Thursday, June 24, 2010

Empty Inbox Neurosis

I fucking hate empty inboxes.

Loath their statement, what they do, things undone in saturninity.

All that purposed silence.

One day I'll go renegade and fill each inch with words, letters fucking letters until the whole sky goes black. They'll ask why she burnt the sun but there'll be no way to describe it.

Somewhere there's a conversation going on without you. It's every word you dreamed but you were not invited. Phrases you've been spelling out are changing people's lives, lolling soft and hard on the palates of rogue speakers. I wish we could hear them but the accoustics here are bad.

Somewhere else a piece of you is hung up on a question. Check your neck--you're noosed, throat caught in that curve. They all end with inverted fishing hooks

                                          maybe you didn't notice? 

Dangling feet are doing panicked pointe solos on the dot. If the answer you've been waiting for fails to arrive in time, they kick the dot from under you and all translation ends. The neck shouldn't be so fragile it can be snapped by a query, but it is.

And here we dare not ask what barbed punctuation does to tongues or hearts.

Somewhere deeper still: a corner with a stool. The cruelest sit and stare there through milky cataracts, judging whom to give replies. "Do not linger long or you'll go blind."

Quick--someone left the crumbs of their resolution behind. I'll give you my share. You look so hungry and there's still hope for you, I think.

But leave us. 

I'm resealing the envelope and leaving one edge open. 

I'd rather bleed to death from paper cuts than endure a pageless silence.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Confession: Snapshots From the Whole Picture

I think I have to acknowledge something finally. My avoidance of it here has written me into a corner, made me into a character I cannot sustain. Right now it is, and recently has been, such a large part of my life that editing it out left me with swiss cheese story boards, gap-toothed puzzle pieces that will never fit together. 
It’s something I’ve put into words only once from the safe distance of a fictional narrative, so I’m asking for leniency if I fail to articulate compellingly, or at least in a way that doesn’t end up reeking of every self-pitying “sick people” illumination I’ve read. If I fail, let this post be buried and replaced with jokes and extended metaphors, easily tagged tales of anecdotal insignificance...remember those when you see the pink crosshairs on your screen.  
I’m sick. Diagnosed, filed and case numbered, body penned in the autoimmune/neurological/sorry-we-just-don’t-have-a-cure-for-you zoo. I etched the vocabulary to categorize it on the inside of my mouth years ago so I wouldn't forget, as if that were an issue. It reads like beat poetry in chant: Chronic. Progressive. Degenerative. Post-viral, cyclical, et al. Non-transmittable, thankfully. “Life-threatening” maybe at some point. Not tomorrow or the next day. The major symptoms are mostly managed. The little ones are dealt with daily in the most unobtrusive ways we can devise. Most of it blends into the scenery. 

There's a picture of me drinking martinis with my mom in the backyard one summer, IV jammed in the hand not holding the glass. You notice the liquor before the saline; the bag's just another set piece, more laundry dangling on the clothes line. It's been this way 8 years, but the last two years have been different...the last two have been about time. Feeling like there’s not enough of it. Wondering what to do with it. Recognizing I force resolutions and timelines on people because my clock hands finger minutes differently. 
Lately I feel reduced to numbers. Viral titers. Bacterial levels. Cell counts. Electrolyte balances. Blood pressures. Dosages. 1mg, 3 mg, 50mg. 1g twice daily, 2tsp once daily, two packets at night only. 500cc’s out? 1lt back in. 10 days of antibiotics, 21-day cycles, 36-page reports. Helvetica typeface calender dates pulled out for fresh appointments. Everything is numbers. It might be why I always try to make love with my words. 
Parts of it have threaded so casually into the fabric of my life it’s like it is supposed to be there. Like how blood work records make me remember events which had nothing to do with sickness; my sterile paper print-outs trigger memories like photos albums. “My virals were _____ in August 2008...the month Alex and I went to Connecticut for our anniversary. It rained that day at the winery.” I smell the rain, oak barrels, grapes. Taste chocolate-cherry port, suck on phantom tannins. Then wonder what ever happened to that bottle we stashed away. A full, tactile memory of an unmarred weekend, fished out of the pool of experience by numbers baited on a barbed diagnosis code.   
But parts of it I will not allow to assimilate. Hundreds of dollars of cosmetics paint over whatever can be; I blend grey flesh into a pink glow so healthy you’d think I was born pretty. I cover scars, herx reactions, IV bruises, any surface sign of abnormality, hiding them with specifically tailored clothing, scarves, oversized jewelry. I fuss with the pieces all night, check every reflective surface making sure the costume’s on right. This is war paint, this is armor. This is my choice to identify as anything but a patient. 

