Pieces of a Season
I am a relationship anarchist before I am anything else. My friendships have always been important. I have what I call" spurts" seeing people (friends, lovers, artists I am in awe of) in bursts then spend a large amount of time alone to recharge. I could call it seasons.
It used to be be solely based on who needed me the most at that point in time. I was running myself ragged, abandoning myself to exhaustion. But now it's become more balanced, based on both who needs me the most and who I need the most at any given season of time. I'm cultivating community & care. Being intentional in how and with who I spend what precious little time capitalism gives me to be a human person lover & artist.
I work Fridays- Mondays as security/visitor services at an art museum. I could work the 5th day and gain fuller benefits, more coin. Indeed I did/do stretches of 6-7 days a week several times a year at my seasonal (wow seasons coming up again) job at a theater or a tourist gift shop. I wasn't really making more money in the end, because with no time to go grocery shopping I was spending it all on food. ( and still behind on bills).
And I was not seeing any sunlight, only sleeping and working and existing like a robot. So I am broke. With my payrates I would still be broke with 5 days, with 7. So if I'm going to be broke anyway, I might as well be broke and a little happy.
Love & writing are the only things I do exceedingly well. I have had to work hard at both to shed the toxic familial and cultural structures imposed on both. Using my sweat and my grace to build and mold my love & my words into something that fits for me.
My words are misshapen pieces that every so often get clogged in the machine. Someone notices the details and feels stuck too and we become friends. They are creating misshapen pieces too, illegal shapes we are told are not possible. Flourish + flare + colors + textures banned by governments.
And the pieces will fit together somehow . So maybe I don't have to fashion the whole weapon myself while in the interim freezing and doing nothing but mechanical tasks. Maybe I don't yet know what the weapon will look like before it's finished.
But it is a tool we are building as we build ourselves and our communities up.
About two weeks ago one of my partners asked if I would be comfortable writing a college assignment essay for someone close to them in exchange for money. They were too anxious to complete it themselves. I said sure.
I used to bang out academic essays pretty quickly. It was easy for me to figure out what a teacher wanted and pipe out some bullshit they would absolutely adore. Or at least it used to be. This person sent me their assignment due in five days, an essay involving three readings. Between my job and my mental state I honestly wasn't sure if I could complete in time but I would let them know either way.
When I opened the instructions I suddenly remembered how long it had been since I wrote in a "for school" capacity. I scrolled through the readings for good measure, trying to crack a code like Nicholas fucking Cage. Yeah, no still had no idea how to start this. AND mla format? AND a works cited? YIKES.
There was a time I loved school so much I would have done nearly anything to get it. In post high school years I got in to Fairleigh Dickinson University, SUNY Purchase and Temple on three separate admission cycles. I was offered a small scholarship from Fairleigh and SUNY and basically work-study and a shrug from Temple.
I stopped chasing school after that. While enrolled in CCP to keep my parents insurance (this was before Obama's declaration you could be 26 and not in school before being booted off. Bless him for that.), I found I actually liked CCP a lot. There was a different mix of people in the classroom: working adults, retired people, high school drop outs trying to get their life together, etc. Granted it was the Northeast campus so it was still a lit of white cishet jock types but still.
And then there was the bitter pill that when my younger sister graduated Girls High four years after me, our art teacher went to bat hard for her to make sure she got the four year all inclusive scholarship for art school. There was an ache in me. Balancing at the same time my sister being so talented and thus deserving, with not being able to further my studies financially beyond Community College was a challenge.
I leaned hard into the adult world and was fucking miserable in grey basement offices. It wasn't until 2015's A Room of Her Own retreat in New Mexico that I felt close to alive again. There I gained knowledge in workshops, friendships with other writers who I still talk to today, courage that even though most of these people had degrees, they still saw value in me that I couldn't. see yet.
Since then I pretty much been writing whatever I want. ( as you can clearly see form the titles of my blogposts..) Writing became mine again. It was no longer a performance I did to placate other people, like the rest of my life was (is), but something I did to interrogate my feelings and document observations.
It gets complicated when we also take into account the realities of a severe head injury a few years back too. The months after in which I would read a few sentences and not be able to comprehend what I just read. The months after that I would get a heavy headache if I thought too much or got confused or emotional or cried a lot.
I have written elsewhere expandingly on the trials my split forehead still gives me as the scar has faded. I simply can't pretend to be the same person I pretended to be pre-2017. And I can't write like her either. But I don't want to.
