Here's to Halestorm, here's to love

As much as I like writing and as much as I like concerts, I’ve never written a concert review before — because honestly, I’ve never been so moved by one that I felt the need to write about it. But last night’s Halestorm show at Starland Ballroom, the same venue at which I watched my very first concert? Well, let’s just say that I’m not surprised they sold out the first day tickets went on sale.

First, a brief word about the openers, The Dead Deads and New Medicine. While I didn’t entirely love The Dead Deads’s music, I was pleasantly drawn to their character: a couple of girls from Nashville, Tennessee who formed a rock/metal/punk band with X’s drawn over their eyes, a necklace of lights on the lead singer, and a surprisingly not-out-of-place daisy in one guitarist’s hair. It was all very unexpected, and yet they were fresh, so it was nice, you know? Next up was New Medicine. They came on strong, and finished stronger. If I wasn’t saving up my cash to buy a Halestorm t-shirt at the end of the show, I probably would have bought one of their CDs (and then used that as an excuse to take a picture with the sexy-in-a-humble-way guitarist who is now my new phone background, which is not creepy in any way). One of the best parts of their show was when they played “Race You To The Bottom” and actually brought out two cups of beer and, well, raced each other to the bottom. Props!

Falling in love in a coffee shop

I've often wondered what it would be like

to go on a coffee date, to sip and flirt and smile,

and share our histories for a while.

I've always wanted to hear utensils clink while

I think about the words being framed by your lips,

and slowly, gently surrender my mind 

to the touch of your thoughts along the length of my spine.

I want to kiss you with my wit, seduce you

with my fears — is it possible to hold you near

while remaining a respectful coffee table apart?

I want to love and be loved despite all my sins,

to be looked at in that way without exposing skin 

Tonight, we are young

A conversation I had with a freshman the other day went something like this:

Freshman: What year are you?
Me: I’m a senior!
Freshman: Oh, are you thinking of applying here?


And I mean, I don’t blame her. Besides being five foot two and having a tiny face that is usually half obscured by hair, I simply don’t carry myself like a college senior. I’ve got the jaded, look-what-CMU-did-to-me part down pretty well, but the beaming confidence? the bright, knowledgeable eyes? the I’m-a-real-adult posture? I’ve got none of that.

On being more independent

Last night, the storm outside was so violent that each time the thunder hit, your entire room trembled in response. You are not afraid of thunderstorms — you never were — but as you lay there in bed wearing nothing but your underwear and an old t-shirt, wrapped in the thin cocoon of your bed covers, you suddenly felt the intense need to be held, to be taken care of, to be loved.

This need made you feel vulnerable, and this vulnerability disappointed you.

Confessions to a stranger

1. I get angry sometimes — really, really angry — and that’s okay. My fists turn into flaming steel and I want to punch something thick, something solid. I want to throw things at the wall or sprint until all the fire inside me is put out, or yell and cry until the world apologizes for being a cruel place, an unhappy place. I get angry sometimes, but I will learn to control it. I will tame myself.

2. There is this hole that I sometimes fall into, helplessly, a hole that seems to have infinite depth and a dark, commanding gravity that pulls me down, down, down. I dread sitting at the bottom of this hole feeling nauseous from the fall, but it is sometimes difficult to claw my way out.

3. Sometimes I worry that I am not truly human, because try as I may, I can never fully comprehend what you are feeling. I will cry for you, and laugh with you, but I will never quite cry as many tears or laugh as loudly as I know I probably ought to. Empathy should not have to learned, but I am going to learn it anyways.

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I love you brew

Pale Lager.
A light touch and a light taste. Toes barely brushing, toes brushing accidentally, toes brushing beneath the sand. A yellow sun dress. Kisses as brief as an ocean spray, as hesitant as your very first time. A yawning sun, stretching its rays as it tries to stay awake. You watch as fingers strum a guitar — you envy those guitar strings. The rising tide pushes you back, conveniently urging you to go inside. Gasps in a moon-lit room. Maybe you’ve had one too many Corona’s, but then again, maybe you’ve had just the right amount.

Dark Lager. Hockey at a sports bar. A stranger’s voice startling you as a whisper reaches your ear. “You’re beautiful,” says the voice. Lies, you think, as you arrange your face into a look of disgust, but you’re secretly glowing on the inside. Better keep sipping that Yuengling and keep your eyes on the game.

Brown Ale. An unexpected afterthought. You hate being an afterthought.

Conversations with my psychiatrist

I stopped by the coffee shop on my way to work this morning and searched the menu for the most caffeinated drink, knowing all along that I wasn’t just tired. I was tired of the quiet, tired of the alone, tired of being tired, and no amount of coffee could ever wake me up from that. I inhaled the smell of freshly ground beans, and thought I caught a hint of pastries. Maybe brownies.

