27 June 2022

0 donovan was here.

when she tells me you'd been raped, some late summer evening after a party, i know immediately which one. 

it was a friday. 

i know because you'd come to me the morning after, drove up to memphis a full week before you were expected. 

there was a girl in your bed, you told me. you'd woken up with a naked girl in your bed but nothing happened. nothing happened, you swore to god. 

and i believed you. 

later, i'd assume you'd cheated on me, because so many men have, because later on you did. but at the time i did believe you. 100%. thank god for that. 

you called early, surprisingly early for a saturday morning after a friday party. you needed to see me, you said. i said come on. 

i remember i was listening to a bootleg CD of ac accoustics songs that i'd gotten from whatever illegal downloading service we were using in the fall of 2003. 

i was leaving for chicago in two weeks. you were coming up the next weekend because that was the last weekend before i left. but here you were coming a week early. 

you looked so guilty, so remorseful. it did not even occur to me then that you might have cheated on me because you were so clearly heartbroken by whatever it was that happened, by this naked girl in your bed. 

we were dating secretly then, because we were both physically afraid of the man i'd broken up with a few months before. the man i left to fall straight into you, your arms, your car, your bed. 

we marvel that it's been nearly ten years since you left us. 

we're walking down a street in DC. i'm taking her to meet my cats. i bring up the topic of the abusive ex and somewhere, within less than a full block of that, she interrupts and very matter-of-factly mentions how you were raped. 

as if that were something i already knew. 

i did not. hearing her say it, i stopped short on the sidewalk, could not physically move as my hand went instinctively to my heart, as if i were about to launch into the pledge of allegiance, as this missing piece of our story slotted into its appropriate place in my brain. 

i did not know. 

immediately, with not even a half second of doubt, upon hearing this, i knew when. 

it was that friday night, before that saturday morning. 

you told me half the story and left out the most painful part. we all of us have our secrets. 

when we were just friends, i didn't tell you what he was doing to me. 

when we were dating, you didn't tell me a woman raped you. 

when you were dying, i stopped telling you about my life. because it seemed wrong to have one at that point. 

when we spoke last, i didn't tell you i loved you. when i texted it a few days later, you did not respond. presumably they'd cranked the morphine up by then. 

you were 31. we're all 41 now. 

but jesus fucking christ, babe, we all deserved so much more. better than all this violence we swirled around in.

ten years, but the sentiment remains exactly the same: fuck :(




16 May 2022

0 this is going to be dark

(CW: disordered eating, abortion, intimate partner violence, rape, etc., etc.)

what i remember is sitting in the sunshine at my father's desk in my father's library. the desk in front of the window, at the top of the stairs, at the desktop computer positioned in such a way that whatever you're browsing on the internet is entirely visible to anyone coming up the stairs. 

this was the moment i learned to have multiple browsers open. a lesson that served me well throughout my career in office jobs. 

because you had to be poised, ever ready to be found out, caught, in whatever nefarious thing you were up to. 

in my office jobs i was writing. at my dad's desktop that day, i was googling natural abortifacients. 

i'm struck by how, though these two things sound so different written there, they pointed towards the same end: survival. 

this was in the summer of 2002. a summer about which i have some memories, some of them incredibly vivid. though the thing that ties them all together is a coldness, a certain chill. 

to be clear, i had no chill then. 

in breakfast at tiffany's, holly golightly characterizes "the mean reds" as those days where you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. 

it wasn't that. i knew what i was afraid of. i just didn't know what was happening. i did not have the language for what was happening, what was being done. 

where are we when we do not have the words for where we are? who are we then? 

my boyfriend was hurting me. i was bleeding, often. 

i never cried. 

i performed, mostly. i think i was very convincing. i should've won an oscar. 

you would have believed me. not the truth, maybe, but the performance. 

to this day i continue to be astounded by the fact that i did give donovan any indication of any of this (albeit the tiniest of all possible shards) and that we only ever touched upon ("discussed" would be too strong of a word) it once, in a pair of emails. 

he told me i was like the protagonist in a henry james novel. 

i do not want to be the protagonist in a henry james novel. i wanted to be the star of my own show. 

and there i was, starring in a show three times a week, smiling through the pain, nay, full on feigning pleasure, pretending i enjoyed it, wanted it, asking for more. 

i stopped eating. 

that's not entirely true. i ate. thanks to my journals from that summer, where i documented in painstaking detail every low-fat, highly processed thing i put into my body, we know precisely how very little. 

i didn't know how my body worked. i didn't fully understand what he was doing to it. i did not trust-- prepare yourself for this lol-- that he had my best interests at heart. 

i was scared to death of being pregnant. of being ruined. of ruining my own life. 

i was then, as i always am now, terrified of being trapped, stuck. because i was then, already, trapped, stuck. 

i did not know that what i was experiencing was abuse. i just thought it was better than nothing, better than being alone. because i'd grown up in a world where your life didn't matter if a man wasn't looking at you, wanting you. you did not count as a human being. you had no value beyond the value attached to you through the interest of a man. 

it sounds so retro! it was the 2000s! jfc. 

my therapist changed practices and is now no longer in-network. that is why i am writing this even at all. that is determining the format of what i write. this is how i talk in therapy. we are circling the block. the goal is to bring the car into the driveway and, maybe, even the garage. 

i was 20. i'd not bled in three months. i was starving. i was approximately half way through an abusive relationship, but i did not know that then and i did not know what it was and i did not know what was happening. i was so very, very young; i knew so very, very little, as i sat there at my father's desktop with all those open browsers, flipping between "teas to bring on your period" and jcrew.com. 

the terror of whatever the fuck was happening within my body juxtaposed with the terror of one of my parents coming up the stairs and catching me on this website. 

boys look at porn. girls google "how can i get an abortion in mississippi."

or at least that's how it was in my world. 

my parents are moving. they've not yet sold that house, but they've vacated it. 

this has left me in mourning for various things. but, as lindear reminded me, it wasn't all good there. 

i love my father. i loved his library. in every house we've had, his library has been a safe space, whilst also a point of contention in my parents' marriage. 

always, it was essential that he had a library. it was only in this house, their house of the last 22 years but also their fifth, that my mother got a room of her own. 

as a pre-teen, when we lived in atlanta, i've vivid memories of reading in my dad's library. and it was always his-- not the family library, but his. i felt lucky to get to go there. to have my slumber parties there. to take my own books in there, lie on the couch, and read. always, it's been a place of quiet, peace, and beautiful things. 

those stairs though. 

i was raped on those stairs. 

i remember, lying there as it was happening, straining through my partial deafness, alert for the noise of my father's approach, grateful for the fact that-- in a world where many things cannot be counted on-- he is incapable of sneaking up on anyone because of his popping toes. 

