Gorgon

When you stare at her, she stares back, her eyes weeding out the lies, the half-truths, the bullshit, the shy come-ons that end up turning into something real, all written on your face and in the way you shift your weight. You’re tangible, your thoughts are not; women have been trained since the beginning of time to be mind-readers to protect their sanity, their bodies, their lives–know what he’s thinking, when to trust him, when to love him, and when to run, to fight, or to lie there and hope it doesn’t get worse.

She won’t tell you this, but she’s half here, half in another realm where she has power over you. She rises on waves of fury and self-righteousness, swelling from the depths of a world where she has control over her body and her destiny. She is all-knowing for real in this fantasy, not half-assed like on this planet, where she reads into every word and gesture before making that choice, rolling that dice. In the world of waves, she knows.

Your.

Games.

When you try to cut off her head, she is immortal, laughing at the pathetic attempts to control her after she has been ripped from her dwelling.

But on this planet, she is disgusting when she channels the goddess. She is a threat, she makes him feel a way he doesn’t understand; like he might not be immortal as he thought he was. He shrinks and recoils.

He thinks.

She is mortal.

Never mind that. Oh, cut off her head and spite her; a million other voices will join hers and defend her, knowing the risks, knowing the slander, knowing the rage.

From her blood warriors are born.

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I see you

Hey, you.

I see you.

You’re still there. You won’t leave.

Maybe you can’t leave.

I guess I’ve gotten used to you by now; you’re there, loud, then you’re quiet, but lurking. Never gone; simply quiet. Likely plotting something. Do you really think I am that dumb, that I didn’t know what you were trying to do? Probably. They almost always do.

It is always a shock when you get loud. Once I woke up so convinced the nightmare was real. When the broom closet and the blood disappeared, replaced by the nightstand in the moonlight, I almost cried. My heart felt like it was trying to beat some sense into me. It’s the one you broke, but it still puts up a good fight every now and then.

When I saw you, your name, you were about a million miles away but that didn’t matter. It was you and you existed and you were still doing what you always did. At one time, you did it to me. Now I don’t know who you’re doing it to; I can only hope she doesn’t take it the way I did.

Some think I’m nothing.

It is with deep sorrow that I write of this revelation.

Does it sound ridiculous? That I would be so presumptuous to think that this is a surprise? That I could be immune to the judgment that everyone, no matter whether they are widely loved or relatively unknown, is subjected to?

I guess it might be. But still, it is a creeping feeling that managed to slip through the cracks. These are cracks that I thought had sealed; this is a feeling that, while ever present at a nagging level, I hadn’t felt surge into every fiber of my body for a long time.

Some think I’m nothing; I don’t want to be among those included.

That’s all I have to say. The rest of the words won’t come to me. They’re locked away somewhere, with everything else I’ve refused to face.

A One-Sided Goodbye

I got the news this week that you died.

I don’t know what I want to say, really, but I’m writing. I’m going to try to say something anyway, even if it’s hidden in a slough of disjointed thoughts and raw feelings that I haven’t really sorted or dealt with just yet. So here goes.

I didn’t want to have to say goodbye to another friend. I didn’t want to have to tell another story like the one I’m probably going to tell (ramble about?) here. I like telling stories when I’m reminiscing, not when I’m trying to convince myself that reality really is as shitty as I thought. It’s been a few days since I originally wrote this, and I tried to let my thoughts settle before I made it public. But reality hasn’t gotten any less shitty. Reality is going to hit me in the face like a bag of bricks tonight, when I see you and everyone who loved you together again. Another friend is gone. A friend I used to be closer to; one who I dearly wish knew what I (and so many others) are feeling right now. Not because I want you to feel bad that we hurt, but that we hurt because we loved you, and it physically makes us feel like something has been torn from us. Everyone should know that he or she was loved and valued like that.

I feel defeated. I feel hurt. Grief. Remorse. Foolishness. All sorts of things that are better reserved for an overblown reaction to a shitty job interview than to the death of a friend. But that’s the way it is for me. Feeling guilty about having feelings: If that isn’t painfully Midwestern, I don’t know what is.

I feel defeated by time and life. Like they’re in some kind of terrible pact to wreak as much havoc as possible on people who don’t deserve the shit they’ve been handed. I feel like, despite my and their best efforts to improve ourselves and always look forward, the battle takes a turn for the worse every so often, and good people are tossed to the side as casualties faster than anyone could ever expect. Death, at this age, is rarely drawn out. And yet, I personally never seem to learn from my mistakes: I don’t make enough time to be a good friend. I know damn well how fragile life is, how valuable friendships–even friendships that could use some nurturing after some dust has gathered–are, and I blow my chances to honor these precious things over and over and over again. It seems I never have enough time for everyone and everything, no matter how honest or good my intentions are. Quality time spent with loved ones is always just around the corner–when work has calmed down; when my son is a little older, and I’m not his personal vending machine; when I have all my ducks in a row and feel like I have the time to give. Life is passing me by in some ways, and it’s not stopping for anything simply because I’m busy.

To the contrary.

