How do our childhood choices lead us to our adult lives? Is there such a thing as destiny? Are there soulmates, or only people who come into your life and change it forever?
A journey through teenage love, the beginnings of mental illness, and the push-and-pull of addiction, Crazy Beautiful Life explores these questions through nonfiction as part biography, part autobiography, part eulogy, and one hundred percent love letter.
Written over the course of a decade, it is a symphony of poetry, letters, journal entries, and other small objects that create a life, assembled together in the wake of a death, to celebrate a friendship.
Five dollars from every book sale is donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in memory of Joe Burns.
Other Nonfiction [Coming Soon]
A love letter to a fellow poet
As the ice thins, so does your certainty
Black Collars and Red Doors
Lessons from a Godfather
In this version, I am alone
Interlude off the Sunset Limited
Water and Rocks (Journal Pages)
When they start taking the children
When they start taking the children
I am sitting on the number three bus and crying. This is not the first time I’ve cried on a bus, and not even the first time I’ve cried on this particular bus. Daughter is playing on my headphones and my phone is at 21% and this afternoon the Park Ranger at Saint Anthony Falls said the president is trying to close down the Army Corps of Engineers.
I’m not crying about the Army Corps of Engineers. I’m crying because there are children in cages and people are arguing semantics about the word “fence" versus “wall.” I’m crying because my Jewish father, a second generation immigrant whose grandparents still spoke Romanian and Hungarian and Yiddish, still thinks Mexicans are trying to steal his jobs. He dealt with me dating a mixed-race person, barely, but I could never introduce him to my girlfriend. I’m crying because that same mixed race ex-partner is the one who checked in with me, queer Jewish neurodivergent woman (that’s four targets on my back). They asked about the internment camps, asked, “How are you doing with all this?” even though they’re a trans person of color living in Texas who told me three days ago, “An immigration lawyer told me I’d have a good chance of being able to emigrate to Canada.”
I’m crying because I told them to go if they had the chance. Because they said I should, too. Because I wanted to tell them to come up I-35 through Minnesota and grab me on their way North, but instead I said, “I can’t. I have people here.”
People like my two trans best friends. My chronically ill mother. My mentally ill Jewish brother. People like my pregnant-possible friends, who watch the Handmaid’s Tale and then go drink afterwards, because how the fuck else are we supposed to deal with that? People like the youth of color I’ve worked with, like the youth with cognitive differences who can’t speak, like the youth who tell me they’re queer, they’re sick, they’re afraid they’ll be next.
I’m afraid I’ll be next. I want to write my cousin in Germany and ask if she’ll take me. I want to drop out of school, take a Greyhound to Texas, and chain myself to an internment camp door. I want to clear out the closet under our stairs and build a false wall good enough to hide behind. I want to stand on a highway bridge with a noose hanging from the fence and a sign in red paint that says, “Who will be next?”
Suddenly, I am looking at my coworkers and neighbors and wondering, If we had lived in Nazi Germany, would they have helped protect me? I’m wondering, Since we live in a fascist country, are we going to protect others?
Never again is supposed to mean never again. I know someone whose parents crossed the Alps on foot to escape Europe. Both my grandfathers served in World War II. Was it all for nothing? Are human beings going to do this until we’re all extinct? I took an entire college history course about the Holocaust. The final paper and underlying theme was, “Was the Holocaust an unavoidable consequence of modernity?”
I don’t remember my answer, but if I had to write the paper now, I would wrote the word WHY? over and over for a hundred pages. Why are we doing this? Why are we still doing this?
Niemoller wrote about no one being left to stand up.
I wonder who will be left to write about the time when there is no one left to take?
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