i remember, sitting in the wooden chair at his desk, yahoo-ing "how to have a home abortion" because a man was doing things to my body that i did not understand and i had not bled in months. 

there are other memories of this time. i had ear surgery that august and still hadn't got my period. at some point before that, i'd dragged that man to the grocery store, bought a home pregnancy test with my own money (still, i remember how subdued he was during this, how crazy he thought i was), and got a negative result. but, still, i didn't bleed. 

my dad took me to have my blood drawn for that operation. i was terrified they'd come back and say they couldn't operate because i was pregnant. 

i bled all the time when this man touched me, freely, profusely. but my period did not come. 

it did, eventually, i don't remember when. i remember this happened again, after i left that man. the following summer, again i was buying home pregnancy tests and trying to understand what was going on with my body. 

because i did not really know it. i operated at that far of a remove. 

i've never had an abortion. to my knowledge, i've never been pregnant. 

but i remember the terror of being twenty, of being in college, in the middle of three years of what i could not at that time identify as sexual abuse and intimate partner violence. i remember the extraordinary desperation i felt, as someone who lived in mississippi, googling on my dad's desktop how to attain abortion teas. 

there's a temptation with one's own experience to minimize, to always be like oh but others have it so much worse, it could've been so much worse, i am very very small beans

so, yes, yes, it could've been so much worse, others have had it so much worse. and also this is what it was. and it was terrifically horrendous. i would not wish this upon anyone. i would move heaven and earth to spare anyone even just this. 

19 April 2022

0 the problem has many dimensions


 

i have feelings i cannot access without words. which i cannot access without wine. 

you're just like hemingway, k.lo says. 

which, well, we all know how he ended up so that's not great.

*

the thing i left out of this blog post is just how much this piece of paper shook me up.


because it is basically all of the bullshit that has landed me here, all of the bullshit i've tried to pick apart in therapy the last year. all of the bullshit, right there on the page in pink pen. 

i know it's post-1995, because this my trying-to-write-fabulously post-jackie's death handwriting. 

i'm pretty sure it's from college. i'm pretty sure it's like 2002 or 2003. i'm pretty sure i wrote this as i was being abused. 

*

this isn't what i thought this was going to be about. i thought it was going to be about burvil. but then we never know where we are going EVEN THOUGH wherever we go there we are. 

that's a line i left out of that blog post. the idea that wherever you go, there you are. an idea which, of course, we eatons are famous for having ironed-on t-shirts in the late 1980s. 

*

my parents bought a new house. they're moving and selling the old one. a home i didn't grow up in but the one in which they've lived the longest. 

i've found myself unexpectedly melancholic. 

it's valid, lindear tells me. whilst also remembering that this means moving away from the bad things that happened in that house too. the rape on the library stairs. 

this time last year, i was terrified of seeing those stairs again. 

and then garebear raced up them on a facetime video call to show me some new books, and it was like oh ooop! and it was all somehow neutralized. 

not like it hadn't happened, but like it was no longer the big scary thing in my head. 

*

i've twice now emailed debo a piece of my writing from here to see if she'd be ok with my putting it on my public blog. this one and this one

she never responded to either. and i never nudged. 

*

they took the title for my public blog and put it on my book. 

i don't like it, but i can live with it. 

i'm learning to live with things i don't like. learning to pick the hills to die on. 

it's a violence i didn't expect. being published. 

i say this as someone who is ever-ready, always braced for violence, and yet i was taken aback. 

when EL texted an image of the book being available for pre-sale with a cover i cannot stand because it is clearly not finished. a cover that just needs 5 tweaks before it's perfect, and yet they won't do it. and yet, they send it out into the world. 

pink-washing is the word lindear uses, and already it's a word i know i'll be using in interviews for years to come. 

*

i don't know where it comes from but in my family we've this joke about not getting the big head. 

we've an uneasy relationship with good things, i think.

don't get the big head, garebear reminds me whenever i tell him about some legitimate success i've experienced after years of hard work. don't get the big head.

let me tell you, from my experience so far, publishing a book is an exercise in reducing the size of one's head. 

the other day, after seeing my book available for pre-order (with that HEINOUS cover, so please do not share yet!!!) on target.com, i called him and i said, preemptively, you know i've such an ache in my head, it's almost like it's swelling, it's like i've......... gotten THE BIG HEAD!!!! 

it's a joke. it's cute. my mum's friends find it hilarious. but there's an edge to it, right? this book is the work of the whole first half of my life. if ever there was a moment for the big head, 'tis now. 

*

this was supposed to be about burvil. 

burvil's in the hospital. 

it feels like all the other times burvil's been in the hospital but it's also maybe not. 

debo thinks she'll be there through the weekend. the doctors do not know what's going on. they keep ordering tests. 

legit every time i have talked to either of my parents in the last 48 hours, they have each, individually, informed me that the painters will not be able to do the new house for 7 weeks. 

i tell lindear they've told me this at least 9 times, and then i call debo and she tells me a 10th. 

*

i need to focus. this is about burvil. 

burvil's in the hospital and i spent monday night figuring out that, if she dies, i could drive down to memphis and stay a few days and play feelings counselor and still get my students' essays graded and my manuscript turned in before i leave for athens. i can be there, because i would need to be there (because i was not there when ruth left us), and still do it all. 

i am being practical, i tell myself. not morbid. 

*

debo texts:

Gran was asking about you and where you are. She said she thought you had been here, but it's good that she still knows you too ❤️❤️

and i have never been more certain that burvil is near death. 

i call debo and she puts her on the phone. i write down what she says, because apparently my coping mechanism is to go into archivist mode. my coping mechanism is to write, to record, to bear witness, to shift the burden of what is happening immediately into my personal history and not the present. 


*
the woman who runs DC/BWI mortified got in touch today to ask me to do both shows in june. 

i draw some comfort from the fact that, as my journals attest, i have always been this fucking weird. 

i have always needed to write things down, to quote, to date and timestamp. this is not new. for whatever reason, it is how i have always lived. 

*

i cannot do endings. 

what i will say is that i saw this image today and it has bewitched me: 


early in the pandemic, i described to PM that my perspective was one of looking at the world through vaseline. 

i'm not sure that's the perspective that's ideal but it's the one i've got. words, quotes, dates, timestamps, and eyes saturated in vaseline. 

for better or worse, that is the vibe. that is where we are.

10 April 2022

0 she died before i knew how to write

that is what i am aware of this evening. before i had language. before i could read. before i had words to put towards the whole experience. she was there and then she was gone. 

