Four months . . . No, I'm not pregnant.

Four months into my marriage and I continue to realize that well, marriage is hard. The things I love about my husband, I also have a hard time with. The things he loves about me, he also can’t stand. What attracts us to our partner is also what we work through together as a couple. My husband has a somewhat estranged relationship with his parents and as much as he will never come to an ideal resolve about that relationship, he likes them, and he wants me to like them even though he only shares all that he dislikes about his parents. Accustomed to suburban living, my husband now has a 20-minute commute into the city because we live right across the Hudson River in Jersey City, but he hates urban living. Have I been so insensitive to his needs that it’s after four months of marriage that I learned these things only after he blurted them out to me in a heated discussion?

It is after the yelling and tears and my not being allowed to cool off and take a walk that I know he feels uninvolved in our marriage because to him, I am “fiercely independent” – his description, not mine. He admits, perhaps he’s needy. I don’t think that’s it. It’s a challenge for me to learn inter-dependence. My biggest fear about having a serious relationship has always been that I would lose my independence, that I still needed to maintain it for fear of losing my partner in the future and I would have to relearn independence and the enjoyment of being by myself. Having not been accountable to anyone since I went to college and having lived alone for almost ten years, it is a huge adjustment to have another person in my space. Of course, I wanted to get married. There’s no doubt about that, but it definitely is life-changing when I worked so hard to be on my own, enjoy my alone-ness, and now, I have to make big decisions with this man who is my husband. It is no longer about me, it’s about us and future us-es.

That’s really difficult for me. I feel the guilt of his unhappiness about where we currently live. I feel the guilt of his feeling obliged to me now whereas previously, he was obliged to his family though I remember to provide him with options. At the same time, I am adamant about being my own woman within this partnership. I am adamant about the ideals that I want to live no matter how much I have to keep on trying. And I am adamant about what I’m willing to compromise and what I’m not willing to compromise when it comes to life decisions.

After some reflection, I realize that our heated discussion probably stemmed from a most recent incident with his family. I couldn’t attend a family outing celebrating my husband’s and sister-in-law’s birthdays because I had a youth training scheduled all day that Saturday. My father-in-law commented to my husband, “Why do you let her work on a Saturday?” My husband shared this with me, which led to our heated discussion about my fierce independence. I suspect that this made my husband uncomfortable and only aggravated some underlying issues that we continue to work
through as a couple.

How do I as a fiercely independent woman effectively negotiate my taking initiative and involving my husband in the decision-making process or rather, my daily life? I guess, that’s part of it, realizing that this man, my partner, is involved in my every day living, not just part of certain components of my life.


for katrina

I watch
the news and listen
to a White man furious
because his home’s basement
in Oakland, NJ
has been hit by flood
and lies in four feet of water

I read the reports and sympathize
with a Black woman in a frenzy
because her elderly mother
in N’Orleans, LA
has not been located
and sleeps nowhere near her daughter

How differently
The water has raged against


on the PATH

riding along
the PATH
which whizzes along
in the tunnel

a life force of its own

feeling as if
the train
will keep going
i will never get off

the PATH
is moving
too fast

this is not the life
i want

feeling as if
i cannot
get off

the PATH


Taming my gremlin

We all have that inner voice that constantly rehashes what’s wrong with us. If we’re lucky, she’ll praise us every so often. Today I believe that I made peace with a gremlin who has been persecuting me the past month about a grave mistake, one that may have cost me a very dear friendship. All because I made the error of defying a friend’s trust by referring to some information (i.e. speculation/gossip) about a mutual friend in a piece that I was “in the process” of writing -- about redefining success for women.

In the past month, I have sent two emails to my dear friend. Today, I phoned her in the hope that we could finally re-connect. I’d been wondering why she hadn’t returned my emails, trying not to take her silence as a sign that she didn’t want to resume our friendship, trying not to take her lack of response too personally, trying to rationalize her non-response as she must have her own stuff going on right now. Surprisingly this past month has been productive for me as a writer, a reader, and a woman trying to remain centered. I’ve been writing more, reading more, and running more. During my runs along the Jersey City waterfront, for an hour I am able to let go of my gremlin who has been beating me up for engaging in gossip. At the same time, I have been trying to come to terms with the fact that I did nothing wrong “in my process” of writing because that’s just what it was a “process” leading to a larger rationale about redefining success for women, but most of all for myself as a woman.

Taming my gremlin has been quite the ordeal what with her mis-validation of my current situation. My gremlin stands tall double my five-foot stature and stares at me with her piercing ruby eyes andpointed ears. Her face is a cross between a wealthy wrinkled white woman and the grinch who stole Christmas. Her skin is diarrhea green and her fingers are long with nails that have gone unclipped for thirty-three years. She scratches her way into my mind and heart by punishing me for being human, for having been critical of another woman. She is unforgiving. She does not believe “in the process.” She is a perfect woman, who befriends everyone, and everyone wants to be her friend. She is the image of grace, friendship, intelligence, community, and professionalism. Yet she is the gremlin who mistakenly judges me frequently for all of my mis-steps in my career, in my community work, and in my relationships with friends and family.

Given my wavering expectations of myself I am always in the process of taming my gremlin. And so the process continues . . .