I made brownies with Jane once. Actually, she did all the baking, but I stood there in the kitchen and wrapped my arms around her as she stirred the mix, kissed her on the ear from behind. I was pretty useless in the kitchen, but Jane insisted that baking was a romantic activity, so I played along. I remember dipping my finger into the batter when she was done.

Hey! Stop it!” She swatted my hand away from the bowl, half-angry eyes flashing at me from behind the strands of hair that had come out of her ponytail during the bustle of baking and now fell around her pretty face.

“Don’t be mad,” I teased, holding my chocolate covered finger temptingly in front of her. Suddenly smiling, she arched her eyebrows devilishly and promptly licked the brownie batter right off my finger.

 “How long does this have to be in the oven for?” I asked.

“Twenty minutes,” she said.

“Well that’s plenty of time…”

I remember how I swept her right up and carried her up the steps in her pink floral dress and how she laughed up at me as we ran to the bedroom. I remember how the laughter subsided and we suddenly became very quiet as I lowered her down onto the bed… how easily her dress slipped off…


Making friends with shadows on my wall

Some days just don’t feel right. The sun streams through the blinds at an unfamiliar angle, you walk as if your legs belong to someone else, you search for some elusive feeling that seems like it could be in reach — but it drifts outwards with every breath you take, as if your own exhalation is gently pushing it away.

There is a certain breed of sadness that preys only on those in solitude. Most days, he paces in the back of your mind, letting out the occasional snarl when you shake your head, disturbing his dark home. But on those days that don’t feel right, he comes out quietly and caresses your bare heart with his bared teeth like a paralyzing sadness that would rather see you wounded than see you dead. Evil, evil creature.

You’re confused. You’re drifting. You could be happy if that is what you decided to be, but this certain breed of sadness is sometimes all you’ve got, and you just don’t have it in you to hurt him.


You're always beautiful

“Look at the moon – isn’t it beautiful?” My dad asked me as I cried into the plate of food in front of me, pushing around the pieces of sushi as if by rearranging them I could rearrange my life.

“Yeah,” I sniffled, wondering where he was going with this.

“But it’s only ever a full moon once a month,” he continued. “Most of the time, the moon is just a crescent or a half moon. It’s almost never a full moon, yet it’s always beautiful.”


Signal to noise ratio

I am a naturally anxious person, but sometimes, shit really hits the fan.

I had a bit of a panic attack this morning — my heart was out of control, my neck and shoulders were burning, but my hands were ice cold. Take deep breaths, I told myself sternly. Stop panicking! But the more I tried to keep my composure, the faster I felt my throat closing up, and the fuzzier my vision seemed to get. Why are you still panicking? I chugged some water with shaking hands, hating the simultaneity of my physical and mental weakness.

While staring at an oscilloscope’s signal a few hours later, it crossed my mind that as much as I despised electronics lab last year, sometimes I wish my brain was a circuit that I could wire up to do whatever I told it to do. I wish there was a plug that went straight through my skull, a cable that ran directly to my prefrontal cortex. I want a switch that can flip off my crazy thoughts, or a transistor to amplify the rational ones. A diode that won’t pass current unless there’s enough reason, or a capacitor that stores happiness for the days I need it more. I can control the electrochemistry of a battery; why can’t I control the electrochemistry of my neurons?

But circuits always confused me anyways, so what am I even saying...

I'm sorry, a thousand times over

When I was in second grade, I broke the most sacred of promises – a pinky promise.

Some people don’t find love until they are well into their twenties, or maybe even their thirties. Some people never find love at all. But as an eight year old girl with all my bright-eyed wisdom and innocent insight, I believed with every atom in my tiny, beating heart that I had found it already.


His name was Jacob. Everyone else called him Jake, but somehow, the nickname felt awkward on my lips. I think I was embarrassed to say his name in a way that suggested we were close at all, afraid that my feelings would be betrayed by the lack of formality.

“Wanna play Spit?” he asked me during recess one day, referring to the card game that had recently become popular.

I looked at him with a doubtful frown. “I don’t know how.”

“It’s okay, I’ll teach you!”

A few minutes later, I was fully immersed in the fast-paced game when Jamie Simmons, a brown-haired, freckled girl from class, skipped over with a mischievous grin on her face.

“Faith and Jacob, sitting in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” she squealed. I remember turning as red as a ripe tomato. “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!”


Against all odds – and by that, I mean against the belief at the time that boys and girls had cooties and could not associate with each other – we became best friends. That year, I went to a Yankees game for my big brother’s birthday. Bernie Williams was the only one to hit a home run during the game.

“Bernie is my favorite,” I confided in Jacob, as if by watching a single game of baseball I had become an expert on the Yankees roster.

The next day, Jacob brought in a Bernie Williams baseball card from his collection at home and said it was for me. It was protected by a scratched up plastic sleeve. I didn’t know it at the time, but that baseball card would later become the one thing I remembered him by.