Getting an m.f.a may have given me an easier time in the writing world but it also would have given me a mountain of more debt and an academic standard I no longer want to meet. Some people may take me less seriously without a bunch of letters extending past my name. But those are the kind of people who don't look past surface level minutiae and I'm not interested in wasting my time with those people anyway.
I no longer ache for the validation that school would give me, I see how beautifully I have grown in environments where dialogue, and not competition, is the norm. I'm a bad bitch on my own terms, and I don't need anyone to tell me what to write anymore.
I don't just mean with writing; I mean with anything. Routine is not a skill I have acquired. Routine was not a vocabulary entry in my childhood home's dictionary.
Trying to cultivate consistency for the first time when you are a full on adult who realizes they most likely have undiagnosed ADHD on top of a severe head injury that made an already flighty brain even wispier is really hard. Doing simple tasks is like herding a bunch of balloons. I get my hand on the last one and then another from the bunch floats away and my hands slip to focus on the one running away from me and lose grip of the other three that were semi important and so my hands greasily grab at strings uselessly, never quite holding one long enough.
Take for example this blogpost of which I have entirely forgotten my original point. Let's hope I get it back folks but odds are it is with the angels now.
Anything that requires steps is a nightmare. There are lot of things neurotypicals think as simple that actually have steps: making a meal, planning grocery shopping for the week that won't result in either rotten food or a haphazard array of foods five days later that don't go together, making a doctor's appointment et al.
I say all that to say this: consistency is fucking hard for me. I'm a very present friend when you can pin me down long enough but I can also disappear for days/weeks/months and not realize the time away has been so long. I'm grateful to those incredibly patient friends as well as my 4 current partners who are very low maintenance.
For a change I will swerve from self deprecating to patting myself on the back, not something I'm accustomed to yet. I submitted my application for Hedgebrook. No one reads this but I will humor myself and explain for the imagined audience that Hedgebrook is an all women's writing residency in Washington state. Gloriously woodsy cottages and meals made for you among other writers with cottages nearby. It is a fairytale land that is extremely hard to get into.
the application was hard for me. it required me to think about it a lot. Twoish weeks ago I met up with a cutie I started dating so I could actually be held accountable for starting the damn thing. I was so frozen even as I stared at the application preview in front of me until they suggested I make bulletpoints about each question.
So I did. Normally under circumstances such as these, I would have completed that step then totally forgot about it and missed the deadline. or ignored the constant calendar reminders on my phone, putting it off and then whoops.
Instead I would work on these things two more times before even opening the slideroom official app. Of course I made it harder than it was, overthinker that I am, I wrote a near essay length answer for each question on my drafted word document and then getting into the actual application realized it was only 1200 characters each one.
Painstakingly I frankensteined pieces together to fit better yet say something tangible. I bothered 2 of my partners to help me pick through my final poem sample. they both obliged, giving me compliments I hardly deserved but thoroughly needed.
By the end my head was pounding with caffeine dehydration and overwhelm but it was completed. I don't have enough hubris to tell you I will be accepted. Finishing this multi step process was more about meeting a deadline while not flurrying through in one fell swoop, exhausted and half assed.
I'm fucking proud. I've been struggling a lot lately but here was one accomplishment. I ignored the negative balance in my checking account and used my remaining credit line to order celebratory taco bell. Will I ever be free of the fast-paced adrenaline from the "EVERYTHINGS ON FIRE" to "meh nothing matters so I'm going to keep disintegrating" spectrum of getting shit done? I don't know. But I feel free to fuck up and keep going.
CW emotional abuse
I should feel relieved. The fascist demagogue has flown the national coop and though we have a shit ton of work to do, here is a breath right?
Let's not be overly optimistic here- nobody wanted Biden- we settled for him, a moderate at best but someone who, at least for the moment, has ears open to listen.
I woke up at 11:30 am to the sounds of the inauguration with no sign of the orange tyrant anywhere. But it doesn't feel like it's over. It doesn't feel like he is truly gone.
And he's not. He was only a figure head for the rot the U.S. that existed for centuries, rot that learned to hide itself better from nonconfrontational white people who could easily close their eyes in a NIMBY fashion.
Even watching Joe Biden was sworn in as president, I could not be relieved. Right now it feels like all those moments between my tyrannical father storming out and coming back. It feels like that- picking up the pieces of whatever he knocked over, comforting our crying mother, waiting. always waiting for his return. It could be minutes or hours. It was never predictable when or what mood he'd be in.
A quiet we could not fully enjoy. There was always his presence lurking after he slammed the door. The uncertainty of his impending arrival loomed over us. We were hypervigilant, one eye on the door, body locked in to survival mode. Sometimes he would return with Dunkin Donuts for my mom, giving it to her wordlessly before disappearing to their shared bedroom alone..
