about this blog

(I launched this blog and wrote the following introductory post in February 2011 and last wrote a new piece for the blog in January 2013. It's now July 2015, and I hope to start writing again soon. You can sign up to receive an email when I post.) 

Seventeen years ago, while backpacking through Europe with my childhood best friend, I bunjee jumped in the Swiss Alps. The moment before I flew out of the gondola, I teetered on the edge of paralyzing fear and giddy liberation. As I prepare to launch Laughing in Traffic, a deeply personal blog about seeking contentment despite living with formidable hurdles and loss, I'm on that same tandem cusp of fright and joy. Well, to be honest, right about now I'm pretty much only aware of the fear, but soon, if my predictions have promise, the liberation will follow. 1,2,3...jump.


living again, in the company of pain

When I first started writing about my struggle with vaginal pain, I mentioned that it felt like one of my greatest fears was materializing: that I am stuck with this unprovoked pain forever. Seven months later, the pain and inflammation persists. So yes, for now I am living in tandem with one of my greatest fears. Some days, or hours, it still feels as awful as it sounds. 

And yet. Ever since I hit a new emotional low-point this past November, something very subtle began shifting. In the briefest of moments, I've started to palpate the presence of a gift tucked somewhere inside this painful fiasco. (That is to say, when I'm not trying to desperately get out of pain.)


pain ain't no match for the sweetest of moments

This photo has little to do with the post except maybe Arlo looks like a prairie dog?
Plus, he's the source of so many of my sweetest moments.

My life isn't so much peaks and valleys these days. It's more prairies and valleys. Since this pain shit-show started in June, I seem to cycle between total despair and well, a little less despair. 

When a loved one kindly offers, "I hope you have a good day", it feels like a monumental disconnect from my reality. Semantics are powerful, and in response to these well-intended wishes, a part of me wants to scream "But, how the hell do you expect me to have a good day or even a good hour when my vagina is always on fire?" (I subscribe to a community-forum blog called Chronic Babe, and the editor always signs her emails with "I hope you all are AWAP", meaning as well as possible. I love that.)


coming to terms with trauma, thirty-nine years later

A photoshopped image of me, as a toddler, with me, as a grown-up (Thanks JLP...)

I'm not planning a topical bait and switch, by turning Laughing in Traffic into the Vagina Mono(b)logues. But for now, my vagina pain situation is my most consuming, life-thwarting roadblock. I'm already bored with this annoying traffic metaphor but if we must: I feel like I'm trapped in stand-still traffic, behind a diesel truck, in a heat wave, with no air conditioning, a stereo stuck on AM static, and a backseat full of wailing babies. A whole slew of 'em, more than would ever possibly fit in one backseat. Like nine screaming babies. With very dirty diapers.


This story is about a series of childhood experiences that, until March 2012, I barely thought mattered. I was very wrong.  


the most personal thing i'll ever write about

For many months, I've been feeling, but ignoring, an urge start writing again. I've been dismissing it because the thing I need to write about is Extremely Personal, even for me. 

But a few days ago, I remembered that my personal is political. And if I can turn what feels like a personal nightmare into something reformative, then at least there will be something to show for the suffering. 


10 minutes of your kindness could unite me with a life-changing treasure

For the past few months I've been researching and scheming and thinking about how to create a safe haven mini-home on wheels that will finally enable me to travel again, despite my limiting chemical sensitivities and other health struggles. Bizarre challenges call for bizarre solutions. Before 1997 I loved traveling, from Egypt to Ecuador to the Jersey shore, never having to worry about where I slept. Since 1997, when my health plummeted and I first became ill with this mysterious syndrome and a slew of others, I've traveled rarely and only to places that I know are environmentally tolerable for me. It's maddening. But, as you might have read here, I'm determined to take back my travel life. 


the night we walked 18 miles in my brother's memory

L-R Cousin Robin, Sister-in-law Rebecca, Brother Kevin, Mom, Brother Chuck, Me, Dad)

I've mentioned before that summer is my season. I love it deeply and wonder constantly why I don't move to San Diego. But summer has also become a season of heightened grief. It was in June, four years ago, that it became clear just how unwell Jeff, my brother and best friend, had become. And it was in August that he died by suicide. And from June to August we were a family in crisis, doing everything in our power to help the gentlest member of our tribe.

Now, it's amazing how, even when I'm not thinking of Jeff, the summer temperatures, breezes, and light can remind my body of that summer of intense grief, subjecting me to sharp, sudden pangs of re-grief. This happened the other day when I was happily walking to the train. Out of nowhere I was flooded with grief, and I wept for a couple of minutes, missing him acutely. Then I wrapped myself back up.


can we really change? sure as shit - i just got proof.

the most delicious teardrop trailer of them all

My brother, Kevin, and I had a fun trip to the Adirondacks to check out the east coast gathering of teardrop trailers. They are even cuter in person. I wanted to swallow one whole. Unfortunately they might be a little too tiny for my two-month winter vacation home on wheels. So the research continues: cargo trailer conversions, vintage "canned ham" trailers, vanagons...

A couple days after our trip, I was sitting on the couch in Kevin and Rebecca's (sister-in-law) house in Maine, giddy (not a word I apply to myself very often) about plans for my yet to be determined travel trailer. And generally feeling happier than I've felt in a long time. For no clear reason, when I stood up from the couch my back went out. Little did I know in that painful, miserable moment, the universe was about to grant me a glimpse of just how much my relationship to self is shifting.


can't get back what's lost, but can live large "as is"

 a friend who had a double mastectomy found this necklace for herself and encouraged me to get one too.

I used to be a traveler. Before my health plummeted in 1997, I'd ridden camels in Egypt, played field hockey in New Zealand, hiked mountains in Ecuador, swam with sea lions in the Galapagos, backpacked through more than a few European countries, and spent seven weeks driving cross-country. They were all amazing trips, but that cross-country trek stands out as one of the most contented times of my life. Then, not long after, I got sick. The kind of chronic sick that's stuck around for the last fourteen years.


don't fix it. just sit still with it. (one way to help someone who's struggling)

There's a smart, funny, dynamic, and loving woman who follows my blog. We knew each other only as very loose acquaintances before I launched Laughing in Traffic. But now I really know her, because she trusts me with her truths, which she shares by email. One of her secrets is that, unbeknownst to many around her, she struggles tremendously with depression, the kind where it's hard to get out bed. We've written a little back and forth about how critically important it is to reach out, to let those around you know you're suffering.

But she's really grappling with the question of who to trust her heart with, who can hang with it, and who "gets uncomfortable and tries to just immediately turn things positive, which drives me fucking bonkers." Me too, me too.