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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I don’t know, how I don’t know how it got to be a thousand days since you’ve died.
A thousand four days. How?
I don’t know, I don’t know how that happened. But I know that I’ve missed you every fucking day. And I just… it’s only and already two years and nine months tomorrow and I just keep talking to you, I just keep talking to you. I keep talking to you because I don’t know how else to, not.
We always talked. About everything. We did that really well, talking. Sometimes not so nice. But we always talked.
So now what, do I just ask questions at the air? Do I just keep doing what I’ve been doing and uh, keep talking to you this way, writing, and…
I found pictures of you. Well, Brian found them in the attic. I’ve never seen these pictures of you before. There’s a really hot one.
What I am about to say I don’t say lightly. I can only describe this as a completely surreal and supernatural experience. I don’t know what to do and I think I’m losing my mind. I mean I know I’m not I just don’t know how to explain it.
I am not superstitious. I am the least woo-woo person you will ever meet. Yes indeed, I sure as shit am an absolutely fucking magical creature myself, but I am not superstitious. (These things can coexist. It’s pure energy.) I don’t believe in shit like that. Spooks, ghosts, psychics. None of it. I have written here exactly how I don’t believe any of that shit.
Today, my best friend, my soul sister, Paula, and I were up in the attic at the house I’m losing, pulling out the last things that I want to take with me. Making sure there’s nothing left behind that I don’t want to one day accidentally see in a dumpster. The Governor was on (day 100? or is it 101?), his calming voice filling the blisteringly hot attic. I was feeling really good about the things that I was pulling out of boxes, things that I was setting aside to give away, things that I was setting aside to keep. I opened up the box and saw the familiar shape of a black CaseLogic CD holder. It was a big one, and there was a half size one underneath it, and a shiny purple one beneath that, with a sticker of a red corset with garters on the front. I opened up that one, it held a bunch of CDs that I used to play over the speakers in my shop. I hated listening to the radio, hated commercials. “Store Mix 11.12.2003” (some mixtape CD I’d put together, check that out later) and Soul Coughing and some Dick’s Picks and tons of others I squeed over when seeing. Knowing I would probably want to keep most of those, I picked up the big CaseLogic one to sort through. I was partway through the ancient printer drivers and font collections when I gasped. There was a CD I’ve never seen before. One that said, “Gary 🖤’s Lysa”. No case, no liner notes. Just his handwriting.
I knew then that I would have to sort through them all in order to take only the ones I wanted with me. I showed Paula the CD, her eyes lit up and she smiled hugely and said “That’s cool!” My plan was to play it on the way up to the pottery, it would be my soundtrack.
(the way that I know 100% for sure that I have never seen this CD before, that I’ve never listened to it, is because when we moved into this house, he read me a poem that he had written. He was hesitant to read it to me because, as he said, it “wasn’t a very nice love poem.” It began with the words, “I love you mostly much.” And that’s all I remember of it. I don’t remember any of the rest and I have been looking for it for as long as he has been dead.)
If I had had any idea, if I had had any wisp of a thought that there would be somewhere, in this house, physical proof of how he actually felt about me? I found the copy of Shakespeare’s sonnet 145 that he typed out for me and folded into an origami envelope. I showed you that, here. I showed you. Proof.
I loaded myself into the car, heading up to the pottery. I popped the CD in and waited.
(I am the type of person to always play everything on shuffle. My brain, everything in my life is on shuffle all of the time. I am chaotic neutral, chaotic good if you must but I am chaotic. Everything is always on shuffle.)
Not this time.
My husband was nothing if not methodical, determined, deliberate. Every single thing he ever did in his entire life was deliberate, The good, the bad, and most definitely the ugly. if he made a playlist for me it was with absolute and explicit intent for it to be listened to in the order in which he created it. So listen I did.
curvy guitar fills the cabin of the car, What’s Your Name. Okay. So. They’re problematic for a host of reasons, but I did have a blacklight Skynyrd poster in my bedroom growing up, Confederate flag in the background of the poster. I didn’t even see it for what it was (I also watched The Dukes of Hazzard) I just liked the music. If I saw it now, I would torch it. I had somewhat of an urge to forward through to the next song, but I didn’t. I just listened.
More curvy guitar. Without checking, I would venture to bet that the guitar in question is a Rickenbacker. I Know A Little. Again, controversial Skynyrd, but the lyrics are starting to poke at me.
I know a little about it I know a little ’bout love And baby I can guess the rest.
Okay, still not forwarding through to rush to the end, simply listening and playing and absorbing.
(this is where the screaming starts.)
I want you to want me I need you to need me I’d love you to love me. Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you crying? Feeling all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dying Oh didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you crying?
