for jenna

Down feathers– Not simply because of geese but because of the way the down feathers fall, flutter, and dance and the way you are so light on your feet without trying. I remember dancing with you one evening– I think you tried to teach me to swing or perhaps you were showing me your latest routine– whichever it was I could only think how lucky I was to see it. The arch of your foot, curved calves, magnificent thighs and the way those legs carried you without effort across the floor even though I knew how many hours, months, years, blood, sweat, tears of training went into every breath of movement–

Hailstones– You already know this one but you don’t know they remind me of your laugh. Hailstones on glass, bright and delicate in the middle of a storm, a startling and beautiful break from the gale that reminds us that there is far more out there than just thunder and fear. There is more to the symphony than the bass and the drums there is also the lone piccolo singing, flying above the rest of the din to carry the fugue and maybe it’s something of a fugue state that carries the audience somewhere else, somewhere new entirely to be someone new and isn’t that something? A new state of personhood just like that–

Dustmotes– You remind me, in quiet times, of dustmotes in sunbeams that would fall through the screen door of my grandmother’s house onto the dark-stained hardwood panel that marked off the entryway. That sacred space where we could give kisses and shrug off our days before giving way to rich, thick blue carpet, braced for family. The sun was such a dark gold I thought I could reach out and touch it; the dust would be velvet. You are those moments of stillness where we catch ourselves breathing and existing and it feels like someone has suddenly spotted us with our hand in the cookie jar but we’re grown ups so we know we’ve not done anything wrong at all it’s just old habit to pause and look over our shoulder, sheepishly smiling as if we are chagrined–

Spring grass– Specifically, the memory of lying on blankets in it when it has grown tall, tall, tall enough that lying on your belly makes it feel a bit like a forest if you pull your hat down low and listen to the wind and pretend. It helps if your best friend is lying nearby, not talking but breathing, too, quiet and present, like you are both creeping along on some adventure and trying not to be heard. It’s an illusion of course, a friendly one. All you have to do is roll over and it’s diminished in a wave of cool blanket on your back, hot sun on your belly, and the scent of grass on the wind– it’s itchy embrace kept safely away by the blankets. But your best friend is still there with her rockstar sunglasses, avoiding studying just as hard as you are, and all’s right with the world because it is spring and the sun is warm and the grass is tall.

rlb 1.25.17

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If

You walk back into my office.

Entire universes live and die on the fingertips of choice.

“I feel like an asshole–”

I stop breathing. Look you in the eye for the first time in a year smell the warm denim jacket skin unscented soap crushed lavender from across the room. In the winter of your pause I am in suspended animation living the memory of my arms around your perfect waist, soft, pulling you back into bed.

You aren’t looking at me.

I’m looking past every time you said I was something that could be fixed and into a future where kickstart apologies sputter into something bruised burning wilted growing up out of ashes the way forests do after wildfires.

“– I didn’t need that appointment after all.”

The splitsecond hairsbreadth moment passes.

I exhale.

“If” is the biggest word in the English language.

rlb 4.11.17

The Slough of Despond

Now I saw in my dream that… they drew near to a very miry slough that was in the midst of the plain; and they being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was “Despond.” Here, therefore, they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt… because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire.”

— John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress

The Slough of Despond is a nasty, miserable bog of guilt that sucks people in and is almost impossible to escape. In The Pilgrim’s Progress it’s an allegory for sin but I think it can be more accurately described as Depression. Yes, capital-D, clinically-diagnosable Depression.

Knowing someone stuck in the Slough of Despond can be difficult, draining, and generally lead to depression itself. I know this because I am scandalously intimate with the Slough. It’s my Unhappy Place. I’ve lived with it since I was 8 years old.

