Last month I lost my best furry friend, Thumper. He was pretty much everything to me, so his passing was heartbreakingly difficult. When the vet took him from my arms one last time, she begged me to consider getting another cat someday. In the moment, I couldn’t imagine loving another cat, but I acknowledged that, maybe after an extensive amount of time to grieve and heal, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself.
And then I spent a few days at home.
And it was quiet. Too quiet.
There was no sound of paws padding across the hardwood floor. There was no cat waiting at or near the front door for me to walk in at the end of my day. There was no critter to tell me that there was insufficient food in his dish, or too much poo in his litter box. There were no cuddles, no kitty head under my chin, no paws to hold, no motorboat purrs.
I started losing my mind almost immediately. I am a person who needs a critter to love and care for; it’s an integral part of who I am.
So, a few days later I walked into San Francisco Animal Care and Control and met some cats. I wasn’t expecting immediate results, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to visit with some animals and give them some play time and love.
I met several kittens that day. They were all adorable. I wasn’t feeling terribly well, and I was a little overwhelmed by all of the animals. Being who I am, I felt immediately guilty for not being able to give all of them homes. And I did not connect well with any of the kittens I had met. So I was ready to go home, when the volunteer who was helping me pointed out a slightly older black kitten. “What about this one?”
I shrugged. Well, if nothing else, he matched my wardrobe. So I allowed her to usher us both into the get-to-know-you room and sat down on the floor as she came in with the carrier box. She opened the top. And I knew somewhere between 45 and 60 seconds that this was my cat.
Unlike the rest of the kittens she had brought in for me, he needed no help getting out of the box. He hopped right out and strutted about the room, tail straight up, full of fucking swag. He cased the room, and then checked me out. When I reached for a toy, my foot shifted and he pounced on it. When I grabbed him, he didn’t object, and when I flipped him onto his back and rubbed his belly he merely grabbed my hand with both of his paws and purred.
When I was finally able to pick him up from the shelter (thank you, Tristan!), it was pretty clear that he knew I was his human, too. The cuddles were immediate, and he followed me from room to room. That first night, as I lay in bed, he curled up beside me, wrapped his paws around my arm, and purred, occasionally stretching to lick my nose.
It was as if he knew how badly I needed those cuddles.
So now I have this kitten. He is made of love and purrs and headbutts and a willingness to burrow under my chin and a love of hugging my hand when I pet his belly and of gently tapping me on the face to get my attention at 5am.
To paraphrase my friend Valerie, nothing will fill the Thumper-shaped hole in my heart, but having this little guy curl up in it is a huge comfort.
Also, he does this:
I love my Monster.
(For hot and cold running pics of an adorable kitten, you can follow me on Instagram.)
This is Thumper:
He has been my best buddy for fifteen years. In the last few days of those fifteen years, I have watched Thumper go from older, but still moderately spry, to weak and wobbly. Or rather, it feels that way; it’s entirely possible that this has been creeping up and I’ve been willfully ignoring that motion in the corner of my eye. I don’t know.
Our last trip to the vet left me feeling optimistic. She couldn’t believe how old he was. His teeth, ears, coat, weight—everything suggested that he was several years younger than he is.
Now he sits in front of me, swaying back and forth as he tries to maintain balance and not have his paws slip out from under him.
Now he’s lost significant weight, and the joke that he’s really all just fur and fluff is becoming less of a joke and more of a truth.
Now he doesn’t jump down from things so much as fall as strategically as he can, and it really makes a difference to him when I help him up to or down from my bed, which is less than two feet off the ground.
Now he feels almost impossibly fragile when I pick him up.
And I am fucking wrecked over it.
I know that one of the things we sign up for when we bring home our four-legged friends is a life span that is far shorter than
ours. I get that, intellectually. I understand that we don’t get to have them forever, no matter how well bonded we are. But that doesn’t make the thought of losing the best friend I have had for almost 15 years any easier, as it turns out. That doesn’t make me feel any less like my world is going to fall apart a little bit when it is time for him to go.
Note: if any of you feel the need to tell me how lucky I am to have gotten so much time with him already, please shove it somewhere dark and mildly uncomfortable, okay?
Thumper is the closest thing to one of Philip Pullman’s dæmons I will ever find in this world. While he may not be the metaphorical embodiment of any soul I may or may not have, he still knows me better than any creature on this earth and has been there for me through more heartbreak, tragedy, loss, depression, loves, victories, and achievements than anybody else in my life.
