The Unclickable Heart, and other stories.

{public post}

hello my loves.

**note: i am going to do a patron-wide webcast/webchat this tuesday morning at 10-12pm NZST, which is monday night for europe and monday evening for NY. i’ll send the stream link out tomorrow**

greetings from havelock north, aotearoa, from a house neil and i rented three weeks ago.

we have seen precious little but this house and the yard outside. the chickens we bought on the day before lockdown are doing well. this is debs, the one who keeps escaping. she comes into the kitchen. yesterday she came into the bedroom.

i cannot help but cheer debs on.


i imagine the wicked witch theme from the wizard of oz playing as i yell



wait. isn’t them….us?


technically we saved debs and her five cohorts from a poultry farm down the road. i saw the tin-roof factory-shacks. surely debs and her five friends are happier with us, in their cage, HERE. IT’S A BETTER CAGE ISN’T IT, DEBS?

oh no.

i mean, it’s just one prison to another.

a transfer.


i went to the shop today for the first time in three weeks. i bought a spatula, some drinking chocolate for ash, some wine, some rubber bands, a knife.

one day bleeds into another, into another, into another.

below are some of the things that you typed into a computer in response to my post about a week ago.

“It feels like I’m screaming inside all day long and can’t let it out.”

“The day I saw the pallets of bodies video in New York, I also picked up someone for donation who killed himself in quarantine…”

“I’m done with this 80s movie. I don’t get the plot, and I’m waiting for the comforting ending….”

“But she is back to smoking and drinking too much, which will lead to either another emergency or it will kill her…”

“I’m with my partner and our inner children…”

“Just one trip to A&E with burning lungs and the feeling like I was being hugged far, far too hard and couldn’t catch my breath….”


time never stops for us, and things never stop happening as other things are happening. we do not get to press the pause button….not when people die, not when friends get sick, not when we get sick, not when we get pregnant, not when we lose a child. not when a partner falls down the emotional drain, leaving us stranded on the tiles, flailing.

i am thinking about my friend storm large, who had an abortion on september 10, 2001. (she writes about it beautifully in her memoir, crazy enough.)

i am thinking about my mother and step-father, and my whole family, really, who had to navigate the loss of three family members during one season of 1996: my grandmother, then my grandfather and step-brother all being taken away from this plane of existence within weeks of one another.

i am thinking about all of you. about me, here on this hilltop in new zealand, in a house that is a kind of detached paradise. the skies shift from light to dark and from dark to light and i couldn’t tell you exactly what happened in the last few weeks, other than that i cooked a lot of meals, tried to navigate a life under lockdown, tried to calm a scared four-year old, and tried to read about 2,000 comments that were left on a blog that i wrote about a week ago, asking a few simple questions about how you were.

i don’t know what i was expecting. i know you all well enough to know that the floodgates would open, but i don’t know why i am still so foolish to think that i could read through all the comments in a few hours. all told, there were probably 100k words worth of comments: longer than an average novel.

you are incredible writers. all of you are. you are. you write.

being a writer means you sit down and you write. you wrote.

it reads like a novel to me. and so i stopped trying to think that i could sit down with a single coffee and read everything that was presented to me. the pain and the boredom and the fear and the joy and the agony that jumped out to me from those comments was its own ride, a roller coaster of stories…jumping from country to country, from house to house, from time zone to time zone, from situation to situation. mind to heart to heart to mind.

it was only a few weeks ago that i was in tasmania, holed up in a little wooden confessional booth in a park, listening, as one by one people stepped into the booth and sat on the couch, pouring out their pains and fears.

almost a hundred people, a hundred stories, reminding me that in any given point of time, we are, really, all just doing our best to navigate this obstacle course of life.

there is no intermission. this is not a dress rehearsal.

and other clichés.

but also: sometimes we just need someone to listen, to share with, to cry with. to have someone sit on the other couch and say:

i see you.


like those few days on the confessional couch, this thread has become like a precious ephemeral artifact to me. a moment in time caught in a strange emotional butterfly net.

we were always part of history. it’s just a little bit louder now.


“I teach writing and I have no words….”

“I’m afraid if I stop it will all get to me…”  

“I mostly feel self centered and selfish most days….”

