“Everyone you know someday will die” the Flaming Lips

When my acquaintance first told me his Bubby passed, I thought he was referring to his dog “Buddy”. And my heart went out to him because I know when you’re childless and you’re a fucked up veteran, sometimes the only thing in this world that depends on you and loves you unconditionally is your pet. But when he explained that bubby was his grandmother, my inner voice said “Wheew, well glad to hear your dog is okay”. When someone tells me a grandparent died, I have to pause before I respond. Because here is my honest thought process: Yes, your grandparents died because that’s what people do, particularly those of an advanced age. And you being close to my age means you got to keep your grandparents a long time. Much longer than I did. Heck, your parents are still alive. So congratulations! Unless they died a horrible, painful, drawn out death like wasting away from cancer or in a nursing home, at which point I think anyone would be ready to tap-out, sounds like you all got off pretty lucky.

 

But I won’t say that nor will I apply some empty, stock sentiment like “Sorry for your loss”. Instead, I ask “Is there something I can do? Do you need me to watch your pets while you attend a memorial service?”  That much is sincere.

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“…Our flag was still there”

Given the choice, I sing the national anthem acapella. No hiding behind background music. When my voice cracks with emotion, you hear it. I want you to feel it the way I feel it. The way I wish I could still feel the presence of G-d.

I’m not nervous behind a microphone, on stage, singing or dancing… unless I’m singing the Star Spangled Banner. There’s a chance I’ll cry. Pass out gasping for air between belted and whispered notes. Because if there’s any song I give a damn about, it’s that one. Because it’s an honor and privilege to sing it. Because friends and family, known and unknown, enlightened or misguided, died for it.

I’m not out to flex my vocal chops and earn your praise. It’s not about the singer: I don’t give a damn who you are. Sing it straight with respect. Sing it from the corners of your soul, joy and mourning, proud and ashamed of what it represents and has cost us.

“They’ll drink theirs and I’ll Drink mine” – Chromatics

“I understand” can be two of the most divisive, insulting words strung together.  In conflict resolution, they teach that magical phrase to disarm or pacify. But when two strangers are nose-to-nose in conflict and one utters those words, the other may snap “Do you?? Do you understand? You don’t know me”.  So why would we use that phrase so casually, adopting an air of familiarity that is insincere as it is untrue.  It’s as hollow a sentiment as “I’m sorry for your loss” or “thank you for your service”. You don’t know my pain and I won’t pretend to know yours.

“I like that you’re broken, broken like me” ~LovelyTheBand

I feel every bit of my ill-fitting, worn out clothes today. Dangling threads, scuffed heels and hair as overgrown and unkempt as my yard. I’m dressed in insignificance with all the authority and value of a temp receptionist. But my new coworkers have learned to come to me for IT-related problems because it’s usually a simple fix and I’m much faster than waiting on a national-level “trouble ticket” to process. So today I once again found myself crawling on the floor under desks in a skirt, fiddling with…cables and computer equipment (you filthy bastards). And it was the only part of the day I didnt mind.  The only part I felt “useful”.

 I returned to prison after 4 days on parole, hiking in the woods with my dog and my struggling, unhappy boyfriend, CK. We think alike (I mean, CK and I. Although yes, perhaps my dog and I as well). And we are both martyrs for love. Judgmental and brooding, probably better off alone. I decided to burn what little vacation time I had accrued from this miserable job and disappear into the Quad State area (NC, TN, GA, SC borders). CK wanted to come so I sent him my proposed hiking list, based on limited time and weather conditions. He was an excited, “thumbs up!” But buying hiking shoes does not make you a hiker. Day one, we were only 6 miles into a walk in the woods when he began to fade, legs cramped, dizziness set in…I took his pack from him and force fed him protein bars, bananas, water and candy. I found him a walking stick but it was serious enough that I ran ahead to find a signal and called the nearest ranger station. I told them I just wanted to make sure I had a good number in case he couldn’t make it out on his own as we were still miles from the car. “Just keep puttin one foot in front of the other, he’ll make it out” the kindly ranger drawled. As CK leaned against a tree I told him, “Your lungs might give out, your heart might give out, but your legs will not give out. Keep moving”.

