four years/forty years

Last year I turned off Facebook memories for 2017-2018-2019 for this week beginning today. Today is the beginning of the end. Today is the beginning of the last week that Gary was alive.

So much in my life has changed in the last four years. I am not the same person who I was four years ago. I am not the same person I was forty years ago.

Forty years ago is when my bipolar disorder began to truly manifest in ways that other people could see. When my behavior became outwardly observable. Things that only I could see and feel and experience from age five were finally coming to the surface. The person that I grew into, the person that I became was by necessity, a damaged, broken, angry, fearful thing. I was shaped by my experience, by the storms inside my brain that no one could understand, but the results of which everyone could see.

The person that Gary met, she was a powerhouse. She had divorced her first and second husbands. She was taking care of her cats. She was running her own shop, she had an employee, she was working a lot. She was working out a lot. She was taking care of everything around her. She was not taking healthy self care.

She was, however, manic 24/7 and hella cute and driven.
And on fire.

She is still here, in my brain, part of The Committee. She listens mostly. Doesn’t have much to say anymore, more an observer. She sits back and nods knowingly, joint in hand, smoke curling from her lips. She is Rosie Revisited, captured in a portrait, hanging on my wall. There are times when she does speak, a forceful, if gentle “STOP IT.” I have evidence.

your author. 📷 Gary Hoffman 2002

Four years ago I was forced to stop. I became incapable of movement in any appreciable direction. The formerly driven, push-through-ahead-no-matter-how-miserable-it-makes-you person could not go any further. The “attack wife” had no fight left. I had no accountability to any other human. There was no one there for better or for worse. My life spun completely and totally out of control. I lost things, am losing things I can never get back. And yet…

I have found a new self, a calmer, more even self. I am finding the capacity for euthymia, for a happy evenness above my emotional equator. A firm-yet-squishy pleasantness that exists beyond the edges of what I smoke and carries me through the day and into my involvements with others.

I am no longer miserable.

In voicing this thought, however, there is such exquisite pain for the reality that Gary could have been helped. That perhaps he too could have finally found some measure of relief, as I have. That we just hadn’t gotten here yet in researching. That given enough time, we would have.

We didn’t have enough time. But I do.

I miss you so much.
I wish you could see me now.
I wish you could hear me now.
I wish I could talk to you.
The only thing you can do is listen.

And all I really want is to hear what you have to say.

1042a 8th august 2021, sunday

I forgive you.
I forgive you for everything.

I did not think it would ever be possible
but in this moment
bells ringing
birds singing
breezy air soft and comforting around me
there is no benefit to questioning any longer
it doesn’t matter

none of the things we said or did to one another matter now
none of the hurtful things, anyway.
you are no longer here to protest and I am too tired to do so any longer.
easier to let go

let go or be dragged.

listen, here: https://recorder.google.com/share/5161f077-5e7b-401b-9b15-565e53ccc52f

you got one life, blaze on. 11 march 2021.

¹ “blaze on” by phish

clear, warm(ish) night, listening to music over headphones, productive day, visiting with some of my favorite people and meeting new ones. there’s some stuff rolling around in my brain; I’ve said some, but it seems too harsh, too cold to say, but it’s true.

my husband died and I was able to become who I am now.
he died so that i could live.

I can barely even say the words without wanting to smack my own face in horror, but it’s true.

I think I’ve said it out loud to maybe three people, each time thinking my own skeleton will exit my skin when I say it. I feel like I am daring myself to remain conscious, like maybe I’m dreaming.
I’m not dreaming.

I mean this is horrible shit, right? I’ll tell you something else truly terrible: on more than one occasion but fewer than ten, I confided to best girlfriends that

fuck this this is terrible.

“…no place to go but everywhere…” ²

I’d said to these women, these women all married like me, in various states of dysfunction in their own marriages and relationships, all bent and dented and damaged and nearly broken. Like me.

“…I’ve been waiting for you, in sunshine and rain… won’t you look at you now, you mad molecule…” ³

oh gods.
Oh gods.

“The problem is all inside your head, she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free…
…it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways” ⁴

goddammit.

I’d said to these women wtf knows how long before he died
“If he could just be gone. I don’t want him to hurt, I don’t want him to die. I don’t want anything bad for him, not pain, not suffering. I just want to stop being in so much pain.”

and now he is and now I am. Now I am

I am becoming something more than I thought I could.
I would like the dissenting voices to kindly shut the fuck up, please and thank you.

“…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…” ⁵

I feel like you know,
in this way that my tenses and my conversations are still fucked up three and a half years in
I feel like you know
like you see
Tonight, especially. Now.
Like right the fuck now jesus fuck.

