“In the Summertime, when it’s hot outside, and the streets are bare, there’s no one there” ~Black Keys

 I skipped sitting on the sidelines of Cabaret rehearsal to follow the
excited advice of a nurse: Go to the ER now! I napped on a hospital bed
while a retired Colonel ran tests on my heart. My ticker is great to my
relief. It’s something else. What that is, no one knows yet but it’s not my
heart so that’s all I needed to hear. 
. How many times did they ask me “Do you have anyone here with you? Do you want us to call someone?” Nope. And Nope. I know in a worst case scenario, CK would come swiflty. But I don’t want him. I note the absence of a ring on my doctor’s hand as we trade a couple of war stories. He’s too old for me, complete with wooden cane, but he’s funny and his cane adds to his austere image the way a pair of glasses makes people look “smart”. HOw did you break your foot, he asked? Living like I’m still 23 instead of 43. He laughed and said “right on”.
Cabaret presses on like I’m not there and not coming back. New choreography without me. New dancers. Even a new singer to create competition in the one market I had cornered. 
Three weeks until my podiatrist follow up and I still feel the break in my
foot. But three weeks more is all you get, I silently tell No One. Then I
need to dance. I need to train. I logged back into Crackbook briefly to view
dance events coming up at the end of the month, when I hopefully get the
green light from the doctor. Nothing looks particularly inspiring. Or maybe
that’s my state of mind grumbling. 
I’ve gone from panicked “WTF do I DO with myself?!?!?!” to “I don’t want to
do anything”. 

Feverish planets, climate crisis, and the now-public sweeping under the rug
of military sex-crimes have fired up the nightmare machine again. Plus I
still think of “C” unbidden. His name popped up in a spam email this week
and I wondered if he was reaching out to me from the grave or if it was
something more malevolent and real. Times like this, I do wish I wasn’t so
isolated. 

My breath catches and chest tightens but not like “false alarm” heart attack
of yesterday. No, this is just despair. My headphones are on at work but I’m
not listening to anything. I don’t know what is more distracting: the
converastions around me or the music that I’m not feeling.

“If you can’t hold on, hold on” ~The Killers

I told my family I loved and appreciated them. I don’t say it enough even
though they occupy the first row of my mind. I’m nearly 43 and my mother
still covers me with a blanket. I fear the day she’s no longer here. I’ll be
alone and that’s a fact.
Last night, I was dry-eyed as I moved a few pictures of “C” to a folder
where they would be out of sight but not deleted. Even the picture of the
apple and honey as he observed Yom Kippur with me long distance.
I’m compartmentalizing, I think.
Although as I nurse my forsaken body from a the most punishing training in
years, the grief creeps into the stillness. Of all feelings, there is an
intense loneliness that I havent felt in years. Back when I used to think I
would die alone and cry myself to sleep barricaded by pillows at night.
Well, I still believe I will die alone but I had reached a space where I was
okay with that. Now, I’m back to wishing I had someone that I could call
just to come over and “distract” me for an hour or two. Take the edge off.
Touch me. But it can’t be just anyone. Who do I even want? Who even wants
me? Both faces are necessary to make a coin so I’m flat broke as ever.
Thirteen days, I’ll be another year older and had plans to again, again, to summit
mountains. One of my few friends will be with me this time and as honest as
we have always been with each other, I’m afraid he will mistake my
loneliness as an invitation. I don’t know if I’m physically capable of doing
10+ miles a day on a mountain right now with my knees and feet swollen and
taped. I don’t know if I’m up for conversation either.
During a round of acupuncture at a community clinic, I watched him through
my eyelashes: former Cavalry, Afghanistan vet, a humanitarian, a healer,
married with two kids. Two fat tears leaked out and I was grateful for the
darkness. All the good ones are gone. Or their dick doesn’t work.
Or they didn’t pick me.
That’s something my mother gently reminded me of. Maybe that’s not THE point
she was trying to make as the only person I’ve discussed the death of “C”
with. But that was my take-away and maybe what helps me cope when the image
of him unstaring, with a bullet hole in his head comes unbidden to mind.
“You offered him a better life, and he didn’t take it,” she said. Reminding
me, he didn’t choose me. If I hadnt completely moved on, I must now. That
business will have to remain unfinished. It was finished to him. I thought I
could “save” him but he didn’t want to be saved. How often do we do that to
ourselves? Cling, thinking we will be the unshakeable force of change in
someone’s life?
And I’m back to wondering if G-d exists, if there is a “plan”, if I have a
“purpose”, if I will die alone…

Later. X-rays confirm one of my feet is broken. Mountaineering is off. Well, postponed until September. I ate the plane tickets. I’ll be at work on my birthday but the worst part is my coping mechanism, dancing, is off the table for six to eight weeks.

