I am absolutely alone in an empty bar, drinking gin while it rains outside. feels like Seattle, but it’s queens outside.
this morning I was in Boston, waking up on the spare mattress of a college friend, petting her dog atop her dog’s double-decker, window-facing throne, admiring her mother’s apartment: 10- foot ceilings, yellow walls, bay window (dog’s window) facing the street.
art too. books. I peeked at their tea.
Celia’s room was hot. Celia is my friend. good for her: she’s always cold. but my furnace runs strong. I went to sleep fearing sweat. I went to sleep fearing the tick Tick TOCKing of her clock right where her head would be, if she was tired when I was. how could she think? how could she breathe? when I was a little girl, a good little girl, I broke a clock that tocked too loud in a fit of sleep-deprived desperation. but now I’m an adult, and a guest, and can no longer break clocks on purpose.
I did however feel entitled to take the clock off the wall and put it in the living room. I strained my ears–can it tick through walls? then I did sleep. and I did dream.
I dreamt of gumbo diarrhea. as in, rice spewing out of my butt, and then sauce and roux and sausage and crawfish and okra spewing out of my butthole. all whole, unchewed, undigested, lookin good. I’m sorry to be graphic and gross, but that’s the dream my brain invented.
I haven’t had gumbo in a while.
yesterday Celia and I walked a lot–that’s why I could sleep. I’m used to bike-commuting up and joy-riding down the hills of Seattle, and the transition to Boston family visit–long drives and lengthy couchtime, lots of food and little energy burned–led to a few sleepless nights in my dream of a hotel bed. at least it was the coziest spot for thinking thoughts. I cried over an ex-boyfriend and tried to pick a fight with my current boyfriend (he’s unfightable). had some me time too. my wandering thoughts passed the bechedel test i promise.
yesterday Celia and I walked from Brookline to Cambridge. I just tried to google map the distance.. calculating.. recalculating.. her family said wow.
I ate a lemon-sugar crepe and Nutella-covered strawberries. we poked around some thrift shops and I bought a perfect sequin top. I tried on a too-tight high school cheerleader outfit but decided not to be excessively ridiculous. we saw fluffy seed pods and an inflatable Santa and a live jazz band.
today i walked a bit too. my 4 hour bus ride from boston back to ny took 7; we spent a while broken down at a gas station, where i ate a tim horton’s donut and jumped up and down. back in the city i didn’t want to climb underground and rush to astoria to do what? locked out of my friend’s apartment while they continued to work. so i decided to walk.
i walked from midtown to the 35th street ferry. i walked past a sample sale and pastries and pizza and $2 leggings and christmas trees. i saw a lot of things i would have liked to snap, but my phone was almost dead, and when it goes i die too.
i sat and waited for the ferry. i thought of the 35 minute ferry ride to bainbridge. i thought of the skyline from the water. i plugged in my phone and gawked at the view and 30 seconds later we had arrived. long island city is just across the river.
in long island city it rained, so i got on the train after all.
everything back east is easy. i can walk till i want to jump on the subway; i can easily find myself with friends. I can talk without thinking and interrupt without worrying and always laugh loud. in Seattle I’m petrified. home, or at least east, for 3 weeks, I’m trying to get this comfortable feeling into my body, deep into my bones, remember. REMEMBER, so maybe when i get back to Seattle I can act regular.
I sit on my butt for money.
the energy I feel is equal to the energy I put out. I’m a self-powered machine. I’m powered by inertia in both directions. I can put up with anything. not everything can put up with me.
can I put up with staring at a computer screen 40 hours a week? can I put up with sinking more and more deeply into my seat?
until I’m horizontal
until I’m two-dimensional
until I am the horizon
I eat a lot at work. at work I slump in a chair. at work my body is useless. I remind myself I’m alive by chewing. sometimes every piece of my body gets individually itchy. I remind myself I’m alive by scratching.
why not plug in
my body is useless
but I am a person a body & a mind I am strong. I am alive!