I fuck like a whore in heat on my back, my ass, or folded in half, wrapped around the front of partners like a papoose, sometimes lowered down from above. I lap at them until their eyes roll back just so they’ll never turn me over, never take me from behind...never see the marks on my back and shoulders from where the meds make me break out in hives. I don't want to waste energy worrying if the've noticed, wondering what they think.

“I always forget you’re sick,” an ex-lover told me recently. “I’d never have known if you didn’t tell me.”  
And I do tell. It’s no secret. Anyone in direct proximity knows. A choice few know what it really looks like. A smaller number help me live with it day to day. Usually I bury it and most days I can hide it; when I’m sickest, I retreat until I’m better. For people out of the inner circle of care, the retreating comes off as many things its not; for me, it is all about isolation. Self-imposed quarantine makes sure the normal things that comprise a life cannot be infected by the infection. If too many people see, it spreads. You cannot uninfect perception.
What’s odd is that I’ll talk about it freely if asked, to the extent that I know how. I’m sure I talk too much about it, sometimes. But I find it hard to write about. To me it’s not something readable. Too hard to make funny, too Lifetime TV. Lands with a thud on 20Something Bloggers. **NEW SUBJECT: Are you afraid you’re going to die young?** Mostly, though, it has a way of hijacking what I want to do when I write, which is to entertain, elucidate, verbally masturbate. Tell a good story. Examine how I feel emotionally, so I can stop thinking about what hurts physically. The rough content's carefully extrapolated, censored by the source. 
But it is in many ways the root of this whole blog. Especially that one etched qualifier: “progressive.” It resonates more than “incurable,” nags more than “chronic,” is more vulgar than "degenerative." It is a one-word incantation that alters my sense of time, skews the scale on which everything must be balanced. The panicked need to collect experiences, to cram as much in as possible, to choose to feel emotions most people should protect themselves from just to have learned the whole spectrum in time...all of that lives here. This blog is, in its own way, a covert shrine to it, the place I watch the half of me that wants to settle down bare-knuckle brawl the part that that’s terrified it will miss something if I do.
Please don’t get me wrong. This is a brooding kind of post, cryptic, rambling, frustrated in this moment, out of remission, scared. I know I am lucky. I’m generally happy. Blessings: My degeneration is slow and can be hidden most of the time. It doesn’t keep me, at this point, from getting into experience most pieces of ordinary l need.
I no longer remember what the point of this post is. I guess I was tired of writing about everything except what’s on my mind, which lately has been this, and tired of focusing every choice I’ve made through a homogenized lens that doesn’t quite project the whole picture. Why do you do the shit you do? I'm not sure...but this is a factor.
This is a little bit closer to the whole picture.

Photos taken by Alex, during treatment session, February 2009.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Randomness: A Conversation Between a Man and His Cheesesteak

“Please, please, please, you have to bring me back a cheesesteak from Pat’s,” a voice on the end of the line pleaded.
“Alex, it’s a two hour trip back and the thing’s going to be a soggy mess by the time I get back.”
“I don’t care.”
“It’s going to grow bacteria on the ride back and you’re going to get e. coli and shit yourself.”
“I don’t care.”
“Dysentery. Ebola. Mono. Cold onions. It’s going to be disgusting. I’m not bringing you back that sandwich.”
“Yes you are.” (Insert Jedi Mind Trick here.)

“Okay, fine, I’ll bring you the sandwich.”