26 March 2022

0 dammit


i had an idea of what to write about and then in the length of time it took to get started, it up and went away. 

which i guess was my basic intent. to write about brains, and how they change, and how-- reading something i wrote back in 2018, 2019-- i'm alarmed by the clarity and depth of my own thinking. how, reading it now, i cannot even fathom how i could've written it then. so impossible does clarity feel today. 

the vibe of my writing in the last year is best described as disorganized. i've been telling myself it's intentionally disorganized, but i'm actually not sure that's true, so much as that disorganization is what's been on offer. 

perhaps what alarms me most about the writing from 2018, 2019, is that it was produced during an incredibly awful time. a time of profound stuckness and hustling, when i'd been kicked out of the uk and was living with my parents. 

and i kept writing because i thought i would die if i didn't. and to write, i had to wake up at 3 am. so i had no life to speak of beyond my family and my books and my words. and, i think, to the best of my ability, i tried not to let myself be affected by that, i tried to believe it was an ok way to live. 

it wasn't, but i tried. 

so it's not a great feeling to see how dazzling was the clarity of my thinking. it's not great to be left here wondering if i have to live like that to produce writing like this. because i so very much want to believe it's possible to be happy too. though maybe it isn't. 

16 February 2022

0 i don't know what my therapist asked

 


but the answer was that i want to take care of jackie because (and here is where my voice cracked and i started to tear up) she has taken such good care of me. 

we're talking stories here. 

this woman i never met obviously did not take care of me in any real way. but also she did? 

i've been writing and thinking about her for 3/4 of my life and still i am no closer to understanding what happened to me when i first met her story. 

this is not a scenario in which i am aware of having agency. 

she was there. her story was there. it was right there, in front of me, for the taking. 

i took it. but is there choice in that equation? 

or is this just one of those things that was meant to be? 

is this how fate works? or god? 

i don't know. 

the thing i want is to experience joy. to actually feel things during this process, as we wind our way towards the jackie book being an actual book you can put on your shelf. a book i no longer have to read every few months or years and edit in the hopes it'll one day be Out There. 

maybe this is the beginning of letting go? if so, i hope to go down in a blaze of parties. 

i struggle to feel excited. i struggle to feel. i struggle. 

too bad knausgård already took that title. they keep rejecting mine. 

it's a weird thing, naming things. 

i'm reminded of how marcel didn't feel like a marcel for like a week. he was nine different people. and then i relented, and he was marcel. 

bingley was supposed to be marcel but he was so obviously bingley. maybe i already knew he'd be an outlier, he wouldn't be with us long, he wouldn't last, dear thing. 

things do not last. this is what i talk about in therapy. 

the thing we do not talk about is the unrelenting tremor that persists somewhere deep within my guts because of my immigration experiences. 

we tried, today. but i sensed she couldn't get it and the book was easier to talk about and so we didn't really go there. 

i do not know how to go there. 

when we talked about the rapes in college, we used the metaphor of circling the block and pulling the car into the garage. 

i don't have metaphors for this. i just have that passage from john berger, about the mouse, quaking after its time in the cage.

what i've done is written a whole book about freedom. a book about a white woman trying to free herself. 

what i remember is the blueness of the skies in chatham, the blueness of the lapis fireplace, the pinks and purples and blues of the setting sun, the shimmer of sequins in the dark. 

i've pulled myself all this way, written myself into being the writer i am now, and still i fear i am not enough, i have not expressed it clearly, fully, so that anyone will be able to understand. i fear i cannot do her justice, i have not done her justice, this woman who didn't so much set me free-- because are any of us?-- as provide a framework on which i might pitch a life. like a scarecrow, i have hung myself upon her. so that when i read the story i have written of her life, tucked into it is also my own, though you'd maybe never know it. 

every sentence is a pandora's box of memories. every paragraph a decision i've made somewhere along the way. every page a choice. 

there are so many choices. 

it feels like she wasn't one, arriving as she did during the dark of homeroom, but she has nonetheless shaped my whole life. 

maybe this is what it feels like to let go? to move on? 

my therapist always asks where i feel it and, with her, today, i feel it in my guts. 

this is what my nearly 13-year-old self wrote (ya'll, i know it by heart):

i keep thinking about jacqueline kennedy and richard nixon. they were a part of history. they made history. and now they are history. 

06 February 2022

0 whew lawd

(CW: death, loss, grief, childhood, challenger, self-harm [i suck at these, apologies in advance!])


 

hard to explain.

what just happened, i mean. 

like is the beginning of the story the fact that we tried to reheat used coffee over the flame of a votive candle? 

or is it that we caught norovirus from spinach? 

is this a mystery or a tragedy or both? 

we accomplished none of our tasks. that is truth. 

i did not get to see burvil. i did not pack my books or clothes. debo did not even remember to give me the vaseline oil that i cannot seem to find anywhere in DC and which i've mentioned in no less than 9 texts over the last few months. 

we did nothing. 

which isn't entirely accurate because we puked up all of our guts and then sat and froze in the dark. 

and we laughed a lot. 

i noticed though, twice, how easily my laughter could've slipped over into sobs. 

and i held back. i kept it together. 

the hilarity sits so close to grief is the thing. 

*

900K.

*

a few days before i left to drive down to memphis, i went to the grocery store in an outfit i knew was cute. i don't even remember what it was now but one of the female security guards at the nursery school on the way to the market stopped her car and rolled down her window to tell me my outfit was everything. and i felt five miles tall. 

i wanted to get that on the record here but then there wasn't time for words before i left. 

time moves so fast.

*

i left memphis earlier than planned, because there's this siege mentality that sets in-- and i'mma just tell you this like this is a thing that may happen to you even as i hope it doesn't-- when you've survived poisoning and then are submerged in freezing temperatures for 24 hours plus. 

it's just like everest garebear kept saying. it's like we're climbing everest. we watched all those documentaries, why aren't you girls prepared? 

we did not purchase this experience we tried to tell him. 

he didn't get it. 

i'mma leave a pretty rough review for the hôtel sordide.

*

we circled back to jessica yet again, by way of challenger

because i wrote about challenger while i was there and then debo told me all of my memories about all of the adults going into a room were wrong because it was like two adults, and then her sister chimed in to say a solid 50% of her memories were wrong and so now we do not know whose memories are correct, if any. we are all maybe wrong? we were all there and we do not even know what happened.

i look forward to reading my biographer's account of this story, because clearly none of us can be trusted.

we are all of us unreliable narrators of our own lives. read on at your own discretion. 

*

i want to ask burvil, who has dementia, but we can't see burvil because we may be contagious. 

because we were poisoned. and because i googled what to do when you are poisoned, we are now aware of the existence of a website entitled IWASPOISONED.COM. 