in the last few months I somehow made a shift from feeling most myself irl to feeling most real online. on the internet I talk to people. on the internet I talk. in real life everything happens so fast. people say things and they want me to listen and they want me to respond too! and relevantly! and in a timely fashion!
but don’t interrupt
I feel like real life is the place where I do things I don’t want to share on the internet. real life is the shameful secret. I mean only sometimes. I mean like today I ate a donut & 3 mini cupcakes & I “wasn’t even hungry.” yesterday I didn’t know what to do so I went to qfc and bought those mini cupcakes literally left over from the 4th of July and I biked home and ate half of them and they tasted like plastic but also sweet and also I couldn’t sleep.
I like to read. I don’t like to watch and I don’t like to listen but I like to read. I’ve given it a lot of thought and the thought that I thought is about pacing. when I read a book (especially beautiful blessed long-form fiction yes please I am shriveling without a book) I control the pace. I am a fast reader; I can read fast. I usually read words and sentences out of order but I’m alone in my head so I can do what I want. I can zone out at the window if I need to. I can zone out at the wall. and I miss nothing.
take yr time
go at yr own pace
everything will wait for you
but tv plows right along. thank goodness for commercials! thoughts must be gathered.
worse than tv, worse yet
why do people talk so much? I don’t get it. don’t you realize you’re taking up time & space & are maybe unwanted?
like if I’m reading a book or avoiding eye contact or staring off into space or talking about how “I really have to go” at every brief yet beloved lull maybe take a breather? feel the room
when I was in college I had an experience of dating someone I really loved and trusted and then it was suddenly ripped from under my feet. yea maybe I was “changed forever” but I think I’m better off.
I used to talk more
when I was in college, after but honestly maybe even before the above heartbreak, I went thru this phase where I just didn’t get verbal communication. specially, I didn’t get why people say things people already know. like “did I tell you this story?” “yes you told me that story” “well I’ll tell you again anyway”
“did you know this fact?” “yes I actually know that fact” “well I will continue to explain it to you in minute and patronizing detail”
I can be a little vague sometimes, but it’s a hell of a lot better than explaining basic things to the world. as if the world didn’t know! as if the world needs to be taught by the likes of me!
but seriously. seriously. seriously! I don’t get it! are you just filling space with words? covering silence with meaninglessness? silence sounds good you know. sometimes u can hear the wind
maybe it seems incongruous to stay quiet to the world while obsessively over-sharing on the internet, but here my audience is self-selecting. here my audience can check in and check out and check their phone and I am none the wiser. I don’t give a FUQ!
this week I had an experience I was enjoying & had looked forward to for a while ruined/at least tainted by one person’s incessant chatter. I mean yea I have “difficulty connecting” or “getting close to people,” maybe in part because I refuse to disclose anything real or true or honest about myself or even sometimes speak at all, preferring to laugh at every joke & eat every pastry in sight, but silence is golden u guise
that awkward moment when you run into your ex’s ex and she’s super friendly and you can’t remember her name, can’t remember who she is until she walks away.
I maybe hold up a conversation, the whole time thinking: why do you know where I used to work?
no I don’t work there anymore. no I don’t know why.
no I haven’t kept in touch with my ex. our ex. no we don’t talk much.
I smile maybe when I’m supposed to? I’m glad to hear your roommate made applesauce. that sounds great.
what am I supposed to say when I see a stranger that knows my name? it’s been a rough month. oh hey… you. august sucked, but I’m still kickin.
this week was a rough week. this week was an exercise in holding my breath. this week was an exercise in counting to ten oh so slowly. one number per day. stretch out the sound.
1. every day I woke up wanting to die. it would be cool if I could sleep the day away, but despite my feelings I’m up with the sun. all like, now what? all like, this again? all like, why bother?
why bother I don’t know, but somehow I managed to summon the 1 molecule of energy I had deep within me to bike to yoga and continue existing.
