Change of Blog

If you enjoy this blog, please follow So Brightly Black

I am moving this blog to that domain to better connect my blog to my forthcoming book, So Brightly Black, which chronicles my real (nonfiction) stay in a psych ward after my suicide attempt.

I am moving these articles/poems/posts to that domain/blog and will NOT be adding any to this one. I will be only adding to So Brightly Black from now on. Please follow! I’ll see you there! Thanks for reading!

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Endings

Often, when things come to an end, we see them as failures—especially a marriage, a job, a friendship, college if we don’t graduate. But all things change, which means all things end, at least as we know them. And while those endings may carry the stench of sulfur and the weight of death, we can only loose the beauty of those brief adventures if we choose to. Maybe your marriage is ending because your spouse helped you become the person you always wanted to be, and now you are ready to move in a more specific direction—not better or worse. Maybe you got laid-off because it’s time for you to start a hardwood flooring business of your own, be your own boss. Maybe you couldn’t afford to finish college, but you learned what your true calling was while exploring yourself. Of course, not every ending leaves you with so much, but they rarely leave you with nothing, either. We don’t hate a great movie or book because it ends. Nor should we think we have failed, simply because we’ve completed a story in our lives. 
For everyone reading this, whether an old college friend or an ex lover— though I may not see you, or speak with you, or sing with you like we used to, doesn’t mean the time wasn’t invaluable and cherished. I will always love you. That’s one thing that will not end.

Love first

I asked a good friend on his deathbed, if there was anything I could do for him? He said. “Yes, let yourself love, unconditionally, without fear, as deeply as you can bare it. I wasted my whole life chasing money, and fun, and status, and if I could give all of that up right now to have one more day, to love my family properly, love (my wife) Sara without qualification or condition, to remember my neighbor’s name and care what his kids are up to, I would in a second. I was a shitty person—and not cause I was violent, or mean, or a jerk—but because I thought the people in my life were disposable, and I only used them when I saw benefit in it. I didn’t wake up every morning thanking God that I may have one more time to see a friend, look them in the eye, and genuinely open myself fully for their sake. Nothing I ever won, or bought, or took gives me any solace in this moment. The only things that provide me comfort now are the tiny memories of when I truly gave of myself all I could for others, and when I received such love—and since those moments were so brief and few, I have little of that comfort now.”
Death is scary, not just for me, knowing I’ll never see my friend again, but he was clearly scared—that he was leaving behind unfinished business, that he hadn’t given those he cared for most, all that he should have. I assured him that we would be alright, and hat he should not feel guilty for leaving. I wasn’t there at the moment of death, but I only hope that it was on as good of terms as a permanent goodbye can be.
I imagined how devastating a breakup can be—saying goodbye to someone you loved so much, no matter what the reason. And then imagined having to break up with every person in the world at the same time—your mother, and father, and children, and husband or wife, and every friend, every person you wanted to say sorry to, but didn’t have the time, everyone you meant to tell how proud you were of them, but forgot to. It must be a heartbreak I can’t come close to imagining. But if all that heartbreak was upon him and he only wished for one thing—to give even more of his heart, to be even more vulnerable, and risk even more of his love—then I have to believe him that selfless, unconditional love is the only thing we can bring with us everywhere we go, even death. And not lustful love, or romantic excitement of a new relationship. Not the half-assed love of a family member we know little about or only call during Christmas. Not the easy love, or fun love, but the love that lets the people you care about know—they are never alone, no matter how dismal things may be. We are all fighting painful wars in our lives, each and every one of us. The person you passed on the street this morning just found out her daughter died of a heroin overdose. Your coworker is in the middle of a violent divorce. Your friend just got cancer but hasn’t told anyone yet cause they are still in denial. Your partner can’t figure out how to open to you fully cause of deep-seated fears and pain and shame that have nothing to do with you. But when we muster the courage to let the vast rush of love swallow us whole and flow through us, we can touch those we care for in ways that touch back and light both souls up with the undeniable light of God. And when we lay in our own last bed, we will not regret the difficult times we labored to give another our love when they needed it, nor will we wish we had saved our love in a jar for later, nor will we leave behind an unfinished legacy we had begun with yearning—but a beautiful story that we told with love and ended with peace.