*

the police came the night jessica died. 

i did not know this. also, i did not know she died at home. 

or i did not remember. knowing and remembering sit awkwardly adjacent. but then i was 3. i was a child. i probably never knew. why would i have?

the police weren't supposed to come. according to debo, they'd worked it all out with their doctors beforehand and the police were not supposed to come, but they did. 

debo remembers the flashing lights of their cars. 

i'm laying on her stomach. we're perpendicular, in a position we've assumed so often, as she recounts this.

i don't think-- and i could be wrong-- she sees the tears falling across my face. from below, i sense her looking ahead as she tells this, rather than down at me. (in this moment, i am also in the moment of being five or six and lying on her lap whilst she and burvil talk about the wife of the man who held me when i was an infant and carried me all around the IRS introducing me to people, the man whose wife died after a car accident, in a police car, as she laid her head back to look at the stars), but i do not look at her and so i do not know, and anyway, we do not even know the things we think we know, so what does it matter?

i'm a 40 year old woman with my head in my mother's lap as she recounts how, when i was 3, my friend was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on the 4th of july 1984 and died on that 27 december, my parents' wedding anniversary. 

she remembers there were not supposed to be flashing lights. 

i remember mostly pictures. 

i'm aware i'm struck (you'll note, maybe, how mediated my feelings remain--), as she's telling this, by the reality of jessica's personhood. by the fact that she was an actual person, just like me, just like the me that i remember feeling like i was. 

in hearing debo talk, i am struck by the enormity of jessica's parents' loss. and i am struck, maybe for the first time in my life, by the enormity of the loss of her.

(and i am, in writing that, struck by such an enormous guilt for not having felt all this sooner, such a tremendous guilt that it took me forty full years to arrive here [but also, as a researcher, as an academic, how wild, how telling, and this speaks to the interwovenness of the memories, that i'm having to listen to the soundtrack of netflix's challenger: the last flight to write all this, to put it into words and onto your screen. you are reading this because of challenger. and, let us pause and take a breath together and note that that is how history works and also that it is bananas.])

and i'm aware of this maybe, in large part, only because a dear friend is in the midst of a prolonged miscarriage and, as her friend, i am aware of her loss. or maybe, because of my mother but also because of jessica, i am aware of the enormity of that loss. i don't know. but i am aware. i am alert, i am sensitive, i am aware. i feel i have always been aware, though i did not have the words, which made it hard to identify the feelings which filled my body. 

when we've talked about this in therapy, my therapist always wants me to go back and tell things to my younger self, and i've never been able to do that. 

yeah, sure, i've cried and tried to absolve myself, but something about hearing debo talk about it, something about the swiftness, the suddenness, the granular details, the specifics, the dates (my therapist knows how i love the concreteness of dates!)-- they went on vacation for the 4th and jessica suddenly started throwing up and couldn't stop-- something about this telling-- with debo emphasizing the lights and how ruth knew jessica's mother robbie because she was there, visiting, that summer-- something about the way she tells it now, for the first time in maybe ever, i actually feel how it probably felt then, as a child, to know that this could've been me. 

that was the thing, then, for debo and garebear. it could have been me. 

that's what my therapist wanted me to deal with-- the guilt that it wasn't. 

but i think the thing undealt with is the threat inherent within that fact. 

it could have been me. 

it is that easy. 

it is that sudden. 

life is all we have and, so abruptly, it is over. 

it can, always, just as easily, have been any of us. 

it is, all of it, that fragile.

*

the literary thing would be to say what a sobering thought! 

*

but also this is so banal, so stupidly obvious, it's a waste of space to even commit it to words. 

and yet, i go on........

*

casually, so casually, on a date last november, i told a man that my friend died when i was three and he said ohmygod

and i was somewhat taken aback to have (1) said that, and (2) gotten that response. 

he'd seemed so chill when i mentioned that i'd been raped.

*

when donovan died, i never thought that it could have been me. it was something altogether else. which wasn't to say that the loss hit any less hard or any less cold. it was a blow, believe me. 

it was a blow from which i still reel. the loss is ongoing. i have learned to live with it, but it is a hole towards which my brain is apparently now wired to run. 

my therapist and i have identified a pattern. whenever i'm missing donovan, something else has occurred which needs processing. 

i think we're equally fascinated by this phenomenon. how he isn't so much a trigger as a signal, saving me all over again as he did the first time. 

i do not know how jessica operates in my life, except that it does not seem to be similarly. if anything, she is a space around which i have pitched a thicket of work-arounds. 

this loss seems to be something different. something so different that this feels like the first time i've ever quantified it as a loss. 

she was there and then she wasn't. 

i remember her mostly from pictures. a set of pictures my father took of the pair of us on the front porch of our house on harbert, opening a smoke-filled box of crocheted alligators from my grandma ruth in that summer of 1984. 

her hair had fallen out by then but the striking thing about these images is how normal we look in them. so evident are the dynamics of childhood friendship. 

*

the thing i remember about challenger, the thing i didn't include in the finding jackie post about challenger, is that it was one of the two times i remember, as a child, wanting to self-harm. 

and i do not know that i did. all's i remember is the wanting. the desire. the working out of how it could happen and the awareness of what a relief it would provide.

that time it involved a bench, the top of which i wasn't supposed to lift because it was very heavy and it would hurt little fingers. 

it wasn't dark so much as the window was small and the sun had moved beyond it. in my memory, and my memory is so vivid i struggle not to believe it, i stood there, that day, all of the adults i knew (whichever combo of adults they were, however real this memory is) behind the shut door, and i contemplated how it would feel to put my little fingers beneath the weight of the lid of that bench. 

much as i'd either just before or just after, lain in the dark at nursery school, my nap mat beside the teacher's rocking chair, and deliberated about whether or not i should place my fingers beneath the runner, to see what it would be like, seeking the feeling or the pain, i do not know which, for they are different. though i do know it wasn't about the response to my doing it because, when i imagined it, i imagined it would occur in total silence. 

i imagined i would be able to take it without a sound. the adults would never know.

because, let's us kids be honest, the adults really never do know.

always, always, there would be silence, when i was hurt. always, always, for whatever reasons, i would be wired to aim to hold it in. even when i was legitimately injured, with broken bones, i would pull myself together, and shove the bone back into my arm and craft a less embarrassing story than what'd actually occurred. 

from so early on, i was already, even then, telling stories. stories were safer. always, always, i instinctively seemed to believe, the reality was to be concealed. (this is why it's wild, how honest i am being here now. but though also what is this, but another story........?)

always, always, i have felt myself to be too much-- emotion, feeling, stuff-- for my little body. always, always, there has been an inadequate amount of space for me to fill. always, always-- and i want to be clear, my parents are not at fault here-- i am full to bursting and there is nowhere to go.

i didn't know you were so sensitive, a friend who has known me for over a decade said a few months ago. which, well yeah. i am words and nerve endings with but the barest layer of skin, but then i guess this is a testament to adaptation: confirmation i've learned to hide it pretty fucking well. 

i'm not 100% sure these memories of the bench and the rocking chair are real, i do not trust myself as a narrator. but also, if we trust me as a narrator (which, honestly, what reasons have i given us not to other than the fact that memory is weird and i'm a woman?), i've two early memories of deliberating about self-harm. 

i'm aware that, whether or not i waited to act upon them until my late 20s, the pain i experienced in my late 20s has earlier echoes, it was already there, in those moments, when i was less than five years old, in the dark.  

