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
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 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.
That’s what it is, that’s what suicide is It is literally the only and one solution to “I don’t want to feel like this anymore and I know that I will I don’t want to feel like this anymore and the only surefire way to not ever feel like this anymore is to kill myself.” That is the only surefire way.I don’t want to feel like this anymore I hate feeling like this I don’t want to feel like this anymore
my voice grows shrill inside my head and out and it amplifies as my heart rate amplifies and screams
I don’t want to feel like this anymore. There isn’t any other solution to not feeling like this anymore to *not ever* feeling like this anymore.
nothing is helping nothing is helping nothing is helping
it is going to keep being bad, isn’t it it is going to keep hurting yes. yes it is. people are going to keep being stupid you are going to want to scream and hit and rage and you cannot it is going to keep driving driving you down lower and lower and lower until you cannot breathe.
you might not want to feel like this anymore but Mojo. Mojo and cookies. Weed. The full fucking moon and a sky full of stars. Kissing. Art. Music. Kissing.
There will be kissing Saturday.
so if I’m getting this right the idea is not to wish for it to stop feeling this way because it will always keep feeling this way I mean it’ll stop for a while but then it goes right back it always has and it always will it always always will.
no the idea is to not think about how terrible it is feeling and to only think about ending that but to think about all of the things you don’t want to end Mojo. Mojo and cookies. Weed. Those are all things I can do by myself Those are all things I don’t have to depend on anyone else. but kissing. You can’t do that alone. You need at least one other person for that.
You can’t go just yet. You’re not done yet. There are still so many good things.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
“I don’t know how it’s possible, but I, I think my birthday this year was possibly the best one I’ve ever had. It’s certainly one of the most special, and I want to thank everyone for being a part of it. 52 on 5/2 I’m certainly not playing with a full deck it’s more like a deck full of jokers. So thank you everyone for being part of it.”
for the record (and as far as i know you look it up if you don’t believe me) for the past fifty-two years it has been shitty exactly once on my birthday. That was 2001, the year I turned 33 and one of the years I was in and around dating Noel. I’m sure he had just recently broken it off again. Anyway.
my parents built the house I grew up in in 1970. A typical, split-level ranch. Right outside my bedroom window they planted this glorious cherry tree, a Kanzan Sakura, with the big, fat, pale pink marshmallowy blossoms. I love that tree, it’s my favorite flower of all. Blooms every year on my birthday.
I don’t remember how early on but it was early, Itold Gary that when I finally owned my own home I would plant one of those trees in my yard. The first spring that we were in the house we planted our tree. We didn’t plant it in a good spot, it didn’t get anywhere near the kind of sunlight it needed underneath the massive canopy of maple and oak. I could, however, see the blossoms from my bedroom window.
Last year, after the house went into foreclosure, I knew that would be my last birthday with that view, of cherry blossoms from my bedroom window. And then the neighbor went ahead and chopped down the maple and oak, that gorgeous canopy of green that had been protecting my head for 13 years. A full backyard of sunlight meant that the cherry tree would have a chance to grow properly now, reaching up towards the sun instead of slinking around corners to find it. Only I wouldn’t be here.
This year however, with the world on pause, I got one last, magical reprieve to spend with my tree. So I went to my backyard, prepared to see admirers as any queen would, and enjoyed my day under the cherry blossoms.