12/21/16

There’s a lesson in here somewhere

It’s been 11 months since I last blogged. I’m sorry. Did you want your money back? Do you have a receipt?

My rottweiler Dorothy and I moved back to Seattle in April where I reunited briefly with my old ginger boyfriend. We split the rent on an $800 room in a shitty apartment with a nice, normal roommate and his two cats. My boyfriend and I were clearly so incredibly into this thing that we couldn’t stand to sleep in the same bed together. He slept on the bed and I slept with Dorothy on a mattress pulled next to the bed on the floor.

This time in Seattle wasn’t the worst, exactly. I liked riding the bus into the city and looking out the window. Seattle has good restaurants and movie theaters, and you can see Mt Rainier if you’re facing the right direction. On the other hand, everybody thinks they’re better than me in Seattle and there’s nowhere to park. There was never enough money and the ginger boyfriend didn’t love me enough, in my opinion. Point is, I moved back to Michigan and I’ve been here since August.

I live in a house with four of my old friends in Royal Oak, just a few miles north of Detroit. By sheer coincidence, the house is three doors down from my long-dead grandmother’s house, where I spent much of my childhood. There’s a park across the street that I ran away to when I was just a toddler, making everyone in my family believe I’d been kidnapped or killed. Around twenty years later, I tripped on acid in that park with my friend Ian. I remember saying to him, “You’re really weird.” (Projection). He said, “Are you sure it’s not just the drugs, though?” Anyway, now I live across the street from that historic site. Isn’t it cool how you try and try to get away but instead you just spin around in circles? They ought to put up a plaque.

This is the park.

This is the park.

Do you remember when I got sober for 11 months back in 2011-12? Perhaps you read about it in the newspaper. I mean literally, I wrote feature stories about my sobriety for a newspaper in Montana. Then I started drinking and smoking again, and let’s just breeze past this part and say that the last four years have gone steadily downhill from there.

Cut to this labor day in Michigan. My friend Lindsay had a pool party at her parent’s house in Waterford while the folks were out of town. People were getting high and drunk, and then my friend Travis came barrelling in like John Goodman with a shitload of mushrooms for everyone. Hey, I thought. Why the heck not, for old time’s sake, let’s kick this party up a notch. This is just the kind of shit that grown up children in the midwest do.

Hallucinogens don’t sit well with my tummy and never have. I always spend the first half of the night puking. September 5 was no different; I draped myself over the banister and puked in large chunks into the bushes. It felt like I was shooting ping pong balls out of my mouth made of wet dough. Lindsay’s dogs came around and ate the vomit. “Is that okay?” I asked. “Are the dogs going to trip out on my vomit? Is there a doctor in the house?”

It was dark and warm and my friends were sitting around the poolside talking ecstatically. I should clarify: the extroverts were ecstatic while the introverts and I listened helplessly from a private hell inside our bodies. From this place, all of a sudden, “I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.” It wasn’t a voice or a vision so much as a calm and wonderful knowing that this was the last time. Starting tomorrow, I didn’t have to drink alcohol or do drugs anymore. I felt like Forrest Gump when his idiotic shrimping business takes off and he says, “That’s good. One less thing.”

From there, I wandered aimlessly in and out of Lindsay’s parent’s house, pouring beers down my gullet in a quiet panic sponsored by too many hallucinogens. It was okay, though. I knew it would all be over soon. The party had a hot tub full of party animals. I got inside the tub and dunked my head under to drown out the voices, came back up again, repeat. A man named Frank laughed heartily at everyone’s jokes. From under the water, he sounded like a God. Inside, the non-partiers invariably said: “I wish I’d done slightly fewer mushrooms than I did.” Field studies confirm: However many mushrooms you take in your 30s is just a little too much.

These spontaneous conversions under the influence of psilocybin and other drugs are not so uncommon. Check the scientific literature on it, I don’t know. Quitting forever wasn’t what I was going for, exactly, but I’d been sick for a long time and I did sincerely want to get better. At the very least, I know I went into that party with one of those withered promises to myself of, “I’m going to party hard tonight and then take a serious breather. For like two weeks. OMG you guys, I’m serious.” It’s been 109 days of sobriety, according to this app on my phone, but who’s counting. I’m glad about it and I want to keep at it. This is embarrassing to talk about, and I know I’ve said it before, but just do me a solid and take my word on it this time.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I can start blogging about other things.

For example, Dorothy died the other day. She was ten years old, she had cancer, it happens. She was my destiny and my soulmate and I miss her a lot. The grief is worse than I thought it would be, but what can anybody do but stand it.

She seemed a little depressed about her diminishing condition, but resigned and wise about it, too. Toward the end, she was too weak to stand on her own. It was an honor and a privilege to carry her everywhere. I felt like a firefighter doing something important for a special person. I had her scheduled to be put down on Wednesday but I dug the hole on Sunday because I was afraid the ground would get too cold if I waited. Also, pardon me, is this weird? It’s just that I’ve seen it done so many times in films and the act is so mystical and terrible that I couldn’t resist: I carried her outside and made her watch me dig the hole.