“I hope you choke in your sleep while you’re dreaming of me” ~ nothing, nowhere

bitch

I’ve read somewhere that relationships can recover from anything but disgust. Hurt, anger, betrayal, even disinterest are not nails in the coffin but once you have lost respect for your partner, it’s dead. So this wasnt a “real” relationship, according to the Flake. Sex, love, friendship, manipulation…walks like a duck talks like a duck but it still wasnt a duck if you ask him.
I trembled as I typed. I always spared his feelings before but now I told him the dark side of my opinion of him: that he is a narcissist. Also frivolous, unreliable, spiteful, mean-spirited and as manipulative as any bitch I’ve ever encountered. “Now I am really done with you.”
I blocked and deleted his phone number. Blocked his profile and ability to message me on social media. I also did something I hadnt done yet:  blocked his email.Closing not only all the doors but all the windows as well.

But damn if he didnt find a manhole and come at me through the sewer: As I tried to steady my pulse and stomach, I got a hateful response  “I’m done with you too…” I didnt read the rest. I immediately blocked that number and deleted the message. Guessing it was from his google voice number that he uses for work but I didnt know that one so I couldnt preemptively block it. Maybe I should have never attacked, just blocked the doors and windows without a word.  Maybe I shouldnt have hit below the belt, calling him a manipulative bitch. Being deliberately hurtful does not come naturally to me and I don’t feel good about it; Even if there is truth in the things I said about him. Even though he’s been deliberately hurtful to me over the years. I could have cut him off without calling him out. I could have taken the high road.
But it’s done.
And we never had “that kind” of relationship he said, I don’t need to be nice.
Now I can move on.

I consider those nights over the past few years, crying myself to sleep because I was ill and lonely. Because who doesnt feel pathetic and want to be cared for when they are sick? Suffering is easier when you have someone to lean on. Or crying at the knowledge that I’d never bear children. That is a reality I still struggle with. But of all the times I’ve been the most depressed, it was usually over a relationship (well, once I was suicidal thanks to too high a dose of Wellbutrin).  Which makes me think maybe romantic relationships are detrimental to my health. I already suspect that I’ve been chronically single (no serious relationship lasting more than 6-8 months) over the last 13 years means that I am less tolerant of others. Hey you damned men, get off my lawn! Maybe it’s better to share a bed with only dogs and cats. I can’t say there aren’t days that I don’t wake up, stretching and rolling in the sheets (as much as I can. The Zoo are bed hogs), thankful that I don’t have to answer to anyone but G-d…

On the flag…

In my years of service, i have probably carried and folded no fewer than a thousand flags carried and lifted from a thousand caskets. In SERE school, I was beaten for refusing to stand on the flag. And the National Anthem is the only song that both strikes fear in my heart and brings tears to my eyes when Im asked to sing it.
So ask me how I feel about all this kneeling business and words cannot accurately express how deeply this bothers me. I expect it from terrorist organizations and those who hate our country, not from fellow Americans. Yes, it’s their right, as Americans amd i defend it, as i must. But I hate them for it and G-d forgive me for that.

This sparked a heated debate between many of my conservative, liberal, military, civilian, friends and family. I warned them all to keep it respectful or I would not only delete their comments but them as well. I took the time to read the external articles that they posted and consider their arguments that “it’s not meant as disrespect to the military” and countered with “I would not walk into a shura in Afghanistan wearing a bikini in attempt to Advocate women’s rights. You cannot expect to win support to your cause by doing something so culturally offensive”. Once you have shocked and alienated people like that, they won’t give a damn what your “intent” was. They aren’t listening.

But enough about me, let’s talk about what you think of me

I re-blocked The Flake yesterday. Did I tell you he took a job in Monterey, CA? My dream (our dream) to live on the Pacific Coast and he got there before I did. Last month when he was going through the interview process, I took his calls and texts, to offer encouragement and advice, to be the “better” person. But it’s always about him, only him. He called again today and when it went straight to voicemail, he was compelled to leave a message to say “Either you blocked me again or your phone is off…” Fine. Here is my next letter to him:

“I encourage you to re-read those letters I sent you last year explaining why I cut off contact. The one-sided fact of our “relationship” (I can’t say ‘friendship’) and me wanting (and deserving) better, than you were willing to give meant that I could not be “just” your friend. Now, I don’t want that from you but the one-sidedness remains. You only reach out when you need something, when it’s convenient to you. You never look at MY pictures when I travel or ask how school or treatment is going or ask about my dancing or ask to see the video of me singing or how my mother is doing…it doesn’t even occur to you because my life simply doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t matter to you. You’re so wrapped up in trying to impress others that I wonder if you know what real friendship is?

