All posts tagged: Grief

Writing as Healing

When I applied to nearly a dozen fully funded or mostly funded MFA programs last winter and spring, the only expectation I had was that something unexpected would happen. I tried to not fantasize about New England winters, California freeways or whatever the hell it is people do in Virginia college towns. I hoped one of those scenarios would be my life, but I didn’t want to lock myself into needing an MFA from one particular program or one particular place. I knew my odds, but more than anything it felt like the right time to chase this MFA dream. Wherever I ended up, I would get that chance. As it turned out, something unexpected did happen. I received an acceptance from Rutgers-Camden, one of the two programs I applied to in my home state of New Jersey. So I traded my fantasies for familiarity. It wasn’t exactly the school in my backyard: Camden is just outside Philadelphia, a part of New Jersey that is new to me. The Rutgers-Camden MFA program offered so many elements that excite me: the …

First Days in Alabama

This past weekend marked my three-week anniversary in Tuscaloosa, and thus far, being in an MFA program has felt like a much better version of college. Or at least, more like the version of college I’d imagined growing up. Seven years ago, when I arrived as a freshman at Brown University, I was going through one of the worst periods of my life. My mother had died three weeks before after a long and arduous battle with ovarian cancer, and in leaving Los Angeles to move to Rhode Island, I had left behind any semblance of a social support system. For the first several years, college was lonely and isolating. It was hard. People constantly asked what my parents did (when you’re a new kid in college, that’s what people talk about, that and your dorm, where you’re from, and what major you’ve picked). When I told the truth, I could see their faces shrinking away and imploding on themselves. I had brought up one of the top taboo topics in our society—death—and I often …

Icebreaker

On September 3rd one of my best friends flatlined on her way to the hospital. Victoria had faced a blend of illnesses: diabetes, a heart condition for which she had to get a pacemaker, excessive water retention, and hypothyroidism. She was only 32. The last time I saw Vicki she had lost a lot of weight. She had been released with an oxygen machine from a long-term care facility, with a tube protruding from her throat. She didn’t like these changes. But the long hospitalizations wouldn’t outweigh Victoria’s positive outlook. Yes, she did have bouts of depression and anxiety, but she tried so hard to find love and energy in every moment. The extent of her influence can’t possibly be contained in a post this size. It will take years before I’m able to bring some justice to her story in my poetry, one of the countless stories that demonstrate how Americans slip through the cracks of a fractured health care system even after Obamacare. I’d like to think that through my work my friendship …