.

the same week my grandma died, i started training with my powerlifting coach – i was actually driving home from our first session when my dad called to tell me grandma had passed away. i broke 5 state powerlifting records while i was 29. presented at my first professional conference, visited texas for the first time, and successfully completed my PhD coursework.

after the crap that was 27, i’ve found myself hopelessly smitten with somebody and it’s weird and surprising and a whole lot of fun.

i have no grandiose ideas for my 30s. i don’t necessarily want to: get married, have babies, buy a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. maybe i will! and that would be cool. but if i don’t, that’s just as cool.

in 3 days, i’ll turn 30. i’ll teach a sunrise yoga class at 630am and i’ll run sprints a little before nine. after i crawl back to the gym i’ll foam roll and shower and i’ll spend the rest of the day at the library, studying for my qualifying exams. my uncle will call at some point, and my dad will too. when the library closes at five i’ll go home and have dinner and look at my training schedule for the next day.

at some point while i’m 30 i’ll pass my qualifying exams and maybe even get a dissertation proposal approved. i’ll start applying for sabbatical replacement positions and for fellowships.

i’ll lift a lot of things and i’ll laugh a lot. probably loudly, because that’s how i roll.

you never know how the chips are going to fall. am i happy that 27 went the way it did? of course not. but am i in love with the way my life is in the last three days of 29? you better freaking believe it. and i’m going to try my damnedest to make 30 just as great.




I haven’t held your hand in eight months and the human skin replenishes every twenty-seven days. You’ve never touched this skin and I don’t think you ever will.
the day i decided to stop contacting you, i put a post-it on my wall and started keeping a tally.
for months i had known that the only time we talked was when i reached out first. and even though i told myself one, three, sixteen times to just stop, the centripetal pull back to you was too much.
my tally is at 25 days now. five neat sets of hash marks on a bright pink post-it.
it’s like an advent calendar. only instead of getting a piece of chocolate every day, i get a little piece of my self-worth back.
it doesn’t feel good, knowing you’re somebody’s option. knowing that when somebody can’t make it through dinner without texting their friends back yet takes two days to respond to you, what they’re really saying is “you are unimportant.” i let it eat away at me, let myself wonder if i could change it – maybe if i was extra thoughtful and extra funny and extra cute you would think i was worth it.
but there is none of that now, none of that any more. in just two days i will be a wholly new person on the outside from the day i started my tally. in two days you wouldn’t recognize me. i wear my new skin like i wear my new heart: softly and gently but with steel underneath.
in two days i will molt and i will take down this stupid pink post-it because if 27 days is enough time to grow a new skin it is surely enough time to dispatch of the last layer of my heart you will have ever touched.


becoming That Girl.

after seeing countless “chick flicks” and reading scores of young adult, coming of age-type books as a pre-teen and adolescent, it seemed like it was some sort of twisted rite of passage: get heart broken, spend an entire weekend in your pajamas crying and eating haagen-dazs and swiss rolls, emerge from your cocoon on monday (much to the relief of your friends and family) with a new lease on life – one fueled by either a fuming desire for revenge or a never-say-die attitude that the best is yet to come so there.

* * *

it’s an otherwise ordinary tuesday night. when i finished my pint of phish food – did i really eat that quickly? are these smaller than they used to be? – i found myself torn between getting more ice cream or searching for the sharp things i thought i had fallen out of love with some eight and a half years ago. i absently rub behind my left ear and ruminate on the tattoo i have had for over two years but have never seen, an infinity symbol we got together when i was home on spring break during my first year of grad school. if we were IMing as we got ready for bed it was always a race to see who could manage to type “<3 x ∞” and then log off before the other could respond and have the last word, so to speak.

love times infinity.

the tattoo is forever, at least.

when i was younger, watching those movies with my friends at sleepovers filled with popcorn and teen and cosmogirl quizzes (“is your crush into you??” “what’s your lipstick personality?!”), i was always left slightly baffled. i could not for the life of me imagine myself becoming a 48-hour hermit with precariously high sugar levels over some guy. but then two things happened: (1) i got it through my thick skull that i did not, in fact, have the remotest interest in guys; and (2) i fell in love.

and then i got my heart broken.