*

i wonder if i secretly have a life goal of buying that house on harbert.

of living in that house. of having all of the people i have loved over and swanning about, in costume, in all of the rooms that exist now only in my memory, opening the doors the adults closed and throwing lavish parties. 

it sounds unbearably sad when i write it there. 

but it's a thought i've had. 

like the only way to write the story, to get the story out is to go back and stew in it and live in it and fucking own it.

with complete, all-encompassing, total wild abandon and joy.

*

i thought people could disappear. 

i don't remember jessica's disappearance. what i remember of that Year that Everyone Died is comparing genitalia with matthew stubblefield when i stayed over at his house while my parents were at my mother's grandfather's funeral. 

what i remember, much later, is the jolt of recognition upon seeing photographs from the holocaust, and attaching jessica's name to whatever feeling it was i couldn't then let myself feel. 

*

what debo remembers is a year wherein they could not catch their bearings. a year that was really, really hard.

i know they parented me as best they could with all we did not know then. 

what i hear when i hear all these stories-- the stories of how joe would take pam out to the airfield to watch the planes land while burvil cried in her room, the lights of the police cars the night jessica died, debo seeing garebear alone in his library with a glass of wine listening to sad, sad music and thinking about vietnam-- is that we were all of us just fumbling forward, traumatized fucking messes, each and every one, with no supports, no frameworks for what was happening. and how fucking bold to have kept going. how fucking bold to have gone on without that, because i could not've, i'll tell you. i could not have. i could not have done what they did then, getting through it, without support or therapy or frameworks. i would have died. i would have. i feel lucky to have just been a kid and not an adult. i feel lucky to have not been in charge. 

*

this makes me so grateful for libby. for libby being there. for libby being a constant in my life. for libby having been there then. 

i have no memories of this at all, so i'm superimposing it onto my own past. but i am so fucking grateful that libby was there then. 

*

it's too much, too neat, but i swear to god this happened: on the drive home, a car in the right lane didn't so much as run into a bird as interfere with its flight path and contribute to its murder. 

and i watched, in no way implicated, merely a witness and not even a birdlover, and yet nonetheless moved. because this thing we're all doing is so fragile, it can change in an instant. 

you're just going on your way and suddenly you're 39 and you're having a heart attack and maybe you're working in a hospital and conveniently located to a defibrillator and you live and so, as a result, when i come into this world, i get to know you and i get another 31 years with you. but maybe you aren't there or you are there and you don't survive. 

fragile. it's all so very, very fragile. i'm 40 now. joe was 39 when he had his heart attack. i might've never have met him, but i did. i don't know if it's true, as it is in my memory, that he came over to the house on harbert after challenger and was behind the shut door. what i do know is he was the love of burvil's life and he survived to write encouraging notes on my stupid paint-by-numbers of horses in the late 1990s.  

*

garebear had wrist pain out of nowhere so i forbade him to help remove the pine tree branches blocking the drive. 

debo and i booted and bundled and went out there and in, for real, like ten minutes, we cleared the mess that had blocked us in. 

the pine needles were iced. 

it was beautiful. like they were coated in glass. 

our photographs did not do it justice.

it made me wish i could paint. 

*

when i arrived in memphis, when garebear and debo met me at the exxon they kept telling me the street coordinates rather than saying you know, that gas station everyone says has the good sushi.

i said the one thing i wanted to do during my stay was to see the street named after mj. lol. you know we didn't. because this was a trip where we got to do nothing we wanted to do.

*

on tuesday night, as i recovered from my IWASPOISONED.COM and debo, though she did not know it yet, was only but hours removed from her own experience, in the middle of the conversation about jessica, somehow we sidetracked in that way you do when you go down family rabbit holes. 

and we got to reminiscing about that one time in winter 2021. when she sent me a text message about her friend who had been hospitalized with covid. 

we'd been worrying about him for days. 

the text message read: james has gone home. 

it was accompanied by a photograph of james in a car, waving at the camera. 

I SHIT YOU NOT I THOUGHT HE HAD DIED. 

admittedly, this was-- i've not gone back and reconstructed the timeline, but i'm pretty sure-- maybe, at best, a month out from the date rape, so i was not emotionally well let us just say, but seriously. 

i thought he had died. 

i wept. 

i grieved. 

i texted lindear omg.

then i collected myself and i called debo and was alarmed by her joviality. 

when she asked me how i was, i told her i supposed i was ok but i was surprised by how upset i was about james's death. 

and she said WHAT?!?! 

james had not died. james had recovered and gone home from the hospital. 

i had misunderstood. 

we laugh about this, hysterically, cathartically, as i lay on her lap. this is the point at which i'm aware, for the first time, how close my hysterical laughter is to seeping into sobs. 

we laughed about this for at least thirty minutes, and then garebear came down and we explained it all over again to him and he didn't seem to get the humor, but the laugh felt good, excepting that moment i was so acutely aware of its proximity to grief. 

*

this is, maybe, hopefully, the thing i'll remember about this trip. 

the laughter. 

so much laughter. 

sitting in the dark, laying in laps, laying three across a bed under quilts in the freezing cold, laughing. not so much with our guts, because those hurt, and our faces were half frozen, so not so much with those either. 

but the sound of it and the sensation, of all that laughter in the dark. 