He knows when I am hurting, or sad. He knows when to walk up to me and shove his head against my side until I drag him onto my lap, or when to rest a giant mitten paw on my leg to tell me he’s right here. He knows when I need him to butt his head against my chin and purr for me, endlessly. He knows that when he walks up to me and yells at me that I know exactly what he is yelling about even if I pretend not to. He knows that if he catches my eyes, we will spend minutes just gazing at each other. He knows that if I walk through or out of a room, and I see him reach out for me with one of his massive paws, I will be unable to resist giving him the cuddles he is requesting. I know that when I put my face in his face, I will be rewarded with a kiss or nuzzle to my forehead. I know I can bury my face in his big white soft belly and all he will do is purr.
In human years, Thumper is about 80 years old. I don’t know how much more time I have with him. Might be a while, yet. Hell, we’ve been expecting each Christmas to be my friend’s cat Elliot’s last Christmas for years, but he has clearly made a deal with Death or made friends with a voodoo priest because that fucking cat is apparently not going anywhere until he is damn good and ready. So it’s possible that I have years left with my cranky old beast of a cat.
I have spent the last 15 years telling him he has to live forever, like I was casting a spell on him through sheer force of love and will. But I’m no magician.
I’m pretty sure Thumper got all the magic.
I suppose it’s time for my increasingly traditional annual retrospective.
If 2013 were a cartoon animal, it would be the Cat in the Hat, balancing too much shit and ultimately failing. Oh, don’t get me wrong, many, many good things happened in 2013.
- I went to Puerto Vallarta, my first vacation in six years.
- My friends generously helped me get Iago, my beloved motorcycle back on the road.
- With some overlap, my friends also helped me raise significant funds for the organization for which I work.
- I moved into a fantastic apartment in SF (with laundry AND a dishwasher AND hardwood floors AND natural light AND off-street parking).
- I met Allie Brosh.
- I got three raises (which add up to, in just a little over a year, a 29% raise from my first salary here).
- Luke and Marisa got married.
- Jay and Jenneviere got married.
- What I am hoping is becoming a Christmas tradition of spending one of the most annoying days of the year with my friends Lisa, Matt, and Elaine.
- I have met some new people and made some new friends, at least two of whom are definitely keepers (and one I just fucking love so much I gave her, as somebody pointed out when I mentioned the book signing, an original Allie Brosh drawing).
- I beat my all time best bowling score. Which isn’t amazing, but I’m still pretty pleased with myself. (Current best: 157.)
- I learned some new things about who I am and how my brain works that explains A LOT about me and is helping me to make sense of my life and who I am.
But 2013 also slipped on a gigantic pile of shit, twisted its ankle, and landed on its face in yet another gigantic pile of shit with its mouth wide fucking open, for me and for people I love.
Losing Sparkly Devil broke more hearts than mine, and I think some part of me is always going to be wondering when we are going to go get our next cocktail and talk about everything. I still make notes in my head for things I want to chat with her about. Apparently it’s going to be a while, so I should start writing them down.
- I have watched my friends lose people, family members, partners to death, relationship failure, and drama. Broken hearts everywhere.
- There are friends who have been too far away for me to give them the kind of support I wanted to give.
- I am having to face the fact that my beloved constant companion, my purrbucket, my cuddly, affectionate, loving, and deeply annoying cat Thumper is officially old. He still looks great in a bowtie, though.
I don’t do the resolution thing, really. I know what I want to accomplish in the next year. I don’t know how I am going to do all of it, yet, but I’ll figure it out.
Happy New Year.
I had high hopes for 2012. 2011 was such an unbearable year, I thought that it could only get better. Briefly, it did. And then it all went to hell, for me and mine.
The death toll of 2012 rivaled the first five minutes of a Michael Bay movie. Loved ones and loved ones of loved ones were lost to accident, suicide, illness, and just shitty, shitty luck. When I wasn’t powerless with regard to my grief, I was powerless in the face of grief suffered by people I love deeply and dearly.
My attempts at finding love or even a halfway interested lover failed repeatedly, and early 2012 brought me a very badly broken heart and an utter loss of hope, not to mention a great deal of frustration and confusion. Many of my friends were unlucky in love and went through relationship strife as well.
There were a number of friendship upheavals about which I remain unsure, and I believe 2013 will involve some restructuring.
Things began to turn around for me toward the end of the year. Slowly, like the Titanic attempting to avoid the iceberg.
- I finally got a full time job at an amazing organization, working with phenomenal people and the best office dog in the world. I love my job. And it almost pays me enough to live on.