She died the next morning sprawled out on the floor next to me while I finished up writing a review for a critically acclaimed film that I hated. Her teeth were bared in a frozen, half-growl that had little to do with her life. She didn’t vomit or shit or do anything gross. Her body was frozen in place and even then I had to stare and poke at her for a pretty long time; it seemed like she was faking it and still breathing. She looked mean and perfect.

Merry Christmas? Let’s talk again soon.

11/10/15

The Incredible Journey.

On the other hand, why would anyone willingly move back to a suburb of Detroit, Michigan?

It became clear over time that life in Seattle with my dog had become fodder for an unfortunate narrative. “Well, thank god you have Dorothy,” my mother would say to me through heavy sighs on the telephone. I may not be a smart man, but I know when I’m being patronized.

Three days alone on the road with my dog. We murdered thousands of butterflies against the windshield. At a Motel 6 in Joliet, Illinois, Dorothy and I ate pizza so gross that we both puked on the bed spread, and you know the legend is true that those things never get cleaned.

Homeward Bound.

Homeward Bound.

There was something pretty seriously wrong with me. The fall leaves, everyone said. Look at all the colors. First of all, autumn leaves are at most three to four colors. Secondly, I’ve seen it. More than 30 goddamn times I have seen leaves die and fall off of trees. Why do they call it change when it always happens, answer me that.

My mom didn’t know what to do so she brought me home a fifth of Evan Williams every other day on her way home from work. After a week or so of that I was all, no mother, this place is a health spa and I am the earth’s humble student, so instead she sent me to the quack family doctor to get diet pills and anti depressants.

A lot of little things made me want to leave Seattle. I remember I was at a service counter at a Safeway in White Center. A customer said, “Why do you lock up the little bottles of booze but not the big bottles.” Before the clerk could answer, I said, “Because they’re the easiest to steal.” She said, “That’s exactly right.” We formed a unit in that moment, the three of us, but then I said, “Bob Marley says that locking your doors is like saying you don’t trust people.” Why do I always say this. It makes people uncomfortable. The customer said, “Right. Exactly.” I held the state of Washington responsible for feeling misunderstood in that moment, but that’s not fair. They respond the same way in Michigan. Of course you can’t trust people. There are poor people everywhere.

spaceneedletools

Then I took this picture of attractive young professionals my age in Queen Anne and that was basically the last straw. I could hear them speaking. The one on the left explained the view to the other two. “This is the space needle,” he said. If you don’t understand why I didn’t want to share a city with these people anymore, I can’t explain it. I am aware now that I may have overreacted.

The pills aren’t working, thanks for asking. They gave me a tricyclic anti-depressant, the old school kind, because it’s also a sedative and I told the doctor I couldn’t sleep. The idea that you go to a doctor and tell her what medicine you want based on what commercials you’ve seen is batshit insane to me, but this is America and this is how we do it. I told her my mom said I should ask her for a pill called “phentermine” that her friend from work said made her skinny, and that was it, she just wrote it down on a pad and said, “Anything else?” Then I got cocky. I was like, throw in a little ambien.
“I can’t prescribe ambien with phentermine,” she said.
“But I need a downer to go with my upper,” I said.
“That’s the exact issue,” she said.

I thought about the scene in The Departed when Madolyn valiantly recovers after Billy Costigan rattles her in their first therapy session. Theirs is the sexiest relationship in all of cinema. She gives him a script for lorazapem, and then she says,  “Have I done my job to your God damn standards? Because according my standards, you fit the model of drug seeking behavior. And too damn bad if you don’t like my initial clinical reaction.” It was a baller thing to say. I feel that I too fit the model of drug seeking behavior. The fact that I really am overweight, suffer from insomnia and exhibit symptoms of severe clinical depression are immaterial against this feeling that I’ve done something wrong.

“You can’t sleep,” she said, and I agreed. Her next question was, “Do you have kids?” I said no, and she prescribed the amitriptyline. What is the relevance of the question about kids (is a question with no answer).

My mother and I went down to Florida to babysit my sister’s six month old. Her name is Veda and I am her aunt. She stared at me for long, perplexed moments. I look like her mother but I am not her mother. Happy, sad and confused seem to be her three primary emotions. In Florida, my dearth of normal human feeling began to gnaw on the people around me. It was getting to Sylvia Plath levels of despair. I may have had three lines of dried red blood on my cheek, for all I know. I was so dead inside I doubt I cast a reflection in a mirror. Not to mention the tiny lizards that scurried under foot with every step on the pavement. I imagined them falling out of the trees and into my hair, or scurrying up my pant leg. I love every animal but a lizard. After Florida, my mother agreed to pay for my talk therapy.

I’ve known my therapist since I was 17 years old. He’s a smart, funny man who I am probably in love with, but only under the healthy umbrella of transference. It took me several minutes to tell him that David had died. I kept gesturing with my hands and trying to get the words out of my mouth, but they wouldn’t come. Three sessions later my therapist told me that my grief stacked on top of the depression, stuffed inside a pre-existing horror show like the chicken in a turducken, and there is nothing to do but grieve and feel the feelings. Finding out how sad you are: This is an example of progress and a good thing. That’s how bad it is.

lamb of god.

lamb of god.

