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Kelli Ali

April 2012



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Apr. 25th, 2012


It comes in waves

I cannot pinpoint the moment in time the tide began rising. Has it been a year? More? I’ve felt like this off and on for all of my life, wading ankle deep in the emotional mires. I don’t acknowledge it until it is rushing around my shoulders. I don’t pay attention to currents. I don’t take note or keep log. I make no attempt to check things before they become too serious. I have been afraid. I have thought that I may drown, but I never have. Every time I surface, every time I am once again safe, I forget about the feel of undertow. I forget about the burn of saltwater in my nose and throat. And I do not watch the tides.

The waves crash but they do not crash onto the shore. There is no shore. A shore implies an end and this is endless. There are shallows and I have sat there in the shallows. I have wallowed in their warmth. I have spent years forgetting about sinking, growing complacent and calm. I have not been happy there but I have been still. I have been peaceful. I have been unconcerned.

Then I awake from my stagnation, and without having marked the change, I realize the tide is rising. The tide has been rising for some time. This moment of realization is where I want to live, but it is impossible to keep. I cannot tread water in this place, locked tightly between peaceful ignorance and total panic. I have tried. I have been happy there and that is more frightening than the rising tide. There, in that moment, there is no peace, but there is almost an addictive joy. Then I remember there exists an undertow because I feel its pull. I feel the ache in my lungs and I remember what drowning feels like.

I am afraid.

I cannot pinpoint the moment in time when the tide began rising, but the water is already deep. I do not know if I have merely been complacent to it rushing in around me or if I have been walking out to sea. I do not know if I have moved. I do not know if I am moving. The horizon does not change. There are no landmarks. There is me. There is water. There is the shifting ground beneath my feet.

I worry that my muscles are getting weaker. I know I sometimes stumble. My survival instinct may be somewhat blunted but my fear is still sharp. I do not want to be taken by these waters, but I never know if I will swim.

Jan. 31st, 2012


Writer's Angst... or something.

I wanted to write again, it crept into my subconscious and stuck-- That ridiculous, creative desire. Oh, how I love it and how I hate it.

Sometimes it defines me, and I am half-blindly going through the motions in life, just trying to use stronger verbs to abolish my adverbs, because adverbs are so purple and I have a thing for purple-prose.

I wanted to write again; sometimes my mind is so full of the desire that it hurts. I read what I have written and I hate it; I read the writing of other’s and I hate myself. I want… and the wanting hurts.

Part of this is because of the depression. Actually, maybe all blame belongs to the depression, because I can’t write without that beleaguered part of my mind. Where have I been during all of these anti-depressant -saturated years of wasted time, when I could have been writing? I don’t know how I filled the time, because, I never wanted to write. I didn’t think about it, and it never hurt. When my brain chemistry was normal that thought didn’t seem to bother me; the reminder of that bothers me.

If I need the pull of anxiety to make me want to be creative, then I will be anxious. I will ache that dull heady ache, that pushes and pulls like the tides. I will feel helpless and hurt. I will read what I have written and hate it and love it and hate that I love it and want to improve. I will not be boring.

I wanted to write again, despite knowing what that feeling meant, despite knowing the desperate ache that came with it, despite writing not really easing that ache for long, but only really while I am writing and never in the in-between times.

I wanted to write again… and I did, and it hurts like waking up hung-over. I am sober, I am groggy, and I have unanswered questions.

Jan. 2nd, 2012

Hands bound

I will not dispute the charge that I am stubborn; despite the oversimplification, it is true...

and this is, all of this, is complicated enough without debating half-truths.

My instinctual response is the most visceral; it is to say, “I thank you, kindly, not to offer me medication every time I share my emotions.” I let these bitter words wash away from my mind and replace them part by parcel. My second reaction is conversationally confrontational. “I have a whole bottle of this, two years past the expiration date, in my own medicine cabinet. Why waste more money on the false intention?” I disregard these words for the starkly self-pitying, “If I wanted to be happy, I’d make better life choices.”

I won’t say any of that, though, and really why should I? I don’t like to stir the shit, I don’t mean it anyway, and the silence is so much more aggressive than the words. It is more poignant this way, or at least it is easier. I hate the confrontation of the whole situation, almost as much as I hate the very idea of its resolution. I sit on the precipice of indecision, liking the tension, dramatic or otherwise, craving that wallow into that existential angst of this moment. I am twenty-seven; I have as much self-knowledge as I did at seventeen and even less ability to understand my mother.