…and then an entire goddamn year went by.

and now – what? now i’m sad? now i find myself fetal in my bed watching my train wreck of an adult life play behind shuttered eyelids as my fingertips count the train tracks written in my arms when i was 14, 18, 21? why now?

the movies don’t show this part, they don’t let you in on how, while you’re absentmindedly yet somehow also manically devouring that ice cream you’re also wondering if your landlord will just write off the rest of your lease in the event that you disappear, or if your father will somehow be saddled with that on top of the realization that the only remaining piece of his immediate family has also checked out. as your spoon hits the bottom of the carton you remember how, just a few weeks ago while you were shopping for boric acid you looked up one shelf at home depot and saw a display of utility knives and were pleased that you were no longer lulled to the display, that you could barely remember how it felt to slide the blade out – click click click – and hold it in the curve of your fingers, weighing all the power it held.

you silently curse yourself for owning nothing sharper than a butter knife. you curse again that you care.

no, those teeny-bopper novellas don’t also tell you that while you can pretend to bounce back all you want, the pain you swallowed initially will eat at you like a cancer, until finally, a year later, you look down and realize that it has come back around to devour you whole.

and none of those insipid story lines will tell you the most important and terrifying thing of all: that you will look around and realize that somewhere along the line, you stopped giving a shit.

and while this is not the stuff of blockbuster mega-hits, this is the stuff of real life: ice cream doesn’t cure jack shit, there are no second chances, and the only thing you can “get over” in a weekend is a fucking hangover.

i’m too exhausted to end this eloquently. and that, too, is the stuff of real life.


just friends. (draft. and it needs a title.)

i wonder how we can be just friends.
how i can nonchalantly ask you
how your day was
(but only every other thursday
because anything more would be excessive)
and pretend i don’t remember us
curled like two commas,
my mouth on your shoulder,
your hips melting into my belly.

i don’t know how to delete the sound of our voices
as baby names passed through our lips.
ailey. ainsley. emma. jo.
we rolled each one around in our mouths like pearls,
small and round and smooth and deliciously foreign.

so forgive me, love,
that i cannot un-etch your name from my heart,
that i cannot forget the smell of your hair
or the taste of your teeth.
i cannot be a good friend – i cannot
be just friends –
until i am stricken with amnesia
and may no longer remember the way
you mumble in your sleep
or how we fell into Savasana
with our pinkies linked,
our hearts seeping through our fingertips.

i cannot be just your friend
because you will never be just mine.
you were my breath and my bones and the spaces between my words
and i cannot make you
into something you’re not.


the other l-word.

i’ve been shamelessly watching season 1 of the l word for about the tenth time. and while i love the show – and always will, because it’s that awesome – i was getting these awful twinges of sadness while i was watching.

when dana and lara first start dating, there’s this sweet silliness to their relationship. it’s full of awkward moments and embarrassment and tripping over words. but it is so goddamn sweet you can’t help but smile.

when i first started dating k i was literally afraid to touch her. i was 5 years older than her, half a foot taller, and i was her first girlfriend. i was terrified i would scare her away if i was even slightly forward, so i tiptoed around her – almost literally. we never had any of those super awkward “asking out” or “first date” moments, because we never really had a formal first date. but i just remember having constant butterflies, wanting to bear hug her and never let go but at the same time being afraid that if i came too close or touched too hard she would disappear like a mirage.

when i made door decorations for my residents the year that k lived on my floor, in the spring i made zodiac sign tags. out of 20+ people in the wing, only two of them were “cuspers” (people born on the first or last day of a sign, who are said to be “on the cusp” and possess qualities of both signs) – myself, and k. when we started dating we would joke that we were doomed – two girls and all those girlie things, plus FOUR zodiac signs. definitely doomed.

it was funny because everybody, us included, assumed we would be together forever. that nothing, especially something as silly as astrology, could break us apart.

clearly not so funny any more.

k is the one who told me about the l word in the first place, and who watched it with me when i first saw it. she bought me the 6-season box set for christmas last year; i couldn’t fit it in my luggage when i went back to lexington after mom’s funeral, so i left them with her. when i drove through CT over the summer to pick up my winter clothes after we had broken up, it never occurred to me to get them.

it’s a good show. funny, well-written, great characters. and yes, the women are damn attractive. but watching it makes me strangely sad. sad for having been so in love. sad for what i lost. shit, sad for the fact that we don’t have a cool lesbian hangout like The Planet in lexington.

yet i suppose, as always, it is what it is. i never would have expected this to gnaw at me for nearly an entire year, to slowly chip away at my sense of self, my sense of self-worth, and sometimes my very sanity.

you love. you lose. but through it all – indeed, sometimes because of it all – you live.


flashback! hair today, gone tomorrow…

a year ago today, i knew two very important things: (1) i was not getting married in october as we had planned, and (2) i was having surgery the first week of may. knowledge of those two items led to this decision, because (1) i no longer had to grow my hair out for my dream wedding style, and (2) on top of being unable to use my dominant leg for god-knows-how-long, i didn’t also want to deal with a mop full or hair.