- As part of a last-ditch attempt to find somebody I might want to date, I showed up to a bar one evening with a book and a thirst for Scotch, and hoped that the woman I’d messaged on OKC wasn’t going to be a complete waste of time. Since I was pretty much over dating by this point, I wore the same unwashed jeans I’d been wearing for the past several days and a shirt I never checked for stains, and I didn’t bother to wait to start in on the whisky. I’ll go ahead and skip to the end of this one: She’s wonderful, hysterical, loving, caring, and has the prettiest, smiliest eyes. We just finished moving the rest of my possessions to her apartment in SF. She likes my cooking. (ETA: She has corrected this statement to make sure I know to call it OUR apartment.)
- My cat Thumper is in good health and happy in our new apartment, which is much smaller than our house in Oakland, but cozier and has many soft and warm things for him to sleep on. He even has his own chair, from which he can observe his neighbor cat girlfriend, Foxy. He and my lady absolutely adore each other.
- I opened up about a very serious topic in a very public forum and was rewarded by a show of love, support, and trust from individuals known and unknown to me.
2012 still sank, but I and many of my friends ended up on life rafts, paddling toward 2013.
I don’t think anybody expects 2013 to be amazing. But I am hoping that we all have the space to recover from losses, strengthen new and old foundations, and remind each other that we love and care for each other, that we are there for each other, and that we may occasionally want to give up on everything, but that we won’t give up on each other.
I can’t help but be a little optimistic; I’m in the best place I’ve been since maybe 2008. I’ve found love and employment, I have a roof over my head, and my cat has the most adorable mitteny paws in the world. Things are not easy; I don’t know if they ever will be. But it isn’t all difficult, and for the first time in a long time I really feel like it’s worth it to keep working, keep fighting, and keep pushing through. I am not in a place where I can say, “Bring it, 2013, I can take whatever you have to throw at me.” I am, however, in a place to say, let’s do this.
So. 2013. Let’s do this.
Twitter is, among other things, a forum for people who think that they have the ultimate definition of life, love, and friendship. Most of those tweets make me sigh and shake my head. Every once in a while, one resonates.
This tweet, which somebody RT’d, is one of them: “The best way to see who your real friends are? Lose your job, lose your BF, lose yourself[...]and see who’s left standing beside you.” — @Ms_Moneypenny_.
In 2010 I lost my job. I lost my girlfriend. And over the course of the next two years I lost myself. And you know who stood by me? My friends. ALL of them.
For two years of unemployment and being constantly on the edge of losing everything, my friends showed me consistent and unfailing generosity with not so much as a hint that they expected anything in return. Loans (of not insignificant amounts) were forgiven, dinners and drinks purchased, groceries subsidized, shifts at clubs found and arranged for me, computers, Scotch, and other necessities and luxuries crowdsourced. My best friend has covered my rent more than once. The very computer on which I am writing this post, and which I use at work, was purchased with money donated by my friends. I posted a link on FB to a guitar I desperately wanted and couldn’t afford, so my cousin made me one.
For two years of decreasing belief in my ability to find gainful employment and eventually get my shit together, my friends have sent me leads, passed on my resume, and expressed repeatedly their belief that I would find a good job, one that I deserve. Even when I wanted to give up, they wouldn’t let me. And their faith made it impossible to give up.
For two years of anxiety, stress, depression, and decreasing buffers from my anger and frustration at my situation, my friends have provided advice, love, patience and comfort. They’ve endured my increasing negativity and what I am sure amounted to quite a bit of self-involvement. They’ve helped me work through various issues with regard to relationships, work stress, money stress and just generally trying to make it through.
For two years of failing to find a healthy, steady relationship (of any sort) with a woman who cares for and respects me, my friends have been encouraging, supportive, and satisfyingly outraged and confused whenever a woman decides not to keep me around.
For two years, I have been at my worst and not a single friend of mine has given up on me. On the contrary, their love, support, and faith in me has been nothing less than stunning and humbling.
For two years my friends helped carry me in so many ways without once showing fatigue, frustration, or a desire to drop me and have done.
I know who my friends are. And you know what? My friends are fucking magnificent.
In case you missed The Misadventures of Ed and Bob, here’s a tiny bit of context.
So, C. has been on her way home from Oregon in a minivan she is not driving. This apparently has meant that she has become intimately familiar with all of the on- and off-ramps from Oregon to California. She may even have named a few. I didn’t ask. Seems kinda personal.
So I thought I would mention that sometimes you just gotta take the wheel.
Hoof to the pedal, Bob. Hoof to the pedal.
Last night I was talking to a friend of mine who is going through a really tough time, and she mentioned something that I related to entirely: the active and conscious effort she is having to put in to not jump in front of a bus. Now, before you all start screaming about intervention and 5150, let me explain something, first.