“I know that this is so, so hard for so many people, but I’m not feeling guilty that it’s not hard for me….” 

“Business as usual. But tilted….”

“It’s all just so fucked up….”

this is the funniest thing that happened when i was trying to read through 2,000 comments on patreon over the past week:

i couldn’t click the heart.

i couldn‘t click the fucking heart.

patreon, since revving up as an internet platform about seven years ago, has tried to create a technological tool that will connect us to one another.

we are all so, so used to different ways of connecting and chatting via our little screens.

since the nineties, we have used forums, dial-up connections, live journal, myspace, friendster, facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat, reddit, and a gazillion other technologies to try to be together.

to see one another. 

we are used to pressing a like button, a little thumbs-up statement of “yes, i saw this”, or pressing a heart icon, we are used to indicating that we have read a thing; that we acknowledge that we’ve taken something in. e re as it. felt it. absorbed it.

as the comments on the post came flooding in, i noticed that the platform just could not handle the volume. if i went to load up all the comments, it took about 45 minutes of clicking again and again as the comments loaded 11 at a time.

the loading time took longer and longer as the comments piled in under my original post.

i would read a comment, press the heart, and wait for the heart to fill in.

i would wait.

i would wait for the computer to tell me that yes, it had received the signal that i had sent the signal that i had read the story – the mini-story about someone’s situation. a cat who was a friend. a child who was freaking out. a housemate who was driving someone nuts….

a husband who had committed suicide.

it was in this moment: – waiting, waiting, staring at my computer for a full sixty seconds for a little engine in a cloud somewhere to fill in a little heart to acknowledge that yes, i had read about the suicide  – that i think i lost my mind a little.

we are together.

but we are not together.

we are so dependent, right now, on these technologies to keep us okay, to affirm that our scream into the void isn’t unheard.

i had to face it eventually

the unclickable heart.

the unfillable heart.

or, as my iphone corrected “the unclickable heart” when i wrote a draft of this blog on my phone the other night:

the unclimbable heart.

same, same.


“I’ve broken up with a boyfriend and taken steps to divorce my 12-year husband…” 

“I am enjoying being at home all the time. I have to make so many fewer decisions and keep up with so many fewer things….”

“I have a home again….”

“I want to be home….”

“I don’t want to be home…”

“I don’t know what home is….”


you will just have to trust me: if you wrote a story, i read it.

i just could not click your heart.


i don’t know what home right now is, either.

i don’t know.


i gave up clicking hearts about 100 comments in, because i could not wait the sixty seconds. ninety seconds. two minutes.

again: you will just have to trust me.

i read everything.

it took a long time.


meanwhile, i have been reading the world news every day, flitting back and forth between the new york times, the guardian, the local new zealand news, and whatever gets sent my way.

i read about the people dying in my birthplace and favorite city: manhattan. new york.

i read about st. john the divine, one of the largest cathedrals in the world, being turned into a hospital. even the crypt.

i read about the birds being happy again, about the water running clear in venice.

i read about the totalitarian takeover, the power grabs.

every news story sounds like a song to me.

i don’t have any time to turn anything into a song right now.

that hurts.


home is where the heart is. home is where the clickable heart is?

home is where you have an internet connection.

no, home is where the comments load.

no; home is where you can mark a comment as “read”.

home is where you feel connected.

home is where you feel seen.


Chie Morita

Hello from Day 25 of “Pause” 

I’m in NYC. Which is lucky and it’s not. On the one hand, being in the hotbed feels like having a finger on the pulse. And that feels like control, even if it isn’t. On the other hand, the variety of coping mechanisms people are wearing here here means some humans are wrapped in garbage bags head to toe trying to buy toilet paper, and some are strolling down the street with their massive baby carriage on the phone with no face mask sneezing into thin air. Yesterday’s grocery run was harrowing: people standing too close, blaring announcements about hand sanitizer, anxiety on high. Also, my mask is hot and too tight, but I don’t dare complain. I think of the nurses and doctors a lot. I live across the street from an urgent care facility. There are a lot of ambulances. 


