Today I Became A Billy Goat

Great Falls ParkToday, after a night out dancing in DC (I don’t know why the person who never drinks thought it was a good idea to mix three different types of liquor), on another date, I visited Great Falls Park for the first time. This rocky water wonderland is a mere 16 miles outside the city. That is one thing I love about here – you can feel like you’re out in the country yet still live in an urban environment.

But in visiting the Maryland side of the park (and as my date would point out the better, less crowded side), I successfully climbed the Billy Goat Trail (and yes, I use climb for some very specific reasons). I had heard stories of the Billy Goat Trail and how I should definitely give it a try. What no better time than in my hungover state?

For some reason, I imagined this trail was like any other paved pathway, a little debris and uprooted branches but nothing strenuous and then at one point the trail would become a short ledge one would have to maneuver around before getting to the top. Yeah that was what I imagined. Clearly I did not think about the words “Billy Goat” in the name. Continue reading


Insights From Wine and Water Bugs

“Are those water bugs? Where did they come from?” My friend asks as we watch the one-inch black bugs scurry across her back patio.

They appear to have no direction and disappear beneath the ivy next to the glass frog statue. The air is cool but humid, and we both sip on our glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and contemplate our relationship statuses.

We are both in our late twenties and single, having just ended long-term relationships. Everyone around us seems to be getting married or having kids. And even though we know that’s not what we want, we can’t help but feel like we’re missing out on something.

“I just don’t know if I want to try again, you know? I’m just tired,” my friend says, shrugging her shoulders. I agree and place my wine glass in front of me. My friend’s dog whines at us from behind the adjacent gate. Continue reading

I Have a Hyperactive Cat

I didn’t have plans to adopt a cat on Black Friday of last year, but when my brother visited from Louisville and I mentioned the idea of stopping by the animal shelter on our way to the National Air and Space Museum, he seemed enthusiastic. He once owned a cat, too, but it was one of many valuables lost to Rochester in the break-up with his former girlfriend.

Most of my close friends know I have been wanting to adopt a pet for some time, but my previous landlord didn’t allow it, and before that, my roommate was severely allergic to cats. My friends would inevitably joke, “how’s the fish?”

Initially, I had planned to use a tactic from the movie 28 Days when one of the characters at rehab asked how much time is appropriate for entering back into a relationship afterwards. The fictional counselor recommended starting with a plant, then a pet, and then after some time, a human relationship. Continue reading

The Ones Who Survive

I can feel the tension in my knee building. I look at my watch: 26.07. Okay, I tell myself, I just need to make it up and down this hill, and then on the straight and narrow path home. If I can run 30 minutes today, that will be sufficient, and I shouldn’t put too much strain on my IT band.

Since September, I’ve been undergoing physical therapy because I couldn’t run seven minutes without being in extreme pain. Even with stretching, resting, and strengthening, I could not seem to surpass this hump that started at 20 minutes, then 12, and finally seven. Frustrated, I gave up and called my doctor. I invested more financial resources than I’d like to admit in attending physical therapy sessions twice a week.

I’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship. Work was stressful. I had no social support system. I needed to run. And it’s not like I’m a good runner. I could be in better shape. I usually run when I feel the need to blow off some steam or stretch my legs, but I wouldn’t say I do it consistently. But now that my life seemed to be shredding before me, I felt the need to do it more often.

So after a month of physical therapy, I could run 20 minutes without pain, and then after six weeks, I could run 25. I felt stuck at that number and started to think maybe I would just have to live with short distance. I no longer pushed past the pain. I wanted to be able to run tomorrow, too. This day was no different from any other. Continue reading

Single and Somewhat Strong

A few days ago I saw a spider in the sink. Today, I saw an ant cross my path along the sidewalk home. I tried not to step on it. I always try not to step on insects or animals that come across my way. I don’t know why. Maybe I feel like giving them a chance at life?

When one relationship ends, it feels like I question everything to life. Like what am I doing? What’s the point? I don’t know why relationships make us feel this way. Maybe because we thought we were on a different track, but then when we realized we were unhappy, we changed everything?

