Self-discovery, Xanax, and Rock&Roll


My friend told me recently that I should write a pain blog. At least that’s what I remember he said. It’s possible he said I should write a drug blog. Honestly, I was on quite a little cocktail when he said it, and my cognitive, uh, remembrance? isnt the most efficient or effective system at times. I’m not exactly sure what his idea was per se, but here we are. 

I’ve been lamenting recently about having lost who I used to be and being ashamed of who I’ve become. Not in such a macabre, melodramatic way. Relax. What I mean is if my 16y/o self came to my apartment last week to say hey, she’d be speechless. In the Papa Callahan way. You know, the scary way. she’d look me in the face and say “what the fuck happened to me?” Because she wasn’t afraid to say it as it was, when it was. She didn’t trifle with others’ petty feelings. If they couldn’t control themselves or handle it, that wasn’t her problem, nor was it her responsibility to teach them anything. That’s the girl I miss. I know it may sound callous and apathetic. 

Anyway, she made an appearance last night. and this is where we get back to the point: drug blog. Because of my back pain, which I’ll thoroughly explain later — and give you a warning so you can skip it — I was anxious about flying home to California to see my like-a-sister, so my psychiatrist prescribed me Xanax. When I started feeling the beginnings of those chest pains I was having last December -the pains that made my mom go, “put on a bra. We’re going to the ER,” but ended up only being an anxiety attack manifesting as chest pains – I ditched my thousand and one friends in my living room and popped that pill. 

Remember in high school when you were out on the patio or the quad or the lawn or the steps or veranda or the courts; you were with your friends, telling jokes and doing cartwheels and dancing and acting out, goofing off? Or when you would write publicly in your journal, pages spread wide? Remember the intense conversations in the lockers? Remember the feeling of doing something fully without a percentage of you checking the windows for prying eyes, the corners for unwanted ears, or Twitter for judgey tweeters? I didn’t. I couldn’t. until last night. I found her, you guys. I found her “chillin” at the bottom of well, buried under a mountain of coiled chaos: anxiety like barbed wire or pencil scribbles. 

So the Xanax created, I don’t really know yet, an invisibility cloak(?) for the chaos and the barbed bullshit. Out she climbed, cool as a cucumber. She wrapped her arm around me and said “I got this one.” and boy, oh boy, did she get a chance to stretch her legs and play. 

Now, I could see the potential for danger here. People talk about Xanax as if it’s this dangerous secret that no one must know about because it is highly addictive, blah blah and so on. I understand how a person could develop a reliance on this magical pill that gives you your courage back, your backbone, and your mind.  Anxiety fogs almost every part of my life. In addition to the physical reactions to anxiety – sweat, nerves, accelerated heart rate – it also stumps my vocabulary, affects my memory, and mimics Dimentia. I live in a constant state of fear. What the Xanax did, what that anxiety-invisibility-cloak did, was free me of my fears. It grounded me. Smacked me in the face and said “you’re the strongest person I know. What the fuck is stopping you?” To which I could only say, “well, nothing.” So, having a shortcut to your real self is a sexy notion, I admit it. However, this experience hasn’t shown me that Xanax is the only way to find her – well, me. It has shown me only that she is, indeed, findable. I haven’t lost her. I’ve just buried her. I will see her again, and not through a really, very tiny white pill, but through a lot of work untangling that mess above her, trapping her in the well.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how to start that. I have a theory as to what those pieces are. Unprocessed emotional experience. As a kid, I repressed like a goddamn professional, and those feelings have recently begun to leak out of me inappropriately. maybe if I get them in order, let myself experience them again- and this time, fully- I can release them and further understand myself and unbury myself once and for all. …?


Original Wingman


This is the story about a little girl and her Robin at the beach. 

This little girl preferred pigtails and skinned knees over frilly dresses and Mary Janes. She favored trees and man hunt to dolls and playing house, and her favorite Barbie was a little action figure Robin from the DC Comics with limited motion and the paint chipping off his face. She kept him in her pocket, and he knew all her secrets. She loved him. He trusted her. 

One day, her family went to the beach. She was very excited because she and Robin were sent on an important, top secret rescue mission. She knew she had to send in her best operative, so she did. She scouted the area, Robin did some recon, and when they found the target, they knew what they had to do. She buried Robin in the sand. 

