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Olive Tree

Mariah Lanzer

Official website of memoirist, student, and College Writing instructor.
Author of creative nonfiction Honors thesis

To Feel No Shame


What Does it Mean to Choose Our Own Bodies?


2001 RAV4

Willful Blindness and Domestic Contusions

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Signed With Love


Fragile Child: Will They Ever Get to be the Running Back?


Summer Lines



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"I write nonfiction to make my pain and shame worthwhile."

Mariah Lanzer is a 2021 graduate from Kent State University in Ohio. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and a minor in professional and technical writing. Mariah is a current MFA student at Manhattanville College in New York. Her genre of choice is memoir, however, she also enjoys dabbling in poetry.

Mariah is utilizing her time at Manhattanville by writing whatever grabs at her, learning how to teach writing, and enjoying her time as a student. She loves to learn and is always open for book suggestions. Mariah currently resides in Connecticut with her abundance of plants.



Kent State-Salem Writing Tutor

2018 - 2021

"Creating Inclusive Remote Tutoring Spaces: A Social Media Campaign to Engage a Diverse Student Body"

Spring 2020 project with Dr. Barbara George and Maegan Richards

"Writing Priorities: Exploring Lower and Higher Order Concerns"


Spring 2020 co-presentation with Regan Crosser

Writing Center Research & Experiece


     There is no me without my body. 

     No me without a neurogenic bladder. 

     No me without a catheter.

     As a child, I refused to believe this. When I would ask my mother why my body was not like everyone else's'—why there is a fish hook-shaped scar around my belly button and an ugly bump on my lower back—she would say, “You’re just different, and that’s good.” 

     When that answer wasn’t good enough for me, she would say the same thing she’d say to me when I told her that I wish my twin brother wasn’t born. “There is no you without the other.”

     There is no “Mariah” without medical issues. If I didn’t have these issues, that would mean I wasn’t born. I am here and my ailments are here. There is no separation between us. And if Noah wasn’t born, then I wouldn’t have been born either.

     I never meant it when I said that I wish Noah wasn’t born; I can’t say I feel the same way when it comes to my body.

     So which should it be? This pain or nothing at all?


     “Can I play with you?” I ask my father and brother as they walk away from me in the backyard, barefoot and wearing Cleveland Indians baseball caps.

     “Maybe later, Noah wants to practice throwing the football,” Dad replies. So I sit on the porch and watch as they throw the football back and forth. It’s a warm summer day, the neighbors are outside, and Noah and Dad barely say a word to each other. However, every now and then, Dad has to remind Noah how to throw the ball. 

     “Make sure your fingers are spread evenly on the laces,” Dad says to him. 

     Noah looks at his fingers before throwing the ball. When the spiral reaches Dad, he smiles. Perfect. Dad throws it back, but not directly to Noah. He makes him chase it, and I watch him run and slide in the grass, staining his knees green.

     “Can I play now?” 

     Just as I say it, Mom comes outside with a towel thrown over her shoulder. She must have heard me ask, because she looks at Dad for a moment, and he looks back at her. There is silence —unspoken words exchanged between them—before he shrugs and waves me over.

     “Let’s all play.” 

     I follow Noah and Dad to the side of the house, and Mom meets us there soon after. Dad decides that we’ll play tag football, boys against girls. Our gridiron is our neighbor’s big field. 

     Dad says, “You two have to run past the big tree for a touchdown, and we will touch the house for ours. The fire hydrant is the 50 yard line.” 

     Mom nods then looks over at me. “Let’s do this, Riah. Girls rule.”

     Because of all the practice he’s had, Noah has great hands. He’s also super fast. Even in my bare feet, I can’t keep up with him. He speeds away from me, getting touchdown after touchdown. 

     “I want to get a touchdown!” I whine to Mom. My parents look at each other again.

     Eventually they seem to come to an unvoiced agreement. Dad speaks to Noah before we resume playing, saying words I’m not sure I’m supposed to hear.

     “Do not hit your sister’s stomach.”

     The ball is handed to me, not thrown. I run towards the tree, and I can hear Noah gaining on me. I urge my legs to move faster. As the tree becomes closer, as well as Noah, I can hear Mom yelling.

     “Be careful! Don’t hit her stomach!”

     He is right behind me. Instead of tapping me, Noah slows down. His footsteps fall away. Touchdown. 


     Mom, Dad and I visit Akron Children’s Hospital weeks later. We’ve been here many times, but they look anxious as we sit and wait in the room. This leads me to believe that this is one of the first ultrasounds of my bladder and kidneys since my surgery. Perhaps my parents don’t know what to expect. Perhaps when it comes to me, they are used to getting bad news. 

     Dad stares at the floor and Mom stares at the door. When Dr. Nasrallah finally comes into the room, Dad stands to shake his hand. Mom stays seated but smiles at him, her legs crossed and hands folded in her lap. The three of them begin to talk about me. I’m used to this, but today there are words and phrases that stick with me: larger bladder. Scarred kidney. UTI’s. Catheter. Rest of her life. But what sticks with me the most are the questions Mom asks: Could her bladder rupture? Should she be careful? 

     I’m aware of the fact that I recently had surgery, but unaware that I could be fragile. As they continue to talk, I think back to Mom yelling at Noah to be careful, and him avoiding me as I ran for the touchdown. How Mom handed me the ball instead of throwing it to me, which I now understand was in fear of hitting me in the stomach and damaging my new bladder.

     I wonder if I will always have to be treated this way, until Mom asks her next question.

     “Will she be able to play sports?”

     Dr. Nasrallah doesn’t hesitate with his answer. 

     “If she wanted to, she could play football.” 

To Feel No Shame is a creative nonfiction Honors thesis written by Mariah Lanzer. Click here to learn more.

Except from "To Feel No Shame"


For any inquiries (or if you would like to give me a book suggestion, or perhaps talk about plants) feel free to contact me below!

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