(Goddamn you Alex.)
As ya'lls already know, I'm currently living on the Lower East Side with my wingman and polyamorous ex-lover a few blocks from Alex, the guy I was going to marry but bolted on when I (and then we) realized the walls of our sheltered suburban existence were closing in faster than the giant, swampy trash compactor that almost killed Luke and the gang in Star Wars. Remember that backstory? No? I wrote this post about it? And this one? And this? Still nothing, huh? Then you clearly haven’t been reading this blog and landed here via Google Images by accident, probably by searching the phrase “face herpes.” (Seriously. You would not believe the amount of traffic I get from those keywords. It’s really disturbing.) 
Anyway. Given the circumstances, a lot of people have politely asked recently how Alex and I are able to coexist they way we do--which is quite happily, at the moment, even with sandwich related demands--given all that’s happened. Some of it comes from living six blocks apart, sharing a social circle and having joint custody over a pit bull with the sweetest fucking smile you’ve ever seen...when you’re logging that much face time, you learn to coexist because the alternatives (stony silence, battles outside Alphabet City bars, passive aggressive Facebook statuses, etc.) are excruciating. 
Some of it comes from the amount of history we have: six-ish years, on and off, as lovers; three as a live-in couple; seven as the type of wingmen that get arrested and bail each other out of jail. (His was a felony charge, mine was a misdemeanor...just sayin’.) All seven years included him caring for me, sometimes alone, during bouts with a chronic degenerative illness, which is the kind of nightmare that bonds people beyond what anyone who hasn’t been through it personally can understand.
But mostly, it’s shit like the conversation above, and the subsequent one that's below. Sometimes, people get you, maaaaan.And when they do, embrace their randomness.
A little while back, I took a trip to Philadelphia with new roomie Duchess. Duchess didn’t know it at the time she extended the invite, but it’s been a decade-long tradition dating back to college for members of this social circle to blaze entirely too many medicinal herbs, wake up in a clouded munchie-haze at 2am and decide it’s time to drive across two states for that fair city’s ubiquitous sandwich item, order and eat said sandwich, smoke again, then order another sandwich to eat on the way home. Ten years of recreational drug abuse and binge eating is just the sort of thing Alex can get behind. He’s helmed at least two of those artery-clogging voyages in the past. So I was prepared when that pathetic, pleading call came through.
Two days later, the cheesesteak, ordered from Pat’s (where a bungled order can get you kicked to the back of the line), was still sitting in my fridge at work, waiting in some sort of clotted-cheese purgatory for Alex to come eat it. It was abandoned snack-baby wrapped in parchment paper and left in the dumpster to die after a difficult delivery. (Have you ever tried to transport one of these things intact across state lines and two different subway exchanges in heels? It’s harder than it sounds.)

By 5pm, I’d had enough.
Polly: (5:04:42 PM): ALEX.
Polly: (5:04:48 PM): This is your cheesesteak calling.
Polly: (5:04:52 PM): Hey baby, what's good?
Polly: (5:05:02 PM): I hear you ate at a vegetarian restaurant the other night.
Polly: (5:05:10 PM): I was really hurt, but I understand.
Polly: (5:05:14 PM): You're in the lower east side now...
Polly: (5:05:19 PM): ...hanging out with all those hippies...
ALEX: (5:05:24 PM): hahhaha
Polly: (5:05:29 PM): ...but, like, you know, i thought we had a thing going on.
Polly: (5:05:35 PM): All those memories.
Polly: (5:05:43 PM): Remember when you used to drive to visit me in Philly?
Polly: (5:05:51 PM): and cradle me in your arms?
Polly: (5:06:00 PM): sometimes, you'd share me with your girlfriend?
Polly: (5:06:04 PM): It was really hot.
ALEX: (5:06:11 PM): look
Polly: (5:06:12 PM): so, I guess what I'm asking is
ALEX: (5:06:15 PM): we had a great run
Polly: (5:06:17 PM): it over between us?
Polly: (5:06:26 PM): I never see you anymore, and I need more from a man.
ALEX: (5:06:32 PM): I’ll still eat you once in a while.
ALEX: (5:06:38 PM): You just have to come to me.
Polly: (5:06:46 PM): But Alex...
Polly: (5:06:50 PM): ...I don't have thumbs.
Polly: (5:06:57 PM): I can't even hitchhike to you.
ALEX: (5:07:25 PM): You’ll find a way.
Polly: (5:07:40 PM): You're really high maintenance.
Polly: (5:08:12 PM): I do all the work in this relationship.
ALEX: (5:08:18 PM): Excuse me? People have to order you properly or be removed from line
ALEX: (5:08:26 PM): and I’m high maintenance?
Polly: (5:08:32 PM): Look, I told you my father was a monster!
Polly: (5:08:41 PM): if you'd just marry me, we could get away forever
ALEX: (5:08:59 PM): I cant.
Polly: (5:09:07 PM): Why?
ALEX: (5:09:12 PM): You’re too sloppy.
Polly: (5:09:57 PM): i
Polly: (5:10:01 PM): i don't even know what to say
Polly: (5:10:04 PM): I don't even know you anymore
ALEX: (5:10:11 PM): Go eat urself.
Polly: (5:10:21 PM): **bursts into cheese**
ALEX:(5:10:28 PM): ahahahahhaha
ALEX: (5:12:01 PM): I really enjoy these highbrow conversations. Same time tomorrow?Polly: (5:12:03 PM): Duh. But only if you eat this poor fucking sandwich. 
See? This kid totally gets it. Or at least me.
Epilogue: Alex finally got his hands on the three-day old cheesesteak. He said it’s the best damned sandwich he’s ever eaten in his life. He did not shit himself. 
Or, if he did, he was smart enough not to say anything about it. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