Days later, both his feet were taped and I announced I was going on a trail that he could not follow. Hell, he could barely walk. And I needed one day unencumbered. I climbed over rocks and fallen trees up a steeper incline to enjoy views unobstructed by tourists. Alone on a hilltop: me, my dog, and the wind.

I thought, “This isn’t working out”. I admitted on the drive home, I don’t want him tagging along to dances or hikes or shows out of obligation. Seeing the boredom and disappointment on his face kills my own joy. If he’d rather be at a movie then go to a movie! I don’t need company. I’ve been doing this living thing alone for years.
“I don’t need the added stress of a relationship!” I thought resentfully.

When you’re drowning, you cut loose of whatever weight you can forfeit: the job and school are not optional. Everything else – dancing, friends, family, boyfriends – those I can turn loose, at least until I finish school.

And I wish sex was off the table. I wish we’d never gone there; I wish we had just agreed to friendship. The pressure, the disappointment. I wish I could escape it.
“You’re tighter than a new buttonhole” he complains. I put on my best Gandalf impression and declare “You shall not pass!”  Or perhaps he can throw incantations at it, “speak friend and enter” my near-virginal vaginal gates.

He’s only had two rounds of GainWave and no change yet. His stem is still as broken as ever. I admitted to him, under these circumstances, sex means more work for me, and requires more time that I don’t have right now. So either I can slap on lube, get on my knees and give him a warm hole or he goes to bed hungry. And I’m starving but I’m a sexual camel and used to long stretches of abstinence. But I don’t ever want to fake it again. If only one of us is getting off, so be it.

At least for now.

But I’ve been saying that for months.

“I Wanna love somebody but I don’t know how” The Decemberists

File this under Insensitive Things My Boyfriend Says: when he remarks about being “jealous” that I sleep more than him even after being reminded that wasting half my life in bed from chronic fatigue is nothing to be envious of. Its like telling the guy who got his legs blasted off that you’re envious of his sweet wheels.

I called in sick this morning but not after a sincere attempt to get going. I got uo with the alarm, fed the fur, shot a 5 hour energy, felt sick to my stomach and dizzy so i sat down and immediately fell back asleep. Spent most of the day in bed amd every time my conscious surfaced, I told myself “get up, work on your resume, work on homework, take a shower, you need to go buy dog fiod…” but the current was too strong and sleep would suck me under again.

The night before I missed Cabaret rehearsal because I was upset from yet another shitty day in a shitty job so I poured a drink, then another until i was too buzzed to drive. I tearfully told my boyfriend that I appreciated him and sorry I didnt say it or show it enough. Then he pissed me off by saying something about getting hard. Erection jokes from someone with ED so severe, he doesnt come close to getting inside me arent funny. In fact last week, during another awkward attempt, he began shaking and crying with frustration. My heart broke and I told him, “Its okay, you can get me off some other way”. And I did something Ive never done with anyone before: faked an orgasm.

He’s on his second treatment of Gainwave therapy. I don’t know how many treatments are required to see results but of course insurance doesn’t pay for it. It will be worth it if it works. I disregarded all the hype and advertisements and went straight for the peer-reviewed medical studies. Those indicate about a 70% success rate. It’s significant enough that it’s being offered as a non-invasive alternative to heart surgery to clear blockages. That leads me to think it’s not complete bullshit.

And now halfway though our 5th month together, Im faking orgasms and wonfering if we should “take a break”. But that will just depress him and he will stop treatments. I want to give this a chance. Because there’s nothing “wrong” with this relationship other than the sex and my waning interest.

One of the women I currently work with reminds me of my mother, if my mother were Arabic. She likes to play matchmaker, coming over when a man is taking to me to say “Isn’t she pretty?” (To him. To me she says) “He’s such a nice guy and he’s single, are you single?” I reply “not by by 4 months”. Umi then shakes her head “Well, I hope hes a nice guy. You deserve a nice guy and THIS one is nice”. I look back at the guy, didn’t know a Latin complexion could get that red, and wonder if his dick works. Because I already have a nice guy.

