Deedle deedle queep

I grew up in a small town, persistently bullied. When I got to Guilford College I made friends there who understood me and accepted me. But I still struggled processing social situations; and of course, as one does anywhere, sometimes I still ran into people who didn’t get me or looked at me negatively. Looking at this poem I wrote in February 2004 about halfway through my first year of college, I think this must have been some of what I was thinking about.

(untitled)

i’d rather go to a small town and drown in it
than forget how to handle it when it does happen
and honey, it happens everywhere.

rude glares and rules changed just in time,
stares of ejection and get the hell out of here.

but who knows if it’s fabrication,
and who knows why it seems so real?

i just want somewhere to sit,
communicating without vocal strain,
but conveying more than i think is there.

because even if it is all deedle deedle queep,
i still don’t want to talk about the weather.

i want to feel some kind of warmth,
and not just from the maddening sun.

You were already on the phone

My mom collected abandoned turtle shells and sticks that reminded her of animals. She would squeal and point at flowers while driving. She generally really didn’t like to speak. She was hyper aware of synchronicity and it often felt like we had a psychic link with each other.

When I was growing up and feeling alone and ostracized at school, she would talk to me about how she felt the same way growing up in the same schools and how she only had one friend. And she would encourage me to keep being myself. Neither of my parents ever pushed me to mask who I am.

She would sit in the bathroom reading a book at night. Sometimes I would sit in there and we would pass a notebook back and forth, writing messages and playing little games with each other. A favorite was to list something for each letter of the alphabet for a certain category. These often were music related.

She didn’t understand completely my intense feeling of connection with Kurt Cobain’s words in middle school. She expressed a bit of concern over that. But she still encouraged it as she also saw it made me happy and helped me figure out where I stand in this world.

Both parents enjoyed learning new music from various artists and genres as I dove deep into buying sometimes random used tapes and CDs and reading music journalism. Both encouraged me as I began to make zines. My mamaw would often make sure I had postage.

We had a big debate in the house my senior year of high school. I was deeply torn between going to Salem College or Guilford College. I had felt a strong draw to Guilford already for several years, but I had really loved Salem on an overnight visit. My mom was adamant that I should go to Salem. My dad pushed this at first, but I kept explaining that I thought Guilford would give me something I needed that Salem couldn’t give me. Eventually they both encouraged my choice. They both really appreciated what Guilford stood for, and with my dad’s particular areas of focus reading history he felt a draw to it too I think.

My mom and mamaw would visit me at college once a week and give me $20 and snacks. Often these included a box of Little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies. This was amusing about halfway through college when I told my mom I had been smoking marijuana. She giggled and said, “I know. Why do you think I’ve kept bringing you those Cosmic Brownies?”

When I told my mom I’m bisexual she told me I could bring home a giraffe and she would love me and she would love the giraffe.

My mom was smart as hell, though most people noticed my dad’s kind of intelligence first. She had more integrity than most anyone I’ve ever known. She could be stubborn, and the last few years of her life stress turned her into a different person slowly. She had to face her parents’ descent into Alzheimer’s while dealing with my dad’s diagnosis of end-stage renal disease and my struggling after college with getting my life together. I could only find very part-time work and I wasn’t doing a very good job of following my happiness either. I was crumbling under the same stressors as she was, among other things.

Then right as I started to get my bearings amongst all the grief, she died very suddenly in August 2012.

It’s been enough years that I don’t have to bear much sharp pain anymore. Still though I think of where I’ve gotten to in myself since then, the love I’ve found and happiness within myself I’ve developed. And I wish I could call her and tell her things. She would love it.

(Walking into darkness like a deranged rocking horse who’s seen it all)

[written October 2016]

I’ve stared down the barrel of your epistemology
& I’m not willing to bite the bullet.

I won’t “hold my nose & pull the lever” just to appease 
the man behind the curtain.
He can stay right there 
with his wet dream of capitalism & war.