 

I wanted to turn my head into an animal for halloween. Last year I was a crow, before that, a dog, and a rabbit the year before that. I tried to make a horse but the horse turned into a bear. I didn’t like the bear so I resolved to start over with a lamb. I imagined the lamb with the machete from the horror film You’re Next, isn’t that terrifying? I went to Goodwill and bought two stuffed teddy bears, for christmas, with a texture like a lamb’s tail. “These are cute,” the clerk said. “I’m going to cut them up and wear them on my face,” I thought of saying, but be proud of me, I didn’t.

 

 

 

 

bear of god.

bear of god.

 

I mention the manic making of the masks because I have to admit that this focused attention on an ultimately irrelevant task means that I am probably getting better. I punctured my thigh with a pair of scissors, but that was a harmless accident. The masks make me feel safe and desirous of your presence. I want to hover over your bed with the head of a lamb and watch you sleep.  I’m renewing my interest in things I once enjoyed.

Is that good? Are you proud of me? Have I done my job to your goddamn standards?

10/5/15

David.

My friend David went missing in late July. I’ve known him the longest of anyone, since we were 15 years old, and we stayed close even after I left Michigan for school in 2009. Always we were united in misanthropy and sadness, but somewhere along the line, it was like I went out the front door into the world and he slipped unnoticed out the back.

It started during the college years, when we were all in our 20s. He kept having these frightening breaks from reality. One time on acid he went mad on the Wayne State campus and allegedly attacked a security guard; I found him strapped to a gurney the next morning at Detroit Mercy Hospital. Another time he flipped out in the middle of a 10-day meditation retreat and the buddhists had to send him home. At first we didn’t know what was wrong with him, because there were all these confounding factors: drugs, the stress of meditation—but eventually he got diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes. It’s an affliction that looks a lot like schizophrenia, with an equally dismal prognosis.

He was never really the same after that. The medications clouded his brain and made him lethargic and unmotivated. It stopped the mania but somehow made the depression worse. He couldn’t work, which meant he had to live on a pitiful disability allowance. Then his car broke down, leaving him stranded alone in a tiny apartment in Hamtramck. One thing stacks up on top of another, and after awhile it becomes a case of how much can a person take?

Lindsay texted to say she hadn’t heard from David in a few days. This was standard protocol. Many times before he’d gone off his meds and disappeared for a time, but always he’d resurface, the hospital would pump him full of meds and he’d be back where he started. I checked our gchat history and found our last conversation was about a week ago. When I saw he hadn’t logged into google in more than five days—I think that’s about the time that I knew in my bones that he was dead.

A day later, neighbors called the landlord to complain about a smell. They found him decomposing in his apartment with a plastic bag over his head. That’s how he always told me he would do it: with helium and asphyxiation. He’d told me many times before that he wanted to die and he wasn’t scared. He stayed alive as a courtesy to his parents. If you’re thinking I should have said or done something, you don’t understand. I am the friend you can tell your darkest secrets to without judgment. This is one of my few, unequivocal gifts. In the aftermath people said things like, “I wish we’d done more to help him,” but those of us that knew him best knew that it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t for a lack of love. It was something deeper, hideous and ultimately unknowable.

I flew in for the funeral. Somehow, my friend Travis and I landed the task of identifying his body at the coroners. I expected them to open a large drawer and then dramatically unzip the body bag, but these days you just go into a room and look at a picture on a computer screen. He didn’t look at all like himself. His face was black, bloated and without expression. When the lady asked us, “Can you make a positive ID?” we lied and said “Yes.”

Lindsay and I spoke at the funeral to a packed house full of people weeping. David was a gay man from a conservative Christian family. His spiritual beliefs were nuanced and intelligent and beautiful, so when the pastor said a lot of generic bullshit about how David had repented and embraced christianity in the moments before his death, my friends and I were, how you say, annoyed. Lindsay even got up and walked out of the room in protest. The worst part was when they played the most god awful rendition of “Amazing Grace” the world has ever known. It was dumb and sad, but I had the feeling that David would have understood and pitied his family for clinging to superstition. I weirdly thought of the part in the bible when Jesus says, “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.”

If I had to choose, I’d say the most surreal thing about David’s death was when his mother handed me a felt pouch after the funeral service with a mini urn of David’s ashes inside. I said, “Oh. Thank you. I wasn’t expecting that.” Later I watched her give one to Lindsay, and she said the exact same thing. “Oh. Thank you. I wasn’t expecting that.”

I don’t mean for this to be a well thought out and beautiful essay about suicide, or an advocacy piece for people with mental illness or anything like that. Those are fine, I’m just not up for it. More than anything else, I am filled with an ordinary, overwhelming sadness. I miss hearing his voice and seeing his face. I miss his dry humor and cunning, compassionate intelligence. I inherited his army green satchel, a few books, his tarot cards and his crystal balls. We had this in common: our obsession with the divine tempered by a nagging skepticism. Since it happened I haven’t dreamed of him once or seen him as a floating aberration above my bed. It makes me sick in the stomach, this feeling that he’s lost. That I don’t know where he is.