Before I left Fargo for California, I had my share of problems. But, despite the fight I was putting up, I also have to remember that there were many slivers of happiness made available to me: I lived in the moment; I had friends who I saw regularly; I had the fortune to live with some great people, you included, who cared for me despite what I saw as all of my shortcomings. And despite my tendency to let my deep-seated insecurities and festering past traumas control my life by doing things like drinking too much and caring about myself too little, I was, somehow, accepted. I still count this among my blessings, even though nearly a decade has passed since this time. I can hardly believe it.

In the conversations we’d had over the years, I feel like we’ve covered just about everything. I recall conversations about gaming, music, movies, cars, and your regular ol’ generic stuff that friends do. But then I remember talking about mental illness, being poor and being rich and all the shit that came between, traveling, how to learn a language, and how to be a kind person. We also discussed whether prot warriors were the best tanks, and I never forgot the night we all decided we were going to run a heroic Slave Pens wherein you ended up running directly into a wall until you dc’d, leaving the rest of us in the middle of a dungeon we were painfully undergeared for. I remember bringing you along to Karazhan with my stoner shaman friend (I also miss you, Deeks), and you couldn’t BELIEVE that they would give you such amazing loot as the King’s Defender, even though they outgeared that place by a long shot. You kept insisting they take it because you couldn’t possibly accept such loot. We basically had to force you to take it. This is important, I promise–and it’s because I enjoyed playing WoW with you back in the day, and even when you were playing a game, you were considerate of others. It seems like that’s an oxymoron these days, what with everyone being a shitbag on the internet. You were good peeps, though. (Not to say you didn’t have your trolly moments, however. Because you did.)

We talked about dumb people and smart people and why life was the way it was. You used to message me about things that you knew affected me: the rights of the LGBTQ community, the struggle for affordable healthcare, taking care of a sick loved one. That you told me about the devastating diagnosis of someone close to you meant a lot to me–that you’d trust me and value my friendship enough to reach out and share something so personal. I only wish I could have done more aside from offer you words of support when you did reach out. I didn’t know how to help. I never want to bother or impose. Am I a coward? I haven’t figured that out yet.

To get back on track: We had a weird sort of friendship back then, one where we were sort of “unofficial” roommates and drinking buddies. I slept on the couch and acted like a general loaf. But we all hung out, and I’ve never forgotten the kindness my friends showed me when I was at one of the lowest points of my life. You and so many others were there for me when I felt very alone. It was difficult to see then how much people wanted to help and how much they cared. Depression told me it was pity, and I pretty much acted accordingly.

I have mentioned this several times, but I think this is one of the most touching things that you did: When I gave you my cheap bracelets back in like… 2007 or something, you wore them for years until they basically broke or fell off. I remember you telling me that you’d had them for so long, and I was thinking, “Why?” But you were a sentimental person. My mom always called you “pug guy” and asked how you were because she loved how much you treasured your Izzy. My sister remembers you because you talked to her about things that weren’t so well accepted in Fargo at the time. See? You made an impression on people who barely knew you. That’s something.

From the time I trudged out in thigh-high snow during a blizzard to sit with you in your car because you’d gotten stuck (and I THINK we were listening to MSI, though I can’t be sure; coincidentally, this was the day I decided I needed to move far away from Fargo) to us practicing Chewbacca noises much to the chagrin of Jeff, who had to work early (sorry, Jeff) to dancing to Britney Spears, and to all the times the entire group of friends spent together bullshitting and playing games, I have made some great memories. And who can forget my great nickname for you: McSexypants? Everyone. Everyone forgot McSexypants, except for me and you, probably. Because it was stupid. But I don’t let shit go. I think these jokes are funny forever (like Chris’s iconic “you have no face”).

I made it a point to try to stay caught up when I moved, but I failed to do a good job at it. I got too involved in another crappy point in my life, hitting a pretty low place before beginning my recovery, and in so doing, I made an ass of myself and set myself apart from a group of people who had always been kind to me. I’ve tried to apologize, but I’m told repeatedly that it isn’t necessary. It never sat right with me, though. I was so happy that you came to my second wedding, and when I told you so, you basically looked at me like I’d just said the most ridiculous thing: “Of course I’d come. Why wouldn’t I come?” Truthfully, you hadn’t come out much at all, and I felt happy that you made it to such an important event of mine.

I also feel really bad that I don’t have many photos of us. I was gone for so long that I missed a lot of things, a lot of great times. Anything I had on my old phone that got stolen is forever gone. I can’t get on my old harddrive, and I know I have some good ones on there. But photos are photos. My absence means time that I won’t get back. I am sorry for that.

Finally, our last conversation. After someone started attacking your character on Facebook, I stuck up for you. You messaged me to thank me, and it got rolling from there. You talked a lot about your health and your demons. I am not going to go into that. I just want to say that I listened, and I worried. I admit that I contacted your brother. I was scared. And when you asked me how the baby was and told me over and over that you hoped we were safe and healthy, I tried my best to reassure you that we were. When you told me about the other things you were dealing with, I wished I could help more. But one can’t fix everything, and that’s something I need to accept.