First Date

I admired you through a telescope for 18 years.
Somehow, this shooting star fell into my backyard.
I asked, with bated breathe,
“Will you go to an improv show with me?”
My stars were aligned and thank heavens, you agreed.
Car-less, you picked me up in your Xterra
I said hi with a hug–
touched your freshly-lotioned, muscular shoulder,
inhaled the lavender cascading down your hair.
The music was thoughtfully turned down, so we could talk.
you regaled me with your trip from the stars down to earth.
I tried to impress you with any story I was proud of–pushing the limits of truth,
cause I wanted you to like me so badly.
you smiled and giggled, like a Geisha without fear.
a smile like kryptonite to my doubts and inhibitions.
your giggle–a kiddie-roller-coaster,
gently moving me in spirals,
up and down.
Though I hadn’t seen this white-dwarf
since she flew in a different constellation
light-years away, eons ago,
we collided so naturally–generating our own black-hole,
where nothing we let into each other that night, would ever leave either of us
not even the light gleaming from her eyes.
We sat with excitement, to see the performers–
none more than the performer sitting next to us, to see if each other were as talented
as we dreamed we could be.

Improv is not for everyone,
but she was smart enough to get it
quick enough to follow the tangled storylines
funny enough to laugh without pretense
and fun enough to laugh when the jokes made no sense.
Our first adventure was so synced
what we both needed,
what we had yearned for.
The whole world was magic,
every molecule appreciated,
the possibilities were on fire.
Our hearts skipped a beat
but then danced to catch up.
the air was so intoxicating
we asked for autographs from the volunteer performers
on the stubs of our free tickets.

We walked to the truck
hand in hand,
with the organic ease
of an old couple walking down the beach they were married on
50 years past.
Of course I took your hand–it fit so perfectly in mine.
Off course I took your hand–you were so
open and sweet
like a perfectly ripe peach
ready to eat.
like you loved me all along,
my hand just followed your lead.
There was no question at all,
that this night was pure bliss
and we both wanted to end it
the way it began
on fire–
though we had no plan,
when both knew just where to land.
I stopped you before
you could fork toward
the driver’s side door.

I let you get closer, slower–no need to rush.
We both knew we wanted to touch more
than we’d ever before.
I looked at you plainly–
no sexy smirk, no tricks, no questions or smiles,
just peaceful eyes–
smiling as they do,
touching just to say ‘hi’ the way eyes do,
to say “it’s time,let’s savor the moment, as you let free your lips”.
We floated deliberately to meet with a kiss.
a kiss so sure.
a kiss so brave–you let me touch your most vulnerable private part–your lips.
and I held them with mine
to show you you’re safe.
I held your face in my hands
so you wouldn’t escape
till I painted my love for you
with kisses on your face.
We both knew immediately–it was love at first bite.
It seemed foolish to say out loud,
but we both knew this was true love.
The star I had wished on
had fallen from heaven to let me orbit her, and worship her,
bask in her life-giving light.
As she’s basked in mine
since that very first night.

Jenniverse

I want to see you,Without skin,

Without shields or friends to hide in. 

See you like god sees

And know you as the devil does.  

Yesterday, I thought I found the seed of your soul

Then it bloomed and 

I must admit 

Terrified me. 

The colors popped so violently

They blinded me. 

I wanted to take a pedal from your heart

As a keepsake,

But the delicate leaf profaned my grabbing hands. 

I want to see you, Jenn, 

As you wish you could see yourself

Empty

Clear

Shed of time. 