Because I think, given some of the ridiculously stupid shit people say about suicide to me and to others, it’s time to come out of the closet: almost every day for the past couple years (and actually, for much of my life) has included the conscious decision to survive the day. Some days, that’s easy. Some days I have to actively remind myself of why I should choose to live. Some days I just make myself numb with weed, watch tv and let the hours slide by, because that’s all I trust myself to do. But I choose to live, every day, whether it is a good day, or a bad day, or a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
People talk about suicide in terms of weakness and strength, selfishness, rudeness. All of those things are factors. But there’s also the issue of perspective. Which is to say, what might seem like piddlyshit to one person might be devastating to the next. I have yet to meet the circumstance that would be sufficiently devastating to send me over the edge, but that doesn’t mean I won’t (doesn’t mean I will, either).
2010 and 2011 were brutal, and 2012 has brought blow after blow after blow and let me tell you, I am fucking tired of wishing that my heart had an “Eject” button. I am tired of living with everything I’ve had to live with (here is where I will get the “Buck up! That’s just life!” comment from some jackass who has never experienced the desire to just fucking end it. Save it. I know life is hard. But when every day in a given week—or every other day, or even a single day—feels like being thigh-deep in the Swamps of Sadness after watching Artax die, it becomes a little overwhelming).
Thus far there is nothing I haven’t been able to weather. People call this strength. But strength is a trap. When people expect you to be strong all the fucking time, showing weakness is nigh on impossible, which is why for the vast majority of my friends, this post is going to be news. There is no real break from being strong. There’s (prescription) drugs, but in the rare event that they work—my body laughs at most drugs and tells them to come back with something stronger, next time—while they mute the depression they also mute everything the fuck else, and I would rather feel everything I am feeling than feel nothing. I will resort to them when I know it is impossible to drag myself out of some pit without them, but not before.
And it’s really difficult some days when somebody says, “You’re strong, you can do this” to respond with, “I know,” and not with, “Fuck you. I want to be weak, this time. I want to give up.”
I don’t call it “strength”. I call it “determination”.
People talk about how selfish people have to be to commit suicide. Sure. Ultimately and in essence it is a selfish act. It is an act done for that person and that person, alone. They may have convinced themselves that people would be better off without them; obviously most of the time they are utterly incorrect. They may no longer be able to see the love and care of the people around them. They may be the only person in the entire world at that moment.
The experience will be different for everybody, but part of my conscious decision to live involves remembering all the people who would be hurt and confused by my death. But, as I said, I have yet to experience something devastating enough to make me lose sight of them, and I remain fully aware that this is a possibility. So I never judge people who have genuinely attempted or committed suicide—not for their selfishness. I just assume that the decision was made at a point where the people they loved stopped being real to them in the face of whatever anguish drove them to the act.
I find that the people who don’t understand this have little-to-no experience with that level of depression and pain, and are assuming that whatever depths of sadness they have experienced are the most extreme anybody else might suffer as well. I have begun calling it “emotional privilege” in my head. I’ll never forget the day I was watching The Wall with a woman I was seeing and she turned to me halfway through the movie and said, “But why doesn’t he just get over it?”
(Click to see entire picture @ the source)
Now, let me make something clear: I am not defending suicide as an option. If I thought it was viable, I might not be sitting here in my messy room writing this post while I have Top Gun on in the background to unheavy this shit a little bit. I have lost people to suicide. Both friends and family. I have experienced that particular hurt and confusion, the search for answers, the need to find meaning in an act that causes such extraordinary pain to those who have been left behind, the endless questioning—what if I had been there, called more, texted back, remembered to say “I love you”? Oh, God, what did they need? What could I have done?
But what I am saying is that this has been my experience. And I am not the only one who feels that way. And talking to my friend yesterday was helpful to me, and hopefully to her, because when it becomes a shared experience, when you can remember that one other person has some understanding of it, then it becomes more difficult to forget that there are other people in your life, in general, and more difficult to lose sight of them.
Most days I’m fine. I’m not always walking around in a lightless slimy pit of despair, and I don’t want to give the impression that I am.
This post isn’t a ploy for attention. It is not a plea for help. I am not writing this for your advice (in fact, unless you have something in mind that is mind-blowingly new and possibly alien, don’t fucking bother. I’ve been dealing with my own issues far longer than you have and I have made my decisions for how to manage my situation consciously and with pretty comprehensive knowledge of what is available to me). Actually, it was really difficult to make the decision to write it, because I don’t want my friends to change the way they act around me or talk to me. I don’t want people to freak out, or worry. I am hoping that everybody realizes that this is not new and that I am still exactly the same person they knew before they read this. I want the opposite of attention.
This post is partly an attempt to educate, but mostly putting myself out there in the hopes that the people who need to find this post, do. And when they do, I hope they reach out. I’ll be waiting right here.