I’ll be here in my tinfoil hat reading the newspaper
& seeing through the lies
of puppeteers who want me to think
a $35 overdraft fee & a can of beans 
is somehow the new American Dream.

(mosquito colony daytime biting)

“But if you’re keeping count
you will see it’s not the apple,
it’s the tree, it’s rotten underneath”
– Blue Scholars “Oskar Barnack Oscar Grant”

United we drown inside the meme
Marvel in terror,
you’d rather have a fascist order you to die

Orange is the new red scare
it’s getting so there is no way to deny

cohesive
obscene
fashion shits fashion style

you wanna keep it isolated
so you don’t have to say
it’s a pattern, don’t have
to say it’s systemic

you say it’s gross, you say
That man wouldn’t want this
Not in his name.

Cash for gold
Cash for guns
We are the tone police, snowflake.

Columbus is in the river anyway.

Heed the warning this time
Because this is the last time
The last chance

——

& i’m sorry i never learned how to play the trumpet
i’m sorry i was just a scream in an emergency room 10 years too soon
you reduced me to a clapboard sign saying the end is nigh
Well honey i never meant a biblical end & some fates are worse than death

It’s alright, ma; the black hole didn’t eat me.

CW: sexual assault discussion, alcoholism discussion

I woke up in a field; filthy, hungover, and in disbelief and distress over what had happened about 48 hours before. I still had two Four Lokos remaining. I began to drink them, and I began to cry. I cried even harder when it registered in my mind I didn’t have any tissues.

That day in 2016, I spoke to my great aunt awhile on the phone. I reached out to an old friend on Messenger who mentioned RAINN. I called them.

Everyone stressed how important it was that I get to the hospital and get a rape kit done. Part of me wanted to go through with this. I even got a ride to the hospital and waited in the waiting room awhile, but ultimately I would have a panic attack and leave.

The idea of involving the cops was too much. I couldn’t comprehend the idea of dealing with court. I had just gotten out of a long-term emotionally abusive relationship a couple months prior. I still was not beginning to cope with the loss of my parents (mom in 2012 and dad in 2014). I was homeless, and I had no idea where I would go. I was an alcoholic, and I couldn’t see a way out of that. Court seemed like the surest way to tip me completely over my internal breaking point, if the rape itself didn’t.

I had run out of friends willing to let me stay with them. I was out of options. Shelters didn’t have openings. I didn’t even have a tent. My first night on the streets, I bought a couple Four Lokos, and then I decided I better eat something. So I went to Wendy’s. While I was eating and charging my phone, trying to figure out what the hell my next move would be and where the hell I could drink my beers in peace, a man came and sat across the table from me. He told me his name was Chris. He was homeless, too, but he knew of a place to sleep. I ultimately went with him, to some empty freight trucks behind a recycling warehouse. I drank my Lokos, we had a good conversation about ancestry and music, and he told me about a few other homeless people around the neighborhood. We went to sleep.

The next night, much the same, but in the middle of the night I woke up to what was at first an incomprehensible sensation. Pretty quickly I realized he had his penis in my ass. I elbowed him in the chest and told him to get out of there. He did. But he started insisting I gave him consent in my sleep, and insisting that he wasn’t in my ass. He said, “Your pussy is just tight! You thought that was your ass!” He laughed at me.

All I really knew is I never wanted to see him again. And I needed a different place to sleep.

A friend quickly helped me locate a tent and a place I could put one. I was still scared because I was alone in a rather exposed woods alongside a highway. I began to sleep in a nearby 24 hour laundromat instead.

Another friend who had been on the streets in that city before, knew someone who she had camped with, who was still out there. She spoke with him and he agreed to let me put my tent beside his tent and look out for me until I could figure out what to do. Knowing she vouched for his character, I felt pretty safe, and knew it was at least far better than what I was doing, so I went.