“You’re going to be okay, Robin.”

I know I am, silly. It’s you.

“Of course it’s me. I’ll be right here the whole time. You just call out if you need me.”

I’ll get them out. I’ll save everyone. 

“You always do. Be careful.”

I don’t need to. I’ve got you. 

“Always,” and with that, she covered him. 

This is where it gets foggy. Somebody or something distracted her mid-extraction, and she didn’t dispute, for even as a girl, she wasn’t very contrary. By the time she got back to her mission, it could have been seconds, it could have been hours, and by the nature of the tide, and the nature of the ocean, and the nature of the magic of the sand crab demons underneath, she couldn’t unbury Robin. 

Now, it might have been a normal day, with the sun shining and the beach full, but in her memory, there was only a gray breeze and wet sand and chaos as her heart pounded in her ears and panic set in. She frantically dug through the sand, then methodically, then frantically again, then everything stopped. All sounds, mute. All thoughts, blank. Her breath stopped and started, shallow in her throat as she realized that Robin was lost. 

Her mother pulled her arm, forcing her to her feet. She reached out to him. She told him she was so sorry. She never said anything to her mother; she never told her, never could. The guilt was unbearable. She buried her best friend. She abandoned him in the sand. Alone. Forever. Lost.

Back at the house, she took her remaining two best friends, Blanky and Mutsy, into her arms. “I’m so sorry,” she said with tear-soaked words, promising she will never abandon them the way she did Robin. Twenty years later, ragged, ripped, and ratty, she whispers these words to them still. 

subway squeeze


Ever been that one guy on the train, eyeing a spot on the bench, like “i can fit there. Can i fit there? I can totally fit there.” And you take off your backpack and squat into the spot that you grossly miscalculated, and your curvy hip brushes against the middle of the little Asian dude’s thigh, and you over-correct so the meaty part of your butt – the bit beyond your tailbone, ya know- finds the edge of the bench as you slide back methodically, willing your hips to be either thin enough or cushy enough to allow the squeeze. And you’re wedged between a beautifully figured lady and a petit Asian adolescent with a pierced cheek, and you try to cross your arms over your enormous backpack, realizing your shoulders are just as wide as your hips, and there you are, scrunched over your stuff like an old witch or a leprechaun hoarding gold. And then, as you’re all snug like snails in a sardine can, your phone alarm blares, echoing in the quiet train, and it’s in your jacket pocket, wedged somewhere between your rib fat and your neighbor’s side boob. 

Time is Free


Here, I don’t have to think about the irritating city or the manic crazies on the subway preaching about the end of time. 
Time is just a construct. Here, there is no time. Here, moments consist not of seconds, but thoughts, breezes, and bird calls. Moments consist of water ripples and frog jumps, of cloud shapes and hawk dives. 
Here, time spins and twirls and stops. Here, time is free.

The Haven – an excerpt 


Declan is running. Running until his chest burns and his shoulder aches. His breath echoes in his ears, hoarse in the humidity, suffocating. The wind clips his ears as his legs move of their own volition: tree, tree, tree, tree. Ducking under branches, guarding his face with his forearms as the bushes and thorns reach out to claw at him. 

    He trips over an exposed root and goes flying, tumbling on the forest floor. Springing back to his feet, he risks a glance behind him, searching beyond the shadows lurking in the undergrowth for the footsteps gaining on him. He stumbles and takes off with a slight limp and a sharp pain in his right ankle. 

    Keep going! He pushes his ankles. HEAL! He scolds them, wills them to drive forward, wills his breath to come, his legs to move. He makes a sharp decision, changes direction and asks the trees to give him a path. Ahead of him, a clearing opens and he dashes through it. Up, down, heart pumping, the clearing approaches, the sunlight beckons. He looks behind him and sees nobody. The pounding of the footsteps behind him, before like a heartbeat, is now scattered, intermittent. He swerves to miss slamming into a tree, and moving too quickly to stop himself from running off a dropoff, he grasps a low-hanging branch, clenches it tightly, and uses it to swing around the tree trunk. He looks down as he swings, sees the jagged cliff face on his side, the equally treacherous one miles across, and the empty abyss between. He dangles his feet above oblivion.  

