where i lived, and what i lived for


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I have set a goal for myself that in September or October 2015, I will hike the entire length of the Batona Trail – a 50-mile hiking trail through the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey.

Batona Trail Map

I will, of course, need to find someone to do it with me – hiking alone for 3 days in the Pine Barrens is not exactly something I feel ready to do. A few friends who have shown some interest, so we’ll see how that works out.

I started prepping today by taking a short hike around Pakim Pond in Woodland, NJ. It was a beautiful day, sunny & warm, low humidity. We hiked the Cranberry Trail, an well-blazed and wonderfully kept trail that is ADA-accessible. The woods were quiet and we spotted a Northern Fence Lizard rustling up a tree next to the trail, a pair of butterflies hanging out by the pond, an assortment of birds, some sheep laurel, and the loveliest pine cones I’ve ever seen.


It was a good day.


NaPoMo, Day 7



This morning I woke up to the smell of forest fire. The Pine Barrens were on fire again, and something called a temperature inversion meant that you could smell the fire all the way up to New York City. The air was hazy and smelled like summer camp. 

The fire is under control now – local news is reporting 100% containment. 

Day 7

Rachel’s Poem at the PFFA: Mere-Exposure Effect
Someone Else’s Awesome Poem: Tawni Vee Waters, “From Isis to Osiris On the Day She Found His Head”

NaPoMo, Days 4 & 5


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Today is April 5. Today is the day Kurt Cobain died. Today is also the day Layne Staley died. 

I came of age in the 90s – I learned about sadness, about anger, about love and greed and jealousy and compassion in the decade where political correctness was a trend, where the slacker generation was trying to figure out what to do with the frustration and discouragement they felt. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden opened up music for me in a new way, and I will be forever grateful for that. 

But Alice In Chains spoke to me in a way the others didn’t. 

I was standing in my friend Anna’s living room when the news of Layne Staley’s death broke – I remember it scrolling across the screen and I was just heartbroken. I don’t often feel connected to celebrities – their lives are so unlike mine, and I recognize that they are not actually people I know, just people whose faces I see in the news. 12 years later, though, I am still devastated. Perhaps it’s simply because of the loneliness of Staley’s life at the end. But in listening to the AIC catalog, I realize now how incredibly anxious he was about life. And death. 

Oh Layne Staley we love you get up. 

Day 4: 

Rachel’s Poem at the PFFA: I Am What I Am: A Natural Disaster
Someone Else’s Awesome Poem: Frank O’Hara’s “Poem [Lana Turner Has Collapsed!]”

Day 5: 

Rachel’s Poem at the PFFA: In the Box
Someone Else’s Awesome Poem: Frank O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died”

ready to strike



I returned home Friday from the week-long Krav Maga training course. It was intense and difficult, and I won’t find out if I passed until sometime later this week. I am proud of myself, though, for completing the program – pass or fail, I finished the week without quitting and I gave it everything I had in me. I learned a lot from the course about teaching, about Krav, and about myself.

During the week, I received a publication acceptance – Clipper Ship Hauling Songs, a new online journal, took three of my poems, including “How You Learn to Fight.” I wrote this poem about 2 years ago, shortly after beginning my Krav training. I wanted to capture the change I felt, the strength and the sense of diminishing vulnerability. It felt so fitting to receive this acceptance in the midst of my Krav training.

You can read the new poems here.

so that one may walk in peace


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In three weeks, I’ll be departing for a week-long intensive training course in Krav Maga. The goal of the course is to be certified to instruct classes. If I am successful, I will be permitted to teach Level 1 (yellow belt) classes at the school where I train. 

My contract is signed. My hotel is booked. I have a handful of krav t shirts and plenty of gear (gloves, pads, mouth guards, etc.). I have spent the past several weeks preparing for the teaching portion of the course by attending a special class intended to reinforce our teaching skills. I will go to this class a few more times, in addition to the physical training I’m doing. 

All that’s really left to do is to go there. 

I have an idea of what to expect there. The week will be, essentially, 40+ hours of physical workouts, culminating in a 4(ish)-hour test on all the level 1 techniques, and a 2(ish)-hour test on my ability to teach those techniques. It will likely be one of the most difficult things I ever do in my life, both physically and mentally challenging.

I am excited.

I am terrified.

I know what I need to work on. 

I am confident that I can do this.