614p, 26th february, 2021. hope.

a photo of me with my unwashed, tearstained face, in front of a wall with a laser-cut rising sun sculpture, a photo of me as “Rosie (the Riveter) Revisited” by my husband in 2002, and an exhortation to “cheer up honey pie” .
there is no filter on this photo.

I am driving and I am listening to the President and I am crying
I am crying and I am crying and I am crying and they are huge ugly tears
“A dose of hope”, he says and the tears flood down my face “a dose of hope” he says

Hope is something that I never ever had.
It was never even on the list of things to look for.
Hope was for the foolish and the losers and the suckers.
the idea of hope was as painful as the reality of unrequited love, a crush that goes nowhere, being ghosted by someone you really, really thought you liked.
Hope was not for me, not ever.

but maybe,
maybe now it is.
maybe I can have some for myself, just a little.
I’m not asking for much.
Just a little.

Hope.
The taste of it, the texture.
rolls around in my mouth, between my fingers.
hope.

I draw my hand back, my heart back sharply from the edge of this hope
too sharp, this edge, too unknown.

My chest tightens, my jaws clench, my fingernails dig into my palms.
breath shallows, and hitches as my eyes darken, kohl smudging my cheeks.

“Guess what!” the President says, excitement clear and bright through the speakers
“We landed a rover on Mars!”

hope.

1116a 27th january 2021

it is elevensixteen now but at 1111
(waiting for the strike?)
so much flash of anxiety flash of panic
i learn have learned to keep track to
watch
to pay attention to monitor
to see what
i mean it is always as it is happening
it is always in the middle
although
increasingly it is on the way up
in
out.
it is no longer as the smoke is clearing
it is no longer when there are horrified faces

there is actually (sometimes)
(sometimes)
time to stop it before i
before without i cannot without
without
without distressing to the point
of disintegration

so it is an hour later and it would seem
that I was unable to stave off this
this disintegration
this dysphorically manic tumult

yet another hour later
i know it is having an effect,
taking the sweet
but i really just don’t want to be right now.
not at all.

146p

there shouldn’t be this much rage
there shouldn’t be this much pain
it should have eased by now i am trying
i am trying everything to be eased.

another hour later
chest tight
shoulders tight
jaws tight
there are two and a half hours to go
before I can go
core tight
i feel frozen, stiff
as if the only parts of my body i can move
my left hand to write, move across the
page, turned forty five degrees to
not ink up my hand

another hour gone
anger, still
no patience, rattled
i need sublimation
i need to be underneath and out
i need to be out and gone
one hour eleven minutes to go.

twenty minutes left.
almost there.
almost there.

939p 25th january 2021. Bordeaux.

You say I never write about you. It’s true.
well
Not exactly true. You are in everything I write.
You are part of how I am able to be
still here
So yes I have written about you.

But tonight it is in a conversation with another lover that I think of you that I am reminded of you.

I am saying that you are French and you wear scent and I don’t think that the French are allowed to not wear scent and this makes me giggle.
And that what you wear is perfect for you and not too much and just enough. Just like you are not too much and just enough.
I say that you are polished, and smooth, and slick, and you wear cufflinks (you wear cufflinks that I made for you) and you always look perfect and that I love when I cause you
to
not
look perfect.
That it makes me happy.
I know how happy it makes you to have me undo you.

I smile for the smile in my voice and my lover can hear that smile and he knows that smile.
He has heard that smile. He has made me make that smile.

You have allowed me to be open about who I am
what I want
how I know my worth.
Your vulnerability with me has allowed me to feel safe, and worthy, and brave.
You have trusted me, and gained my trust.
I can depend on the memory of you.
I have learned the importance of being wanted instead of needed.

Desired. Ached for, pined for. Lusted after and well missed. Treasured. Cherished.

Adored.

“I just want to say I love you
And make sure you feel it every day
‘Cause if today had been my last chance
It’s just something I wanted to say”

Je t’aime. Je t’adore.

(you have a playlist. this is on it)

1158a 19th january 2021

i can tell my mood by my handwriting. manic, here. i noticied it whike working, needed to take it down.

this lines running altogether
all together
((manic manic)) heart rate elevated
((panic panic)) eyes wide and brow creased
grateful for the mask covering most of my face
it hides the quivering of my mouth
the tightness of my lips pressed against my teeth
i can see the not-curvedness of my letters
the thank you notes i am trying to bury my head in
brain is so scattered so noisy
grateful dead on the speakers but it is jangling
not soothing me at all the way i need.
i shove a chocolate bar in my mouth
a three musketeers
where are my musketeers?
where are my compadres? my friends?

waiting to inhale. 713a, 3 january, 2020

I hate this. All of it.

