Autobiography · Relationships


Burger” © T-L-P, 2010. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

“What’s a band you hate?” he asks across the table between bites of burger and sips of Oreo shake. I freeze up. Palms sweaty. I’d never felt the need to impress him before, but now I am straight terrified of upsetting him.

I bring the onion ring I’m working on away from my mouth and rest the heels of my palms against the cool tabletop. Debating lying. What’s a band everyone hates? What answer is safe? Take a deep breath. Decide to tell the truth, look him dead in the eye and say, “The Ramones.” Drop my gaze to the napkin holder, the ketchup, anything to avoid seeing his reaction.

He inhales sharp and my eyes dart back up to his face. Oh shit, I think, oh shit. I remember Jake standing on a table at a bar when I was nineteen, screaming down at me, “They are fucking brilliant! They changed everything!”

Staring straight ahead, trying to dissolve into a pitcher of beer. “They’re nothing but power chords and repetition,” I said to his knees.


Now here I am, almost ten years later, waiting for a repeat. He swallows hard and stares at me. “I can’t believe you said that.”

And my heart sinks. The first chink in my armor. His first glimpse of what is going to drive him crazy about me. My mind reeling. Not so perfect after all, apparently… I meet his eyes again and murmur a weak, “What?”

“I hate the fucking Ramones,” he says to me, smiling. And it’s not a break. It’s just another link.

Autobiography · Mental Health · Personal Development


"That’s All Yolks" © Rob, 2012. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
That’s All Yolks” © Rob, 2012. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The yolk from the white, I try to separate the logic from the feeling. What I cognitively know from what circles like snakes in my stomach. Only one part is used at a time. The things I know exhaust and go home long before emotions tire, and I’m left sobbing in the shower over things I know aren’t true.

We ache. Our hearts, our spirits are pummeled against the shore for longer than we think they can hold up. At night we wrap up into each other and I whisper, “I don’t know if I can do this forever,” and he responds with, “You don’t have to. Just a little while more.”

I shake. Pull my hair and claw at my skin and gasp into the carpet. Put on my coat and scarf and take a walk. Call my mom. Beg for something to keep me just a little grounded.

It’s that time of year again.

In a bathrobe and slippers, I curl up on the couch and read books. Play video games. Watch Law and Order. Anything to keep me distracted. To keep me from looking into the pit of me and still not having any answers for why life feels like this.

But when I’m running Zedd’s vocalist is singing in my ears again. “Take your dark days and send them to the sun and carry on…” And I hit repeat again and again and again. Again. Again. “Let it go until you let go of all the anger…” And I run. My feet pounding the pavement and my heart leaping out of my chest. Unsure if I even remember what breathing steady is. I gasp for air and my legs scream to stop. No. Again. Again. “It’s easy to hold, but so hard to forgive…” Again. Again. “All the words that made you hurt will burn like paper. Straight into the fire, straight into the fire. Let it go until the smoke is gone forever…” Again. Again.

I separate out the yolk from the white. Knowing full well that each part has its own use and sometimes they are used together. I cling onto the scraps of hope still left in me somewhere. The perfect mixture of logic and feeling. I dig my nails in deep.



Pink Floyd, bourbon, and identity

"vinyls" © Lubomir Panak, 2009. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
vinyls” © Lubomir Panak, 2009. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Cathartic. The word has been coming up a lot lately.

They say if you meet more than one asshole on any given day chances are the asshole is you. Staring at the mirror, trying to shake the feeling everything I’ve ever done is wrong and all of it is sitting on my chest.

On Saturday night we listened to The Wall. I stretched out on the couch with my hands wrapped around a glass of water. Remembered sitting next to my dad, his legs crossed toward me, mine curled up and leaning toward him. Both our armrest-hands swirling tumblers of bourbon.

The first note grabs onto my shirt collar and for the next hour-and-a-half I’m staring straight forward, breathing hard. Every once in awhile Mason and I lock eyes and shake our heads. “It just doesn’t make sense. Like… How the hell did they even..?”

My family listened to this album countless times while I was growing up. We had the vinyl version, the CD version, the tape my mom made so we could listen to it in the car. I know every line. Every note. But I hadn’t just sat down and listened to it in years.

Retraced my fingers along the spine of it, inspected the curves. Placed my head on the rise and fall of its chest, moving my lips in sync with its. The words I knew perfectly before I understood them. The words that explain myself to me with a confidence I’m afraid I’ll never learn.

Before I found words, I used these ones. Often they are still the only ones to make sense. When my whole body shakes and the corners of my vision dip in and out of focus. When my hands curl into shapes only good for dragging across bricks, breaking mirrors, or pounding dents into the roof above the driver’s seat. When the things I can’t sort through to explain knit themselves into a nest in the bottom of my throat. My brain just repeats:

There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move, but I cannot hear what you’re saying
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am

I can give perfect directions back to the places I learned everything. I can tell you exactly why I associate love with terrible things. Repeat over and over, “I know it’s not right. I’m trying to do it differently. I’m learning. I swear I’m learning.” It is easy to distill out the parts of myself I consider separate. Tag-alongs. Experiences, thoughts, and feelings that complicate the experience, but do not contribute to who I actually am.

Cue existential crisis.

At what point do we admit we are on both the inside and the outside of our wall?

Let me out.

Let me in.