I was driving, heading north to the pottery, heading north to see what my new pieces would look like, pieces that I had made with partners in mind. Pieces that I had mended and had crossed fingers, eyes, and tails hoping they would stay unbroken.
My fingers dug into the steering wheel as my mouth opened in a silent scream that quickly gave way to one that filled the cabin. Tears flooded my eyes, hot and salty, smearing my glasses. I kept listening.
In this life I’ve seen everything I can see woman I’ve seen lovers flying through the air Hand in hand and I’ve seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching picture slides But I never seen nothin’ like you Do you, do you want my love, woman Do you, do you want my face, I need it! Do you, do you want my mind, I’m saying it! Well I think you know what I’m trying to say woman I’ve seen enough of the world to know That I’ve got to get it all to get it all to grow…
Electric Light Orchestra
The thoughts that filled my head were completely untenable. I was becoming unmoored and unable to do anything but keep driving. Unable to do anything but hold that steering wheel as tightly as I could for fear of letting go. Fear of letting go of the steering wheel and what would happen if I did. Unbelieving as to what I was hearing, what was happening. I knew exactly who I wanted to tell, needed to tell, possibly the only person who could understand exactly how I was feeling, knowing that I needed to remember everything exactly as it was happening so that I could write it all down here. because while I have no explanation, no rational, logical, useful explanation, I know that it was happening and that it was happening to me and that it was happening right now.
Something that sounds like chamber music now fills the air. More ELO.
I was searching on a one-way street I was hoping for a chance to meet I was waiting for the operator on the line (She’s gone so long) What can I do? (Where could she be?) Don’t know what I’m going to do I got to get back to you You got to slow down, sweet talkin’ woman You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’ Hold on, sweet talkin’ lover It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over I was walking, many days go by I was thinking about the lonely nights Communication breakdown all around…
At this point, there is no sound other than the music that fills the car and my own screaming. I am shaking and crying and screaming I’m driving as hard as I can to just get there. To get to safety and to the hug I desperately need.
(you all understand where I’m going with this, don’t you? The completely absurd and surreal and wholly supernatural ((and when I say supernatural I mean completely inexplicable as yet)) I don’t even know what to call it)
I do believe in you And I know you believe in me And now we realize Love’s not all that it’s supposed to be.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
And knowing that you would have wanted it this way
I do believe I'm feelin' stronger everyday.
I know we really tried
Together we had love inside
So now the time has come
For both of us to live on the run.
After what you've meant to me
I can make it easily
(yeah, yeah, yeah) ((sarcasm mine))
I know that we both agree
Best thing to happen to you
The best thing that happened to me.
Feelin' stronger every day.
roaring in pain and sadness and rage and fury and WHY
Piano, then trumpet.
Saturday in the Park I think it was the Fourth of July. People dancing, people laughing A man selling ice cream Sing Italian songs Eh cumpari, ci vo sunari Can you dig it (yes I can) And I’ve been waiting such a long time.
Yes. Yes I have. I have been waiting such a long time. I’ve been waiting such a long time for this proof. (no, not proof of an afterlife, not proof of him talking to me from beyond the grave but honestly I have no idea what’s happening but this, this is proof.)
Proof of how much he felt about me. Proof of how much he loved me. Concrete physical proof. Not something bought; something made. Something he created just for me. Continue listening.
What’s new, pussycat, whoa Pussycat, pussycat, I’ve got flowers And lots of hours to spend time with you So go and powder your cute little pussycat nose Pussycat, pussycat, I love you, yes I do Pussycat, pussycat, you’re so thrilling And I’m so willing to care for you so go and make up your big little pussycat eyes Pussycat, pussycat, I love you, yes I do.
So now my face is not pulled into a rictus of fear and unknowing and instead has this silly, slightly stoned-looking grin on it. Still listening.
Sexbomb. Just going to leave that there.
More piano. Basic drums. Dirty guitar.
It’s not in the way that you hold me It’s not in the way you say you care It’s not in the way you’ve been treating my friends It’s not in the way that you stayed till the end It’s not in the way you look or the things that you say that you’ll do Hold the line Love isn’t always on time.
do I pull the car over? Do I pull the car over because I don’t know that I can hold on any more.
It's not in the words that you told me It's not in the way you say you're mine It's not in the way that you came back to me It's not in the way that your love set me free. Hold the line. Love isn't always on time.
My brain feels like it is on fire at this point. I am trying to compose this piece that I am now writing while I am driving 65, 75, 85 miles an hour. I am overwhelmed with everything and trying to ask questions to the air because that’s all there is in here. Air and sound.
And though I know about all those men Still I don’t remember ‘Cause it was us baby, way before them And we’re still together And I meant every word I said When I said that I love you I meant That I love you forever And I’m going to keep on loving you ‘Cause it’s the only thing I want to do I don’t want to sleep I just want to keep on loving you.