He was true to his word. He made sure I found access to showers through people he knew, made sure I could eat, and along with one or two of his friends I had a bit of daily comraderie. Still I was depressed over what had happened so recently before, along with all the general grief and trauma of the last few years at that point. And I felt kind of hopeless because I still couldn’t envision a way out.

But ultimately I would go on to stay with a friend in another city for a couple months. At her apartment I was able to relax a bit for the first time in a very long while. I was able to have bubble baths and read a lot of books. I still drank and struggled. But I began to see a way to hold on long enough to fight.

I went on from there to stay with a couple friends in my hometown, which is where I was when I wrote most of my old blog in 2017.

Now I am in a much better situation. But I would say it took at least two years being in this apartment I have now, for me to truly feel completely like this is even real. I really do have my life back. I’ve been sober for very nearly three years now. I’ve reconnected a lot with my creativity and my mind and passion. I have a kitty who is doing well, and who gives me a lot of joy. I have a close connection with someone with whom I see a great potential.

I feel confident ultimately I will find my way out of having to work in retail. But in the meantime I am glad that so much of everything else has come together for me.

This is not say there is never a struggle internally or memories that come to be processed from a new angle. This is to say, though, that I have found my strength and I am finding happiness.

I rode a unicorn through the storm

Especially for any of you joining me here from my old blog taking a jigsaw to the fangs, I would start by writing about the last several years.

Around the time I trailed off at the old blog, I had just left my job at National Wholesale. I was lucky enough to be in a position where rent on my apartment was paid for 6 months. So I focused on maintaining sobriety and looking inward to discern my own needs and boundaries more clearly than I ever had before.

All in all I would say 2017 was a year of landing. I was finally landing after years of grief (the latter half of my 20s was losing all of my immediate family). And I was in the aftermath of an abusive relationship, homelessness, sexual assault. Due to coping via alcohol through much of that, and I suspect the effect trauma has on memory as well, I felt scared of losing the past. Losing home. My childhood home having been foreclosed while my parents were alive, and my mamaw’s house actively rotting, and everyone passed away, it began to feel like home was a forever lost concept.

So when I began the old blog that year it felt vital to write as much as I could of memories of family and my childhood. And as I was clawing my way out of homelessness and everything else I was having to fully claim myself in a way I had been afraid to do before. So it also felt vital to write about my being autistic and to look at my experiences through that lens.

In early 2018, right as my prepaid rent was about to run out, I found a job at a gas station near my apartment. This was my first job with customers in a good while, even if I had pretty extensive experience with such at one time, and it was kind of a long adjustment mentally. But I have managed and am still working that same job now. I do ultimately hope to get out of retail, and indeed was gearing up to do so when this pandemic put the brakes on that for me. Right now I’ve just been glad to have a job I could maintain through it.

But in general, for while I’m stuck in retail, this isn’t bad. There are quiet times with no customers as this is not a bustling store. I work alone, so when there are no customers I have alone time. The manager has had moments where she has increased my anxiety due to her communication style. But overall she does really care about everyone she employs. She also doesn’t hold us to that notion of “the customer is always right.” If someone is nasty to me I don’t feel pressured to try to be nice to them.

In early 2019 I finally got a car after three years without one. This has allowed me access to cheaper stores, stretching my money much more effectively. And it has allowed me to get to parks freely and do a lot of photography. As well as, throughout my life, taking a drive especially through the country, has always been a good means for me to self-regulate.

I’m not sure yet exactly what direction this blog will take, or if it will just be many directions simultaneously. But I’m excited to be back at it.

The carcass of these times

The carcass of these times; yes, language is fucking dead. Trumpets don’t blare, they babble, incite rabid rabble. Please wait while verifying, terrifying incompetence isn’t what it seems. There may be no more curtain, but the man behind it is still just an actor. I don’t know when the play was written, but I fear too soon none will know how to read it. 

I mean, shit, we already slept through the alarm and the snooze. Waking up well after the news. Groggily scanning the scene, mistaking the man for the machine.