Your legs so bright

And tummy so pooch-less 

And laugh, like bait, for my heart’s shark. 

The first time, we passed, unaware of our destiny,

Caught in webs we had yet to weave,

Unaware of the tininess

Of the train track between chicago and Carbondale. 

Oblivious to dreams our minds overthought,

We spoke like saints till your boyfriend drove away. 

And we wished each other’d stay

But our day was delayed. 

Then what, Clow?

How did we fix the universe in which

We had just nearly missed?

Simple,

We had decided to be stupid 

And let our OKness, all up to Cupid

The net was our trap where we snagged true love

And the pain of mediocrity was cured by your love

And the fallacy I lived was made truth by your love

And the way I believed was pure faith in your love

And your love, Jenn, was justice

It made me stronger than I. 

And the way that you let me grow so high

I could fly. 

I wanted you since before you knew

I wanted to see you 

Without skin. 

And now I can,

And now I have. 

And to see you, as god does, 

So warm and new

From the bird view that led me to pray just for you. 

You held me and told me you’d wait till I’m through. 

And god gave me sight and insight and justice and truth

Cause god gave me the universe 

When god gave me you. 

Hard-on Myself

I’ve always been extremely hard on my self. Unforgiving. I think most people are, but I mean—I really, really like to kick my teeth in, when I’ve got nothin’ better around to kick. So sometimes, when I get soooo hard on myself it’s masturbation, and I’m about to explode, I have to look myself in the eyes (with the help of a mirror) and tell myself: “You made a mistake. You fucked up. You were weak. That doesn’t mean you ARE weak. And it doesn’t mean you have to keep being weak—But you will be again, at some point, and that’s one of the many reasons you have so many fierce, beautiful warriors in your life—to be strong for you when you can’t be—but don’t worry, that will be rare. Very rare. Because you learn. And you grow. And you get better each day—but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy. You won’t be able to lay your head in your momma’s lap and daydream tomorrow here. You will have to work hard. Harder than you thought was possible, or fair. But you will. And it will be worth it. and it will be Astounding. And YOU will be there to witness the Witchcraft!”

My cousin passed away this morning. I loved her. Love her. Still in shock, and without an original impulse in my blood, I’ll try to express what I’m feeling as a love poem, though not literally addressed toward her, or a lover, but more toward life, personified.

The Love that Binds

we will get fatter
and fatter
year by year.
your skin will fold and your breasts will unravel.
my sharp corners will soften and sag.
you will contract a disease that is virtually incurable,
but little will it matter, as the crash will kill you.
but long,
long before that,
i will accuse you of being a lying, backstabbing cunt,
because I found two wine glasses in the dishwasher,
as I unload them,
like you sweetly asked me to.
before the hospital stays,
you will wonder if you can ever feel safe around me,
as my drinking worsens,
and my glass marbles for eyes
are so lifeless that you are both angry and scared.
before you the doctor asks if i’d be willing to give you my kidney–
just one–
you will see an ex boyfriend (technically a fuck-buddy, since he “just wasn’t into monogamy”–which somewhat made him the-1-that-got-away)and wonder long and hard why you traded those exhilarating adventures, for the grocery shopping and wednesday missionary routine we defaulted to?
And before I heard our blood-types don’t match
that my kindey was safe,
i asked you, for the 1,872 time
why you think that I can’t tell when you aren’t being honest–
and why you think you can’t be (which, sure, is a self-fulfilling prophecy).
And those trifles, and penises, and crumbs,
will boil away
and the presidents, we grew up thinking were eternal, have all died
the lonely deaths we will.
and our families have left, violently, slowly, peacefully, surprisingly, expectedly.
And I will see you fade,
atom by atom
one layer of skin
breezing into the stars,
as I sit in the lay on the carpet, broken hearted,
broken stomached, crying an absurd song That I fake,
Because I think that That is the Proper way to Honor You.
And I don’t Honestly have any idea
Where to Begin.
But when the terror of living, reckons,
when the wisdom of mystics catches us,
and the castle we built is sieged by time–
when the weapons we’ve tried are destroyed by love
and the cold wind dies, as it always does,
I will call send you a text
hoping you’re still up,
just to say hi,
bracing for the next text.