I hate this president, I hate the people who elected him. I hate every single person who voted to put him into office in 2016, and every single person who voted to try and keep him there. Zero exceptions. I don’t care about anyone’s misogynistic, stupid, idiotic reasoning for voting for him. If you voted for him I hate you. I don’t care about you. I want you to disappear off the face of the Earth. There is no amount of apologizing, bargaining, begging that will help, that will ameliorate, there is no remedy. this is what you have done, this is all your fault.

I hate everything about him, everything he stands for, everything he is.

I hate. So much hatred that is dissolving me from the inside out. And goddess help the idiot who tells me that I need to let go of that. What the fuck do you think I’m trying to do here. there is no letting go. There is only purging. There is only excision. There is only vomiting up volcanic toxic spew. There is only violence and wrath and rage.

I wake up and cry because there is nothing I can do. I wake up crying because it wakes me up in the middle of the night.

All I can do is wait and hope that I don’t get sick and that I don’t get anybody else sick.

I wait on tenterhooks to be able to spend time with my partners. To kiss B, to snuggle with him and spend the night with him. To wake up with him and kiss him some more. I spent more time with him yesterday than I have spent with any partner in over a year. It was about twenty-two hours, total. I have no idea when we’ll be able to do that again. No time soon. No.

I cringe every time someone touches me accidentally without meaning to or just pushes by and touches me. It makes me want to hiss and bare my fangs. How dare you when I cannot?

I flinch when people reach out for my hand and I don’t want them to touch me because I don’t want to get sick.

I am sitting outside in my car, the engine off and the windows open with a rapidly cooling cup of coffee writing this so that I can watch the sun come up. It is somewhere south of freezing and I am waiting to calm down enough so that I can light my pipe and give myself some comfort.

I want to live in a no-news bubble where I don’t hear anything at all about how much he is fucking up the rest of this for everyone. All I want to hear is nothing. nothing.

I can’t wait much longer.

924 am Friday December I don’t know whatever today is

i am so incredibly manic.
my eyes are wide and wider
surely looking like the stereotypical “crazy eyes”
i feel insane, my brain on fire, wide open.
everything all fight and flight and run and scream and panic
cold and hot and fire and ice and death

the only things that I know will help the only things that I know will sate this I cannot have
smoke and sex and sleep
comfort and softness
hard and fast.

so I do what I can
I medicate as much as I dare
I empty this out into here
I prepare to fight.
but already I am losing.

it is 10:18am and i
I can feel less tight
less clanging less
Panicked.
less of a horse caught in a burning barn, less a wildfire
my shoulders lowering
My eyes softening.
I find smiles there, and here, too.

622p 12th december, 2020

So I have begun the mind-bending exercise of wondering how my dead husband would be dealing with life if our roles had been reversed and he was the one who survived me.

I have been caught in a dysphoric mania, ultra-ultra rapid cycling with depression all day,
working a full day with a full staff and a full store and less bandwidth than I can afford.

I am driving and it is night and it is dark and it is foggy and it is misting and the road is fast and usually this scares the shit out of me but tonight it isn’t tonight I just want to get home.

Why can’t I get up.
why can’t I just get up.

It lifts for a little bit, a little while.

then

it is as if I have taken an enormous swallow of pain
Inhaled lungsful of death
A huge blackness fills me, empties me
My eyes grow wide, wider still
tears filling them, pooling, overrunning them
splashing my glasses
running hot down one cheek
then the other

I just have to make it home.
Home.

Thirty-seven minutes of this
around and around and
around.

Home.
Sitting in my car, engine running, music on
anything to drown out the noise in my head but nothing is enough.
smoke. ease the knots enough to feel just how tightly my core is clenched.
my entire body feels as if it is collapsing in on itself, shoulders slumping, spine curving
jaws tight, the only things moving are my eyes and thumbs.

the smoke is taking hold, finally
i can lower my shoulders
remove my tongue from the roof of my mouth
breathe in
and out.
finally.

north of 4am

Up at four-something; the sound of an upchucking cat isn’t a noise to be ignored. Pushing him (gently) off the bed so I won’t have to wash the entire coverlet again. Tangled in the comedic/horror movie mess of giant bed + weighted blanket + CPAP mask and racing against the threat of a heaving animal simultaneously a thousand miles away and on top of me, I know that my day is going to be a fight.

