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Monday, September 27, 2010

A Note

I would like to put aside for a moment my usual meta-fiction drivel bullshit, if I may, and actually talk about something. No flowery language or fictionalized accounts. Just what happened and how I felt.

On thursday morning my mother and I had to put down our dog, Lily. She was a sweet, beautiful dog and she had to die. On wednesday morning she broke her spine and lost the use of the lower half of her body. So on thursday morning when I received a tear-filled phone call from my mom I rushed to the vet so that I could be with her to make the decision and hold my dog one last time as it was carried out. At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, it was horrible. I can't get the thought out of my mind. I can't forget her shaking in my arms as the nurse injected her. With a whimper she tried to pull her paw away but the vet held on and before she even pulled the shot out Lily fell still and lay down. I haven't been able to get that feeling out of my hands. Since then I've been obsessively touching everything I pass: tree trunks and low hanging branches, mailboxes and fire hydrants, fences and brick walls. At work I held on to a pan straight from the oven, hoping to burn the memory out of my fingertips but it just won't go.
God damn it, I'm just not emotionally stable enough for this kinda shit right now. I mean I've already been on a downward spiral for awhile again. The lack of sleep, the loss of appetite, the aloofness. This all sounds familiar right? Thursday night I was so frustrated I just punched and punched punched until my skin peeled off and my knuckles bled. And oh, the pain that came was just delightful. I've missed it so much. I'm not going back to my dark days, I'm not, but its very nice to visit right now. The death of my poor, sweet Lily is just the catalyst I needed too.
So now all I can think of doing is what I always do in this situation: run away. So thats what I'm going to do. I'm going to escape.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This week marks the one year anniversary of my death. It was a painful death, sudden and unexpected and now here I am, a ghost marking a full year since my deathday. In that year I've spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what it means to be dead, what it means to be alive. Strangely enough I haven't actually come up with any real answers, just lots and lots of thoughts. In that spirit I'd like to present to you a story I wrote shortly after my death. I reread it the other night and found I didn't like it anymore. So I rewrote everything except the first few paragraphs. You can probably tell where the voice changes. I like this new story better. I think it better reflects everything that I've learned in the last year, which is to say nothing definite. So without further ado,

“I remember when I used to be happy.”
“Do you?”
“I think so.” Actually now that she mentioned it, I’m not sure I actually could. In retrospect I was certainly happy. Does that count? Okay, at least comparatively I was happy. That definitely counts. I wasn’t on medication for depression that made my teeth feel like they were vibrating in my skull so that’s definitely a plus. And I wasn’t yet hurting myself physically or emotionally so there’s that too.  Wow, is that how I’m characterizing being happy now? Happiness is not being a danger to yourself or others. Yeah, that sounds right. “Yeah, I was definitely happy back then.”
She looked down at the coffee cup in her hands. “What happened?”
“Are you serious?” There’s something about that phrase, it’s overuse maybe, or its lack of sincerity perhaps, that I really hate but honestly, was she serious? “You broke my heart, disrupted my life, and thoroughly destroyed my emotional stability.”
She didn’t look up. “Yeah.” Now I looked down at my own coffee. I stared deep into that dark pool, hoping to find in it all the solutions to all the awkward silences that now lived amongst us. I knew at the very least there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to drink this thing. I had long been ignoring it and it had grown cold. Great. Now my coffee was cold. What else could go wrong?
Who am I kidding? Grow up, boy. Disrupted my life and thoroughly destroyed my emotional stability. First of all, who says something like that in casual conversation? And secondly, did she really do that? She’s a 19 year old girl and she decided that rather than try and deal with the stress of a long-distance, long-term relationship, she wanted to move on with her life. Who can blame her for that? Obviously, I can. But at any rate, no. 
                “Sorry,” I breathed. She looked up at me with those blue eyes I loved so much. I had a picture in my wallet of her eyes, I swear. It was a close up picture of her and you can tell she’s smiling this sly, clever, sexy grin just by looking into those eyes. But this time I didn’t meet her gaze. I just stared down into the dark pool of my cold coffee. “You don’t deserve that.” You don’t deserve any of this dramatic bullshit I put you through. I wasn’t quite strong enough to say that part yet. I said, “I have to go,” and stood up.
                I really wanted it to be a dramatic exit. I’d stand up quickly, sling my bag over my shoulder, and march out of the coffee shop. Maybe I’d pause in the door way, look back at her one last time and say something Bogartesque like, “See you round sometime, kid.” And then walk out, never to see her again. Instead I stood up too fast, backed my chair into the guy sitting behind me, turned around to apologize, knocked over my coffee, yelled “Shit!” loud enough for everyone in the cafĂ© to look up at me and then just stood there awkwardly looking at the mess I’d made. “Shit,” I said again, although quieter this time.
                Without a word she grabbed some napkins and bent down to help me clean up the spilled coffee from the table and the floor. For the first time since I tried to kill myself I looked her in the eyes. She smiled at me, a bit sheepishly. “It’s okay,” she said.
                Yeah. At this point I didn’t know what to say. I took the soiled napkins from her hand and tried to leave again without quite as much of a scene. I turned to walk away but without taking a step turned back towards her. “You don’t deserve any of this dramatic bullshit I put you through,” I said. “So…” I stalled. I shrugged. She leaned forward and pulled me close in a tight embrace. It was nice. After a second we stepped apart. “Thanks,” I said. She just smiled up at me. I smiled back down at her.
                After that we both sat back down in our seats and talked. Like, really talked. About all sorts of things, but about things nonetheless. Real, tangible things. Not fears or imaginings or emotions. Just stuff. Things. Shooting the shit. For four hours we sat there talking. I ordered more coffee and actually drank it. We both laughed at times when it was appropriate to laugh. Long after it had turned dark outside she told me she needed to be getting home. “Okay,” I said and meant it. We both stood up, me without swearing or spilling anything this time. We hugged. “We should do this again sometime. Just, you know, talk,” She said. I smiled, “Yeah. We should.”
I walked her to the door. We hugged one last time. She said, “Goodbye.” I said, “Bye.” I watched her get back into her car and drive off. I stood there in the doorway until her she turned at an intersection and her tail lights faded into the distance.
                Afterwards I went back to the counter, bought one more coffee and sat back in my seat across from where she had just been sitting. For another hour I sat there, not touching my coffee. I knew I would never see her again and it didn’t kill me. I sighed, stood up, threw away my cold coffee and walked outside. It had gotten cold. In  my car I light up a cigarette and stared absently at the smoke floating calmly out my window and disappearing into the night. I turned the key in the ignition, shifted out of park, and drove home.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Making up stories about the people at starbucks