My phone is often off or on DND because I am usually in a class or otherwise busy. I return your calls and texts if they genuinely important because I care about you. But I am not here to entertain you and fill the silence when no one else is available. I have neither time nor interest in investing extra effort in someone who only thinks to reach out to scratch his own itches.

I also don’t appreciate the manipulation. A picture of you wearing my shirt NINE months after you took it off me, coyly asking “Is this yours?” You damned well know it’s mine. Followed by the Google Earth picture with a circle around your new home on the Pacific Coast… I don’t know, and you may not even be self-aware enough to know, truthfully if you are gloating or sharing. But frankly, your intent doesn’t matter at this point. All that matters is how it makes me feel, which is like crap.

Nothing has changed except that I no longer have any hopes or expectations with regards to you. Not as a friend or anything else. You are still not good to or for me. And every time you contact me, it picks open a scab. Or perhaps you are not the man I thought you were.

I hope your mother is doing as well as can be expected. And congratulations again and good luck on the new job and fulfilling the dream of living on the Pacific Coast. Hopefully I’m not far behind but you won’t know if and when I am. Mainly, because you lack the interest to ask.

Please do not reply. At all.”

 

In other “news”, I aced my law final. Maybe the difference is I was engaged and interested in this class so I grasped the concepts better. Or maybe I tried harder because I was starved for approval from my professor, a federal judge teaching for the hell of it. When he said my work was “among the best I have seen in many years of teaching…I am very impressed. I commend you on your effort and skills”, I ate it up. My friend “S” reminded me that he thinks I’m incredible too and I said “Thanks but that’s a bit like my mommy telling me I’m pretty”. Of course it counts but we also crave external validation. Not exactly Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but my emotional pyramid of Love/Acceptance needs includes, from most to least important, from close friends and family, then from respected peers/authority figures, and then the least important but still registers like a pebble thrown into the lake, love/acceptance from strangers.

And my inner voice asks “Can’t you just say ‘thank you’…?”

“I wasn’t even in the running” ~ Haim

I feel like I’m always operating in the red, physically and mentally at a deficit.
There were two Gregs. The under 30 homeless-by-choice biking gypsy yogi without a fuck in the world and the other one who pretended not to recognize me. Oh, you know what you did, motherfucker. Ten years ago, this “friend” tried to steal my civilian radio job while I was in Iraq and got fired for it. The one time the company did right by me and we haven’t spoken a word since. Although all he did was jump across the street to the competitor where he still works today so maybe Karma is waiting to kick his ass in his next life. But he spent half an hour pretending not to notice me sitting 10 feet away at my favorite local coffee where I go for a change of scenery while working on school assignments. I forced a smile while homeless Greg happily rubbed my dog’s belly but kept thinking, this is just one of the reasons I need to move: I’ve been here too long if I’m bumping into assholes from my past. Time to go meet new assholes, make new enemies somewhere else.

But it looks like The Flake will make it to the West Coast before I do. He flies this week for the final round of interviews and contract negotiations for a job out near Monterey. He’s texting me links to the luxury apartments near the national forest where he is planning to live. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the red line that is Highway 1 in Google Maps after much of the coastline slid into the Pacific in the last few weeks. Road closure until at least late August. I might not make it into Big Sur at all this year as planned. But that asshole is moving there.  In all my self-righteous glory, I utter encouragement and congratulations to him while making my apologies to G_d for secretly being bitter and green. What is the line between sharing and gloating? Is it the intent? Because it feels like he’s gloating.

Or maybe this is another example of how I’ve lost my perspective. Because I live in Paradise too, 10 minutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. I need only open my front door to the smell of saltwater and the sound Of seagulls. It’s a source of peace and he is an unwitting thief. I give him the benefit of the doubt with “unwitting”. But if he is unwitting then that makes me solely responsible for my discontent. No, he can’t be that stupid. I’ve told him we can’t be friends, that my feelings haven’t changed. He knows he’s still using me. And I let him.

“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”, he once told me. I recall hateful things he’s said to me in the past because ripping that wound back open motivates me to rebuild The Wall. Not the healthiest coping mechanism and certainly not very forgiving but it’s a line of defense that works.

But I danced and sang a bit this weekend. Even if I was just faking it for the crowd, the point is, I did it. And that’s progress.