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.
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. Yes. Ultimately 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. But that justification at its foundation remains a selfish one.
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.
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.
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.
If you have ever found yourself in a position to doubt where you stand with a friend, lover, or partner…you must be human.
If you have ever found yourself unable to properly interpret body language—at least, enough to make some sense out of your situation…you must be human.
If you have ever stared at an individual you desire, not sure whether he or she does desire, or still desires you…you must be human.
If you have ever found yourself fighting the desire to shake somebody and ask them to please tell you what the fuck is going on…you must be human.
If you cannot help but want them and smile at their antics even while you are wondering where they stand…you must be human.
If you are afraid to just ask…you must be human.
If you ask and get the answer you were expecting (but not the one you wanted)…you must be
I find myself in a difficult spot these days. I need a break from dating, from emotional attachments. But I don’t need—or want—a break from sex. So theoretically, I need to find somebody (or somebodies) I can sleep with without the emotional attachment.
Now here, I run into a problem. While I can sleep with somebody without falling for her, I cannot do it without caring. And when I care, I really care. My friends can tell you that if they need anything, I will do everything I can to make sure they get it—and if it is out of my power, I will check in until I know that somebody else provided for them.
My friends will also tell you that I check in with them regularly, that I want to make sure they know I love them, that I like them, that I care—and that I think they are awesome. I think about my friends on a daily basis—some of them, admittedly, more than others. And while I might do this less with somebody with whom I am merely having sex, I still do it. Because frankly, just because it’s just sex, it doesn’t mean that person is any less human or any less on my radar (in some ways, more—when I want somebody badly enough, she is always on my mind).
(And that, gentle reader, is before I even start making an effort. If I am actually dating a woman she gets treated very, very well. I don’t mess around, there.)
I have been told that I can’t do this if I am just sleeping with somebody, that it will be confusing to the woman or women with whom I am sleeping, that they won’t be able to take what I am offering at face value—regardless of the fact that I offer everything at face value, and I offer what I offer as a matter of course. And I offer what I offer because I can’t not. If it’s obvious to me that somebody should have something, or experience something, then not offering is like having an itch between my shoulders.
I have been told that they won’t appreciate it, that they will run from it. And I know that this is right. Every experience I have had bears this out.
So what do I do if I can’t not care and I don’t know how to not give? Does every gift I give, every text I send have to come with a disclaimer, now?
This gift/text comes carries no obligation or investment, emotional or otherwise, on the part of either conferrer or recipient. Conferrer accepts all responsibility for any choices made from conception of gift/text idea to delivery; recipient is not required to accept gift/text or use it respectfully or wisely. Unless otherwise and explicitly stated, conferrer does not expect recipient to take her clothes off upon or within six (6) months of receipt. However, conferrer would probably appreciate it, because recipient is wicked hot.
Or do I have to find that unicorn of a lover who understands that the sex doesn’t have to be meaningful, and the relationship doesn’t have to be meaningful, but I am still going to be caring, and kind, and appreciative?
Neither option seems feasible, or likely.
So maybe I’m S.O.L. Maybe I’m not gettin’ some any time soon. But that’s cool. As much trouble as it has been to me in the past, and as much trouble as it is now, I like the fact that I care.
One of the things I swore to myself upon coming out of an awful relationship (that capped almost a decade of serial dating/relationship experiences) was that I would remain single until at least the end of the year.
This is one of those things you swear, like when you decide you are gonna cut down on sugar, fatty foods, and whiskey, like when you decide you are gonna exercise more. Like when you decide to do anything you know you should do but are not 100% convinced you really want to do.
- Being unemployed doesn’t matter. Not being able to pay for dates or take a woman places doesn’t matter when you don’t have a woman to take out.
- I never have to clean my room.
- I have the opportunity to get my life together outside of the dating dynamic.
- I am not working my ass off to prove myself to somebody who doesn’t appreciate me anyway.
Wait, was that emotional baggage? Oops. Right, this isn’t about the women I have already been with.
- No girl to crawl into bed with. I am not just talking about sex. I am talking about that feeling when I walk into a room and know a woman I adore is in the bed I am about to fall into. I miss that feeling of wrapping myself around a sleepy girl, of enjoying the way she feels, the way she smells before I drift off to sleep.