"So what did you think of today?" Silence. "Was it better than you thought it would be?"
"Yeah." More silence. "This tastes really good."
"Yeah." The song Powerman by The Kinks comes on over the speakers and it makes you want to get up and do something exciting but of course you don't. You stare off into the middle ground and listen to the song. She's staring too, unfocused, just over your shoulder but you don't know if she's listening to the song too, you know that she's noticed it too, she introduced you to The Kinks after all, or merely listening to her own thoughts or nothing at all. You start to ask her what she's thinking about but change your mind. Frankly, you don't care and she knows it. All those insincere questions you've asked those uninspired answers and half-truths. You're just so sick of it all. Where did the honesty go from your relationship? The sincerity? More importantly, the interest? You used to call her up every night to hear everything new that had happened to her in the two hours since you'd last seen each other. What had she been thinking about? What had she been doing? How was her mom? Her sister? Her dog? Anything exciting happen? Anything boring? It didn't matter, it was the world to you. You could listen to her talk for hours and hours. And often times, you did just that. Those were good times. And now? Who was this stranger sitting across from you? The indifference between you two is palpable. In the corner of the cafe, the happy couple that walked in just a minute ago is now sitting awkwardly, made uncomfortable by the tension that emanates from you.
"Hey what are you doing tomorrow night?"
"I said, what are you doing tomorrow night?"
"Oh." Silence. By horrible coincidence, Powerman finishes and for one long, painful moment, the entire cafe is filled with your awkward silence. "Um, nothing. Yeah, I don't think I'm doing anything."
"Oh. Well, did you want to do something."
"I don't know."
I give you two another week of horrible, painful, uncomfortable silences before one of you puts a stop to it. Being alone sucks but is this so much better? Eventually one of you will take the risk. And for the sake of all the innocents in this coffee shop, thank God for that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Like Two Ships Passing In The Night

She’s not okay.

I mean, I knew that. I knew it when I saw her and I couldn’t do anything about it. The sunken eyes. God, when was the last time she slept? She looked up at me when I came in and tried to smile but couldn’t quite manage it. As if she no longer had enough strength to even lift one corner of her mouth. She looked back down at the book she was reading but I swear in the forty minutes I was in that room with her she never turned a page. She just kept staring down the words, blankly, not seeing a thing but a world that was far, far away. Beneath the table her foot shook uncontrollably. Her heel tapped the ground incessantly, almost angrily.

When I finally got up to leave I wanted to do something. I knew she wasn’t okay. She hadn’t been okay for awhile and I wasn’t going to make it better. I could have but I didn’t. I got up and walked out the door. I was afraid.