Monthly Archives: May 2013

writing this down, because i don’t want to forget

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at 6am this morning, at the mental health facility where i work, i consoled a crying client. “this goddamn war’s been going on for twelve years,” she sobbed. “TWELVE YEARS. why doesn’t anyone care?” i said a few things. we talked about hopelessness and hope, about working for change. it was a good conversation, but it gnawed at me.

why doesn’t anyone care? why don’t i care (more)? these questions are unanswerable. maybe because i’m delerious on three hours of sleep.

i could tell you about other things, i guess. like how i am doing a totally scary thing right now and it’s so good. or how  much i want to go on a long bike trip but i only have a byke with one gear and noplace to attach a front rack (and my panniers are in the possession of j., who i adore but who i fear will not give them back in a timely manner. it doesn’t help that he’s on the other side of america.)

i could tell you how my memoir has been troubled by something new i’ve learned. how i may need to tear most of it down. or maybe throw it away, this thing i’ve been building for two years, now. just sift out a few chunks for open mic amusements. maybe print out a copy or two for people who want to know this particular story.

i could tell you how i spent an hour cleaning hamburger grease yesterday, also at work, and how thoroughly it repulsed me. the thickness, the stench.

i could tell you about the sun glinting off the bay today. or how another client who was leaving said to me today, “i always felt safe around you,” and how much it warmed my heart. she told me that my aura is rainbow, and that she has dreams that sometimes come true, and i believed her wholeheartedly. (i have so, so, so much more i want to say about work but i have to be careful to not violate confidentiality. i don’t think that either of these exchanges were confidential.)

i want the prison in guantanamo bay to be shut down. i remember how pleased i was, in 2008, when obama was talking about it, saying all these things that i thought, and how weird it was, to be in line with a president. but in 2013, it still remains open, still tortures with our tax dollars.

here is a drawing by a child of a prisoner in tamms supermax prison in illinois, another state-sponsored torture factory. it was closed in january of this year. i’m posting it to remind myself–and you–that sometimes we win. but usually we don’t. to keep loving. and keep fighting.

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farewell, lorazepamsam.

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that was your okcupid username. i use it in this post because i went on the worst okcupid date of my life with you. last march, at the end of a long and lonesome winter. i should have ended it at the very beginning, when i bought a pabst blue ribbon and you made a fucking joke about putting something in it. you apologized profusely when i called you on it & my instincts told me that you were awkward but not a threat. so it continued, down by the river with a sixpack, watching the lights on the water. i can’t remember what we talked about. it was okay, i guess, until you told me that that horrible thing had happened to our mutual friend, X. X was someone who i had known a decade ago and hadn’t talked to in years. i knew her at a very bad time in her life, and you told me something horrible that happened to her in that time, that i hadn’t known about. you mentioned this like it was just a casual anecdote to be shared on a date, a prelude before a kiss, just making conversation.

i said, “i have to go.” went home and fucking lost it. lost it. cried so hard that i thought i was gonna die. i couldn’t believe what had happened and i couldn’t believe that you’d told me like that.

this incident was a blessing in disguise. i reconnected with X, apologized for not knowing, for not supporting her more. she said it was okay. we wound up falling in love, for a brief moment, and healing each other in ways we couldn’t have imagined. throughout our affair, you were an awkward background figure. you were X’s roommate and occasional lover. you’d say hi to me when i stumbled messy-haired from X’s bed in the morning. your presence unnerved me. i didn’t feel safe around you. X kicked you out when you got into a huge, pill-fueled fight with a neighbor. the neighbor broke your nose with a punch and you threatened to kill everyone.

i didn’t think about you again. i was relieved that you were gone. i didn’t think about what happened to you, where you went, until this afternoon, ten fucking minutes before getting on BART to go to work, i looked at my phone to see a text from X, saying, “hey……i don’t know if you heard…….but [lorazepamsam] killed themselves last night……shot himself in the head…..just thought i should tell you.”

i work at a mental health crisis center. i was feeling a little crisis-y myself with this news, even though i hardly knew you, even though i didn’t like you. on BART, shaky hands, i took half a lorazepam (better known as ativan) because i thought i just would not be able to get through the day without having a fucking panic attack. i laughed a little at the irony. half a lorazepam because lorazepamsam is dead.

when i went on that date with you, i didn’t even know what lorazepam was. now i get paid to hand it out to people, write down what time they take it so they don’t take too many. now i take half of one on my way to work, to cope with the death of you. i don’t believe that spirits who die violently find rest easily. i thought about how uncomfortable it was to be next to your life for one night. i cannot imagine the raw discomfort and pain that you endured for 35+ years. i hope you are in a safer place, but i don’t believe that you are.

i thought work would be rough but it was actually mostly good. the clients were friendly and sweet, funny and happy to be there. reflective. about 6 hours into my shift, the small street became filled with cop cars. when the medical examiner’s van came, we knew that someone had died. domestic violence that had turned deadly was the rumor on the street. the clients sat outside, smoking. i was worried they’d be triggered–a lot have experienced violence at the hands of the police–but instead they grew reflective, commenting on the fragile nature of life, how at any second it can be over. how lucky we are to be here, on this side of the street, safe, alive.