2. this week I tried to apply for writing gigs on Craigslist. but instead of doing that I spent 2 days in a cl wormhole responding to all the ads for egg donations and sex work. for some reason for me that’s not unusual. for some reason for me that’s effective stress management.
3. except this time after emailing and emailing I wanted to never leave my apartment. I had plans to go to a protest with a friend but I told her I couldn’t go outside. she texted back 😦 and I guess that’s all I needed to hear cos it got me outside of myself.
4. if you follow feminist news or Al Jazeera maybe you already know, but in November 2012 a student at Garfield hs was raped and sodomized on a field trip. she was brutalized so badly she had to go to the hospital, was diagnosed with PTSD and never returned to school.
the school district did nothing for 6 months, and only then at the victim’s parent’s insistence. the school district found the boy not guilty, even tho he changed his story several times. even tho he said “I did not pay attention to her that much” when asked about consent.
even tho “he acknowledged to law enforcement that she told him to stop several times but said he persuaded her to ‘roll with it.‘”
so we protested the district school board meeting with Garfield alum
and neon signs. we listened to testimony from local sex activists and also from parents whose children’s bus service was cut because it was a board meeting for all current issues. we maybe helped.
5. all summer I’ve been helping create a show with poet/friend Ed skoog. this weekend is THE weekend of the triggering town review! if you come to Hugo house at 7 tonight/tomorrow I can guarantee at least 1 laugh per person. guaranteed!
so this week was a busy final week before the show. I decorated a mask. I hated the mask. I cried next to the mask. I wanted to smash it oh how ugly what a horrible job I did.
I have always been a bit high strung for arts n crafts.
6. but I realized the mask is bigger than me (figuratively and also literally) so I decided it would be best not to smash it. my golden prize is that I was invited to write and perform an original poetic monologue as a part of the show! about being new in town, about the Seattle freeze, a confession / explanation / exoneration of my sins.
i wrote something quickly while stresseating pizza and will perform it quickly while stresseating donuts don’t you want to come now?! working title ‘salt the ice my wounds.’ working title ‘I hate you / it’s not my fault.’
seriously I got so stressed writing that I ate 6 slices of pizza like air. I had a new life experience — not all peanut butter cookies are delicious — but still I unhinged my jaw and ate 1 in 1 bite. then I tried to throw up then I couldn’t stop crying then I biked very fast then I finished the poem.
7. I went to compline for the first time and it made me feel like a bad Jew. compline is a meditative choral service performed by an all-male choir at st. marks episcopal church. I’ve been meaning to go forever. I meant to go with my ex a few times but we could never get off the floor.
I went with my friend from the protest; she goes every week. inside was a nice scene: stained glass, old people sitting in pews, Seattle punks stretched across the floor, tight harmonies, some dude prostrating himself in front of the Virgin Mary.
I’m down with Catholicism in theory. Catholicism is my favorite sect of Christianity in theory. I mean not for the no birth control part and maybe not for any of the actual religious tenets, but I’m down with stained glass and ritual and smoke. I’m down to confess. I mean what is this blog but?!
but I’ve been really wanting to find some Seattle Jews. I miss Shabbat dinners at my rabbi’s house. I miss Ithaca. I miss community. I can say I went to compline for the music, for the experience, but missing connection in an episcopal church made me feel like a big bad fake.
8. also my friend and I were having a heavy conversation when then suddenly we were there! quiet please! I may or may not have been silenced mid-sentence! so instead of being able to process together we were alone together in a holy place. she left pretty quick to chain smoke outside so I think she was feeling stressed too.
after compline we went to a pinball
bar and the guy I’m dating is a pinball nerd and there was an article about him in a zine in there so that was cool to see.
9. I got to actually see the guy I’m dating after he was gone for a week at a big pinball tournament (see pinball nerd, above). I was so excited I got pimples on my thighs and my period came a week early. I was so stressed about showing up depressed that I hopped up on caffeine and showed up late in a whirlwind. I ruined not one but two sets of his sheets with my blood. I cried a little but not exclusively. we didn’t drink at all.