Okay, so the very first thing you have to do is spend 30 seconds watching this video. Yes. This post has a video component. Watch it. Waaaaatch it.
Okay. Done? Now, this is what happens when C and I are allowed to:
- Run rampant on YouTube
- Think we are very clever and hilarious; and
- Text each other.
For reference, I am Ed. C is Bob. For this convo.
Last night, C. and I came home from the memorial party for Donovan, fell into bed, and wrapped ourselves around each other, seeking warmth, comfort, affection, love. I lay there, forcing myself to be in the moment for as long as I could, and focused on appreciating how absolutely perfect it was: her head resting on my shoulder, my arms wrapped around her, our legs tangled together—like we were puzzle pieces that had been snapped into place.
She eventually slept, and I did everything I could to memorize how wonderful she felt in that moment.
Memorials exist as things or events that help us remember. Monuments, sculptures, benches, trees, parties. They are how we attempt to honor those who have left us behind, how we create ways to maintain a connection with people we can no longer see, hear, or touch. Simultaneously, death reminds us that we live and are surrounded by the living and that we must remember to connect with the people around us, to not take them for granted.
But often the moments we most want to remember are the ones we are least able to capture.
The past couple of weeks has also reminded me how random and stupid life—and death—can be and as much as I want to, I can never assume that such a moment will happen again. That reminder is terrifying; it has made me face how vulnerable we all are when we allow ourselves to love our friends, our families, our boyfriends/girlfriends/partners/lovers/husbands/wives. It has made me face all the ways in which we cannot protect the ones we love. We just have to let them go and hope they come back to us safe, whole, with the smiles, laughter, hugs, and voices we adore. We have to let them go with our blessings every day, and be grateful when they think to let us know they are okay. And we have to do it like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Most of the time, I can, and do. Right now, it’s incredibly difficult for me, and it will be until the rawness from and hyperawareness of this fades with time.
I kissed C. goodbye this afternoon and sent her off to her cousin’s, and I did it with a smile. But I would be lying if I said there was no part of me that wanted to hold her tight for hours longer, days longer, possibly just forever. It’s just not a part of me to which I wish to succumb. As we all learned from the ever-amusing Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” But acknowledging the fear is as necessary, sometimes, as acknowledging the grief that it follows.
I have been waffling about writing this post, because I haven’t the faintest idea of how to describe where my mind and heart have been over the past few days.
Sunday night I learned that Donovan Pugh, a friend and member of my essential chosen family, was in the ICU at Highland. He was comatose after a severe head injury.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I lost my shit. I lost my shit, and then prepared to visit Donovan, to see him in his bed in the ICU, to tell him I love him, to hope he could hear me. Monday afternoon I told him everything I could in the twenty minutes I had with him. Monday night I went to work and tried not to let everything I was feeling, all the anguish and the fear that I was losing my friend, show. I failed, of course.
But this was true of all of us, to some extent or other. For some reason, as my friend Marisa observed, time and the world didn’t stop and wait for us to catch up with them. And the people around us—at work, on BART, in the corner store—somehow didn’t know that one of the most magnificent people in the world was fighting for his life in a tiny, ugly room in Oakland. I almost got into a fight with a guy who was self-righteously butt-hurt that I didn’t take the time to sign his petition when I was on my way to visit the ICU.
So all of the people who love Donovan had to somehow keep moving and keep functioning as if we weren’t terrified that an integral part of our world might be ending.
Thursday evening Donovan moved on to the next party, and we were all left behind to keep this one going.
I have been wrestling with grief, and the forms it can take. I’ve been fundamentally relieved and confused by the way in which my grief over the loss of Donovan is so intertwined with the joy I have been finding with this woman for whom I have fallen so very, very hard. I’ve been comforted by the fact that he would be the last person in the world to begrudge me my happiness despite this loss, and he would have loved her for, if nothing else, the fact that she’s been so wonderfully supportive and kind throughout.
I have been reading people’s stories and memories of Donovan, and looking at the pictures they have been posting, and it’s been truly amazing. He managed to touch so many people (some of them appropriately) and it shows. People have displayed a fantastic combination of love, exasperation, and humor in their efforts to remember Donovan at his best and at his most improper. It has made me think about this post, which I wrote after attending the most depressing wake in the history of wakes, and realizing how true it remains.
I have been avoiding imagining a world without Donovan, and his soundtracking tweets, and his Ren Faire shenanigans. I have not been allowing myself to fathom family events without his hugs and his ability to throw dignity and decorum to the wind (if he even arrived with them in the first place, which was unlikely). I have not been allowing myself to see the ways in which the world has grown visibly darker without him. And when I do, I know my heart will continue to break.