Often, he paired his gifts with punishment, with the silent treatment. When he returned, he never apologized or explained. My mother fell over herself to cater to him: anything to make him talk. She would make excuses for him to us as if all that he did was justified and he was a tortured soul who loved us but "didn't know how to show it." After some unspecified amount of time he would talk again, act like nothing had transpired.
He was the one whose anger shook the whole house, who was volatile and who though he never laid a hand on any of us physically, shook up our emotional wellbeing for the rest of our lives. But he was always the one who got to leave the wreckage he made.
I've mused written comparisons between my father the Trump supporter and Trump himself a lot these past years. The same vitriol dispensed from different mouths. The gaslighting, the unwarranted anger, the 'phobia/ism's of all people not in his demographic is uncanny. For that reason I've found it difficult to pay attention to the news. I want to keep informed on what's going on in the world but I am also only 3 year years removed from still living under the aforementioned erratic household. The former President was someone I could choose not to interact with. I cannot do that to my father. Not while both my younger brothers still live in his house with my mother as present as she can be given the circumstances.
Right now as many celebrate I can barely sit down long without pacing, my mind racing alert, my body preparing for an aftermath of unknown proportions. How long will the peace last this time, however fraudulently manufactured? While the clouds have parted to show there is hope, there are parts of me anxiously waiting for a return.
I was gonna give this a snappy title but I'm not Fall Out Boy soo... this is called Nightmares I guess
Christmas Eve was gonna be bad for me mentally- I knew this. I won't go into lengthy details here. Trauma & emotional abuse are weird like that- it becomes routine & not specific. So drudging that past up now haphazardly feels like writing a paper underwater with slight amnesia. It's all smudgy. I don't remember. I don't know what any of it means.
For the past few weeks I been struggling to fall asleep and when I do nightmares wake me with a racing heart and overwhelming anxiety fall upon me after 4 hours. My wife is usually asleep beside me yin to my yang, her feet to my head. The house is so quiet, I am overalert for danger whether it be spirit or intruder I do not know but in the dark the anxiety has the loudest voice.
Each dream is usually different. I struggle to find the common threads besides waking from most with anxiety in my chest. They have fully formed and complicated narratives- the kind I could never write in my waking life. Upon consciousness, the details fall like loose screws from my memory.
When my grandmother hired a psychic to her living room last year , she told me to pay attention to my dreams.
At the time, she imparted this wisdom, my dreaming was coming back. I was getting vivid ones again but not often and vague. As I have worked on becoming more present in my body, the dreams have amped up. There is a flood of messages from my subconscious but I do not have the language to sift through and interpret them.
I often google dream meaning but many symbols can mean so many different things according to different sources it is frustrating for me to ascertain which was right for mine. Take for example one dream I had involving my investigating the living room in the early am while wifey slept and my front door opening slowly ominously by itself until I slammed it shut to lock it. According to a google search for meaning “If you dream about an open door and then it slams shut, you may have missed an opportunity which is no longer available. It could also mean you had perceived a problem forming, but that it has now disappeared. It could signify you had never addressed the problem, but had rather ignored it instead.” (source Do you Dream about Doors? | Blog | Slide or Foldslideorfold.co.uk ). Like UMM OK.
I used to have nightmares are a kid too. I don't remember much because I dissociated so often I can barely remember who I was. One involved a vampire in a wood and me running back to my childhood home scared. The other an apple orchid. I have been writing a memoir for the past 2ish years to piece my story together for myself. There’s so many missing fogs. Some so well dissipated they don't fit into any larger things I remember. Until one day I write about scarves in a room full of people and somehow within 15 mins I have veered completely off any map and remember a rare moment of my father being kind or some event from my preteenhood.
My mom tells me when I ate chocolate too late, I would kick the walls in my sleep, knocking down framed Disney posters next to my top bunked slumber. I remember frequently the posters on the floor the next day, stuffed animals that were beside me in the middle of the room.
Sleep at some point became an escape for me as I couldn't deal with my reality.
But now I am afraid to sleep for fear of what will pop me awake this time and how long will I lay in bed ears perked and eyes wide like a deer in traffic listening for any sign of danger at 3 am. This fear used to live in my chest all the time and follow me around. It was heavy but I didn't know that then. Now I feel the full weight but less often. I can't give you the exact date it started to creep off of me and live outside me waiting.. It's all smudgy. I don't remember. I don't know what any of it means.