hello from the lower east side! i am sitting in my sister’s purple bedroom, waiting for her to get back from the doctor’s. i’m here for the feminist zine fest in brooklyn and sorta-my-dads-birthday-even-though-he-doesn’t-celebrate-it-because-he-is-depressed-about-getting-older and general why-not-ness. so many good people to see and so little time to do it! but it’s ok, i can try.
i drew these knuckle tats on the megabus yesterday. surrounded by a bunch of whiny, healthy, well-groomed college kids. i got two seats to myself because i look weird. hooray. the tats are an unconscious reference to an awesome drawing by my friend o’ryan, and also, of course, because i was headed “home”. but is new york my home? no, i don’t think it is anymore. i miss the people i know but not the city so much. i kind of wish i was at my actual home, but i’m glad to be away. i know getting away is important. trying hard not to forget that.
had a premonition i’d get severely hurt if i rode my bike to work today. so i walked. saw this graffiti as i was walking down penn avenue and even though i was gonna be late i took a picture anyway. what else is there to do. the thought one day this will not hurt so badly is mocking & useless. it does not offer sustenance or any real hope. but it is all i have to give myself and it is all anyone has to give to me. ironically, i am paid to give the exact same threadbare sympathy to people who are in situations far more desperate than i am. and it’s all i have to give. and it’s more than most people give. and it is not even approaching enough.
today on break i was complaining to j. how i have no vices left. jokingly said i need to become a pillhead because i can’t drink or smoke cigarettes and i hate weed. i had two puffs of his cigarette because i was feeling stressed out and sad and a little bit selfdestructive. i actually do have some vices left, but he doesn’t need to know about them and neither do you. immediately upon returning from break, i had a client with severe chronic bronchitis. she claimed it was from second-hand smoke. every so often she would be overcome with coughing that would wrack her whole body. i felt guilty. at the end of my interview with her she gasped, between coughs, pray you don’t ever get sick, honey. i said, i do.
in my mind i’m actually in minneapolis today. it’s summer and a lot of the bad things haven’t happened yet. debbie and i are walking around powderhorn park, barefoot and laughing. her cat is still alive and waiting for us in the zinemobile. the sun is sinking and we’re feeling okay. i don’t know where debbie is now, i think her phone was shut off. i’m in minneapolis, the vibrancy of the streets in cedar-riverside. i’m about to go swimming in the lake, but first i have to figure out the right light rail. that’s where my mind is today, not here. not here. i can’t fucking stand it.
check out how scary and intense my horoscope is this week!
ARIES: March 21 – April 20
You have gotten permission to do things your way. The tension in your circumstances has had a lot to do with the fact that until now you’ve had to play by the rules. Continue to stick to your guns in the face of external pressure and avoid certain people at all costs. Matters of life and death will be at the forefront. If you make it through the next month you should be home free. Things are turning a corner, believe it or not, and what you’re worried about now will become less and less of an issue.
*IF* i make it through the next month? geez i hope they are being metaphorical!
are you listening, fellow arieses? let’s watch out for each other! watch out for me, please. i wish a. was still here, because i remember an amazing convo we had on the porch nearly a decade ago when she told me that i need to embrace my dark side. but it wasn’t an exact quote. i wish i remembered the exact quote. i wish i had known then how important it was to remember.
on valentine’s day, amanda said, “i have a new way of looking at my mental anxieties. they’re like tentacles. sometimes they hold me tight and sometimes they let me go so i can dance!” but they’re always around, aren’t they? sorry, a, i know that’s not an exact quote. but it was a good one.
on valentine’s day, we were walking down liberty avenue, cold rain pouring down, huddled under an umbrella. i said, “i am cold and rained on but i am so happy. a year ago i was so comfortable i couldn’t have imagined walking this long when the weather’s this shitty. i was so boring. i was so safe.” that’s not an exact quote either. but it’s what i meant to say. amanda looked over at me like she got it. of course she did.
we continued trudging on. the weather was truly miserable. but i was happy. having a good time. feeling like i was living my life. we passed a restaurant full of valentine’s day diners. they all looked so bored & so trapped. cold & wet & scabby & heartbroken & grieving & braininjured & exhausted, outside, i was happier than they looked, i was happier than i was the previous valentine’s day, which was spent in a warm house, where i went home to a boy who loved me. why am i happier now? because my life is all mine now, that’s why.