If there is a party in the sky, I hope they have plenty of pickle juice. If there is another destination, I hope they appreciate the occasional reacharound. If there is an afterlife, it just got a hell of a lot more fun. RIP†, Donovan Pugh. I love you.
†Wherein the P stands for…Party? Pickle? Prank? It’s unclear.
Eleven years ago, there was a person who believed in love more than anything else in the world. More than anything. Love mattered more than anything, and this person was willing to do anything to fight for it, earn it, hold it, nurture it and protect it.
Eleven years ago a fantastically silly movie arrived in theaters, and it was like it was tailor-made for this person. Because it put love on a pedestal and for 127 minutes the audience got to fall in love with love, and adore love, and worship love, and just fucking love love. Above all things, love.
Eleven years ago, this person—let’s call this person “Whiskeypants” for the sake of brevity and clarity—knew what love was. Whiskeypants knew all the facts about love. And how it worked. And how it was supposed to go. The more impatient among you may be tempted to suggest that Whiskeypants was an idiot, and that would be fair, but the more generous and tolerant may be thinking that maaaaybe this Whiskeypants person just had a lot to learn. A lot. A LOT to learn. Maybe. (Hint: YES. OMFG. A LOT.)
And as time passed, Whiskeypants did, in fact, learn. A lot. Fucked up. A lot. Loved a lot. Lost a lot. Lost more.
But never once lost faith in love. Until.
There’s always an “until” in these stories.
I watched Moulin Rouge last night for the first time in…I don’t know. I don’t know how long it has been. And I found myself mourning that person with the enduring, unshakable faith in love and all it had to offer. And I don’t mean any kind of gentle, “awww, what the hell happened to my younger idealistic idiot self” mourning. I mean tears-running-down-my-face-wtf-happened-to-that-essential-core-belief-in-love kind of mourning.
In the last few years I let that Whiskeypants slip away, and I never went looking.
Tonight I pinpointed that moment when I let it happen. That moment when love—my faith in it, my belief in it—stopped being a factor. The moment when that part of me just…separated and went its own way.
And I…I just let it happen.
Eleven years ago I stepped out of a movie theater, blinked my eyes against the sunlight and a world that seemed bleached of color. I felt stunned, I felt vindicated. I was pretty sure that getting on my bicycle and riding home was just going to be fucking impossible, so I went into the pub across the street, closed my eyes, nursed a beer, and loved love.
Eleven years ago I had a lot of necessary and painful lessons and experiences ahead of me. But losing that essential part of me, that love of love, should never have been one of them.
I never went looking.
I’m looking, now.
My dear friend Sasha pointed out that my blog composition has settled into a sort of triangle of topics. And I’m cool with that. It’s just not the topics I thought they would be. Witness:
Once again, the cats have won the internet. Resistance was futile. We’ve all been assimilated. And with that in mind, prepare yourselves for the most recent conversation with Otto, a guest blog from the abovementioned Sasha.
One of the things I am realizing now that I have begun dating again is that, while my head is in much better shape than it was a year ago, my heart is still pretty badly wounded. I recently described it as being held together with nails and bubble gum and random crap off the street, and I should probably have included duct tape and string. Seriously, you could totally list my heart on Etsy, and it would probably show up on Regretsy within hours. Upcycled heart, vintage nails, found objects, bubblegum that has only been chewed by hungry underprivileged children in Detroit. A perfect accent for your office or nursery!
I thought about that for a while, yesterday, while I was trying not to doze off during the slower parts of a mock trial (for which I was a mock juror). And I realized, I can’t really offer this to anybody. Not like this. It’s all in pieces, and the gum is kinda gross, and there’s the issue of tetanus, and is the duct tape a little grimy? And what is that?
So what to do with this damn thing? Will somebody really want it, as is? If I take all this crap out of it, will it hold together on its own with a little help and a little encouragement? I kinda can’t tell anymore. I know this thing still works (I listened closely and it’s still ticking), and theoretically it’s still good. But I’ve been hurt so much and so often that I can’t really convince myself that I am going to have any other experience, and I’m running out of things to hold this heart together short of encasing the whole goddamn thing in resin. At which point, it would definitely feature on Regretsy.
Also, fuck that noise. What’s the point of having a heart at that point?
Lately, I’ve been absolutely loving Florence + The Machine’s Shake It Out, which I have been informed is about a hangover, but which I interpret more personally as a call to let go of the shitty past and start anew (also, there’s no shaking anything when I have a hangover, unless it’s the bottle of Excedrin to see how much I have left, and maybe that’s what she’s really talking about, there). That is, of course, easier said than done, but still a worthy goal. The line that strikes me hardest is, “And I am done with this graceless heart/So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart.” I have no idea how to do that, or if I should, but it sounds ideal.