Intervention

Just had a long talk with my immediate family about the next steps in attacking my depression. (I like how “attacking” sounds. Like, “fuck you depression! This shit is over with! Come at me, Bro!” Then again, can you really fight fire with fire? I mean, depression is so nasty and violent, maybe I need to gently apply cool water to my depression until it has no more air to breathe—wait, drown my depression doesn’t sound any better. No, actually it sounds worse. And dangerous, frankly.) Anyway, the point is, we all gathered to make plans. I’ve tried it all before. In-patient, Outpatient, counseling, prescriptions, 12 steps, 2-steps, masturbate. None of it ever seemed to last much longer than a few minutes. I guess, that’s the point, you have to devise a complex netting of various fail-safes that each bounce you up in the air just long enough to keep you the float. Still, it’s not a great motivating to get ready to do something you have already tried before. Everyone is pushing me toward the option I’m most afraid of, 1-2 months in a psychward—all day, all night. Everyone keeps asking me questions I’ve answered a hundred times, which really gets my shit boiling like lava on a hot stove. After someone asks me how am feeling, I yell out, half angry, half crying, “I feel like shit! Why the hell do you think we’re all here?!?!” 

Two things happen. My sister explains, “That’s the first time you’ve actually told us that—It’s been pretty clear, based on what’s been going on with you, but that’s the first time you’ve actually said it. You always just say ‘I’m fine’, ‘I’m alright’”. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it a hundred times, maybe a thousand times, or, maybe I’ve never said it. I honestly don’t know. The love of my life once told me, after I had cheated on her, that she just wanted to know I was sorry, and similarly, I was annoyed to the point of anger—“I’ve told you a thousand times that I’m sorry! I don’t know what else I can say!?” Maybe I didn’t really divulge how terribly sorry I felt. Maybe I just told her, that I had told her? It truly never occurred to me until this moment, that I never said a lot of things, that I thought I said. That I should of said—like, I Love You, and not just reciting those three words but really fully saying it. Or even saying how unhappy I was and not knowing if I want to be in the relationship anymore—at least that would have been honest and fair. I’m so scared and resentful and in my head, and nervous about how I feel, I tend to think I’ve told someone something a hundred times, and I have, but only in my head. Anyway, That’s how I ended up losing the love of my life.

The other thing that happened when I whooped out in pain…my grandmother began sobbing and hopped over to hold me and pet my arm, which of course pushed me over the edge into cry myself a river town. This was a bit of a surprise, not that I didn’t expect her to be in pain by seeing her grandson in pain. She constantly showers me and every sole she meets will love and unbelievable compassion, like a little Mexican Buddha. It’s just that she is from the fix-it generation. She didn’t grow up with Oprah and Dr. Phil—You got a problem, solve it. When a problem arises, grandma’s first question is usually, “who do we call?” So I guess I wasn’t prepared for break-down just yet, but we both lost it instantly. Which was a good thing. Quite cathartic. It was much easier to move our family’s conversation forward from there. I certainly wasn’t any easier be in those emotion, in that place, but it was possible to finally give some meaningful, healing exchange. 

