Friday Lunch! Weekly Blog

Is This My Essay?

The first seminar of my recent MFA Residency at Antioch University Los Angeles—a creative nonfiction exploration called “Stating Your Case”—dazzled and baffled me. I raised my hand to confess I am a newbie; a blind baby bird with its soft-bone beak clapping open and shut. “How do you know what to write about?” I asked. […]

We F**king Exist: Seven Writers on Seven Words

(do not erase) based-                                                          (on the) -evidence transgender                          (adults)            (children) (are)          […]


The radiology department lies deep in a basement of the Chao Cancer Center in Orange County. A nurse told me to arrive two hours early for my CAT Scan, so that I would have time to drink a liter of contrast, one cupful at a time. Once imbibed, the liquid would make my insides vivid […]

Normal Behavior

I had forgotten how completely ubiquitous sexual harassment was in my youth. So common place on the streets and transport systems in a city like New York that young girls and women took it in their stride, assuming the abuse to be the price paid for a sense of autonomy, for the freedom of movement. […]

Musings of the Season

It’s that time again. We’re coming up on the holidays. Leaves have fallen, blanketing the lawn in warm shades of yellow and red; Christmas lights are aglow. Tumultuous 2017 is edging toward its close, the promise of another year on the horizon. Joy to the World! For some reason, I’m just not feeling it. It’s […]

Earth Is a Body Who Knows Us

“…frescoes translating violence into patterns so powerful and pure we continually fail to ask are they true for us.” ~Adrienne Rich, “The Images” This essay has been challenging because I’m primarily a poet and visual artist, not used to writing in the first person. It is so much easier and infinitely more satisfying to transcend […]

What I Learned When Maria Came to Visit

“Dad, the hurricane sent Puerto Rico back to the stone age,” was how my son put it after living through the wrath of Hurricane Maria, and witnessing the extent of the devastation and destruction of the island first hand. Hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods are Nature’s reset buttons. Its way to reclaim its space, to rid […]

From Writer to Writer/Activist

Those two punctured windows of the Mandalay Bay Hotel from the previous night’s news haunted me. I felt this same way after 9/11. I had never before imagined these particular acts of evil—a killer firing on a crowd from up high, or people using planes as weapons. In this world, there are things you can […]

Psychic Servitude

It was a routine morning in the spring of my senior year at Vestal High School, 1997. I woke to the unfailing alarm of my father’s whisper-shout: “Hey bud, time to rise and shine. Up and at ‘em!” (My groggy inner retort: I guess I’ll rise, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna fucking shine.) I […]

Fighting Paralysis

Paralysis can be an education: it makes you infinitely more aware of the possible. Possibilities were all I could think about recently in urgent care when I sat on a bed waiting for a doctor to tell me why I could not move the right side of my face and was losing the ability to […]

Sanctifying Israel

I got pregnant at twenty-one. It happened while I was still an undergrad, directly after a Bible study meeting at the campus ministry. And I do mean right after—maybe within the hour. The father and I had just prayed about fornication at the meeting. I think we were trying to stop, or considering trying to […]

Hybrid in a Hurricane

It’s an early October morning in West Seattle and storming off and on. The trees are half a dozen shades of red and orange and last night’s downpour has left the pavement soaked. The neighborhood I’m walking through is chock-full of small-town peculiarities like a shed with a bold banner that reads, “Caddyshack,” an actual […]

A Picture Is Worth

As a young child, I stuttered. “Mom, wha-wha-wha-what time is it?” Many times she would answer, but sometimes she would interrupt me mid-sentence to say, “Marlenia! You need to stop and breathe before you talk.” If I had been part of a household in which we each patiently and politely spoke after someone placed a […]

Her Boldest Self

Last month, I visited my eighty-six year old mother, Geraldine, in New Jersey where she lives in a building for seniors. On the third morning, I woke to find that she had been up all night struggling to breathe. To my exasperation, she had waited out the terrifying night sitting up in a reclining chair […]

What I Thought About When It All Went Dark

At the intersection of Hayes and Van Ness, a thin elderly man stands in the median. He wears a baseball cap that covers most of his white, closely cropped hair. He is trim and clean-shaven. Hardly someone whom one would consider homeless. His posture is erect, and proud. He holds a sign with neat and […]