Maybe it’s time to rewatch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Good lord, I’m wordy. All that when I could have just said, I’m scared. I’m scared, vulnerable, and every step forward requires a deep breath and determination. But I am moving forward.
I’m finished with running away.
So, not too long ago, I posted this status on Facebook: “In a weird turn of events, I might be about to start dating somebody who actually likes me.”
While to my delight this post received a surprisingly high number of “likes”, there was also some concern (both on Facebook and off) that if somebody were busy making me happy, this blog would become, as my friend Mike put it, “all fluffy bunnies and hearts.”
Gentle Readers, don’t worry.
This fantastic, amazing girl may be making me pretty stupidly happy thus far, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a million things to be angry or frustrated about in the world. Privilege and privilege deniers still abound. Wall Street is still fucked up. The Republicans are still waging war against women, minorities, and the poor. The queer community in general is still comprised of second-class citizens in some way or another. Black kids are being murdered by racist fucks, who seem to be getting away with it. I remain constantly teetering on the edge of being unable to support myself. I still suck at guitar. I still work at two clubs. I still ride public transportation. I am still surrounded by other human beings because the stupid zombie apocalypse is late.
I could go on. But you get the point: This blog will never, ever be all fluffy bunnies and hearts. Or fluffy bunny hearts, because I want to keep the five or six readers I have.
I promise: if I have accidentally found actual romantic happiness, almost nothing will change here. The irritable snark is alive and well at terminallysnarky.com. And while I would find it extremely disappointing, this girl could always decide to dump me in some horrible way that includes kicking me in the shins and laughing while I’m down. It seems unlikely, but for those of you who are still worried about the potential for this blog’s descent into cheerful bliss, you can always hope for the worst.
I am robbing the cradle.
There is no question about it. No leeway. There is no math that turns it into a socially acceptable age difference (she’s old enough to drink, I swear I am not a pedophile). I have a hard time even saying it out loud, sometimes, but that’s mostly because of the reactions I get.
Turns out it’s annoying as hell to tell people about your dating life only to feel judged and receive completely unnecessary lectures.
Turns out, it’s annoying as hell that people forget that you are a ridiculously intelligent and mature adult the moment you explain that the person you are all twitterpated about is some absurd number of years younger than you are.
And while a handful of my friends are quietly letting me make my own mistakes or even being supportive (thank you, either way), a larger number of people have taken it upon themselves to inform me of all the bad things that come with dating younger people. Within this group there are:
- The people who continue lecturing me about it even after I’ve made it clear that I am aware of the potential issues (because apparently the fact that I don’t jump up to dump her when their wisdom has been shared is a sure sign that I am blind to the danger no matter what I say).
- The people who are passively suggesting I preemptively dump her.
- The people who are actively suggesting that I preemptively dump her.
- The people who feel the need to tell me, “she’s going to break your heart.”
Many of these people haven’t even met her, yet. Many of these people forget that my last girlfriend was nearly twice her age (and had half the maturity and discipline of the woman I am dating now, no joke). All of these people have forgotten that the odds of my getting hurt or fucked over by somebody closer to my own age aren’t lower. As it happens, people will fuck you over at any age.
So friends (Romans, country…folk)? I get that you are trying to be loving and protective, but seriously: Stop it. Just. Fucking. Stop it.
If you can’t be happy or supportive about the fact that I’ve found somebody I get to be excited about, even if it ends tomorrow (which it won’t, because I promised her BBQ on Sunday), then at the very least, keep this negative bullshit to yourselves. She may very well break my heart. So could anybody I decide to date. I don’t fucking need you to tell me it could happen when I am trying to share something good with you. Something I am guardedly happy about. Something I am enjoying. I was well aware of the danger when I asked her out, and I didn’t stop being aware when I realized I was more serious about her than initially intended.
But I also know that if I don’t give it a try, I’ll never know what might have been. I know that everything I have seen of her thus far is worth the risk. I’ve never been about playing it safe when it comes to relationships, and I am not going to start, now. And if I get hurt, y’all can say “I told you, so,” but hopefully you will be more concerned with the fact that I am hurt than with the fact that you were right. I guess we will see.
Here endeth the rant.
The very first thing I did in 2011 was wake up, shower, and go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make Raspberry Crack† for Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman.
At the time, I thought: holy crap. I am leaving a year filled with pain, anxiety, emotional abuse, misery and more pain. And I am leaping into a year that begins with one of my favorite authors and one of my most beloved musical artists, as well as some of my best friends in the world (Hi Whitney and Alexei!). Around a kitchen table. At which I will be sitting. Wow.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ultimately, very little. Very little had to go wrong. 2011 was a year of trying to convince myself that I could survive the status quo. Little secret between me, you, and the rest of the internet? Almost didn’t happen. Survival, I mean. 2011 brought me the closest to suicide I have been in a decade.