10. so yes I’m a little stressed & depressed, but protesting things like ferguson and rape help remind me that life is much bigger. plus friends. plus exercise. plus art. sometimes I need to grit my teeth and remember things will get better.
yesterday I was so sad I wanted to submerge myself in deep warm water until the end of time. I wanted to sleep forever. I wanted a hug.
yesterday I was so sad I couldn’t even ride my bike. I had to push it along like cumbersome crutch. like an externalized, metalliferous alter ego. my constant companion that will
never love me back.
yesterday I was so sad I felt too embarrassed to talk. I felt too embarrassed to write. I felt too embarrassed to ever tell anyone my feelings. it’s embarrassing to have overwhelming emotional reactions to everything, but I feel what I feel. can you stop yourself from feeling? this was not my choice.
what are other people like? I mean inside their minds. can some people really just brush off their feelings? or not even feel strongly at all? I wonder a lot about other people, and feelings, and weakness, and strength.
I am a strong girl in a lot of ways. I moved to Seattle without a job, plan, family or friends and I think I’m
doing ok. there have been many tears and fuck-ups along the way but at least now I have friends and job! I deal with personal setups by trying to learn and grow. I deal with professional setbacks by looking for bigger and better opportunities.
sometimes I throw my bike over my shoulder and run up stairs, or thru busy traffic, frogger style. daily I pump up and coast down Seattle hills.
I go out to dinner alone. I go to art shows alone. I don’t let being alone stop me from doing what I want to do.
but on the other hand… I am frequently stressed and overwhelmed. I am easily moved to tears. I get trapped in the mucky mud of my own emotions. the mud gets in my eyes, and everything is dark, and I can’t imagine seeing ever again. how quickly I can forget what light is like.
I’m even forced to keep my body in tiptop shape to keep a happy mind! alcohol, drugs, overeating, sugars, dairy, carbs… they all bring me down. I am sometimes fine in moderation. and sometimes not.
so yesterday. yesterday I happily awoke at 6am and biked to my first day of work. OR SO I THOUGHT. turns out it was just a negotiating contract and signing paperwork day. initial here, sign there, out by noon.
cool right? whole day free. well I just had a whole week free. and I like to plan ahead. I was excited to start my job. and I just friggen biked 20 miles I wasn’t exactly looking to turn around and go straight home.
seriously what is up with people asking me to wake early and bike miles for bullshit?! I mean I do self-identify as a bike lover and early bird so maybe I just need to work on communicating my likes and wants and boundaries.
like: please do not ask me to wake at 6 and bike a distance if you don’t want me to hang a while!
but hey it happened. I left the office and then…? I was lost. all I wanted to do was work. I didn’t even make Friday night plans because I assumed I’d be tired from work!
this is how I felt when I lost my last job. I wasn’t happy to have a sunny day free. I just wanted to go inside, clock on and make coffee. I am kind of a worker bee. I like to feel useful.
the nice thing that day was I had a friend just down the street who helped me get my head together.
but this day, yesterday, I was lost. so I: cried on a park bench on the green river trail. cried into a slurpee at volunteer park. put a newspaper over my face and pretended to tan at a beach on lake Washington but really cried underneath the newspaper.
I: walked my bike uphill and sometimes even on flat terrain because I could not muster the energy to ride. walked my bike along a winding trail, sometimes carrying it over stairs, because I could not stand the streets. could not think of a single thing to do but cry and wander forlorn.
eventually I called the guy I’m dating. ok to be real over and over I called the guy I’m dating. I went to his place, buried my face in his lap and cried. and then made us dinner. things got weird the last time we hung out but we talked and both apologized. he said from now on maybe I can tell him my feelings as they happen instead of expressing them the next day cryptically.
plus I’m a good kisser and a good cook and after a shitty crazy day it felt nice to be good at something.
but the day wasn’t all bad. ok the day was all bad but still some positives will come of it. yesterday I was sad and I wanted to go to a bar but I didn’t. this morning I was still sad and I wanted to smoke a bowl but I didn’t. it would be nice to be happy, and it will come again; till then there are worse ways to deal than by crying.