He swings around to the edge of the drop-off, collapses at the base of the trunk and holds his breath, listening. Nothing but his heart slamming in his ears and the distant caw of a hawk across the crevasse. Maybe he lost them. Maybe they gave up. Gulping air, he massages his ankle and assesses the damage: four-inch gash across the ankle bone. Not bad. Easy fix. Declan puts his hands around his ankle and takes a deep breath. It glows golden, and when his hands part, the gash has disappeared, and a four-inch long scar holds its place. He smiles and shakes his head. He’ll never get used to that. He gets up. Listens again. Nothing, still. 

    Where am I? This part of the forest is more clear–more manicured–than at the edge of the playground where that slimy weasel of a lackey clocked Declan and sent his pets on the chase. Fucking terrorists. He snakes through the trunks. Can’t even have ten damn minutes. How did they even find me? Declan rounds a family of redwoods regally gathered in the typical circle he recognizes from the summers he spent at camp in California when his aunt was feeling overwhelmed by the twin game he and Maeve dealt. He reaches instinctively for the copper chain wrapped thrice around his right wrist and wonders if they’ve already found his sister and where they could possibly be keeping her. Maybe it would be better for both of them if he lets himself be had, then he can actually operate from a place of productivity. Proximity can be useful, after all. 

He sees a stone path on his left, and follows it up to a fence. A small crooked house sits on the edge of the bluff: a cottage, misshapen, like in a funhouse mirror, with a bright blue door. There is one visible window from the front, shaped and framed like a star. The shingled roof curves up into a swirly tip. 

    Whimsical. It reminds him of something. Declan approaches the house, carefully setting his feet upon the moss surrounding the cottage, happy for the relief from nature’s tendrils and traps. The window is dusty, crusted with rain water and spider webs. Peering through the window, on his tiptoes, he sees nothing. Blackness. Dissatisfied, he takes a few steps back and cranes his neck to take in the impressive façade, covered in moss, vines, and growth. It looks ancient. The door, on the other hand, appears untouched. Bright blue. The same blue as the Caribbean sea. Clean. Fresh. 

    “Peculiar,” Declan whispers. 

    A twig snaps in the trees behind him. Declan whips his head around and yelps in pain as a small silver object clips his ear and lands neatly tucked into the wooden panel beside the blue door. Touching his hand to his ear, he can feel the warmth of his blood trickling down his earlobe. He looks back at the side panel of the door. A silver star. What the–? Are they fucking ninjas?

Laughter like a hyena echoes through the trees. They’re close now. Declan can see the bodies forming in the shadow. His heart in his throat, he sprints to the door and tries the knob. It turns, but the door does not budge. The bodies gain color now, reaching the sunlight. He hears one calling to another. Their footsteps ever much closer. He jiggles the handle, pushes against the door with his arm. Slams his shoulders repeatedly into the wood. He yanks the silver star out of the door panel and tries to wedge it between the door and its frame. The voices get louder. 

“Where is he?”He hears one yell, a voice like a record scratching. 

 “He went that way!” A woman’s voice, resonant, but he can hear the eagerness. He hopes she’s not pointing in his direction; he can’t see her through the trees yet.

 Declan wipes the sweat out of his eyes, still slamming his body against the door, which will not budge. 

“Where’s my star? Did you see my star?”

“Do you think he went over the cliff?” one of them asks, leaning on his knees, trying to catch his breath.

“Don’t be daft. He couldn’t have done. Your star, on the other hand…” 

 “Maybe he’s in a tree?” 

 “He must have gone through the woods that way.”

 Their voices echo. They must have found the clearing next to the crevasse. Too close. He tries the door again.

Motherfucker! Come on, OPEN. The door clicks and swings open with ease. No time for suspicions, he ducks inside; the door shuts itself behind him and clicks again. 

    Declan blinks his eyes to adjust to the darkness and looks up around him. He curses under his breath and takes a tentative step into the room, his mouth agape. The ceilings are lofted, exposed beams like in a cabin in the mountains. Declan squints up at the ceiling, where the sun filters in through the skylights in the rafters, exposing the dust blanketing the air. The room is expansive, though, so the light doesn’t make it all the way to the ground. He looks down at a tattered, faded rug lying limply below his feet, and follows the path toward bookcases along the walls. There’s a distinct curved gouge in the wood floors below the bookcase. He notices a change in the dust pattern and starts to walk toward it. A chilling voice like icicles crashing in a cave sounds from outside, and he freezes to listen. 