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, John…”

“…but did you have to stick your finger up my ass?” (Let’s Go to Prison)

Too late to take an Ambien, no Xanax to be had, Pinterest pictures of nail polish and funny cat memes weren’t doing the trick to decompress and disconnect. The rest of the world was asleep and I was having a meltdown. So I text the Veteran’s Crisis Line.

I wasn’t suicidal. Just desperately, at that moment, needed a live person to pop a mental zit. Shhhhhh! But Don’t tell my Uncle Sam!

My dancer’s legs are scarred with what look like mosquito bites but they are from my fingernails digging into my flesh. It’s a nervous habit. I used to pick at my face and pluck out my eyelashes like some people gnaw at their fingers. Still do sometimes. But I retrained and redirected my attention to my exposed legs. My face healed up but I wonder if my legs ever will.

Sometimes you pick a path because it’s familiar only to rediscover it’s a dead end. As I got turned around on my way from work to class, I wondered if that was foreshadowing my career choices. I’m flirting with returning to the organization and the job that I left last year. I’m told the regime has changed, “the bad guys are gone” but I’ve heard that before. In my experience, they can return just like I can. And what happens in a year when the regime changes again?

Like my experience with the Army, I’m not making a blanket statement that “the Army sucks”. My command sucked. It was corrupt all the way to the uppermost level of leadership. And while the VA may be a worthy mission and I know many folks who love their jobs, I suspect the regional office where I was recently hired may represent everything that’s wrong with the Department. From the attitudes – “What’s in it for me?” and “That ain’t my job” – to emphasis of quantity over quality and underwhelming leadership. I expected the inefficiencies and bureaucracy but this place may be a repository for the intellectually and socially inept.

I’m reminded of something another blogger wrote, A Fractured Faith, who admitted recently that “I am a Christian, but I don’t like people”. Me neither! I don’t dislike ALL of them but I dislike most of them. Those few that I do like, the few that came in with bright ideas and sincere smiles, are no longer smiling.

But the stable job is a prison sentence and going back to my “ex” feels like defeat.

Am I a failure if I go back? Am I a quitter if I don’t stay here?

” what’s the matter? Your chicken tastes like pork?” Janelle Monae

The simplest advice I can remind myself of today:

Even if I don’t get to retire from the military,

My life is not over.

Even if I get stuck for a while in a job that is not my goal career,

My life is not over.

Even if things don’t work out with The Man of My Dreams,

My life is not over.

If my plans don’t pan out,

My life is not over.

Even when I lose my loved ones,

My own life is not over.

Do you wanna build a snowman?

No, I want to build pipe shelves. Starting with a toilet paper holder with a small shelf above it. If I can make that happen I think I can go crazy with industrial-meets-rustic shelving.

I have these moments where I feel like myself. I’m not depressed. Ive been depressed and I don’t think this is depression. But I don’t feel like myself either. But then the lsight switch flips on when I walk outside and think about going for a hike or just being inspired by a project (like the pipe shelves) and think “yeah! I wanna do that!”. And then it passes so quickly. The light switch flips off and I’m left alone in the dark again.
So maybe I am a little depressed.

Which might stem from always being tired. A coworker asked me how I was feeling and when I replied “tired” he said “That’s not too bad”. My eyes narrowed and I said “Sleep deprivation is an effective form of torture”.

But I got up when the alarm told me to and didn’t reach for my phone right away. Instead, I took an extra few minutes working through my morning routine. Took time to blow dry my hair and carefully apply eyeliner. I probably don’t look different as a result but it helps me feel a bit more “put together”, at least on the outside.

“Would I lie to you, honey?” ~ Eurythmics

I remember as far back as 4 or 5, in preschool, where we were forced to take mid-day naps.  Of course now as a chronically sleep deprived adult, I’d kill for a nap on a slab of bricks. But as a child, I lay there on a pillowless cot surrounded by softly snoring children, wondering if I was the only one among them faking it? I got the “best rester” stickers but never once that I recall, actually resting. Last night, with CK beside me, I pulled out the old trick of pretending to fall asleep fast because I wanted to fall asleep. I didn’t want to mess around. I say mess around instead of “have sex” because we haven’t exactly had sex in my opinion. Going on three months. I just wasn’t in the mood, maybe from lack of sleep and that increasing anxiety that the E.D. is going to be a deal-breaker for us. I wasn’t in the mood to spend an hour working and being worked over with tongues and fingers. I know I’m not going to get mine. I know he will, although it takes a while. And I wasn’t in the mood to have my head petted or feel his fingers twitching against my face. Rest them there, grab me there, but don’t twitch indecisively, nervously. At least that’s the impression I get from it. When I’m irritable, which is often when I’m tired. And I’m always tired.