i’ve not been well lately. trying to take comfort in books & friends but it doesn’t really matter. doing stupid self-destructive things because who fucking cares? i am so tired of being strong. i am so tired of being brave. because, as sherman alexie wrote, “at three in the morning i can act just as young as i want, with no one around to tell me to grow up.” because, as nikki giovanni wrote, “i would not reject/my strength/though its source is not choice/but responsibility.” because, as i said on the phone to M. last night at 1:30 am, when he commented on how well-adjusted i seem about a certain shitty life event, “well, i have to be! what choice do i have? i can either deal with it, or i can fucking kill myself!”
valentine’s day and all my co-workers are wearing black, even those of us who believe in love. i believe in love, and i have lots of it in my life right now. i am grateful. i love the two people who sit on either side of me. yesterday we had a talk; we all have crazy parents, we all spent our whole lives dealing with crazy, which is why we can do this job and not take it too hard. which is why we can smile at people who are screaming at us and flipping out, and still try to help them, and still want good things for them, because we know where it comes from. they get it, they fucking get it; and to think that i was so worried about getting through this work-year without a partner at home. when really, it’s so much harder to have a rich-kid lover who you need to understand you because they take the majority of your emotional energy who maybe wants to understand but simply, fundamentally, does not have the tools. so much lonelier. and these two people, even though we don’t touch, even though they don’t know my real name or anything about me, really, we share that burden & it’s lighter because we’re sharing it. you know?
but still. i can’t sleep because the bad guys are winning. can’t sleep because spring ain’t coming this year. can’t sleep because the shittiest people get all the breaks and the good people get shit on (and when i say “good people” i am not, in any way, referring to myself) and that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it always will be, forever and ever amen. because “life isn’t fair” and that’s a good enough explanation for most people. it’s not good enough for me. but i’m still here and i’m still trying. to make it a little more fair. even though both things feel so pointless sometimes.
i don’t have a lot to say. just that i got my septum pierced,
& it was a fun adventure with a good friend. magical. the story is not for here, but it was silly and made me feel young in a good way. & who cares if i’m almost thirty. thirty is not a milestone for giving up. it’s not the end of my life. not the end of fun things.
i’ve been getting a lot of compliments on it. i feel cute. one comment i’ve gotten a lot is that it looks like it was always there, that it’s such a part of my face already. honestly, when i pictured myself i often had a septum ring. i was just waiting for reality to match up with my dreams, that’s all.
lately when i am riding my bike around, a phrase gets stuck in my head. it’s from a zine i read a long time ago, by fellow sassy aries ammi emergency. i don’t remember the exact quote, just the idea behind it: “my body is the only vehicle i will ever own.” i think it pedaling up hills, bumping around on potholes, the wind slicing through my coat. i thought it when i was in philly, riding matt’s light speedy road bike instead of my beloved heavy clunker, my conscious mind forgetting where things were but my body knowing exactly where to make all the turns. i know that city like i know no other, after all those ten-hour shifts delivering food. so long ago, but it’s imprinted. i don’t forget.
it’s a nice thought, that quote, but an exhausting one. a sad one. keep pedaling even though the bike’s about to fall apart. no one can fix it. no one can drive you, not even the bus. this is all i’ve got. how do any of us keep going at all?
a. read my tarot cards this weekend. the final-outcome card was the six of swords. she was excited for me. “that means you’re leaving!” she said it was a good card, a happy card, but it looked so sad to me. a woman on a boat, clutching a baby, her back to us, staring across the empty and endless sea. six swords were stuck in the hull of her boat. a leaky ship & a broad sea. that sounds about right. today at work a 22-year-old client cried about her best friend, shot to death on new years’. they’d had their babies in the same month. “i saw her the other day, i saw her. she looks just like her mom, even though she’s so young. it’s so sad.” and we looked at each other, across the desk, across the valleys of our lives. i lost my good friend when i was 22 also, but who cares. i still didn’t know what to say, except i’m sorry, except stay strong. and i know it’s not enough. how do any of us keep going at all.