I’m not angry at David for hurting us. Nobody has an obligation to stay alive in pain just because we don’t want to face the suffering of living without them. And I don’t subscribe to common ideas that suicide is selfish or cowardly. I don’t think it’s noble either, but don’t tell me that the scariest thing in the world doesn’t take courage.

When I got home to Seattle, it didn’t feel like home any more. David’s death turned Seattle into the loneliest place on earth. More than that, it forced me to take an objective look at my own depression, how I’ve been letting it run my life unfettered for more than three years. I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t making it. My friends and family kept saying, we miss you. Come back. So I said, fine. Thank you for still wanting me. And here I am.

 

12/12/13

a day in the life part million.

Before we begin: Does the new theme decoration make you nauseous? Perhaps I’ll have changed it before you read this, but right now know that the background is bright red slabs of meat with a real life bloody bathroom scene as the header photo. I can explain: I don’t have photoshop installed to tone down the reds. If anybody wants to help me design something prettier, by all means, come at me.

Never mind this crippling fear of the blank page followed by an avalanche of projections into a bleak and unrealized future. I went to bed with this “never mind” in mind and tried to wake up in the morning still thinking it, but the mind wanders. I had three dogs to walk today. I said to myself, unconvincingly, “I choose to be a dog walker!” This is one of the new head tricks I’ve learned, in a nutshell: Act like your life isn’t horrible.

There’s a coffee shop about a block from my new studio in capitol hill. I don’t like it because the drip doesn’t taste good and you can’t get anything bigger than 12 oz (classic joke: The food is terrible, and such small portions!) but it’s on the way to the bus and I’m trying to be a good sport.

Inside the soundtrack featured christmas music sung by harmonizing black voices, and I was listening to the music while staring at the girl’s hair in front of me. She had hair that looks like she tousled it in the morning on purpose, like if you snapped a picture of Kate Moss when she first stepped out of bed and she still looked good.

The girl with the hair said, “Is this Beyonce?” and the man behind the counter with the skinny tshirt, beard and glasses confirmed, “It’s Destiny’s Child.”

It was just as I suspected, and in my sudden commitment to be vulnerable and genuine with the people around me, I said to everyone, “I was really enjoying the music, and it caused me to confront my true self and my previous beliefs about the entire holiday season and the meaning of Christmas.” I pointed to my heart while saying this.

The man behind the counter corrected me: “It’s pretty horrible.”

The other guy handed me my shitty 12 ounces of coffee and said, “Yeah, it’s bad.”

Let me just reaffirm once more that the music was gorgeous, I mean empirically, you’d have to be some kind of monster. I thought, “Am I on candid camera?”

Out loud I said, “Then why are you playing it?” but no one heard me.

The girl with the tousled hair agreed with the coffee workers that the soulful, joyous rendition of “here come the bells” was terrible. “I like the RUN DMC Christmas album,” she said, and followed that with, “Are you playing this on vinyl?”

It didn’t seem like she was kidding, but how can that be? They said: “No, compact disc,” and the three of them talked about vinyl right up to the moment I walked out the door.

That’s actually what unfolded during my first attempt at openness with people in my neighborhood. I’m like a raccoon who climbs out of his hole at the first thaw with a longing for spring only to immediately get hit by a truck.

On the way to the bus downtown I thought to myself, “I need to start saving my money so I can go on vacations, have experiences and meet new people.” Shortly after on the sidewalk I ran into a panhandler for probably the third or fourth time, but she tends to only remember me if I’ve got a dog in tow. She’s a tiny, pretty thing, and she’s always nice and I always give her money. She said she needed four more dollars to get a subway sandwich, and I handed her five dollars out of my empty dreams fund.

She said thank you and told me I was tall. Being told I’m tall usually feels like a pin in my belly but I’m starting to recognize that people think they’re giving me something nice when they say this. They think they’re complimenting me, so with this new information I have to sort of pull out the pin and clean off the blood.

The odds suggest the girl is a drug addict, which is fine. I am happy to give her five dollars for whatever is going to make her feel good. What I find is that I’m craving to know her better. What kind of drugs? How did she get into them? Will she ever change or will she die on the streets? I know that she’s special. I’d like to follow her back to wherever she goes at night and crawl into the sleeping bag next to her, but I hold back! This is why I’ll never be a crack addict; I’m too shy.

You’re reading the words of a girl who’s interested in change and right action. I joined a cult recently. I hope it helps. It’s not my first choice for a cult because I think it’s a little corporate-y, and they’re super aggressive about trying to turn me into a little soldier who recruits other members, but overall I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor, at the moment. Think of the kind of compassionate capitalists with glazed over eyes you see in the crowd of a Ted Talks video, these dolts who have just discovered for the first time the value of mindfulness, and that’s the kind of peeps my new cult is largely made up of. I think I’ve got something to learn from these people. If you think I’m selling out, well. The girl from two weeks ago who didn’t join this cult hasn’t finished a story in over a year and a half, so what the heck. Let’s see if this helps.

I’m single again. Lost another one to God, what else is new. Going to Detroit this weekend. I tried to go to the post office but the line was too long and I couldn’t understand how to buy stamps out of the self service machine. That’s a true story. If you’re still waiting on a free letter, what can I say? LoL. Keep waiting. 

