Month: May 2016

No High Voices in the Room

Before you urge a woman to

“Speak Up”

Notice whose

hands are covering her mouth.



What else do you call

intense joy

Colliding into

inevitable tragedy

but a life?

American Sugar

The American dream was a sweeter snack than Oreos,

More satisfying than a steak dinner.

How full I felt on reveries of ascendance,

A descendant of our independence.

I’m older now.

No longer covered in cookie crumbs and innocence.


Zip codes

And classes away,

Poor kids feast like I did–

On dreams like candy bars.

On a name brand future to erase a Goodwill past.


They’ll grow up too,

But not like me.

Obstacles will slice their dreams just large enough to fill a jail cell.

Access will be a foreigner to their fingertips.

Uncle Sam is a fair-weather relative to the projects,

And a wealthy politician scolds them for not trying,

For not vying for the highest.

They are dodging bullets,

Raising babies while babies themselves,

But a pointed finger has no sympathy.


The American Dream is a craving too strong for Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to overpower,

Night after night,

Generation after generation gorges itself on too many fantasies and not enough resources when morning comes.

I ponder why my dawn is sunlight and roosters crowing

While theirs is sirens and food stamps.

And I have to wonder

Can we wake from the American dream?

Labor of Selfhood

It’s been a while since my last entry.  The realization that it is my responsibility to save my life is the aftershock of publicly shouting my suicidal thoughts into the cyber-void.  Nobody can do this for me.  I am, in the most anxiety-ridden of ways, becoming my own heroine.  This trek to happiness uncovered ugly realizations, mainly that I don’t believe I deserve good things.  Self-care is such a shamed topic in my mind.  I used my tax return to buy a new professional and casual wardrobe.  The last time I purchased pants for myself, I was 19.  Shorts?  15.  A suit? 15.  My 23rd birthday is in 1 week, and I realized I wanted to wear something with a future instead of a past.  Still, I shame myself.  How could you spend so much money on yourself?  Who the hell do you think you are being so wasteful and consuming?!  I have no one to answer to but myself.

My strides out of suicide have direction.  Life might give me what I want, and now, I’m getting scared.  Again and again, my head rings, “Do I really deserve this?”  Endurance is my homeostasis.  I am always chasing one thing while running from another.  My lungs are always reaching for air as my head reels.  This isn’t a sustainable way to be, but I don’t know that I feel I deserve better.  Acquaintances regard me as such a confident woman.  Depression distorts my self-image.  It dwarfs my titanic spirit, and whispers lies about the abundance in my soul.

I began having second thoughts about pursuing a happiness, about how the steps that will lead me to joy may deter me from professional success.  But if misery carries me across the career jungle gym, would you even call a rise to the top success? It sounds more like compromise.  “You aren’t defined by the way you make money, Marisa.  You aren’t defined by the way you make money,” in exhales, I tell myself this.  I needed the encouragement of my loved ones.  Each time, I posed this situation to them– the pros, the cons, the costs, and the gains.  What astounded me was how deeply everyone wanted me to be happy.  They didn’t want to hear my hurt in phone calls, and they missed the fire in my eyes.  Even when I can’t want what’s best for myself, the people around me will want and urge and push for me.  But they can’t love me out of this.  They can’t do the emotional labor of overcoming for me– I must do it.

Deep down, I lack the belief that I deserve good things.  I fear the good.  Joy is a terrifying beast that lulls me with euphoria before something goes awry. It offers deceptive safely.  I have to summon the courage to unlearn my defensive reflexes.  Joy doesn’t come with the sandbags I tie to it.  It’s not enough to want– wanting is easy.  Belief, a steadfast conviction, that I deserve to be loved, to be happy, to have all of this now– that is a labor of selfhood.