Sounds dramatic, right? I guess suicide is dramatic, but I don’t intend to make a splash with the idea.
I mostly mention it to give you some context, Gentle Reader, for my mindset coming into 2012. I have spent 2011 trying to put my head and my heart back together. I have been questioning and trying to come to terms with who I am and the choices I have made. I have been wondering what my place is in this world, and if I even have one. I have been lost, personally and professionally. And with regard to 2012, I am not as optimistic as I might like to be. I see SOPA and NDAA and the economy. I see my empty bed and my empty wallet. I see my grad school loans only overshadowed by my law school loans. I see an election year that is terrifying in its lack of viable candidates and a surplus of terrifying candidates. I see rage waxing and worry that my strength is waning.
I have found strength in myself that I didn’t know I had. I have friends who are so phenomenal that it’s a little overwhelming. This blog has a nonzero number of readers (that nonzero? That’s you. You are not zero—not The Zeppo [that's Xander]. Mazel tov). I have things to work toward in 2012 that aren’t just about trying to find reasons to keep living. I’m still funny. My cat remains adorable.
So my resolutions for 2012 are:
- To remember that I am loved by amazing people.
- To come to terms with the decisions I have made to this point.
- To consciously and carefully let go of as much of the baggage I’ve been lugging around with me as I can.
- To stop carrying the world on my shoulders.
- To practice guitar more often.
- To try at least five Scotches I have never tried before.
- To find a hottie or two to hang out with/hook up with.
What, you thought they would all be emotionally intense and interesting?
My biggest resolution, and one I hope to keep more than anything is this, though: I want to live. 2011 was about survival and subsistence—emotional, physical, and economical. It’s time to find ways to live. I wish that were as easy as it sounds, but it’s without a doubt worth working and fighting for. So I guess 2012 is going to be less about just trying to hang on, and more about climbing.
Happy new year, Gentle Reader. I hope your resolutions are wonderfully easy (or nonexistent). I hope 2011 has been amazing for you, and that 2012 will be even better. I hope there is no climb for you. I hope when you look around at the world in the new year, that it’s either a world you know you can live with, or a world you know you can change for the better (or both). I don’t yet know what the world has in store for me. I guess…let’s all hope for the best.
†Raspberry Crack is something I make, that my friends named, and that appears to be fairly addictive. The look on Neil Gaiman’s face when he first tasted it will be something I hope to use to get some incredibly nerdy and hot girl into bed some day.
Have you ever stood in front of some unbelievably gorgeous and compelling work of art and wanted to just stare at it, try to take it in, try to absorb it? To try to make your brain comprehend what you are seeing and what you are feeling when you see it?
I will do that in museums, when I am struck by the vision and talent of an artist, when I feel that there is nothing I can do but just appreciate the hell out of a piece of art. Sometimes, I do the same thing with women.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good stare.
Say you think some individual is totally hot. Like, devastatingly hot. The kind of hot where your eyes want to follow him or her everywhere. The kind of hot where, even if he or she is no longer in the room, if you picture him or her, you still have to brace yourself against something until your blood pressure returns to something resembling normal. And, given the absence of ability to touch him or her (which may be total or may be temporary), you wanna look at that person—as much and as often as possible. You want to take in every detail, every angle, appreciate everything you can. Because regardless of what flaws that individual may or may not have, he or she is fucking stunning.
And if you do get to (and he or she doesn’t call the cops on you for being a creepy stalker, and good luck with that), it’s a bit like being a kid in a candy store. Or even an adult in a candy store. You ever been to Powell’s Sweet Shoppe? You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate it. But that’s beside the point. I think. Mmmmm. Candy.
Sugar is good for you, right?
Anyway, lately I find myself staring. Like, chin resting on my palm, all thoughts gone from my head, eyes like malfunctioning tractor beams, staring. And yes, for those of you keeping track at home, I am talking about the hotness ninja. I’ve been staring, trying to avoid loud, wistful sighs, and enjoying the hell out of the view.
It’s a simple pleasure, and one of which we should all take advantage whenever possible. Gentle reader, if the hottie(s) in your life are receptive, and you aren’t a creepy stalker (<–IMPORTANT) don’t forget to take some time and just stare at them. Watch them move, watch them work, watch them cook or do dishes or reorganize their bookshelves. Appreciate every angle, every movement. Every moment where they are thinking of something, singing, reading, or dancing.
It’s an entirely worthwhile way to pass the time.