Theresa Noll

I’m in Island Lake, Illinois. It’s just my boyfriend and I. The state is in lockdown. I’m a flight attendant though so I still have to work. 

I’m following lockdown at home and not leaving my hotel room on overnights. I feel safer in the airports and planes then at the grocery stores. 


Edward Hines

In my home in Paris with my partner, five snakes and eleven incubating snake eggs…


from Yvonne from arizona:

My fun project is a scammer asked to friend me on FB and I accepted it intentionally. It is now my primary goal to fuck with him. 

My thinking is that as long as I can keep him occupied, he isn’t fucking with one other person. It’s a thing. 


Bruna Wynne (Lunah)

Hi Amanda, I’m in Albuquerque New Mexico. We were one of the earlier states to go into full lock down. I’m quarantined with my husband and my cat. We are lucky. We are grateful. We are scared. I’m an ICU nurse in the only trauma hospital within our state taking care of covid patients 13 hours a day when I work my shift. The PPE shortage is real. We are allotted one surgical mask a day (not the correct protection for airborne transmitted viruses) that we have to “make last” until the end of our shift. Lots of family and friends ask me my opinion on how long this will last, how bad it’s going to still get, and will we be ok. 

I don’t know. 

I just don’t know anything anymore.



Hi Amanda. It’s Sarah from Hobart, Tasmania here. I’m the literacy teacher from the prison, we met in the Lonny confessional box. 

You asked me at the time how the prisoners were dealing with the country being on fire….remember that? 

Seems so long ago, and yet still so raw for so many Aussies. Anyway, I was on holidays so I didn’t know. But I think you’d also ask me how the prisoners are coping with the COVID-19. 

And I can tell you most are freaking the fuck out. 

So, for a long while…too long, we educators were still going into the prison. Even the inmates were saying to us ‘why the fuck are you guys still coming in, surely the more people coming in and out, the more likely this virus is gonna get in here. And then we’re fucked”. Yeah, the inmates had more sense than the people in charge, who have FINALLY allowed us to work from home. When that happened, i had grown men – rufty toughty hardened criminals – come up to me and say “thanks very much miss for everything, i just wanted to say goodbye.”…..and I KNEW from the way it was said, that they meant a final goodbye. 

Because they think if it gets in to the prison, that they are gonna die. alone. having not been able to say goodby or hold loved ones. ever. And, maybe they are right. If it gets into the prison, people will die. people may die anyway from riots or suicides, because there are no personal visits any more, and so many restrictions. They are not yet in full lockdown, so I am trying to give distance education. like every other educator in the country, I am scrambling to figure out distance education. But unlike many, my students have NO internet or even phone access with me. i send in paper packs (which are quarantined for 3 days) and they send paperwork back. It’s not ideal…but it’s….something.


it’s …. something.


i am thinking about the men i met a few years ago, when i spent a weekend at norfolk prison.

i am thinking about coyote, who barely talked, but then was kind to me.

i am thinking about how afraid they all must be,

these men, who murdered people.


i am thinking about all the people who go to bed every night with partners who might beat them the next day.

i am thinking about escape.

i am thinking about help.

i am thinking about luck.

i am thinking about the silent retreats i took in my twenties, when we self-isolated in our own personal bubbles, not speaking, not touching, not doing anything but walking and sitting in meditation for days on end without exchanging a word. those retreats weren’t cheap.


i am thinking about anthony, who is dead now, who loved me the way nobody else ever had, who sent me packing to my first silent meditation retreat, and paid for it.

it was a gift.

it was hard.

i wanted to leave.

i stayed.


about ten days ago, ash had a total meltdown.

he ran to his room and pounded his fists on his bed.

he had the kind of tantrum that i remember having at that age.

when everything just goes dark, and reason vanishes.

when it all hurts. when you want to just destroy, destroy.

i remember being that age and turning over an entire massive bookcase in my little bedroom: all the toys, all the books, everything. all dark.

it was something i could do to show how angry i was and how very powerless i felt. i even remember watching the toys – i specifically remember these egg-shaped toys i had at the time, they were brown….watching them fall to the floor – and i remember thinking i am doing this. i CAN do this. fuck these things. fuck this bookcase. fuck these people. fuck this room. FUCK EVERYTHING.