Just for today, let the indecision be enough. I wash my hands of these thoughts, because the dwelling, or more acutely, the painful-pleasure of the dwelling is my sickness. For half a moment I was sure I wouldn’t start another week, another month, another year this way, and then… I am back in the saddle, old hand and old hat, experience teaching me nothing but the pleasure in this awful repetition.

Dec. 14th, 2011

Kelli Ali

Socially Awkward (an understatement)

While we are speaking out loud, there is a running commentary in my head. I almost can't concentrate for listening to it.

"You are fucking this conversation up," it announces "don't say that; Stop talking," my brain races ahead of my voice with admonishments to words I haven't even produced.

After we speak, there is dull panic; there is shame. I can't comprehend what went wrong. I replay the conversation, always my part first, or rather what I remember over the dull, self-judgmental roar in my head. I don't remember much of what you said, but I know your responses were crisp, clean, and logical. I know it without having listened to them, because everyone knows how to do this but me... and I can't interpret your body language. Why do your eyebrows do that? Why do you square your hips that way? I try to work you out like you are a puzzle and not a client, a bank-teller, a cashier, or a random stranger. I am in a cold sweat over the thirty second interlude where you asked me for the time and I apologized over not having a watch. I am painfully aware of the social script, to seem normal, to seem like I can be around other people and function. Maintain the illusion... get home where it is safe.

Dec. 11th, 2011


A dream is a wish your BRAAAAAIIIIIIINNNN makes:

I had a zombie dream last night. It wasn’t so much a horror story, as one might expect, but more of a drama/mystery story. There were all these soap-operaesque subplots, with interpersonal stories tangling into one another before being one by one cut loose as the people involved become zombies.

On the surface it was a bit like that show, "Harper’s Island," at least that was the first thing that came to my mind when I woke up. The characters were being killed off steadily and no one noticed for quite a stretch. There were even somewhat logical explanations for their absences or a sub-story where another character had a perfectly reasonable explanation for making one up and no one was the wiser that people were turning into zombies for quite some time. It also had a similar feel to the show, I guess, stylistically: The tone, the slow reveal, and then there was this mysterious subplot. The mystery in "Harper’s Island" was: Who is the Serial Killer and What is His Motive.

The mystery in my dream was an interesting subplot where a group, possibly a college fraternity, was playing a "game" but the rules and consequences had not been revealed. It was probably a red herring device, to trick the viewer into believing these boys were responsible for the zombie plague and it probably would have become one of the soap-opera subplots later, but it hadn’t fully come to fruition when I woke up.

The story was for the most part in the third person omniscient, which actually isn’t uncommon in my dreams; I would see it as a viewer in a virtual reality booth for a while and then randomly be sucked into acting out a plot as one of the characters for a while. None of the characters seemed to be people I knew, just stand-in, nondescript, B-movie actors. There was quite a cast, though obviously dwindling.

The set was familiar, however: A perfect, working replica of my neighborhood: all the terrain within 4 blocks on four sides of my apartment, and then my actual apartment there at the end, when the character I was embodying realized there were zombies and finally got thefuck indoors.

It was convoluted, graphic, a bit sexually explicit, and definitely would have had an NC17 rating in the theatre...but all in all...I would have watched it again.

Jun. 12th, 2011



Most of the time life just sort of happens to me, or at least it feels like it does. Do you ever get that? I mean to say, here you are, you’ve shown up to life carrying the personality traits that previous events have bestowed on you, with the knowledge congruent to your back story, with the people you have collected along the way beside you… and when a plot point arrives all those things sort of coalesce and the life story just sort of happens. It is sound and logical and even peaceful, because it feels like it couldn’t have happened any other way. Even when it disintegrates into an utter shit storm, there is a sense of calm reservedness, because it is a sensical shit storm, a cosmic joke sort of shit storm… just another movie from the dark-humor genre.

I don’t know if that makes sense, but that is how I live my life a lot of the time. I just sort of show up to it, like a passive participant. Lately, though… I don’t know. I sort of feel like I am at a crossroads of sorts. One of those points where, if this were a sci-fi novel, an entire new universe could spin off in each different direction, and multiple versions of my life could go on from those points with completely different results. This moment, right now, is not fixed and I have to choose which direction the story is going to go. I have to participate actively in the writing of my life story. And…. And maybe I’m afraid to. Maybe that is what it ultimately boils down to. I blame a lot of it on laziness, which is certainly a factor, don’t get me wrong. You don’t expend much energy when you just sit back and wait for life to happen, but then you don’t take a lot of unnecessary risks either.

Sometimes, though, a situation comes along and a person has to choose, even inaction is a choice with consequences. Should I stay or should I go? And how much time should I spend wondering about the me in the alternate universe who made the opposite choice? Is she happier than I am?