20 January 2022

1 omg, you guys


it feels so different. i mean, i'm still the same, we are all the same, we are still here. but there are actual cameras on. there is actual discussion. it's like we used that whole month to get older and more confident and locate better wifi. 

i always forget the difference between fall and spring is that they are, if not refreshed, more accustomed to what it is we are doing. they return ready to think. also they get to choose my class, so when they arrive in it, it's actually something about which they care rather than a rando thing in which they were autoenrolled.

it makes me sad because i'm aware this is what last semester could've been like too, were it not for the cyberattack and the chaos. this is where it felt, after the first two weeks of last semester, we were headed and then we just never got there because we were clinging onto the face of the cliff with our stubby little nails. 

but here we are now. new year, same us, but better, somewhat, at least for now. 

today, true story, a student unmuted to compliment the snazzy owl mug.

the one year anniversary of the date rape has passed. i spent it standing in a park with four friends, freezing our asses off in a blizzard, literally huddled around a tin of fresh-from-the-oven butter cookies for warmth. 

i now know what some of the people i know would look like as extras in titanic

legit, at one point, there was a sheet of ice coating my left cheek. 

but it was lovely and it was perfect, as was the chinese and the pot brownie i had later. as was the feeling the next morning that i'd made it through-- the day, the year, the night, who even knows. all of it. i am getting through. 

the jackiebook is careening towards something. the publisher sent over hands down the most comically awful title. 

truly. you couldn't craft a stupider one. even if you tried really really hard. well. actually. i'm remembering how some biographers in the past put their two heads together and came up with jackie: after and before, which was, let's be real, pretty dreadful.  

but this one, they snuck it in there, in a draft of the publication announcement, without ever discussing it with me. and, first, i laughed out loud. and then i called my agent to say HELL NO. 

we'll see what happens. 

it's nice having an agent though. to do your dirty work and stand firm for you. i'm so tired of doing all of that myself. nice not to be imperiled by my own impulses to immediately bend, nor to have to put forth the emotional energy of not. 

i have hopes of seeing my parents in the coming weeks. i have hopes of keeping the cats alive. i have hopes. that's a vast improvement. 

N is having a rough week so we facetimed this morning, and i put the camera on marcel playing with his octopus wand, and N and her kid crowded around her phone watching me play with this tigery cat for at least a solid five minutes in total delight. and i was reminded of that video from an ex's family, of one of the grandkids napping in the 1980s. and by the end of the afternoon, it feels like that moment was from a whole other day. but what a lovely moment. 

win (the kid) kept calling marcel bingley and N kept correcting him, reminding him that bingley has died. but what i felt in the moment was OUCH, but also such love that bing is remembered. claude, dick that he is, has obviously forgotten and maybe never even cared, so it often feels that i mourn alone.   

i left classes on tuesday feeling exhilarated, and reminded of how fun teaching can be. wednesday hit me like a bus. but today, again, it was exciting. it wasn't exciting last semester. last semester felt like my hair was on fire the whole time. last spring, jesus christ LAST SPRING. last spring felt like i was being burned inside out. 

harm was done. improvements are occurring. 

things are going to happen. things are, in fact, already happening. 

i feel blessed to have been able to write throughout all of this. i feel terribly blessed that words are a thing i have. 

i hesitate to say i am grateful. for any of this. because, so often, in violence, it feels like there's an imperative to be grateful for the trauma. to slot it into one's life in such a way that it has been productive or contributed productively to who you are today. 

if anything, i am here in spite of all of that has happened. if anything, i have, so often, barely even been here. so, no, i am not grateful. blessed, but ungrateful, that is where i am. and that is ok. because it is good to be somewhere. 

remember: wherever you go, there you are? a thing the eaton family once found so profound that we ironed it onto multiple sweatshirts

god, how young i was when i wrote about that all the way back then, in 2009, when the world came crashing down on me in ways i did not understand. i actually am grateful for that, for the freedom of being let go and the resulting course correction of my whole life. 

so maybe the gratitude will come with time or maybe the gratitude is unessential. time will tell. 

it is exciting to see faces. it is exciting to talk about my book. it is exciting to feel excitement. 

that is where i am. 

i am there. 

i am here. 

i am. 

and that's enough. it sounds like a fucking ridiculous affirmation, but it's true. being here, it is enough. 

12 January 2022

0 lol

 


i got myself out of the piece of writing and then today they wrote and offered me a massive extension because they understand bereavement and grief because one of their husband's died and they went right back to work, and i now i feel like a horrible fucking ass. 

even though i don't think i was wrong. these things hurt and they last. i am, indeed, bereaved. for bingley. for donovan. for my own younger self. 

it is a pile upon pile of griefs. and also i feel maybe just done with jackie. which is hysterical because the whole next year, if things go well, is going to be completely dominated by her. 

i'm learning how not to reply immediately. 

it's funny, people who know me know i take awhile to process. and yet i will respond to an email hot off the press. 

the sunset was gorgeous tonight. 

i've been cleaning out my closets. 

because the 16th is coming and the 16th feels like the start of a new year. 

there was a time when i could not handle the movement of time away from the event. this time, in this moment at least, i welcome it. 

it feels right to be a year away. neither too much nor too little. for once, the time feels right. whatever that means. 


08 January 2022

0 i got myself out of a bit of writing today

 



a book chapter that was originally a conference paper then a book chapter, all pre-pandemic. i signed a contract. i had a doc named "pres legs." three years in, it contained-- LITERALLY-- 327 words. 

people, it sparked NO JOY. yes, i could have done it but it would have been a soulless drudge of a dusty thing, and who even needs that? life is hard enough as is. 

in getting out of this thing that clearly was not going to happen, i plead bereavement. which felt like a lie at the time but now i think of it, bingley died. we are bereaved. 

marcel has been here eight days and already fits in with claude in a way that bing never did. maybe because he was smaller, gentler, sweeter, less alpha. claude is a bossyboots and so i guess felt he could beat on bing at will. 

marcel is older, bigger, sweet too but also demanding, and he busted out of the bathroom hissing and spitting and tossing blows. 

i confess, i'm a little bitter on bingley's behalf. he deserved better. we all did. 

i should be writing more. in particular, i should be writing about victim blaming, but i just cannot seem to. maybe, i'm realizing, because i still, in so many ways, blame myself for the things that happen. maybe because i am still very, very angry with myself for what has happened. 

hard to attach words to feelings you cannot locate. 

still, my sentences involve constructions like "i imagine i would be feeling..." because i am mostly numb. 

and it's not that i want to be. just that i am. 

i do wonder if the semester will help. 

i anticipate nothing but a shitshow from beginning to end with possibly the occasional personal victory thrown in here and there. that seems like an atmosphere in which one could pry open one's hearts and thoughts and peer deeply, darkly in, non? 

maybe i'll get to see my parents. maybe i'll keep all of the cats alive for more than 4 months. maybe i'll have multiple sheet cakes. maybe the jackiebook will, at long last, sell, for a sum however paltry. 

maybe it won't be so bad. 

actually. that may be the attitude with which to go about the new year: maybe it won't be so bad. 

my resolutions are to actively seek joy and have fewer breakups with the egyptian. 

and, you know, maybe get a book or two under contract. 

who knows? nobody knows. this is the thing about life. we never ever know and yet we throw ourselves into some murky future in hope, that something will happen, and maybe it won't be so bad. 