07/25/13

my boyfriend’s back (and you’re gonna be in trouble).

Too much time has past since my last confession. All the quality people have died or moved on. So much has happened, where to begin:

1. Becoming a full time dog walker/pet sitter is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. It’s as easy as you imagine and weirdly lucrative so long as you work all day every day and sleep in a stranger’s bed with a pug under each arm every other night of your life. My enthusiasm is tempered only because dog walking is a well known loser job, as evidenced by this recent onion video, “Friends Don’t Understand How Man Not Depressed.”  Three guesses for what this sad, pathetic man does for a living. I’ll give you a hint: He’s not a doctor. If you saw the way the dogs look up at me from the leash with total devotion, you’d understand.

2. An attractive, newlywed couple moved into the upstairs of the house I’ve been living in and are converting the space into their own personal love nest. They dismantled the pool table and threw away the television. Day by day, the ugly tile is covered up with pretty hardwood laminate. Imagine a Charlie Kaufman film. Every morning I wake up thinking, “Oh God, my life.” But I move into my new place in Greenwood this weekend and I have big plans to throw away everything that isn’t an elephant. Speaking of which.

3. In a surprise twist, Jesse moved to Seattle a couple of weeks ago with my first and last name tattooed over his heart. He rolled up with everything he owns in the $300 Subaru, and now he’s making $500 a day roofing, like a game show screaming, “All this could be yours!” But money’s only fun when it’s buying you freedom, right? He moved in with his second choice, a young, rich, beautiful girl in Kirkland. She has no idea what she’s up against. He hates me, he wants to marry me, I’m a whore, I’m beautiful, I don’t know, it changes on a dime. Jesse Casado is Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood. He is Brandon McCarthy from Welcome to the Dollhouse. He’s Mark Wahlberg from Fear. He’s the guy who killed McGinnis in Jesus’ Son. He is Raging Bull.

“Will you believe me when I tell you that there was kindness in his heart? His left hand didn’t know what his right hand was doing. It’s just that certain important connections had been burned through. If I opened up your head, and ran a hot soldering iron around in your brain, I might turn you into someone like that.”

The last time I saw Jesse he’d started drinking at 5:30 in the morning. He bought me breakfast at Denny’s and I sat across from him on a bed of eggshells thinking, forgive me, please. I’m sorry I hurt you. Forgive me. Love me like you used to. Let me love you. Just be my friend. Guess what’s never going to happen? On the way home I puked up the Denny’s in a plastic bag, and it’s like, what the fuck is the point of this? What am I doing? I quit.

4. The worst of it is that I haven’t been writing, but I’ve been off the Jesse for a few days now and I think I’m coming out of the fog. I’ve got my sense of smell back! I can feel myself having ideas again. I want to write essays on dogs and how to be nice. I want to write you free letters and a novel and a million short stories and more film articles. Now it’s just a question of where to start.

Where do I start?

06/6/13

you haven’t met yourself yet.

Work

Nobody didn’t see this one coming: I put in my two weeks at the retirement home. I knew for sure I was on my way out when they told me I had to go to a meeting designed to hone our team building skills, and much like Camus and the Myth of Sisyphus, my first thought was, “Should I go to the meeting, or should I kill myself?”

You don’t understand. The lady made us answer ice breaker questions. When she asked me what my two favorite foods were, I said, “Ramen and tofu,” because that’s actually what I eat the most of, and aren’t you supposed to love the one you’re with? I really let the team down with that answer; you could feel the energy in the room deflating down to nothing. You’d have thought I squashed a sparrow under my boot in front of everyone and laughed about it.

Really though, this country fetishizes food and the food industry exploits animals, I’m not in the mood, I hate when people ask me what my favorite food is. The team should consider itself lucky I didn’t elaborate. [In high school, my friend Kevin used to do an impression of me wherein he put on my glasses, waved his hands in the air and said, "I'm Molly. I'm anti-everything!" It's still true! I still wear glasses!]

So ends that reign of terror. I got two new jobs, get this, we’re all really pleased about this: 1. Dog walker. 2. Mentor/private tutor.  But let’s not get into it here. Old people don’t really google, but everybody else does and I’d rather not get fired immediately.

Detroit

I made friends with a poet on the internet and I visited him in his basement apartment. It was a neat room with wood paneling on the walls, important books and hundreds of VHS tapes of violent films. The poet told me more than once that if not for poetry he’d be a murderer and if you’ve seen his beard like I have you wouldn’t doubt it. I feel like I find myself alone in rooms with men like this all the time lately and I’m never scared. I saw his bedroom in a dream ten years ago and I told him so. In the dream we sat on the floor on the edge of his bed. The poet didn’t talk much and I don’t know if he thinks I’m a necromancer or a dumb girl who says untrue things or what.