Continue reading “The Slough of Despond”

sometimes you just have to curse someone

Listen to me you godless, lying crypt-keeper-looking, knock-off Gucci handbag with your outdated degree and an undeserved sense of smug superiority: you are a living beacon of shame. (Did you know that if you walk around looking like you stepped in dog feces all the time your face is going to stick that way? Or has it already stuck that way, and that’s why you resemble a livid corpse?) You are a greedy and meretricious worm incapable of admitting the truth or others’ humanity. Your friends ought to be ashamed to associate with you. Your ancestors in the halls of the dead are ashamed that their line has produced such a foul pustule as yourself. As you have no shame I don’t expect you to feel a thing (except perhaps cold and narcissistic outrage that someone has the nerve, to be honest about you) but that hardly matters.

You will henceforth experience perpetual inconvenience. Visceral discomfort since you cannot experience its emotional equivalent. May your punishment only begin with this:

  • May every dog you come near or try to pet shy away from you in fear.
  • May you always suspect that your friends’ smiles are disingenuous.
  • May you always run out of toilet paper when you have explosive diarrhea in public.
  • May you walk around with the sensation of popcorn kernels stuck into your gums but never find relief.
  • May you never live without a sense of fear of losing your money.
  • May you never be able to identify the stench of body odor that follows you everywhere as yourself.
  • May you forever be seen as the truth of what you are even when your words and expression try to hide it.
  • May every meal you ever prepare, serve, or receive be oversalted to the point of inedibility.
  • May you be given the same amount of empathy that you have shown to me whenever you are at your lowest.
  • May you never be able to find a truly comfortable and peaceful sleeping position.
  • May you always look directly into every too-bright light by mistake.
  • May you continually bite the same spot on the inside of your cheek.
  • May no person ever treat you as if you are wealthy.
  • May you never be given the satisfaction of making another person cry.

rlb 5.22.18

 

Reliable

I joined a dating app.

After all,  I’m a terminally single lonely gay girl so I figured why not meet other lonely gay girls and maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll all end up less lonely? It’s a pretty good idea, in theory.

… Right up until the point where I had to Pick Three Things To Describe Myself. You know, like “has a good sense of humor”, “adventurous!”, “loves kids”. Except I can’t say any of that because  I have never had a sense of humor once in my life, my idea of an adventure is wearing pants out of the house, and I think children are disgusting, screaming sacks of protein and unfinished cerebral cortex best left to the care of others.

So, when faced with this particular dilemma I did what any sensible girl would do in this situation and asked my best friends how they would describe me. They had some good ideas. Warm. Intellectual. Vibrant… and the one that really stood out was “too stubborn to die.”

Too stubborn to die.

It’s hilarious, you can laugh at it, you should laugh at it because I’ve tried to kill myself three times in the last ten years– don’t ever put that on a dating profile by the way, don’t let them know you’re absolutely crazy before they get to talk to you– but it’s true. This body I inhabit is tenacious. Obstinate. Stubborn.

I was born 4 months too early and every time my mother touched me I would get so excited my heart would stop so the nurses made her stop touching me. At 3 I contracted meningitis and screamed so loud I scared off a horde of medical residents. By 10 I’d had 6 major surgeries around my cranial nerves. From puberty onward I would attempt suicide three times because I was and still am so goddamn tired. Last year I had a stroke. I was 23 and I almost died from a freak blood clot in my temporal lobe..

But here’s the kicker: none of that has managed to kill me. My heart continues beating in defiance of fate and my own free will. I’m not going anywhere any time soon. I guess I must not be allowed to.

I can’t put all of that on a dating profile, though. There’s a character limit. So I guess I’ll just have to go with “I’m reliable”.

year in review: 2017

january: resist everything that would destroy you: apathy, entropy, tyranny

february: your pain always has meaning; go to the fucking doctor

march: you do not need the right words or any words at all to be worthwhile; they will love you anyway

april: love and fury are indivisible

may: death isn’t interested in you nor, for the first time in your life, are you interested in her

june: this is how you breathe

july: yes, it is worth the extra work, time, and money to own AC

august: you will spend weeks longing for currents and snowmelt and the summer will pass before you can get a breath in edgewise

september: high collars and independence become you

october: you were not meant to live alone

november: that urge to diminish, to be less, is the antithesis of strength

december: nothing lasts forever and that fact will always be a blessing

 

what i have learned this year

rlb

12.15.17