01 January 2022

0 the time between christmas and new year is the worst


every year, i want it to be something more, something important, something valuable, a time that matters. instead, it's just .... time. 

mostly spent alone. mostly spent waiting for... something. the something mostly being for this time to be over. 

and there i go again, wishing for whole parts of the one life i have to live to be over asap. 

i brought marcel home on new years eve. suffice to say, he was being fostered in gray gardens. had he been a female cat, 100% he would've been named big edie. 

but, as it was, he didn't strike me as a marcel. nor a tito. nor a felix. nor an oscar. nor an arnold. nor any of the other names i batted about for the last 24 hours, even though marcel was already engraved on the pink heart. 

bingley was supposed to be marcel and then he just wasn't. 

on the 30th, i finally found the words to email the vet who worked with us that sunday morning. this morning she replied. yesterday, a sympathy card from the hospital arrived along with a heart that, if i plant it in my garden, will apparently provide flowers for years to come so i can remember my beloved pet. 

with each of the cats, there has been a moment of panic in the adoption process. that moment, i think, where the heart is on the cusp of being cleaved open and letting this thing in, and the whole of your brain screams nooooooooooo!!!! 

i didn't feel that this time, with this guy, maybe because my heart, having been so recently cleaved, my brain having been so battered in this last year, it was all ready. 

but i couldn't find a name. a name, i'm newly aware, that will be shouted across the apartment during teaching, a name that rolls off the tongue, a name that fits the named. 

everything sat uneasy, which maybe speaks more to my own mental state than the nature of this animal. 

i felt no panic. what i felt was the violence of naming him. in part, maybe because it's hard to get a sense of the character of an animal who won't leave your closet. 

she wasn't ready when we arrived, the foster. there were so many cats. ya'll, i cannot even. i'm pretty sure i made eye contact with him several times, as he fled and hid under the bed. there were five of them, just under the bed. 14 all together. 

and i felt bad, because i just kept thinking this would be so much less traumatic for him if she'd only thought to have him in a bathroom alone before i got there. instead, we spent thirty minutes chasing him around the whole house. shining lights under furniture only to be greeted by other animals, friendly enough, who were not him. 

when we got him in a bathroom, i knelt on the floor, waiting. he stood in the shower. stood on the vanity. stood in the space between the shower curtains. 

i don't remember how long it took but it wasn't long before he did the thing we always look for in my family. when he approached me and butted his head against my hand so i'd pet him. 

that's the sign that the cat has chosen you. and let me tell you, i tiptoed out and got the space bag and came back in and scooped him up and we got out of that place real fast and we went home.

kristina picked me up from the hospital after bingley's death and she drove me to pick up this guy. on the ride home, we tried different names on him, but nothing seemed to fit. and he peered through the plexiglass with big big eyes. 

he's king of the bathroom now, hiding among the hems of my dresses. but when i go in there, he comes out and stands up on his hind legs so that his head can make contact with my hand. 

i miss bingley horribly, if i'm being honest. when we facetimed the other day, nanette wanted to honor my loss while my primary concern was that i not be bawling in the middle of a conversation with her kid so, while i appreciated her attempt to honor my loss, i also had to shut that shit down. 

he looked so confused when she took him away. i'm trying not to think about it, but what an awful thing to have to do, seriously. to end the life of someone you love. it was the right thing. it was the only option. but still, how fucking awful. 

and garebear and debo were immediately all like there are so many cats who need homes, now you can help another, and i leaned into that and it provided a lot of relief but also, still. you have to sit with it every now and again. i am so grateful to have had him for those four months, i am so grateful to have each of them for however long we have, and also how fucking awful. how incredibly fucking awful. 

20 December 2021

0 we none of us ever know

 


bingley died. he was very sick. 

thinking it was nothing, thinking i was overreacting, i took him to the vet. and it was very very serious for like a day, during which i cried all of my eyeballs out, and then it was less serious and then he threw up some vile looking worms on a saturday night, and i took him to the hospital on a sunday morning, before daylight, and it was extremely serious and he was gone by 11:15 am.  

i was not overreacting. 

never ever do i trust myself. which is unfortunate because i am usually almost always right. 

my guts, i never believe them, and yet they have never lied. 

in youth group, we always took these spiritual gift tests. mine was always discernment. funny then, but also typical, that this is the ability i most often question. it's, allegedly, my strength. and yet i am filled with doubt. 

they swept us off to a little room by ourselves. because he was reported to have a respiratory infection. when the vet first came in, she was all suited up, like we were in ET

the next time she came in, she was just in scrubs. 

the thing is so much has happened this year (i almost wrote this semester, but that is not even the extent of it, lol), so much has happened and so much of what has happened has been dealt with alone. not alone as in unsupported, because that is inaccurate. i have so terribly much support.

rather, so much of it has been dealt with physically alone. which is maybe why that visceral moment of debo and my's bodies coming unstuck sticks with me. because, in the experience of this past year, it was so singular. to share emotion with someone in person, embodied. (the egyptian being the only other person with whom i have openly wept this year IRL.)

the thing that struck me about the veterinarian, whose name i did not know at that point, was her candor, her kindness, and her generosity with her time. 

the kleenex box was severely understocked for a room filled with such grief. but she brought me water, if not coffee. and she sat with me. and she listened to me. and she acknowledged that my own mental health mattered in the decision i had to make. 

she set me up to leave that room, having had to make an awful choice, with no guilt. 

that is a lovely, lovely gift to give someone. i've not yet written her an email of thanks but i will. and it's a gift for which i have spent the last week and a half feeling incredibly grateful. 

when, after a date with a dude who-- halfway through dinner-- confessed a love of jordan peterson, left me with a possible exposure covid, thus resulting in the cancellation of my parents' pre-christmas visit, there was nothing to do but laugh. 

because it has, undoubtedly, already been the worst year of my life. 

the egyptian was shocked when i said this. i was shocked by his shock. surely this was not a surprise. 

but i hide things well. i give the appearance of going on. even as i feel i am at once entirely my full self whilst also being wholly numb. i do not know how that is possible but it is where we are. 

i do not know that i know how anger feels, i tell my therapist. 

in speaking about so many things, i am aware of a reliance upon the sentence construction of i imagine i would have felt.... and the elision of actual feeling that that represents. 

the memory i keep coming back to is when i left the yacht in chatham. i'd walked there, up a ridiculous vertical incline in driving rain, peed at the m&s, and then wandered the boat under cloud cover. but when i walked back to the train, the sun had come out and the skies were blue, the air brisk. and i felt nothing but joy. 

i prayed as i walked, i was so grateful to be where i was. i was so grateful for the story i knew i was in the middle of. 

when i try to remember the last time i felt joy, that is the moment that pops to mind. 

undoubtedly, it was not the last. it was so terribly long ago. surely, there must've been others. but look at all the convoluted verbs there. there must have been. nothing is immediately at hand, at the moment. everything arrives at a remove. 

i hunger for closeness. i long for immediacy. and yet all of my sentences mediate themselves. the distance is there, in the expression of the feeling, in all of the words I supply to separate the subject from the object, all of the space i impose.  