which led to this:


becoming this:



and now, a year later, the fact that i can comfortably pull my hair into a semi-ponytail without needing 3957 bobby pins is a nice reminder that time passes…people change…we grow.

i was actually miserable in both of those photos. i was terrified of my first-ever surgery coming up, afraid of what it would mean for me athletically, if i would ever be the same in a physical capacity. my dad had just told me that he had given our dog away so that he could travel to see his girlfriend more just because. and even though k and i were back together after our (relationship k.o.d.) break, the writing was on the wall. the wedding was off and the relationship was on its way out.

so yes, i was pretty damn miserable.

and here we are, one year later. moving to a new place today. slowly clawing my way back from a couple of weeks of pure hell in the way of stress and anxiety. but all in all, life is good. or at the very least, it’s moving in a positive direction.

time passes. people change. we grow.




the last five years.

easter 2009. in october i had plummeted to my lowest adult weight at the time. it had all steadily come back thanks to flinging myself headfirst into the hell of bulimia once again. by april i am a hair’s breadth away from complete deconstruction. i leave the family party early, having spent half of the afternoon purging and miserable anyway. my cousin asks me if i’m okay to drive; forty minutes into the ride i black out at the wheel and nearly drive off the newburgh-beacon bridge. it’s dark when i finally make it back to campus – a 2-hour commute turned to nearly 6 because i had to pull into a truck stop and wait until i was stable enough to continue driving. that week i walk into the counseling center and decide that i’m done with being this person – i want recovery, for real this time. the rest is history.

easter 2010. k and i have been dating for three months now. i’m bringing her home to meet my family (she had already met my parents) and, in essence, simultaneously dropping the “i’m gay” bomb on the clan. luckily it’s old news to them, nobody cares, and they all love k. she is duly amazed at the amount of food we consume at major family functions. we play the “name all 50 states as fast as you can” game with my two uncles and my father. my dad, who has the least formal education out of all of us, schools everyone. to date this is one of my favorite day-long memories.

easter 2011. i fly in from lexington for the holiday. in a VERY rare occurrence, my entire family is together this easter – all of my uncles and aunts from florida, as well as all of my cousins. k and i have been engaged for 5 months; we get to use the day as an opportunity to ask all four of my cousins, at once, if they would be in the wedding. my mom gives me what would become an incredibly important card.

easter 2012. mom has been gone for 3 months. we have always hosted easter at my house, and she did…well, everything. i get another TA to cover my classes for me and i fly home on thursday afternoon. dad and roxy and i spend three days getting the house ready, planning meals, and buying everything we’ll need. instead of manicotti – since neither of us are even remotely patient enough to stuff all of those shells – we get some amazing ravioli from a hole-in-the-wall italian place. the meals go off without a hitch, we don’t burn the house down, and it’s a sad yet strangely comforting day. k and i are “on a break,” yet this comes as an afterthought as i type this. the day was about love, pure and simple.

easter 2013. it’s 11am and the fog is so dense you can barely see. i have written two chapter’s worth of notes for my measurement class, eaten two breakfasts (i am, in fact, part hobbit), started my laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, and fed the cats. i got an easter card from my dad earlier this week, and one from my grandma yesterday. i had flowers sent to her; the family is going to my cousin’s house, since dad has decided to stay in florida for the holiday. and i, then, am here in lexington. my grandmother just called to thank me for the flowers; it hurts my heart that i haven’t seen her since thanksgiving. that i spent christmas in a foreign state, foreign house, with only one member of my family rather than twelve. and now it’s easter and the only immediate connection i have to my former life is the inscription from a card, now 2 years old, inked into my skin. i’m furiously envious of my students who came into our 10am exam on friday bubbling over with excitement that they were, as soon as we finished, hopping in a car/on a train/on a bus to head home for the weekend.

i have piles of work to do, two lessons to plan, laundry to finish. yesterday’s 13-miler didn’t happen so it’s being rescheduled for today; i’m hoping my legs won’t feel as heavy as my heart. yet all i want to do is write, pages upon pages. in my purple leather-bound journal that i’ve neglected for months; in the little sage green book i bought after mom died, where i wrote to her as much as i could but stopped after a few months because i couldn’t handle the pain, the tears, the gut-wrenching emptiness.

i want to bury myself in blankets, smother myself in memories that are at once so wonderful and so goddamn sad. some days i have to remind myself, over and over, that this is my life now. my mom is gone; my dad has moved and moved on; k and i are over and there will be no more giddy conversations about weddings and cupcake trees and which of my cousins each of her sisters is going to walk down the aisle with.

five years later, this is my life.