One of our favorite things to do was jump off the swings. I was scared to do it the first time, but he kept jumping off again and again, until finally, I couldn’t resist trying it too. It was an exhilarating feeling being suspended in the air, and when I fell – I fell for him too.


Jacob was the smartest kid in our class. Our teacher used to end every day with a game of “Around of the World.” Two students sitting next to each other would stand up at a time and Miss Clarkson would give an easy multiplication problem. The student who called out the answer first would move on to the next person in the class while the student who lost would sit back down. Jacob won every game – except for one.

“Nine times eight!” Miss Clarkson called out.

Jacob and I were up. “You wanna win?” he whispered. I giggled sheepishly and shook my head, but he just stood there in silence until I remembered the answer.

“Seventy two!” I said, after a pause. Everyone congratulated me that day for finally defeating the king of the game. I earnestly tried to tell them that he had let me win, but Jacob convinced them otherwise.


At the end of the year, we all had to write and illustrate our own little books and were to share them with the rest of the class and everyone’s parents at an end-of-the-year celebration.

“If you dedicate your book to me, I’ll dedicate mine to you,” Jacob said to me.


“Pinky promise?”

“Yeah, I promise,” I smiled, as our pinkies intertwined.

I had every intention of printing Jacob’s name on the blank that we were supposed to fill in on the dedication page, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I don’t know why, nor do I remember what name ended up taking the place of his, but the word regret will never sufficiently describe my feelings towards that single decision.


Half a year later, it was Christmas Eve and Jacob’s family was driving to church. I was told that the window was shattered, that the shards cut his seat belt, and that Jacob was thrown out of the car, head crashing straight into the curb.

“Faith, I’d like to speak to you outside,” Mrs. Allen said, as she walked me into the hallway. She explained with carefully chosen words why my friend would not be coming to school anymore. I think my lack of emotional response – my dry cheeks, my impassive eyes – frightened her.

She didn’t know that I simply refused to believe what she was telling me. She didn’t know that Jacob never forgave me for backing out on my promise. She didn’t know that it was impossible for me to comprehend that he could have died before I could make it up to him.


Fourteen years later, I wish I could say that I am still trying to redeem myself, that I’ve kept every promise I’ve made since then, that I learned my lesson. But I’m sorry, Jake  – I just can’t do it. I can’t be perfect like you.

Music for two, music with you

Primo and secondo:
four hands, one piano.
Fingers glide across black
and white 
slide across left
and right.
A cascade of notes
echoes without bounds, floats
like suspended
Two hands play the melody,
two hands play the beat,
two hands
brush accidentally —
then the two harmonies meet.

When physics failed me

The professor is talking about forces
on the chalkboard, but I am tired of hearing the same things,
deriving the same formulas, over and over again.

Inertia is the tendency for an object to keep moving
at the same velocity unless acted upon
by an outside force, he reminds us.

I want to ask him what makes a person stay sad,
and what outside force can stop the sadness,
but I don’t raise my hand.

If you choose a specific centripetal acceleration,
you can essentially simulate gravity,
he goes on enthusiastically.

I want to ask him what kind of acceleration
can make a depressed person feel weightless,
but I don’t raise my hand.

I get angrier and angrier the more I learn,
and the more I learn the less I care,
and the less I care the more I hate the people who do.

The equations in my notes are insufferably smug.
“We can’t explain the world to you,” they seem to be saying.
But why not, you arrogant assholes? Why not?

I used to wonder what matter is made of,
but now I just wonder what’s the matter with me.

Don't trust the beautiful things

An angry swarm of butterflies swirls in the pit
of my stomach. I can feel them making their way up
into my lungs, their gentle wings making precise
paper cuts inside me—

all over—
every second.

Sometimes I get lonely and I whisper to them.
Oh little butterflies, what have I done?

But they just cling to my heart,
which beats furiously,
unable to shake them off.

Sometimes they drive me crazy and
I want to cry and drown them.

I want the salt of my tears
to dry their wings until they are crippled and broken
and dead. I want to scream so shrilly that I scare them
out of my body.

I want these stupid, beautiful things
to just get the fuck out of me, away from me, forever—

Oh you bullshit butterflies,
I’ll miss you when you’re dead.

Somewhere far along this road he lost his soul

I am a haunted house with window-lungs drawn—
the cobwebs remain but the ghosts are gone.
I tried to lure them back with pieces of my soul,
but they said they chose death over my too-empty breath.

Words are beginning to taste foreign to my lips
and I drink from old literature with desperate sips—
searching and searching between the tangled lines
to free a single thought that I didn't know was caught.

What does one believe when nothing seems real?
How does one love when she's forgotten how to feel?
Seized by sudden panic, I reach for my heart—
but just as I'd guessed, there was no organ in my chest.