She's BA-ACK: The Creature From the Hack Lagoon

Alright. So, I’m back. I know, I know, this changes everything--the BP(issed) Oil Spill, the spewing of ash from an unspellable volcano, that pathetically low number in your bank balance. After a two month hiatus, I’m finally back to set everything right.
But first I have to blog. The other stuff can wait. Right? 
I think we left off somewhere around here, with my hack-y, verbose recounting of a lost battle against public crying somewhere in the vicinity of Astor Place, served with vague allusions to bad decisions and garnished with epic writer’s block (imported from Italy right to your table). 

Dessert was two months of silence, a wordless emergency flare which signaled my descent into those dark, twisty pieces of transitional purgatory not easily expressed when you're being stripping naked and dumped out the side door of a metaphorical van by life. 

Now that the road rash has scabbed over, I’m feeling far more talkative.
Not that anyone will find it riveting, but a lot has gone down during the silent void that followed that mid-spring cryptic post, some of them happenings vital to know about for the context of future posts. So I’ll do a whirlwind inventory of events recently gone by, and if any lone, insomniac reader should find themselves curious as to any specific incident, I’ll be happy to elaborate. Otherwise, note them and file it away as my derailed train climbs back on its tracks and chugs onward to Blogtopia:

  1. I jumped from mid to late 20s, landing officially at age 27.
  2. I accidentally completed Hitch List item #21 via an unexpected 100% lesbian date, courtesy of the jalapeno tequila at Flatiron Lounge, three beer executives discovered somewhere in the Financial District, and an enigma of a human we shall heretofore call The Duchess. 
  3. I got in a fist fight with a drunk Mexican on an ancient Brooklyn-bound R train, hereby completing List item #23.
  4. I had a mini-nervous breakdown which made every good friend save a few want to gouge my eyes out with one of those fancy slotted sugar spoons normal people use to serve Absinthe. 
  5. I rekindled an old romance with a former fling: brown liquor.
  6. I failed to successfully complete Emotional Detox, and so, like Shifty from Celebrity Rehab, may need to readmit myself for a fresh round of treatment.

And. Um...
Fuck, I’m forgetting something important...why do the little details always seem to evade...?
...oooh, right. I moved out of Hoodwick Brooklyn and into a three bedroom on the Lower East Side with wingman Red and new roomie The Duchess who may or may not be my polyamorous ex-lover. We have a cat. 
Did I mention the apartment is six blocks from where Alex, as in this blog’s Alex, previously isolated in New Jersey, moved in after his own quarter-life crisis? With the beloved deaf pit bull we have joint custody over? And Philly BadMath (he's from Philly and sucks at math. we work really hard on these nicknames), one of my best male friends who I may or may not have once smashed out with once in college, which leads to no small number wildly inappropriate jokes at increasingly inappropriate moments in public places? 

I didn’t?, so that happened.
Point is, nothing much to see here folks. Just another Lower East Side Hot Mess with a blog, a bizarre list, a desire to write, and what looks to be a very average summer in front of her. 
Nice to see you all again.