I can’t help thinking that we all build these lives for ourselves, no matter how passively we allow the choices to be made. And if we build these lives, maybe we have to take responsibility for building our own happiness as well. What if I am coming to these conclusion from the entirely wrong mindset? It could be that I am not just arriving at a crossroads, but maybe I have just woken up to the fact that I have been wandering through a maze, walking in circles, always turning left, because it doesn’t require any forethought, but it doesn’t really take me anywhere. Maybe my life isn’t stagnating, maybe it’s stagnate. Maybe it has been for a long, long time.

So I do what? Stir the shit? Make big life changes to prove I’m alive? Make small life changes to prove that I’m sentient? Stand up to the things in my life that make me miserable to prove I have self-esteem? Or just continue to let circumstance steam roll me because I can’t think of a polite way to ask it to stop?

I know everyone feels like this sometimes, or I guess I assume they do, but it doesn’t make me feel less hopeless or more confident… unfortunately. It doesn’t tell me whether I should go to the doctor and get an X-ray, if I should weed through the bitter vines in my interpersonal relationships, if I should put in two weeks notice… or if I should just ignore the pain and hope most of it is in my head.

Or maybe it is all about perspective, maybe a positive attitude would work wonders for my bone as well as my spirit… maybe neither one is entirely broken.

Sep. 1st, 2010

Hands bound


Do you ever get the feeling that ever since you were old enough to make decisions you have been totally fucking it up and making the wrong ones? That if there was some sort of contest to see who could make the worst life choices you would go home with the big prize? Or maybe you are like me, and you don't make choices at all. Maybe, like Sylvia Plath, you can't decide which fig you want and so all your options rot at your feet, and you feel trapped by indecision. Or maybe no options sound good. Maybe you have always been spinning your tires, because you never saw anything that sounded appealing, and you feel like you are studying the value menu at some restaurant with no health code so that suddenly you aren't even hungry anymore.

Maybe it's all the over-thinking... I was never any good at being happy for the sake of being happy. I guess what I am trying to say is... *sigh*

May. 18th, 2010

Kelli Ali

"Curse" words

I had a dream last night that my siblings and I were fighting Voldemort. That is, in the dream logic sense of the world, what I dreamed. We were us but we weren’t us and Larissa was very small, like six, and Voldemort had kidnapped her and we were tracking him down to this fortress he was holed up in. Mom drove. It was Voldemort we were fighting, we all understood it to be him, he had a wand and he was wearing robes but he was being played by Sylar from Heroes (who is an equally menacing kidnapper, really.) The part which stuck with me, that made me laugh when I woke up and remembered it, was one particular spell I threw at our enemy. I flourished my wand and yelled “Fuck You.” The Dark Lord, Played by Zachary Quinto, flew backward, reeling from the force of what was apparently a few dozen tiny invisible penises. Very effective. I wonder why that spell was left out of the original text?

Apr. 17th, 2010

Kelli Ali


I started going through the boxes for the rummage sale, reminiscing about the old computer games, books and stuffed animals. I was making stacks of what I would salvage and what I would send off to someone else’s pile of acquired useless junk and all the while Odessa is waxing closer and closer to unconsciousness. By the time she had fallen asleep completely, I am looking at this unorganized mess our living room has become, and I can’t work up the energy to continue the project. It occurs to me that this is how I live my life: one unfinished project after another, boxes of intentions and motives unsorted and unsettled. Meanwhile I know that all this junk piling up in the apartment is oppressive. There is just too much furniture, too many boxes of junk to sort through and to figure out and nowhere to put any of it.

I just can not get motivated to do anything I would like to get done. I know I feel like this sometimes, completely disconnected from real life, tired, anxious, wrapped up in the fictional worlds of television series and novels. It has gotten bad before. It has gotten to the point where I felt like I was not even living my life but just biding time until I could get back to reading or watching… whatever. The warning signs are all showing up lately, but I am either unwilling or unable to change course. I need to sort through this emotional garbage, to figure out why, all of the sudden, my insomnia and anxiety attacks are increasing, why I am zoning out in conversations, while I am watching television, even at work. I need to make a change of some kind.

I need to salvage what I can use and let everything else go.

Feb. 3rd, 2010


2 AM

I want to make a box out of old hopes,
like scraps of paper
ripped, pulped, and remolded
for papier-maché.
I want to make a box
and live there.

I want it to be perfect,
like six and twenty-eight;
sound, even, sensical--
at least mathematically--
but ugly.

I want it to be ugly,
unabashedly ugly,
inside and out.

I want to make a box out of old ugly hopes
and live there.

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