I woke up this morning wanting to smash. I wanted to break down walls. I wanted to break down doors. I wanted to smash glass against window.
I wanted to spill red wine on a white carpet. I wanted to spill white wine on a red couch, just to be wasteful and cruel.
instead I put out, and smiled, and planned my attack. when he leaves for work, that’s when I’ll do it. I’ll smash it all.
I haven’t raged out in a while: it’s been over a year. i have smashed before, but that is a topic for a different year, a different blog, a different life.
I try to stay happy and positive; I often feel stressed and sad; my anger is fleeting. my anger is usually cured quickly by a bad joke or a bike ride. my anger is usually accompanied by an urge to talk shit, not break plates.
last night I had a date. he told me he had concert tickets. he told me he would respect my decision when I told him I wasn’t drinking. neither of those things were true.
I tried to be positive and stay cool with him because things have been good so far. I just got a (very loving) talking-to from my parents about being a big slut on the internet, but this is the first guy I’ve slept with since my ex. I really liked this dude.
but then he wouldn’t (couldn’t?) stop drinking. or talking about drinking. or asking me if I wanted a drink. eventually I said ok because I wanted to be cool and stop having a fucking shitty night, and it was fine except that I started the night telling him I didn’t want to.
that’s why I woke up so angry.
I didn’t end up smashing. at first, honestly, I was afraid of getting in trouble. that’s not my main motivator — I have an internal moral code — but there was about a half hour this morning where an apartment would have been trashed if I wasn’t aware of laws. or if any of the friends I sadtexted had encouraged me to do it.
luckily I have great friends. i was offered juice. I was reminded that today is a new day for better decisions.
after my hulk smash rage subsided, I remembered I don’t want to be the kind of person who trashes apartments. and so I wrote him a letter. I told him I was upset that my wishes weren’t respected. I told him I could have been more firm. I told him I could have gone home. I told him I didn’t want to.
and so instead of smashing, I left a letter on the coffee table like a grown-up, along with a few artfully arranged pieces from his own collection.
ever imperfect, I couldn’t just leave. and so I stole: a toothbrush
the first time I slept over, I asked if he had an extra toothbrush. he said no. I went thru his bathroom looking for mouthwash and found: an extra toothbrush. but I couldn’t say ‘hey dude I just rummaged thru your shit and it turns out you do in fact have an extra toothbrush’ and so my teeth went unbrushed.
added bonus: it’s electric!
(boogie woogie woogie woogie)
I’ve never used an electric toothbrush before.
I am in a curious place where I am happy and everything is good. life seems to be settling down. yesterday I napped, woke up to eat a giant burrito and went back to sleep. it was glorious, if not blog-worthy. tho I did publish many snaps and Facebook posts that were basically burrito close-ups and ‘yum wow.’
so I’ve decided to write about my happiness. because I did not wake up like this. my happiness is a struggle. my happiness is a fight. I’ve had many dark times in Seattle (and NY, and LA, and Spain) and tho the sun is shining I know it will rain again. this post is a love letter to myself, in the future, whenever I’m feeling down.
one thing that has improved my life infinitely is exercise. the exercise that works best for me is biking and yoga because I can go at my own pace. I can walk my bike uphill if I want to. I can spend 30 minutes crying in child pose if I want to. it happens.
I am not a competitive person. I was raised to give up at the first sign of adversity. I was told I would never win. the stress of an entire team relying on me brings paralyzingly pressure. I am not coordinated with a ball. but baby I can bike uphill all day.
and to think just a little over one year ago I was afraid to bike in Seattle!
I moved to Seattle in September 2012. I bought my bike in October, then was like ‘lol hills wut.’ I proceeded to move my bike from apartment to apartment as a clothing rack, an art piece, as something nonfunctional that takes up space.