Between the Lines: Unsolved Mysteries After Death

Growing up, I consumed mysteries—gorged even. I binge-watched reruns of Unsolved Mysteries before binging was cool. I watched episodes alone in the dark and pretended to hold seances with Robert Stack. I had a thing for him. It wasn’t a crush. Maybe just a love of the macabre. Something about the theme music and the […]

Diagonal Exile

As I approach seventeen years since I moved to Seattle from my home state of New York, as more and more of my memories melt down or vaporize, and as the world becomes a more and more streamlined doomsday machine, it feels like a ripe time to pause for some inventory. The century is a […]

Reaching Out for Incarcerated Voices

When you walk in the doors of a prison, you can’t help but be reminded that in order to leave, someone has to let you out. You are reminded by the big thick doors. You are reminded by the double paned glass. You are reminded by the tall gates outside. You’ve left everything in your […]

Monster Under a Clear Blue Sky: Anger, Meditation, and Writing

One of my five roommates recently told me I am aggressive. We were in the kitchen and he was washing dishes. That night in the kitchen, I could be heard yelling, several times, “I am not f***ing aggressive.” The truth is, I have been in a six-month bad mood. My body is going through changes […]

My Great Divide

When I was a young girl, I tried to teach myself to fly. Every night before lights out, I’d stand on my bed, flap my arms, and look for a sign, any shred of evidence that I was improving my technique. I had a mad crush on the cartoon superhero Underdog, and I wanted to […]

Excuse Me, Have You Seen God?

Recently I went to Spirit Rock Meditation Center searching for God. After years of searching inside holy books, places of worship, and time spent conversing with pious men, She was nowhere to be found. My goal was to commune with Her; I hoped to assuage the final vestiges of fear that I’d carried for much […]

Soul Music

At around eleven p.m. on a Friday, I descend the stairs into the Cigar Bar, a bar where you can order a quick drink or pick up a cigar. You can’t smoke inside but you can in the open-air courtyard separating the bar from the dance floor on the opposite side, where a live salsa […]

Writing My Way Home

In June, I was scheduled to go to my third ten day residency for an MFA program in creative writing and, unlike everyone else who was dying to immerse themselves in their passion and reconnect with their MFA friends, I felt ambivalent about my return. I worried that the program and my plan to be […]


All names and identifying data have been changed to protect privacy. In the four months since I was assaulted, I have managed to put together one poorly constructed, grim poem about a water bug and one song to accompany instruments I lack the talent to play. Today, in writing this, I am breaking ground, grasping […]

Breathing with My Better Angels

Every day I have trouble breathing. I am dependent on steroids. My childhood asthma has returned along with severe allergies to things like IV Contrast Dye. Two years ago I was rushed to the emergency room where I had emergency surgery for a burst appendix that the doctor said was one of the worst he’d […]

How Many Ohios?

  “…everything was marvelous and everything became gray and irrational and everything sparkled again, as when a cloud passes over the sun and the sun appears to flee, a timid, pale disk, near extinction, but now look, once the cloud dissolves it’s suddenly dazzling again, so bright you have to shield your eyes with your […]

Hail Mary

I texted the Lunch Ticket Editor-in-Chief Katelyn Keating late last night to say I didn’t know what I was going to do about this blog. Both of us are working on finishing our graduation requirements for the MFA in Creative Nonfiction this week at Antioch University. Neither of us is sleeping very much. There’s a […]

Let’s Put on a Play

In Ross Gay’s poem, To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian, a group of pedestrians spontaneously gather around a fig tree and begin to savor the figs together. “Strangers maybe never again,” Gay writes. I think about this poem often; how good it makes me feel when I read it aloud. I love the image […]

Rain Clouds and Cherry Trees

The crowd presses around me. Hands reach up and out. Sticks hover above the fray, plastic extensions of their owners’ arms. Snap. Click. Ding. Shutter. A group of three women in front of me stop short to pose for the camera and a man collides into my back. He murmurs what I think is an […]

Dear Football, I Love You

Dear Football, I love you. You have been the love of my life for as long as I can remember. Everything good that I am, everything good that I will ever be, in part I owe to you. You were there for me when I thought all was lost. You picked me up and loved […]