A week ago I made it through airport security without a seizure. I didn’t take anti-anxiety medication or keep my blood sugar above 200. In fact, my blood sugar was 160. I always eat something before I fly to make sure my blood sugar stays stable. After experiencing my only two seizures in the airport, I take all precautions when flying.

TSA didn’t treat me like a criminal or a terrorist, which was a nice change. I walked through the body scanner, let the officials know I had an insulin pump and CGM, and they waved their magic wand, assured I wasn’t carrying drugs, and ushered me through. And then coming back from my trip to Louisville, I was approved to go through the TSA Pre line (which coincidentally I’ve just applied for). I didn’t have to take off my shoes or take out my toiletries (not that I really do anymore, to be honest), and I went through a metal detector. A metal detector! I haven’t used one of those since pre 9/11.

And you know what? My insulin pump wasn’t detected, and I walked straight through. No double check. No special treatment because I’m diabetic. I think I’m going to like this whole TSA Pre thing.

But the truth is, diabetes has become such an ingrained part of my life that sometimes I forget it’s there. It doesn’t even get me down, but relationships ending do. I’m much happier and calmer, I have to admit. I’ve started writing fiction again, which is fun, but still, in the back of my heart and my mind, I know something is missing.  Continue reading

The Lone Dove

I am sitting on my rooftop deck, talking on the phone with my mom. I’m in one of those weird emotional states where I feel mesmerized by everything and feel I should contemplate the meaning to my life, even the littlest details like what am I making of this warm Sunday afternoon.

With my feet propped onto the deck chair, I am being burned by the sun, but there is no shade to escape within. We have not acquired an umbrella for this Craigslist patio set, but since I am moving in a few weeks, there is no point. I watch my skin turn red, but I do not move inside. I want to feel the heat.

A pigeon joins me on the deck. It squats on the wooden railing, picking at scraps shaken off by the nearby trees. My boyfriend calls these birds the “rats of the sky,” but when I stop squinting and take a closer look, I realize it’s not a pigeon at all, but a light brown dove. Where is its mate, I wonder? Continue reading

Peanut Butter Bait

Briston set up the traps months ago, baiting the mice with pinches of peanut butter.

“It’s best to leave the peanut butter on before setting the trap,” he said, “that way the mouse gets use to it and doesn’t expect the snap.”

We had just moved into a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a rowhouse in downtown Baltimore. Even though we’d been dating for two and a half years, more than half of that was long distance. Once I graduated with my MFA, Briston made the move from Orlando to Baltimore to give the relationship a real shot.

“That’s fine,” I told him, referring to the mouse trap, “as long as I don’t have to clean it up.”

Two years prior when I lived in a basement apartment north of the city, I had my first encounter with a mouse. He scared me when I turned on my bedroom light, and he ran out from under my bed.

A few days later I was sitting in the living area on the flower-printed couch, donated by a previous tenant, reading a book. I had set a similar peanut butter trap, at the suggestion of my roommate.

It was 9pm, and he scurried out from behind my bookcase against the wall across from me. He sniffed around my TV stand and ignored the peanut butter. Then disappeared down the hall. I didn’t scream or fret. As much as I don’t like living with other things, I live under the philosophy, “if you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you.” Continue reading

Falling Like Flies

Sometimes, I look at everything I worry about, and I laugh.

Sometimes, I want to be happy for the sake of being happy so that if I died tomorrow, I would enjoy this one moment of life.

Sometimes, I wish people bothered me less. Why do you need to say “hello” every time I pass you on the street? Why do you feel the need to smile and call me “gorgeous” and when I don’t respond, keep talking like it’s my loss.

Sometimes, I wish people bothered me more.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine found out her landlord passed away from cancer. She was diagnosed a few months ago, complaining of stomach pains, but by then, the cancer was already at an advanced stage.

Just this past week, a colleague of mine doubled over in stomach pain and made it to the hospital. He’s been on bedrest ever since and has lost 10 pounds in the past week. He’s over 90 so the stakes aren’t looking good.

On this day, four and a half years ago, I was admitted to the hospital, having seen the doctor for a severe yeast infection. I came out with diabetes. Continue reading