I moved to north Seattle (first magnolia, then Wedgwood, now interbay) in July 2013. I was a walker for my first almost-year in Seattle because I had too much energy and not enough money for the bus. but in north Seattle things are further spread than they are downtown. so I was like, ‘oh damn! I better get on this bike or else I’ll never get anywhere!’ and so I did. I am best at doing the difficult things in life when I have no other options.
yes I walked my bike uphill sometimes. yes I still do. on Monday I biked to Tukwila and came back along lake Washington. after my dip in the lake I walked my bike up thru madrona, thru the central distract, to the 7 eleven on Madison. (this is a topic for another day but I FUCKING LOVE 7 ELEVEN). I got myself the hugest slurpee for only $2, hopped on my bike and coasted downhill, slurpin.
every day I get faster, and every day I get stronger. when I see a hill I’ve done before I’m like ‘oh yea I’ve done that hill before!’ and when I see a hill I haven’t done I’m like ’emily you have done similar hills!’ biking uphill today makes it easier to bike uphill tomorrow. (also in my head there is a quiet but persistent fear that if I don’t bike uphill today, tomorrow I won’t be able to.)
bike-life metaphors are limitless. walking around, being in the world, seeing people… my theory is that we are all riding invisible bikes on invisible hills. some of us are riding top-of-the-line bikes. some of us are riding fixed gears for some reason. some of us have flat tires. some of us don’t yet know how to shift gears. some of us are going uphill; some of us are going downhill. and no one can tell by looking! we can’t even see ourselves!
struggle is invisible; struggle is real; be kind
beyond biking, my other exercise addiction is yoga. for me they are a perfect team: biking gives me cardio and movement and the opportunity to burn my weird infinite energy; yoga helps me calm down and get into my body, and of course that great
s t r e t c h !
I started yoga in April after breaking up with my boyfriend. all that boyfriend time was suddenly empty and I wanted to use it constructively. yoga for the win! also, biking gets me so right I seriously can barely walk without stretching daily.
sadly, I just had to quit my studio because it will not fit in with my new work schedule. I am now on the hunt for a studio that offers evening classes close to home. I will do youtube yoga if I have to! I will not give up these stretches and twists for anything!
now that I am a yoga nerd I find class philosophies seeping into everyday life. ‘listen to yourself.’ ‘honor your truth.’ ‘it’s your practice.’ I do worry about annoying people by being too hippy dippy positive but for me it’s the only option. because of my experiences with and disposition toward depression, I need to be happy. I try not to ignore problems and to deal with them (in my own way), but I also try to move on and be happy and not dwell.
I want to quote (no attribution but yes I got permission; I went to journalism school ok?!) something a good friend recently wrote on a closed Facebook group for Seattle feminists:
“experiencing assault has boiled down my personality into this thick stupid angry thing and I am now intolerable to be around because all I do is yell at men”
i love you; I believe you; it’s not your fault. your anger is more than justified.
but for me, after years of being mad and sad and drunk, anger does not serve me. anger gives me bad feelings in my body. for me, i try to learn from the shit and embrace the good so tightly.
of course I am not perfect. I was recently threatened at my ex-job by a busser who also works on a boat… somewhere. in Seattle there are boats everywhere! and I love boats! but now when I see a boat I worry he is there and he is going to rape me and kill me and it is mostly not logical except for the fact that he already threatened me once and I have been hurt by men that never even gave me a warning. but fear doesn’t serve me so I focus on my breath and try to calm down and keep moving.
right now I am good and happy but I know me and so:
dear emily. it might be march. it might be raining. something uncool might have just happened at work, or with a family member, a lover, or a friend. honor your feelings (even the negative ones!); don’t rush. it’s your practice. just remember that sometimes you are so incredibly happy. remember that you can bike uphill after years of thinking you couldn’t. remember the feeling of the sun on your back. you will feel it again I promise.