Another variable now enters the fray. Many of my family are also my ‘friends’ on facebook and a frustrated post from earlier that day is now being texted to my immediate family, with whom I am now entangled, and it’s not making the conversation any easier. That’s a good thing though, because tough is where the growth comes from. Although for a while, the conversation did devolve for a solid fifteen minutes of my phone ringing, followed by grandma reading the name of a doctor from the phone, followed by a family member getting a call, “how about Doctor Johnston?”, “Grandma, we’re trying discuss how we feel about..”, “There’s a psychologist on Pulaski…” ring ring ring…

But we all got on the same page and were able to build a very productive plan. Just because something doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean it can’t work—I didn’t land the first kickflipped I ever flipped. I’ve heard it is darkest just before down…The only way out is in…you got to be in it to win it…well, that last one may be from the lotto—I can’t remember—either way, I am definitely in it now, and that’s a good thing, cause I am gonna win it. A huge thank you to everyone who’s holding my hand as I keep walking.

Not a cry for help, just a cry

also, I hope no is too worried. This wasn’t a cry for help as much as a cry. One of my biggest problems has always been putting the comfort of everyone else before my own needs, even when it didn’t make sense. Even the great things that happened, I often wouldn’t communicate well, because I didn’t want to seem like a brag, or whatever. As a writer, I definitely see now how dramatic that last post really was. I am in great pain. It is true. More importantly than that, at least for today’s posts on Facebook, is just me learning to spread my emotional wings and allow myself to feel more fully the emotions, thoughts, and pains, with which I have building a big fucking dam–instead of a bridge. Not to mention, I think in our society in general, there is a huge problem with pressure to always “don’t worry, be happy”–Terribly unhealthy–but there I go again worrying about the world’s problems and focusing on how I can fix, and ignore my own vulnerability, etc. etc… so fuck y’all. Y’all can worry about toppling capitalism right now. IM

gonna go feel like shit and like it!

I want to die

I want to die. Actually, dying seems like an extremely painful thing to do, so I guess what I want, is to not be alive. Not to alarm anyone–though I have had some uninspiring “suicide-ideation”, I am not suicidal. Just really fucking depressed. And I’m not writing this to be dramatic, or fish for all of y’all’s “Thoughts and Prayers”, But it’s just what I’m feeling and thinking and have to process somehow. I don’t know why simply existing is painful for me? I don’t know why just putting one foot in front of the other to get to the shower three feet from my bed, puts the same overwhelming stress on me as my most important final in college. Much less read all the proof that climate change is about to create Water-World-War I, much much less the fact that millions of people are legitimately voting Trump for president. I don’t know why meditation and trying to sleep are so terrifying to me, to be alone with my thoughts, so scary that I rarely do either. I don’t know why? I am so lucky, for so many reasons. It just makes me feel even more guilty and shitty that I’m so depressed, when so many people have it so much worse off than, but find reason to go on. But so many people had it so much better than me too: Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger Whitney Houston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Prince, and the line goes on for more pages than my macbook can store. (though aren’t all necessarily declared “suicides”, living in such a way that they killed their hearts before they killed their brains is just semantics) They didn’t just have unlimited supplies of money and the various resources and experiences that brings. No, The also had tremendous talent that aloud them to fulfill their dreams to nth degree and give their life purpose. Even with their armies of doctors, medicines, awards,…. 

I wonder if the Neanderthals went extinct, not because they could not survive, but they were just solitary creatures instead of social animals like humans. And when they learned, like humans, that life is hard as shit, then you die, (also as humans have discovered) but being solitary creatures with no one to miss them, no one depending on them, stopped trying so desperately to fight another day. Probably not; it’s just a thought that came to mind. 

And here’s another one: Alcoholism is one the oldest diseases known to humankind. In fact, we knew bout alcoholism before we even knew what diseases were, yet it’s one that we have not even a start to a cure for. As far as I know, there aren’t even studies being done for the cure. Not to diminish the importance and power of AA, therapy and other groups, But it is a Physical disease with genetic, and biological causes. Support groups for newly diagnosed cancer patients are also important and powerful, but the doctor’s don’t ignore the surgeries, chemo, and radiation. 

This doesn’t really have a point and doesn’t make much sense. I just have to rant about how impossible it seems to find that sweet spot where life hurts just a bit less and makes a bit more sense. Anhedonia’s a bitch.