In a diner not unlike the one in all of David Lynch and indeed many films, the poet told me for a second time about a book he liked called The Book of Nightmares by Galway Kinnell. He told me about turning to a random page (57, he thought?) and reading a passage that said something like “You’re looking out a window at rocks on a Tuesday in 2009” and the Poet swore he was doing just that. I had ordered the book from a second hand seller on amazon not long after the first time he told me he liked it. I pulled the book out of my purse and looked for page 57, but pages 53 through 58 had been ripped out. The coincidences just stack on top of each other without meaning anything. They stack and stack like a room full of dirty plates until you can hardly move but still your life doesn’t mean anything. You want to smash the plates but the plates don’t care if they’re smashed or in tact; you can’t win.

LSD

You’re not allowed to talk about drug use in the present tense, so assume this happened a long time ago, to someone else, in a dream, with a wrench, on a boat:

She took LSD with some old friends for old time’s sake. It was terrible, she just crawled inside her heart and saw how black it was, but her friends wanted to have a good time so she pretended like she wasn’t in a private hell. They watched a lot of Eliot Smith and Sparklehorse videos and mourned their suicides all over again. She'd eaten pizza earlier and spent all night puking up the pizza, and then all sorts of items that weren’t pizza; she puked marbles and spare change and keys with no locks. She felt like she didn’t love anyone or care about anything anymore, and that’s wrong. There’s no point in doing LSD, she decided. Taking LSD felt like arriving at a fun party hours after everyone’s already left and the lights are turned off. Then you put your hands on your knees and spit up a wilted balloon, and there's not even anybody around to laugh at you.

New, better jobs. Seattle stays in the picture. I’m so happy. Look at this photo of me. I’m so happy:

 

05/1/13

congratulations on my new job.

I got a job as a server in the dining room of a retirement home. They make me wear black pants and shoes. I bought the whole outfit in the men’s section at Target, because who gives a fuck what I look like? The shoes are excellent except there’s something about the shape of them that makes me trip over my right big toe often and without warning, and every time is a little more perilous than the last. I feel like the shoes are cursed and something really bad is going to happen, but it’s probably just that I’m humiliated about my job and my pathetic station in life.

The old ladies think I’m some kind of big blonde giant lumbering toward them, and they’re all spellbound by my name, which I guess is more modern than I thought. You would think that old people would be more aware of things in life instead of less, but that’s not the case. Like, you’d think that they might have met at the very least a little dog named Molly in their 70+ years on this planet, but no. I tell them that I’m named after my great Aunt Mary, that historically Molly is a nickname for Mary, and it’s as if I told them we’re all going to start tasting with our feet from now on like butterflies.

The thing about being old is that you can’t remember anything. The old ladies hang out together and help remember each other’s orders. (“What is that thing I like?” “You like honey mustard. You like honey mustard so much.”) Here’s an example of a hilarious conversation I overheard in the dining room.

Joan: I’ll go grab your walker.
Ester: I don’t have a walker.
Joan: I’m pretty sure you have a walker.
Ester: I really don’t think I have one.
Joan: This is your walker.
Ester: Are you sure?
Joan: I’m pretty sure.
Ester: I really don’t think I have a walker.

They went back and forth like this for a pretty long time. The exchange felt comfortable and laid back, like the ladies were old friends.  The story ends with Ester wheeling herself out of the dining room, all the while convinced that the walker in her hands didn’t belong to her.

If I’m making it sound like I hate these people, that’s not the case. A few of them are assholes, but most of them are kind, beautiful snowflakes and it gives me genuine pleasure to bring them extra napkins when they ask for them. I have a particular fondness for old people because they’re such misfits. They’re complete fucking messes and everybody can tell. If I have any regrets about the job, it’s that I’m bummed out that I’m a terrific writer with a master’s degree, 60+ publications, 2+ years of teaching experience, I’m 31 years old, and the only job I could find in Seattle after months of tireless searching is working in an old folk’s home for $9.50 an hour. It’s embarrassing because I’m sure the world expected more out of me, but then again, does it really matter? You get up, you go to work, you come home, you go to bed. There’s more to life than a little bit of money, you know. Whatever, I’m sorry. I’ll keep trying.

I have a story at Spork Press called “Black Dog, White Rhino.” If you read that and you’re champing at the bit for more, the protagonist continues her sad life in another story on Monkeybicycle from last year called “What People Without Jesus Do.”

Thanks for reading! Also, am I boring you? What do you think I should write about? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don’t really get this website or what it’s supposed to be about or why I’m writing it.

04/21/13

two short stories.


1.

I thought I wasn’t going to see my ex boyfriend when I went back to Montana, but that turned out to be wrong. He picked me up in the Orange Street Food Farm parking lot in the dead of night after all the bars were closed. Everything he owned was piled up in the backseat. It was snowing and I didn’t know where he was taking me. He told me I looked pretty in a soft and unfamiliar voice and I knew I was doomed.

The next morning, a couple of old men called my ex boyfriend about the moose antlers he had for sale on craigslist. We got in the $300 silver Subaru we bought together in November and drove to the old Walmart off of Brooks to rondevu with one of the old men. I thought the old man wanted to buy the moose antlers so he could display them on his wall as though he’d killed the moose himself, and it seemed pretty weird and sad, but again I had the wrong idea. It turns out you can make chandeliers and lamps out of the material, and Montanans go fucking wild for creepy antler crafts. My ex boyfriend sold the moose antlers along with a set of elk antlers for $50, but the man said they were worth twice that. My ex boyfriend knows about a place where there are 15 or 16 elk antlers just lying around, and the old man said he would be very interested in that.  Elk antlers go for $8 a pound. I think the elk’s life is worth more, but no one cares, so it isn't.