“Well I don’t mind sleeping alone
If it means I don’t have to play your crazy games no more
You’re the most precious thing I’ve ever seen
But I ain’t gonna let it slide when you’re mean to me
I know the love that I deserve…” ⁶

Deserve is a word I take issue with.
Earned is better.

I know, but I don’t really know.

¹ https://open.spotify.com/track/2f26s2OTd5PospyTITUR0n?si=RHDDOjtxRiqb-_hFCFs0aA&utm_source=copy-link

² https://open.spotify.com/track/0ErpHxNt1kTyCQGlh43wr1?si=0J9etAiGQ1uDfhNc4TJnAg&utm_source=copy-link

³ https://open.spotify.com/track/0lhou8W3tdUpLBwEEVpO4s?si=eX_u-E_VTki88NpRpYF1Qw&utm_source=copy-link

https://open.spotify.com/track/2fFfb1YL9Qx0EYx6jnVXON?si=o3ToLSEwQqeHgI_V2vgsrg&utm_source=copy-link

https://open.spotify.com/track/54rQxr2XJZ4vf0mRyGsqAo?si=T6QCJ3DvRk2wJEPJdSv2xg&utm_source=copy-link

https://open.spotify.com/track/646NxfLugCOxvB8V2bpHu2?si=ksNzleLdSDuWglnSGGomtA&utm_source=copy-link

1130a 31st february 2021. the impossible day.

i have seen the edge.
walked right up to it, lookedover.
i have looked into the abyss and it welcomed me.
its maw is deep and wide
and it welcomed me.
come, it said.
step over the edge.
or don’t
but i am here for you when no one else is. i will wait for you.
I know you will be back.

teeth bright and sharp
white and cold.
keep hold of what’s good.
that’s all there is to save me
that’s all there is
flashes of all the good things

grasping at anything to pull me back from this edge.
grasping at them
smashing them into my brain
shoving out this other
look away. look away.

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?

been waiting such a long time. 9th june, 2020

GenX forever

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 posted this on my fb feed just before midnight, borrowing from a sister widow, knitter, friend.

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.

And still…

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.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

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?

Cheap Trick

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)

Still listening.

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.

Chicago

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

Still listening.

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.

Chicago

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.

dear gods.

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.

Tom Jones

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.

Toto

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.

Still listening.

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.

REO Speedwagon

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…

Oingo Boingo

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???

still listening.

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.

Blondie

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.

Still listening.

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.

Still. Listening.

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?

P!nk

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…

The Beatles

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.

I am still listening.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night.

Things that have made me burst into tears today: a list

My own writing. I had to stop, and leave it for another time.

Driving to work and listening to the governor’s briefing where he assured everyone paying attention that taking the COVID-19 test was easy and that he would show us. And then he proceeded to show us just how easy it was. That there was nothing to it. He did exactly as he was told. He followed the directions and there was nothing to it.

Recalling to a friend on the phone the feeling of a neighbor’s eight-week old puppy in my arms. Taking two selfies with this sweet baby angel and not giving a single shit that the photos are not aesthetically pleasing but for that I am so motherfucking happy in them it doesn’t matter that I have like six chins and my mouth is doing something weird. And jfc what a run-on sentence.

The Peekskill sign on Route 9A when you come around the corner where it meets up with 9. I see it every single time and today, with the sun hitting it just right? Home. I am close to home.

These are the big things. A host of smaller things also, but these are the highlights. The ones that leave me stinging, wide-eyed-and-mouthed in a silent scream.

The only thing for it, as I was driving and couldn’t light up (as much as I wanted to dear gods if I could just. No.) the only thing for it automagically appeared. Dirty, filthy guitars filled my car. Fiercely echoing, I cranked it nearly to the top. Heartbroken, In Disrepair blasted from my speakers as I hit the straightaway on 9. I opened the windows, the sunroof. Flexed my calf, increased my speed.

Rosie, my red Juke, responded like a lover.
Rocketing up the highway wasn’t smart. Wasn’t responsible. I didn’t give a single shit. This is what I needed.

There was no one in my way, Waze showed clear sailing. I accelerated until I hit ninety, no strain, my curls whipping in the tumult. With the music storming all around me, wind buffeting my face, the depression finally broke. I felt it physically melt in my chest. My shoulders unclenched, lowering from where they’d been, up around my ears. I let out a long, low whistle, much the same as I have heard from lovers.
Release.

pandemic diaries: 734a 25 april 2020

good morning.
it is a beautiful day
the sun is out, shining on my bared skin
raptors circle overhead
in the clear blue sky
and we are all thinking about death.

softness, poignant and melancholy in my ears.
rediscovered from a time of such darkness a hopelessness, back then.

i cried every day eleven years ago, every day.
always on my way to work.
often in the bathroom.
usually from relief in the parking lot.

“…lose yourself in lines dissecting…”

good morning.
it is a beautiful day.