no wonder sitting three feet away from someone who legitimized my emotion and grief felt like a treasure, like a fucking semi-precious gem, even as she handed me a kleenex box that held, i kid you not, TWO kleenex-- a sum total nowhere near adequate for the amount of snot yielded by my outpouring of emotion. 

but that's the one that sticks out, that moment post-yacht and intra-blue sky, entangled as it was in jackie and writing and hope and living and adventure. 

my to do list for winter break is colossal-- a word that always makes me think of felicity porter's father. 11 things, and yet already i've whittled it down to 4. 

when i went to meet bing for the first time, way back, a mere four months ago, in august, there was this moment of sheer panic while i was sitting upstairs with the fosters. the feeling wasn't new. i recognized it from when claude first came to live with me. i think it's the terror of love. the terror of opening up a compartment for feeling which carries with it the threat of so much hurt, so much devastation. 

i'm aware of feeling this with animals, less so with people. which isn't to say that i just fling open the doors of my heart for people, but rather that it is perhaps a slower entry. with an animal, with an adoption, the commitment is, very quickly, total. 

bingley swatted at me. that gave me pause. later, after the moment of private panic upstairs, i went back down to say goodbye to him. and he ran over with that weird, jaunty high step he had that i could never get on film. and he bumped his head into my palm like a dog. and i knew he was mine. i thought it would be for longer, but we take what we can get. all of it, for however long, is a blessing. 

what i remember about my first date with the egyptian is that i demonstrated, on his hand, how bingley did that. and, as i did so, we looked into each others eyes. 

and yes, it hurts, yes, it is devastating. and, yes, i would do nothing differently. 

i went to pick up a peace lily from a dude the other day. he took 25 minutes to bring it down. he handed it to me with a warning that it was a delicate plant and that it was far too cold out for it so i'd better hope the bus came soon. 

the bus i'd missed by three minutes due to his delay. 

she was intensely interesting, she carried a lot of weather. i saw this quote about carolyn bessette the other day and i thought, good for her

here's to carrying a lot of weather. here's to owning it. 

i'm torn between knowing i should probably be cautious, and plunging ahead, throwing open the doors of my heart. 

because life is so terribly fragile, so very short. and we only get the one. 

and we none of us ever know what will happen next. this is the theme of all my writing, in part because it initially seemed like a weirdly original idea for something so obvious. now, because it's truth is inescapable. with covid. with donovan. with burvil. with living. 

in living, we do not know what will happen next. everything we ever do is informed by our ignorance and the decisions we make based upon it. 

how bold, the effort in going on. how wild, the ways in which we plunge forward, into all manner of things, hearts in various states of damage and disrepair, as the world crumbles and burns and melts around us. 

she was intensely interesting, she carried a lot of weather

what a fucking brilliant legacy. 

may we all be so lucky to own our weather and move forward, into love, with it. 

09 December 2021

0 i worry i make it all up



i fundamentally do not trust myself. 

i fundamentally do not think i deserve what i want. 

i felt a moment of peace for a hot second. because the acupuncturist took my pulse and looked at my tongue and was like i think really what is happening is that you're angry and nina was like anger is a part of depression and i reflected on my whole life since senior year of high school and was like yeah, that checks out. 

and then for like 24 hours, bingley had FIP and was dying and i thought omg the cat who overtly loves me is going to leave me, and it's not that but it remains unclear and i do not know where that leaves us. 

my jackie book is about to sell and i feel nothing. 

i'm in therapy talking about how i feel nothing. 

i go to the acupuncture place and i'm able to breathe more deeply than in yoga, but still i feel nothing. 

it would've been entirely in keeping with 2021 for bingley to have sparked joy for four months and then to have died. 

and yet that did not happen. 

for 24 hours i thought that was what was about to happen. reader, i prepared myself. i cried in the shower. i cried from 2 am until i had to teach at 7 and then i cried from the walk to and from target after that. 

i do not have words for how hard this year has been. 

i tell the egyptian it's been the worst year of my life and i'm surprised by the surprise in his voice. i thought having told him, on our second date, that a man raped me in january, would've clarified that fact, but apparently not. 

i do not know what to say. there are no words. the men, dear people, when you find the words, they do not listen. 

it's all very bleak, i'll be honest. 

but i went to church irl last week. i struggle to believe in god these days, i do not take communion, but there was a feeling there as everyone, in their masks, waved across the room to pass the peace. 

there was a feeling. 

i love wearing a mask because the thing is you can weep openly and no one will ever see your mouth scrunched up and the effort involved in trying not to. you can just cry, in public, and it's all ok. it's all going to be ok. 

 

05 December 2021

0 what even the fuck


k and i are walking on saturday and i ask, how's our depression? and then somehow i wind up asking, do you think i'm depressed, and she's like what huh, OF COURSE

and it sounds so obvious and i feel so stupid, but it also makes so much sense of what's been happening and how i've been feeling since august that i don't know how i've not seriously considered this before. 

since august i've felt this way. since before the on and off and on and off and on again and off again with the egyptian and the dalliance, in between all that, with the music man. 

in therapy, i talk about men a lot. i talk about me in there too, but the men are the focal point. 

i think i'm far more comfortable with the men being the cause rather than a symptom. 

i think i'm far more comfortable talking about them and my relationships with them than i am in talking about myself. and my relationship with myself. and how deeply painful i find my own company these days. 

towards the end of the massage the other day, zana asked if i've lost weight. and i said maybe, because i've not had much of an appetite this week. nor this month really. but this week, in particular, i've not had the energy to eat when not hungry-- which is what i've managed to do in the weeks preceding. 

it would be nice to feel hunger. 

it would be nice to feel something. 

the jackiebook seems to be slowly careering towards a book deal. 

i should be so excited. 

i should be so proud. 

i should be.... something. 

and yet, i am nothing. 

if anything i am only disappointed, because the advance is laughable. the advance is the equivalent of teaching two classes. the advance will not free me. 

i should be so happy and yet our circumstances are such that it seems very likely i'll be publishing a book about jackie's life in greece without ever having been there. and so what i feel isn't so much pride as shame, and embarrassment. that i have not managed to get there. that i have not seen it for myself. that like all those men who never went to the new world but wrote about it, i'm over here describing the waters of the adriatic, like i have any fucking clue. 

i booked a trip to nyc. it took me five solid months to build the nerve, to find the bandwidth, to imagine a future in which i could go to new york city for a single night. 

that's not nothing. but, damn, it sure is meager. 

the confusing thing is that, throughout all of this, i have been writing. in the past, i could not write. but hey, things change. if teaching in a pandemic has taught me anything, it's that the universe can always find new ways to fuck you up.