We’d shared a two bedroom house together on the Westside for four earth-shattering months, but it ended pretty swiftly when I absconded to Seattle under the cloak of night in January. I was thinking that I still loved him, and it was a feeling like if stabbing were something that felt good and people were into.

There was no traffic on the street and the mountains looked cold and right on top of us. we were headed back to his friend’s house to hang out and pass the time until the next thing.

“What happened to my bike?” I asked. We both pictured the black frame and the gold rims. The gears didn’t work so it was a pretty shitty bike, but still it was all I had and I wanted to take it back to Seattle. Nobody thought I'd be back for it; he'd thrown it away or it had been stolen. The bike was long gone and it made me feel tired. With regards to the bike situation, I was back to square one.

2.

The newspaper sent me to review the film adaptation of On the Road. I was glad because I love money, but I never liked the book, and the guy who just dumped me loves it, so it was a mixed bag I guess. I saw the one o' clock showing alone in a mostly empty theater on a rainy Thursday in Seattle. The movie made me think a lot about my life because it’s a dreamy story about writers who don't have jobs and like to get fucked up. The character's don't know they're going to become famous and then die of alcoholism anyway; it's depressing. When I got off the bus on Lake City Way I felt like I was someone else. I felt as though someone had stepped into my body and was taking over, but it's always just me.

A man leaning against the wall near the Value Village called out to me and I walked toward him. He wanted me to sit down and hang out. It seemed like it would make him happy so I agreed. A second mad person approached us, a woman this time. She said she found the man I was sitting next to attractive. If you looked closely you could see that he'd been handsome once, but now he went on and on about a divorce that could have happened last week or never, and it showed.

The lady said I was okay-looking too but she assured me she wasn’t a lesbian. I said I didn’t care. She got a little graphic about what she wanted to do to the guy. Her and the man bickered and I couldn’t figure out whether they’d met before this moment or not. They were like crazy hounds circling each other and sniffing.

The woman opened her backpack and showed us a bunch of pills. She kept waving around the bottles, saying, “Social Security gives me all these pills with the money but I don’t take them.” She really wanted to unload all these pills on me. There were white oval pills and round orange ones. I held out my hand and said, “No, don’t," and then I put the pills in the front pocket of my backpack.  I was trying to get her to show me the labels on the bottles so we knew what we were dealing with here, but she kept flirting with the man and I couldn't get her attention.

The lady pulled out a third bottle and turned it around magically in her hands. I could see by the look in her eyes that the third bottle of pills meant something. A few hours earlier, my roommate had given me a mini bottle of cinnamon flavored whiskey. He said to me, “Use this when the time is right.” Long story short, I traded the mini bottle for a handful of pills from a woman with wild hair and broken glasses.

The man had his own agenda but lord knows what that was. He wanted to go find weed. I said it seemed like a good time, but we were strangers on a city street corner in a shitty part of Seattle, and even though that sounds like a recipe for finding drugs, you’d be surprised how helpless you really are when the time comes. I just wanted to go home and look up what the pills were on the internet. Every pill comes with a unique number and letter, so anything you find in a change purse or buried in the carpet can be identified. It’s as if the drug companies knew what they were doing.

The man followed me down the street for a few blocks. I had a few hundred dollars in my wallet for rent, but his puppy-like energy suggested he didn’t have much power inside of him for violence and I wasn’t afraid. He followed me for a while and then I dodged him in a complicated move involving a grocery store restroom. The other pills turned out to be Lexapro and some kind of stomach ulcer medication, so not worth much, but the muscle relaxers are nice for going to sleep at night.

Do you think you're better than me? We’re exactly the same. On you it just looks a little different.

01/26/13

I heart romance.

New cities are frightening and confusing, without a doubt, but really, everywhere is mostly the same. We watch the same TV, buy the same shit in stores. Everywhere has stoplights and poor people. You feel bad in the living room, get up, go to the refrigerator, feel bad in the kitchen. The houses I clean all have little towers to hold their toothbrushes in. Everybody’s got a goddamn vase and a picture frame on the wall. Half of you are halfway through a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table, big deal. Weather makes a difference some, but not too much. Even if you’ve never seen snow, you’ve heard about it.

Not to be a total downer. There’s nothing wrong with everything being the same everywhere. There’s nothing wrong with anything.

Speaking of television. Last week I started watching the Bachelor on hulu. If you’re judging me, back off, I have my reasons. You don’t need me to tell you that the people on these shows are shallow monsters, unimaginably stupid and probably actors ad-libbing a script. This is the show’s 17th season; the scholarship has been done.

Again, who knows if he’s for real or not, but I’m struck by the bachelor, Sean, how dopey and sincere he seems to be about finding his wife out of a pool of 25 sluts on network television. He seems to be a man with no interests or preferences, so inevitably he falls in love with all the women. He’s like a bird who has tumbled out of the nest and thinks every object he sees is his mother. I went ahead and transcribed some clips.