The waves of depression and subsequent rapid cycling and eventual mixed states yesterday only subsided because I smoked myself into oblivion. I ate a shit ton of sugar and passed out. Took an edible to stay asleep.

Mojo.
DUDE.

I go to the bathroom, look at my phone, my email. I’ve been avoiding the actual mail and swiping left on my email like it’s a dating app. The email saying my rent is posting today.

Okay.

I’ve been looking at my balance, not buying things. Nothing. How do you get money?

You sell things.

You have things to sell. Good things.
You even have photos.

why, then.
why frozen.

Fogged.
Stuck.
Frozen.

I can do for Mojo, I can take pretty good care of him. If no one else.

It’s 6:14 in the morning and I realize I can’t go to work. I can’t control this today.
I barely could yesterday.
(there is no longer any thinking about what would happen if I had to, about how terrible it would get)

there is no longer any fear of safety.

that is a difficult sentence to write.
to digest.
I cannot breathe.
i cannot breathe.
.
breathe.

breathe.
.
What it means
what it means is that I can do what I need to do to care for myself without worrying about getting written up, or in trouble, or fired, or discarded. Left. Ghosted.
It means that I have compassionate people who care about my safety for my sake first.

My safety for me, not as an asset. A tool. A toy.

It is 6:27 in the morning and this is what that is, this rage, this dysphoria. This sadness, this depression.

This makes it so clear to me, finally.
The sheer disparity.
Reminders of how it felt.
The unpleasantness, the imbalance.
I don’t want that. Not ever.
Not even knowing.

So, now what.
Delete the playlist (again. It has one song on it.) Done.
Back away.
Understand this isn’t ever going to change. Really, though.
Understand you don’t have to burn it to the ground, either. Really. You can continue to walk away.

you know there isn’t always a trigger
but a lot of times, there is.

it is seven in the morning and I am inside as the rain begins to fall.
it isn’t, though, raining outside
but sure as a rainfall cools the planet
feeds the plants
smoke slakes my thirst, soothes my fear.

the sky is lightening, the grey becoming less so
enough to douse the harsh overhead light
and open the curtain.

Mojo in the foreground, backlit, sheer grey linen curtain gathered in the center. hanging from the window: a suncatcher in the abstract shape of a whale, made of driftwood and vintage beads, and a small astronaut 7:08am

I am worrying about how I will manage things
but right now the fear isn’t strangling me.
it’s sort of set apart, a bit.
It isn’t going to stay there, not today.
Today is going to be

(oh, Mojo)

better at home. Quiet, as I need.

it is seven forty-nine in the morning and
and there isn’t much getting done today.

That isn’t true, no. no it isn’t.

progress, however glacial a pace,
is progress still.

the time traveling doctor. 7a 20th november, 2020

Every time I have seen JJ since my husband’s death it’s all I can be reminded of. How long it’s been. I know I mention it every time I see him and I have found myself unable to stop doing so. I realize (every single time) that this is not conducive to doing more business, or good for his comfort, or for mine, in fact. His profession means that he’s going to have to deal with surviving spouses, possibly more than he thought. I don’t want to keep doing this. I don’t want to keep focusing on only that anytime I see him and I fear that I may have risked ever seeing him again because I can’t stop talking about it.

Listening to The New York Times Daily podcast this morning and an interview with a woman who was a medical examiner in rural Wisconsin, who explains that she understands that as a last responder, her presence is triggering for some people forever.

Do I think that I can rewrite my own code for this relationship? Do I think that I can rewire my brain to be thankful that one of my husband’s cardiologists is such a lovely, sweet, kind person instead of having the first and only reaction to him being one of the last attendants to my husband?

Yes. Yes of course I do.
My brain is nothing but elasticity and electricity and muscle and if the past 1,164 days have shown me nothing else it is this.

Most recently, I have been learning how love can help to reframe old photographs, to view memories through a different lens. To not make excuses for, but to understand motivation. To take this current love into the past and care for the people who were hurt. To let that healing wend its way forward into the future, to meet up with the realization I have now.

I wish you could see me now. I wish you could know me, now.