“Well, don’t stand there looking like monkeys, scratching your heads at me! Find him and BRING HIM TO ME!” Declan hears the scramble of boots up trunks of trees as they scamper as high as they can to get a better look. 

“Declan,” The voice jeers melodically. “Come on out, Declan. It’s just me. It’s just Jax,” Declan stands against the window frame, watching Jax from the within the safety of a shadow. Jax tightens his tie and straightens his cuffs. His three-piece suit looks barely tarnished from the forest. His shoes shine. Declan can feel the heat rise up his neck. 

    “I know who you fucking are,” Declan hisses with a jagged breath. Jax cocks an ear to the wind, listening to its secrets; Declan desperately attempts to steady his breath. Did Jax hear him? Jax stands tall in the middle of the clearing. His nose, straight and strong, floating in the airs, sniffing, trying to catch a scent. He runs his hands over his bald head, turns in a circle, searching the horizons. He speaks to the skies. 

    “You cannot run forever. You cannot hide from Us. I know you know that, Declan,” he speaks slowly. Deliberately. “Come on out, Declan. Come on to us. We just want to talk. Come chat with us, mate. Nothing to hide. Nothing to fear.”

His thick northern accent brings a sour taste to Declan’s mouth.

Jax turns in the direction of the cottage. Declan’s breath catches. He tightens his jaw; he dares not blink, breathe, think, as he watches Jax’s eyes pass over the spot where the cottage is. Is that possible? Can he not see him? Is the cottage invisible? 

     “DECLAN!” Jax rages, his voice cuts through the forest and surrounding cliffs, sending birds out of their nests, shaking the trees, a bolt of lightning terror through Declan’s chest. Jax stands still in the middle of the clearing. Waiting. Perfectly still. Perfectly ready. Declan holds steady. He clenches his fist, pulls in a shaky breath, and fixes his eyes on Jax, who smiles. A sardonic, twisted smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. 

    “Declan,” he says quietly. “I can feel you, Declan.” A short, cold laugh. “I know you are here. I can feel you.” His words drip like acid. Jax turns slowly in place; he still hasn’t clocked him. His smile disappears, and he takes a deep breath. “We have your sister, Declan. We have Maeve.” 

The moment is still. The world stops, teeters on the edge of reality. Declan’s breath burns in his chest. He reaches for the chain on his wrist, and speaks to nobody, “Oh, Maeve. What do I do?” 

“DID YOU HEAR ME?” Jax laughs shrilly. “WE HAVE YOUR SISTER, DECLAN. Ever want to see her again? Come out, come out, wherever you are!” He dances on spot, and Declan’s stomach clenches into a fist. “I’ll give you a moment to think about it, kid. I’ll be right here.” 

Declan stops. Everything stops. So they do have Maeve. He rubs the chain vigorously, thinking, hoping maybe it’ll warm into a teleport and bring him straight to her. He can’t save her. He can’t leave her alone. Not with them. He relaxes his hands, takes a deep breath, and reaches toward the door knob. 

    No, Declan. He freezes. He knows that voice anywhere. No. Don’t.

    “Maeve?” He whirls around. Nobody is there. 

Stay put, Declan. Don’t touch that door.

    “Is that–are you in my head? How are you doing this?”

    With great difficulty. I only have a moment. Promise me you will not open that door. 

“Maeve, where are you?”

Promise me, Declan. You will not go out to him. You cannot go out to him.

“Where are you, Maeve?”

Promise me.



“OK! I promise! Where are you? What do I do?”

The bookcase. There’s a–

“Maeve? There’s a what?” Declan abandons the front door for the bookcase, frees the shelves of dust and cobwebs. “Maeve! In the bookcase, there’s a what?” He run his hands along the books, reading the titles, pulling books off the shelves. “Maeve, can you hear me?” 


“Maeve, answer me!”