SEAN: I know you said you're an army brat, but there's so much I don't know about you, so...
LINDSAY: Yes. My parents are still together. They've been together for forever. My dad's a general in the army, so...
SEAN: Wow.
LINDSAY: It's crazy, you know, its awesome. But um when my parents do have that time together, they make it count.
SEAN: Yeah. I love that. I'm all about family, and it's really refreshing-
LINDSAY: You are?
SEAN: Yeah. I love family.
LINDSAY: That's awesome.
SEAN: I can't imagine how it's going to feel when I have my own kids and a wife-
LINDSAY: It's just something that I want more than anything. It's- I want more than anything to marry my best friend and have a family and just give them everything.
SEAN: Yeah.
LINDSAY: Everything, yeah.

SEAN, TO THE CAMERA:
I was blown away by lindsay. Lindsay showed me another side that I didn't see the first night.

That is really inspiring and romantic. It must be hard to find a girl in her twenties in America interested in starting a family and having children. They are soul mates. Here’s another one.

ASHLEE: I definitely want as many children as my husband and I decide.
SEAN: I can feel the love coming from your heart and it's just so endearing.

Also, there’s a girl on the show with one arm. If you don’t know how I feel about amputees, well: I’m for them.

Until next time, friends.

01/19/13

sleepless in seattle is a real thing.

Dear Diary,

I can’t remember why I moved to Seattle. I know I must have made the decision at some point, but I don’t know what prompted it. Why Seattle specifically, I mean. Nevertheless. I’ve been here since January 2nd. Jesse and I broke up right after Halloween, but we kept living together and behaving as a unit, so it didn’t seem worth mentioning. It was probably shortly after he threatened to kill my dog if I went to the movies that I started to think I should leave the state for good.  I took my plants with me, which was a mistake, because they died in transit. Jesse had already started eating the chickens–there were six when I left, but then an animal came in and murdered four more, leaving only crooked-toe and Dorothy. (Or is it Sylvia? I’m not sure.) It feels like the deaths are my fault. I still love Jesse and I miss him like a drug, but whatever. Nothing ever works out. It’s fine. Sometimes you have to just say “fuck this shit” and move to Washington.

I live in a shoebox-shaped room set off from a house with four other roommates. They have eight chickens and a pitbull mix named Manny. I’m working for my cousin’s organic cleaning business, which is both okay and soul crushing. It hurts to be so close to other people’s nice things. First of all, the houses are often already clean when we get there. Secondly, they have all these neat paintings and statues and figurines all over the place. Their appliances are modern. It all reminds me of a moment from Jennifer Egan’s great novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad. It goes:

“Finally Bennie came out. He looked trim. He looked fit. He wore black trousers and a white shirt buttoned at the neck but no tie. I understood something for the very first time when I looked at that shirt: I understood that expensive shirts looked better than cheap shirts. The fabric wasn’t shiny, no—shiny would be cheap. But it glowed, like there was light coming through from the inside. It was a fucking beautiful shirt, is what I’m saying.”

That’s how I feel about cleaning other people’s nice things. I’m sure I’ll get over it.

The honest truth is that I don’t feel very good, but please don’t worry about me, because I’m going to be okay. Right now I am soulsick and listless. The mayans were right: Breaking up with Jesse was the end of the world. But here’s the thing about the end of the world–it isn’t an end at all. You just keep going on with all the color drained out of everything.

It hurts to be around people for very long, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my room reading and trying to teach myself art history. I like the renaissance era religious paintings because they’re filled with magic, mysteries and secrets. I think my favorite painter is Botticelli. I got drunk and ordered a shitload of art posters, but I should have thought it through. They’re all dark and horrifying. You can’t hang The Garden of Earthly Delights where you sleep and expect to lead a happy life. I need to find pretty paintings to protect me but there’s the rub because I used up all my amazon money and I don’t like the pretty paintings as much. To me, a good painting looks like hell.

I prefer paintings to people, because I can’t hurt them and they can’t hurt me. I don’t have anything to say to anyone, and I don’t care much what other people have to say. I’m lonely but not at all interested in a cure.

The last few days in Seattle have been hopelessly foggy. It seems that I’m living in a long, boring dream that I can’t wake up from. The legend is true about the rain and Nirvana. They play a lot of 90s rock on the radio, which is comforting but maybe not representative of the overall milieu. I only know the one station right now.

The crows! People here are so stupid, they have no idea that crows are running the entire city. Every afternoon you can look up and see hundreds of them flying overhead in a northeast direction. Last week in a parking lot I watched a man watching them, and I thought, what a great man. Great because that’s what I was doing, and I think I’m great.

What I need right now is a writing project. I need to start working on something and see it through to its completion. It’s the most important thing. But I just don’t know what I want to write yet. I know I talked about writing a novel, serially, in blog format, and some of you in fact signed up to watch me fumble through that, but I’m just not sure. What if I did personal essays/memoir instead? What if I quit writing forever and started a hotel for dogs?

It’s 2013, and here we are, all of us, alive. Presently, it feels to me like anything could happen.