I don’t mean to make this more about me than you. But it’s all I can say because I am angry with myself. I never got to say goodbye. I wish, more than anything right now, that I could run across the room and tell you how happy I was that you came over to hang out. I wish I could hug you and share stories again. But I won’t get that chance, so I am writing this. It helps me to write, sometimes. It’s hard as hell to pull these feelings out and put them into words. But it’s necessary because I don’t want to forget. It’s at times like this when I wish I believed in God; that I thought maybe, one day, we’d see each other again. But my beliefs are my own, and they say otherwise. I want to remember you as you were, friend, kind and flawed, and do my best to part with you in a way that I feel is appropriate for your impact in my life.

So this is my one-sided goodbye. Goodbye to a friend, goodbye to a soul who was loved by so many. We will miss you dearly.

A Birthday and Christmas Post for My Sister

sisters

 

28 years ago, I got the best Christmas present ever.

My sister and closest friend.

This isn’t going to be a particularly long post, nor am I going to write story after story of memories that I have–and trust me, there are plenty–but I will write this:

Happy birthday, I miss you, I love you, and Merry Christmas!!! YOU ARE THE BEST SEESTOR IN THE WHOLE WORLD-D-D-D-D-D!

Love,

Your sister who doesn’t let old jokes go. And never will.

The curse of being a creative

Oooh, it’s another post time.

I promise, it won’t be too depressing. This is just a quick word-vomit thing to get this horrible, repeating thought out of my head.

Sometimes, I feel like I got cursed with creativity.

Allow me to explain.

Being creative is a valued trait. In certain contexts. Some of our highest-paid professionals in America are creatives–singers, actors, directors, etc.

Yet, go to school to be a film maker, a graphic artist, or a creative writer, and people are going to laugh when you struggle to get a job and say, “Well, you should have done something more practical.”

So you look at other options. The reality of the situation is that you probably won’t be the next Veronica Roth. E.L. James. Jennifer Lawrence. Or whoever.

You begin to realize that you really have nothing else to fall back on. You’re good at one thing: making things out of nothing. You’re good at getting lost in your own head, feeling at home among the clouds, your eyes staring off into nothing, as your brain paints a picture that you need to get out somehow–whether it’s through writing, drawing, singing, acting, or literally painting.

And when you’re out of school, you discover..

no one wants to pay you for that shit.

So you end up going off on your own, looking for ways to make your dream happen. We’re that generation, anyway. Your job doesn’t exist? Fucking make it up. Make your life happen on your own if you can’t find it on monster.com (or LinkedIn, I guess, whatever people are clamoring all over these days). You control your destiny, right?

God, no.

It’s such fucking hard work. You know what sucks? Knowing that you’re really going to struggle at the start. knowing that you’ll have to change your strategy time and again to pin down the formula that really, truly work–it’s a business, after all.

You want to sell your art online? You can start up a store, but good luck marketing your stuff and having it take off immediately. You can show people your portfolio, but they’ll end up asking you to make a logo for free or else they’ll “ask their boss’s kid–he’s good with that kind of stuff.”

You wanna write? Have fun begging people for reviews and trying to get your book to climb the search result ranks on Amazon. Pour your heart and soul into these words to have someone look at the cover and shrug and say, “next.” or worse–submit to a traditional publisher and get used to being rejected over and over.

You want to compose? Are you going to be stuck trying to sell little jingles for a piddly little fee while trying to write an album that you only hope will put food on your table?–it’s not like you’re asking to be a superstar, right?

Want to be in a film? Ha. Work for days on end for no money, understanding that the people who are making the film probably can’t afford to even buy water for everyone on the set, let alone offering you a fair wage. But hey, it’ll look good in your portfolio, right? Maybe this role will be your break out role.

It seems that no matter which creative route you take, if you’re not already connected, it’s a rough road to travel.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it. These jobs are laborious, tedious, and slow-moving for most people. But they’re done out of love, and that’s why we keep doing them.

What I’m sick of seeing is people who shit all over art.

A blogger I used to follow has made a platform for herself by being pretty. Literally all she does is take selfies and make her hair and face into cool art projects. I loved her style and reading her funny, weird posts. Then she started getting preachy about other people’s bodies. Then about their lives and choices. Then about the recent celebrity photo leaks.

I cut her out of my feed like a tumor.

A makeup artist I follow drew some pictures and shared them with her fans. people told her to stick to “looking pretty”. For fuck’s sake, she was happy and wanted to share it, and thousands of people tore her down for daring to do so.

I can’t read those comments anymore. Her feed constantly rips on her appearance, anyway.

My female friends stream their games online. They get torn apart for their appearance

sometimes–because they happen to be women just sharing something they love with fans. Whether it’s a comment about their bodies or someone just being an asshole for no good reason, it must get tiring to be the target of such negativity. It wears you down.

I don’t watch streams for that reason. Can’t stand the comments.

So I sit here, thinking of the talents that I have. They are all in the creative realm. I will never go back to school to get a STEM degree. I respect people who do this, but I don’t belong there with them. I will never go into something lucrative–I’ll never own a huge business. That’s okay, too.

But I feel discouraged because creativity is all I have.

Really. It’s all I have.

And I don’t understand the

Creativity is a blessing and a curse.