he screamed at the top of his lungs




and his weeping throat exploded, and his voice screeched above all reason, and his face turned beet red and he screamed himself hoarse and we closed the door and alternated cuddling him and leaving him to scream it out to  exhaust himself.


i am a poet.

i am also, now, a mother.

it is hard, sometimes, to be both. because in that moment, i thought: wow, this is just pure gold. he doesn’t even know what’s happening, but his little id has totally channeled what half the people on the planet right now are unable to express so eloquently.

i have to get out of here.


i see you all.

some of you are screaming a lot, some a little.

some of you are happier than usual, and some of you are not.


the unclickable heart.

but i will try.

i don’t need to click your heart on a computer screen for you to believe me.

i am clicking with my mind.


“Patreon ate this post twice and I almost couldn’t bear writing it again”.

i read so many comments like this i wanted to throttle somebody.


i learned a lot of things.

first of all, who fucking knew i had so much community in GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN? it felt like 78 comments came from gothenburg.

i’ve never been to gothenburg. i’ve barely even toured sweden.


and where even is that?

i googled.


can somebody explain?



i am thinking about lil from perth and her dead uncle, who nobody could touch.

i am thinking about thomas, who sent ash a zombie book to download.

i am thinking about every story, playing out in real time, right now.

i am thinking about how i want to talk to every one of you and hold you, but i can’t.

i can’t even click that stupid fucking little heart.

it’s the epitome of powerlessness.


i can say one thing:

the cats and dogs are making out like bandits.

they’ve never had this much love or attention.


but maybe they hate this.

maybe they’re like:

why? why now?


two nights ago, xanthea, who is staying with us, got bad news very late at night.

her cat back home in perth was hit by a car.

no, they found…attacked by an animal.

the vet, the rush, the drama. euthanize the cat? the cat is 11. her name is alice.


it’s a numbers game.

a certain number of you were going to have birthdays, abortions, pregnancies, cancers, dying pets, weddings. funerals.

it’s just statistics.

but it’s not.

the stories of our lives don’t feel like statistics, the same way i look at the numbers from new york and think


788 lives.

788 deaths.

that’s 788 families who have to ….


i read comments from people from lands i’ve never traveled to.





a commune in luxembourg?

now i want to go to a commune in luxembourg.

i wonder if i am ever going to travel again the way i used to.


my friend andrea is alone in her 400 square foot apartment in brooklyn.

she is volunteering with a group that is sewing masks and gowns.

i think about her every day.


meanwhile, the 2,000 comments led me into beds, kitchens, apartments, hospitals, houses, balconies….windowsills that have become sacred spots, sheet-forts, kitchens.


mothers-in-law, girlfriends, children, grandmothers, bosses.


ash has been telling us for the last two days that he is seeing a child in the hallway outside his room.

who, ash?

a kid.

what kid?

a kid like me.

who is it?

he was right there. on the patio, mama. i am telling the truth.

i believe you, ash.


is this normal? or is he actually hallucinating friends into existence?

i don’t know anymore, either.


his unclickable heart.


lots of people are not making art.

lots of people are making art.

the imagination is a powerful thing in quarantine.


i’m lonely. things are about to change, and i don’t know how, but i know it’s going to be seismic. tectonic.


a huge swath of humanity in amber, but amber… moves.

everything moves, at the cellular level.

it moves constantly to hold itself together.


the unclickable heart doesn’t mean … anything.

it only means that i was mute, for a few thousand seconds.





i am clicking with my mind.


there’s no place like home.

there’s no place like home.

there’s no place like home.


i love you all more than i ever have.

i want you to think of me sitting and singing beside you.

more, soon… i can.

this is home for now.

IMG_7068 3

not bad, really.

wherever you go, there you are

….and other clichés.



p.s. i came really close to “thinging” this post, given that it took me five “work” days to read all the comments and to write it. but writing blogs still doesnt feel like art, even when it sort of….is. but i just couldn’t bring myself to do it. i’m open. tell me. i can always…oh i don’t fucking know. {edit – i did charge for/ “thing” this, the next day. you can read that post here:

pps. xanthea’s cat is okay and recovering in a crate in perth.



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