I love you. I love you so goddamn much and I miss you every goddamn day and WHERE ARE YOU
STILL LISTENING. (there is a slowdown on 17; I have since rolled up the windows so that I can blast the music and scream as needed)
From my heart and from my hand Why don’t people understand My intentions. Plastic tubes and pots and pans Bits and pieces and Magic from the hand We’re makin’ Magic and technology Voodoo dolls Electricity we’re makin’ Fantasy and microchips Shooting from the hip Something different we’re makin’ Pictures from a magazine Diagrams and charts Mending broken hearts and makin’ Something like a recipe…
Okay. I get it. You’re here. You’re telling me in no uncertain terms that you are here. Okay. WHAT the FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION???
Drumbeats. Are you fucking kidding me.
Color me your color, baby Color me your car Color me your color, darling I know who you are Come up off your color chart I know where you’re coming from Call me, on the line Call me, call me any, any time Call me, I’ll arrive You can call me any day or any night Call me.
I spot movement on the rolled up passenger window, I look in disbelief at what’s crawling up the glass. A bee. You know, like the one that’s tattooed on my arm. Like my nickname for my husband. Bumblebee.
Call me. Okay. Not with a fucking bee in the car. I roll down the window, watch the bee hang on for dear life, pretty impressive if I’m being honest (which I am), and finally at some point, it disappears. I am unworried that it might have ended up inside the car as I don’t think it’s going to bother me. Call me. Jesus.
One way or another, I'm going to find ya.
Even though the lyrics to this song are on the creepy side truth be told, this is comfort to me. I am just going wholesale into believing that whatever is happening is happening.
I know this is long. Trust me, the hour that I took to drive was one of the longest hours I’ve ever spent.
I’m lying here on the floor where you left me I think I took too much I’m crying here, what have you done?
And it’s here, at this point in this truly bonkers narrative that a bizarre screeching noise begins to come out of my speakers. The song is making me really unhappy, not in the same way that the rest of the songs made me unhappy but in a truly unhappy way. The screeching is getting worse, and I hit the off button. Just like that, the cabin is silent except for my own ragged breathing. I look around briefly to try to make sure that the bee is no longer in the car, I turn up the air conditioner, I know my face is red and puffy but I don’t care. I wait a minute or so, until I have cooled down. I turn the stereo back on, and forward to the next song.
I’m a loser And I’m not what I appear to be Of all the love I have won and have lost There is one love I should never have crossed She was a girl in a million my friend…
Shaking. Still listening.
At this point in my drive I am way up in the wilds of Ulster County where the cellular service is terrible and GPS isn’t much better. “St. Louis Blues Jam” by The Beatles comes on. It’s a soft little pleasant interlude type of thing. I tried several times to get SoundHound to figure out what it is, and I can’t. It had to wait until I was home. I am almost to the pottery at this point and I am wondering how many more songs are on this mix.
Soft acoustic guitar and the telltale sounds of a record popping in the background. Our song. Blackbird.
Tears are streaming freely down my face at this point and I am just smiling with the insanity of it all, grinning like an idiot. As I see the final landmark, a sign on the right side of the road that says “Welcome to Dwaarkill, God’s country” the song is ending. I hit my turn signal to pull up the drive and the last few notes of the song echo through the cabin, blackbirds singing the distance.
That’s what the subject line read. “Gary saves the day again…” An email from T**, a client of my husband’s who I haven’t heard from in a year, if not more.
Thinking it might be spam, (the all-lowercase addressee and the name of my dead husband in the subject line seeming strange but somehow remembered) I was only slightly distracted from watching the new season of “Dead To Me”, ironically enough. coming down off my necessarily extreme cannabis high of earlier, however, and thinking about what I wanted to smoke next while waiting to hear back from several friends, I opened the email.
It said, (and this is where I am stopping, having read beginning of the email, gasping for breath and not wanting to look any further, not yet, not before I refilled my lovely pipe and repaired to the privacy of my parked, darkened car where I could smoke and sob in peace) in part (and here, I should tell you, I am pausing to take an enormous hit of medication. Perhaps five or six. I brought refills. Who can know for sure?):
One of the core components of (our company) which Gary designed stopped working today after the Government changed something on their website. Back in the good-old-days I would have called Gary in a panic, he would have calmed me down and quickly resolved the issue. Now I have to reverse engineer his work in a language of which I am only somewhat familiar.
You got some comfort from seeing his writings last time I e-mailed you, so I thought I would share how he saved the day today. While attempting to understand what he wrote, I looked through his copious notes and discovered that he described in great detail how he solved this problem last time. This allowed me to bite a little piece of code that he wrote years ago and use it to fix everything. If he hadn’t documented everything so well, I would be spending the next few days trying to figure out what he did while customers complained.