The rest of Jax’s crew is gathered in the clearing around him; Declan can hear their cackles and hollers, goading him. He keeps pulling books off the shelves, letting them thump to the floor picking up dust, scattered across the old rug and slid underneath the ratty and cracked leather sofas. One falls to his foot, a collection of letters with the old US Air Mail envelopes with blue and red dashes around the edges spill out of a leather-bound journal. He bends to pick it up, runs his finger over the title. Looking down, the curved gouge in the floor catches his eye. It lines up perfectly with the corner of the case. He stuffs the journal and stack of letters under his arm and leans his whole body weight into it, releasing a mechanism. The bookcase swings open, revealing a hobbit-sized wooden archway behind it. With a glance behind him at the front door, he grabs the iron door handle and slams into it. It gives with ease, sending the stack of letters and the journal sprawling ahead of him. He tumbles into darkness. 

Patient Stable


The fear. There is fear. I have the tools now to turn my life around. I have the ingredients, and there is fear. Once I put these ingredients into the bowls and begin the concoction, there is always the possibility the bread won’t rise, la tarte won’t flambée. What happens when, after it all, it doesn’t work? Who and what do I blame then? If it is not a chemical imbalance or a person’s fault, then is it up to me, finally? What happens when I have to answer for myself? 

Part of a routine – Doing a routine

wearing the same pants 




Pen in the pen pocket 

Is that what it is this ‘adulthood’ you talk so much about?


Another piece of the puzzle other peg in the picture. 

A drone 

A clone 

A sheep. 

Don’t fight the system.

Be the system. 

And you will stabilize. 




So now what. 

do I sacrifice art for my stability? 

What’s in a Name?


I am setting up a square space website because I want to be well-represented in the ether. It makes me feel like an adult. That’s not the point of this. Anyway, I’m clicking Yes I’ll try a free trial – which we all know isn’t actually free because who actually remembers to call and cancel, I mean, really – and it asks me to create an account. I sat staring at the first two fields, my thumbs poised and ready to fire: First and Last name. And I hover. Frozen. 

The cursor blinks at me. Tapping its foot. It warps and wiggles as it transforms into a cursor-sized girl. Let’s say 10 years old. Mary Janes and ruffle socks. A pink corduroy jumper and a headband holding heroism pigtails back. She leans against the field bar. Crosses her arms. 


-First and Last name? Easy. Sam Callahan. 

-Whoa whoa whoa!! Sam Callahan??? This page is serious. This is It. You decided long ago that your SAG name would be Sam Callahan and your nom de plume would be Samantha Devon. 

-But what if this is It, also? The other It…?

-What other “it?”

-What if this is all I do. What if this is all I’m good at. Wouldn’t I want it to be my real name? My superstar name? This was all thought up when I was convinced I’d reach Golden Celebrity status before ever thinking of writing a book. Who wants to waste their Best Name on their secondary fame, that may not even come!

-You know that being a famous actor is way sexier than famous writer. And you know Sam Callahan is a sexier name. Samantha Devon is an intellectual and a poet. Sam Callahan is a–is a —



-But you are so proud of your family name, just like me. 

-I am…

-Wouldn’t you want to see that name – Your Name – on the lists of the New York Times? On the bestsellers’ section at  McNally Jackson’s?(~support local book stores!~)


-What’s the point of a pseudonym anyway?

-Lots of reasons… Protection, is one. 

-From whom?

beat. She scowls, takes a breath. She paces along the field box– Inner demons, I guess. Publishing anonymously tricks us into thinking no one will read it. If no one knows it’s you, it’s not as embarrassing.  

-It is terrifying, isn’t it?

-Mortifying.  –beat– Your name is your identity. For most of us. Our name = us. Our sense of self. You see your name written, you recognize it. Not in your mind. But in your fingertips. In your belly button and your ears. Little tugs and glows that remind us who we are. I am Sam Callahan. I’ve read it, heard it, said it, and embedded it for years and years and years… –takes a breath– …There’s a level of freedom that comes when you write under a Not-Your-Name name. You allow yourself to act rashly. To pursue vehemently. Explore reckl— –stops– you allow yourself… to be completely honest in the moment. Raw on the page. When you remove yourself – your Self; your Name – you remove the shame, guilt, and visceral fear. Perhaps most importantly, you remove The Pride. With The Pride out, you are more open to what makes for a well-rounded character and an interesting story: flaws, fuck ups, and failures. 

  So…should I use a nom de plume? Should I stick with what identifies me? Or don the mask?