- No sex. Just because it wasn’t necessarily an element of the above doesn’t mean it’s not an element. My mouth and my hands miss skin. My ears miss sounds. I am not going to tell you what my tongue misses, but you can guess.
- No license to stare. I don’t know about you, but I love looking at the women I am with. If I could I would just rest my chin on my hand and look. They put up with that better if they are sleeping with me.
- No license to tell her how hot I think she is. Generally, I don’t get to tell the devastatingly hot women around me how lovely I think they are (apart from those friends who think —tragically—that I am harmless). When I am dating I get to do that. Regularly.
- I miss having somebody I can wrap myself around, or grab by her belt loop and pull toward me. I miss finding dark corners for smooches and looking across the room to see that she is just as distracted as I am at the idea of those smooches. I miss that level of intimacy.
But where was I? Oh yeah, remaining single until the end of the year.
How am I supposed to do that when I find myself so totally enchanted? Some rules were made to be broken. Those rules include reducing: sugar, butter, bacon, whiskey, and women.
The thing to remember when one has been rejected by a unicorn or Angelina Jolie—they don’t exist. Okay, I haven’t been rejected by Angie recently, so her existence doesn’t really matter one way or the other. I just had to include her out of revenge for the fact that I recently watched Salt.
Now, I recognize that being rejected by an imaginary creature is a double-edged sword:
- On the one hand, Fuck you, unicorn! You can’t reject me, you don’t even exist!
- On the other hand, being rejected by a creature that doesn’t exist is damning in its own special way.
- On the third hand—and I don’t know where the hell that hand came from, or why I have it—I am sitting here looking at the pluses and minuses of being rejected by an imaginary horse-thing. Also, I just made this a triple-edged sword.
Dungeons and Dragons aside, rejection sucks. Especially with regard to a job that not only would have put me in the middle of an organization for which I have wanted to work for years, but also would have allowed me to do things like pay rent and purchase whiskey.
You know, if I had an actual third hand, I could play guitar and drink whiskey without having to put anything important down. I could keep my hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and never once sacrifice safety to road rage while flipping off other drivers. I could hug and grope simultaneously.
If you are wondering how I am really coping with this particular rejection, well…I don’t have a third arm with which to drink it, but there’s whiskey just down the street and the two arms I do have are quite capable. Cheers.
Employers find all sorts of ways to reject you. Let’s look at a list of recent rejections I have received:
- The Silent Treatment: I never hear from them again. Even if they interviewed me, I was apparently so embarrassingly awful that they would prefer to pretend I don’t exist.
- The Cordial Letter: Rather than inform me immediately of their decision, they take the time to type, print, fold, and mail an actual letter. Because this is the 19th century and trees are in abundance.
- The Cordial E-mail: Generally preferable, often awkward.
- The Offer for 60% Off Pole Dancing Lessons: Mixed bag option. Sure, they might be trying to tell you that you really have no future—not just with the company, but also in your chosen field and your clothes—but they are also offering an alternative and giving you a deal on training.
Time to work out. If I am going to be pole dancing, I really should be in better shape. Endurance is essential.
Getting up in the morning and finding motivation to look for work is increasingly difficult.
The job market is beyond brutal right now. With so many candidates out there who have all the experience and certification they need for the majority of the positions that have been listed, getting a foot in the door when the best you can offer is being way overeducated, smart, and charmingly witty is nearly impossible. No matter how amazing you might be at the job.
It’s tempting to give in to despair. Or to edit my cover letter so that it says,
To Whom It May Concern:
I’m pretty sure you have already tossed my resume in your recycle bin because you have received 250 resumes from people with far more experience in the field. But if you are taking the time to read this–I’m rad. I mean, really. I’m not only brilliant, but I’m hilarious, and I come with a strong work ethic that gets stronger the better you pay me. Additionally, I can play, like, five songs on the guitar with an average of 1-4 mistakes made per song, and I have a nice singing voice once I’ve had my coffee.
Hire me. I’d be extremely grateful, and you know what they say about gratitude…
Since I can’t further jeopardize what little employability I have by hoping Human Resources has a sense of humor, I must find ways to teeter back from the Stokeresque precipice of doom—complete with bloodsucking fiends—that is Craigslist these days.
To be continued…