And I still don’t particularly care for the way he kisses when he’s trying to be passionate. I could try to describe what doesn’t “work” for me but what’s the use? Am I going start coaching him? Because all men love that. A little firmer please…no, too much…and can you do something with your hand, the twitching is starting to annoy…

I realize I’m nitpicking because I’m frustrated.

I love him. I even find him attractive. And the idea of breaking up with him feels very wrong. He’s a unicorn. A broken horn but still a unicorn and he’s mine. But I never want to be a married roommate. And speaking of…

What made it worse was popping awake a bit later to the sound of a small dog whining two rooms away. Except we don’t have a small dog. It was the girl my roommate was fucking vigorously. I could tell she was trying to muffle the moans but I lie there hoping CK was not lying awake listening to this too. He is wonderful and he deserves to get laid. I cooked dinner, I shaved my legs, but on this most important duty to my man, I opted out.

Because I’m tired? Absolutely.

But also because even when I’m aroused, I no longer think about CK because he’s never going to fuck me deep and hard up against a wall. Or in the back of a volkswagon or anywhere else for that matter. I’m convinced no pill will fix the twitching hand, tepid  kisses or the limp dick.

And I don’t know what to do.

“the stars are stacked against you, girl; Get back in bed” M.C.C.

Sex isn’t everything but it’s important. He lays there silent, occasionally petting the top of my head while I spent, I guess, 20 minutes working him over with my mouth and hands. My arm starts to tire when he tells me he’s cumming and I think “Oh, he didn’t fall asleep after all”. In past relationships, I usually gave a man 10 minutes of oral before climbing on top to take a turn for myself but with CK, I can’t do that because the E.D. has left him unable to penetrate me from any angle but the back. Which is great but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life only getting it on doggie style. Now going on the 3 month mark, I finally brought it up again and asked him to talk to his doctor. I don’t know how the conversation went, perhaps nothing more than a message to say “Hey doc, Viagra doesn’t work, what’s next?” So he got a script for Cialis. I don’t expect a miracle. Diabetes has caused significant nerve damage and I don’t see how a pill will fix that.

I love this man but I find myself dreaming of other men, literally. I always had an active imagination though. And it’s not as if I’ll go rabid from frustration, break up with CK and screw every swinging dick that looks my way. But I can’t live like this for the rest of my life either. And I wonder if we would be sexually compatible even if he didn’t have E.D. Because he talks a good game but when the time comes…maybe it’s a combination of both our anxieties: his not being able to perform and me, knowing I’m not going to get off either. It’s … increasingly frustrating and less and less fun.

He wanted to see me again today but it has been a thousand papercuts day. Starting with chores, trying to be a good citizen, move carts out of the road at the grocery store and smashing my fingers between them. Then long overdue yard work sapping me of what little energy I had to start with. Decided to head to the dog bar because I haven’t spent quality time with my dog in 2 weeks. He had fun but in my exhaustion, wasnt thinking and wore flip flops. My toes suffered five stampedes and I was taken out at the knee by a pack of racing pit bulls aka bulldozers. 90min later, came home, slipped and fell in a pile of dog shit. Five minutes later, broke a gallon of cold brew in the refrigerator. Amid a flood of expensive Puerto rican coffee and glass, my roommate messaged me to tell me what a blast the salsa/bachata beach party was today and that this guy I used to have a crush on (still do, I suppose) was there and flying solo.  I disassembled the refrigerator drawers one by one, pulling out all the food and containers, inspecting it, rinsing it off, saving what I could, tossing what I couldn’t.

After 9p, I realized I haven’t eaten. I also havnt finished homework. But I’m going to stay “fuck it” to both and go to bed.