Man I still miss that guy.
Hope you and the kitties are well. N** and I finally closed on a house after living in a crappy apartment for ** years, so now we get to live like adults. How are things with you?
Below is boring shop talk, but it reminded me of how much I liked working with Gary and how good he was at his job.
(So here is where I am now, sitting in my car, about to read words from my husband from years ago which somehow saved the day today for someone’s company. Eyes wide and full of tears, of missing and knowing how much of a huge void he left.)
How do I explain that? How do I explain how seeing what looks otherwise like gibberish I know is tinged with his particular flavor his Stink (he used to say “I like your stink”, a pretty aggressively passive-aggressive way of saying something nice, like he had Calvin as an interlocutor)
Knowing that code that he wrote notes for six years ago with no idea of the future (especially not that he wouldn’t be in it) would save the life of someone’s company today. That that person chose to pay that forward by remembering how much it comforted me the last time this happened and to let me know again. save my life, today. Gary did indeed save the day again.
to me this is what it means by “may his memory be a blessing” . there is so much pain so much brokenness in his life, my life our life. I got shoved into the lessons I am learning everything all at once a whirlpool of chaos nothing to do but be stuck choosing to pick through the debris and only take forward what shines what will shine with enough patience taking forward the joys, the lessons. I wouldn’t be here but for him. In every single way.
i cant smoke enough today cant distract from all the love all the couples all of the truly meant “i love you”s not the sweet softness of friends or family but the true deep, desperateness of a real love. the kind of love that has seen pain, felt it within its walls. heard its voices quake in fear.
this pain this absence. this lack.
the isolation makes it more intense more invasive the virus of loneliness manifesting and growing wilder still.
try as i might to quench this beast this monster i sit under the clear skylight under the rain no sound other than the shrieking in my skull the purring of the engine the staccato of the rain on the car.
six thousand five hundred seventy-eight days ago on a day very much like (and completely unlike) today i saw your face for the first time saw you wink for the first time saw that thousand-watt smile for the first time. 6,578 days ago i fell in love with you for the first time. there honestly has not been a single day since that i haven’t had the most incredibly complex thoughts about you.
i wish i could comfort myself with the belief that somehow somehow you know all this that in some way you are hearing me seeing me. still loving me in that complex, fierce way you had.
but this is how i know there is no god. this this is how i know for sure. (nobody fuckin come at me over this you can fuck off and keep your smug shit to yourself i am TIRED)
unrequited love is BULLSHIT and it is roaring inside me like a furnace oh it has places to go (well it used to, now didn’t it) but it is held back it is most definitely restrained
it doesn’t want to be.
everybody EVERYBODY everybody says how strong, how brave, how resilient WHAT CHOICE DO I HAVE. no one is coming to save me. No one.
so i sit and i smoke and i cry and i hold my own hands. and i scream inside my head all day long. and when i do talk to someone anyone mania takes over i have no control. and i scare myself.
gam zeh ya’avor gam zu le tovah / this too shall pass and it is all for the good i know I KNOW but it is killing me NOW.
it’s been almost an hour that i’ve been out here, now, smoking. my plant is finally drenched. my medicine is finally working. i smoked enough to take down a fucking RHINO. there won’t be any ill effect from this, either. my body knows what it needs, i feel clearheaded, if stoned. none of the usual giggliness i usually do but most definitely uplifted. my medicine works hard, i work harder.
wanting to want to do something anything becoming frustrated at every turn every avenue blocked each first becoming more and more tentative. timid. i give up. the phone in the half-inch of dirty dishwater was it. tearing at the case to free my phone fumbling it nearly to the floor a soft, sharply inhaled shriek what what what RICE WHERE IS THE RICE is that even what you’re supposed to do is it I have wild rice mix does it matter? gods it’s dusty that can’t be good for it. try the phone, the speaker sounds shit oh FUCK. … leave it. Leave it for hours. Let go. Knit, a little, can you? Would you? Where? there are the stitches Mike made. Soft, soothing, remembering his hands in the wool. … you’ve texted everyone, overtexted. emailed; overemailed. … It’s almost six. Nearly eight hours. … seems fine. gingerly, reaching out. soothed, analysis of the situation intact. depression, surely, and not for no reason, I mean Not like it needs a reason but COME ON. … watching this cycle happen in real time but slowed down (how could it be slowed down I was right here I SAW IT HAPPEN) talking through it (in real time I think maybe that is so much a part of it we were talking actually Talking. ) … And now? Medicated. Writing. Vomiting up all the toxic fury. Expelling it and becoming clean by its expulsion. … Even. Buoyed, if not buoyant.