If you're like me, and I know I am...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Death and Gravy ... as of today

Kay had eyes like a shark. Black but less soulful and more predatory. Thats not true, really. I just like to ssy it as if it were.

The truth is she was damaged goods. At least she was when she wanted to be, but then who isnt?

A3 But then who doesn't when it suits them./Kay once told me in a late night phone call that she lost her virginity while being date raped.]

A4 She made it up. Added good details even like "I guess he felt he was entitled to it" and "I said no, but it was over before I knew it."]

A5 I figured out for myself months later she was full of shit. She never confessed to anything even when thoroughly busted.

A6 Kay was obsessed with finding a boyfriend, but she wore a shirt that said "a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."

A7 It would have been funny if it weren't so sad and ironic. Worse for me, I loved her. I guess I just didn't like myself very much.

A8 That fact goes some way toward explaining why Kay wasn't the first to get under my skin the way she did. Hell, she wasn't even the fifth to do that.

A9 I was hooked on fixing other people. Well, women. Focusing on them made it easier to ignore myself, my flaws, failings and relationships.

A10 You can't see yourself if your back is always turned to the mirror. My back was turned and I was running as fast as I could.

A11 It's funny how easily "running away" can be rationalized into "running toward something" -- love, happiness, success and other phantoms.

A12/ Kay was real enough. At 19, she was smart and sexy in an eccentric, coffeehouse way. She held out the promise of love and friendship...

A13...wrapped around a vacuum of neediness that made the super-massive blackhole at the center of the galaxy look like a clogged sink.

A14 Funny thing about black holes is that they aren't black at all; they're quite bright. Their gravity creates a shell of dying light.

A15 They're also created by what astrophysicists call "a singularity." Metaphorically, black holes focus only on themselves.

A16 So in that sense, Kay offered something to the world: a way for scientists and psychiatrists to describe complex ideas to laymen.

Narcissism bordering on solipsism.

A17 "Imagine a black hole as a sophomore college coed," Neil Degrasse Tyson might say. "One desperate to be the center of attention.

A18 "Because of poor self-esteem and daddy issues, she lacks luminescent beauty. She can't outshine others.

A19 "But she can suck the energy from a room or the will from everyone she gets inside her gravity well. That's the power of a black hole."

A20 Besides lieing about her rape, Kay committed a great many other sins. Some were merely omissions; others were in a category of their own.

A21 Cries for attention were weekly. If her period wasn't late, she was deaf in one ear. Once she was driven to the ER for a lost tampon.

A22 She'd call 5 times a night in crisis mode to ask what boys liked her. She'd ask for the answer "as a percentage" but that made no sense.

A23 Having a boy was worse. He drank too much and couldn't come or came too quick. Did that mean he didn't like her? Did she deserve this?

A24 She once drooled on me while reading over my shoulder. I couldn't help but think it was on purpose. Seriously, who does that?

A25 Compassion was the fastest way to earn her contempt. Use her then walk away? She'd love you forever. Or until she had the upper hand.

A26 She burned through people like dessicated corpses leaving nothing behind but carbonized remnants of good will and bits of bone.

A27 She didn't like herself much. Hurting friends hurt her. Isolated her./When she finally killed herself, no one was shocked that she had.

A28 The only eyebrow-raising detail was she set herself on fire. It was a brutal homicide and she was her victim. Message sent and received.

A29 I had to hand it to the crazy bitch; she made an impact. Everyone who found her despicable or laughable blinked at self-immolation.

A30 You see this as a stranger's news story and wonder what possessed them. An unbearable, existential pain? You romanticize it instantly.

A31 When you knew the victim-love, hate, indifferent-it's personal. What could I or should I have done? That's the point. You're in it now.

A32 Detachment is out when there's a story to tell. "Remember the chick who used to hide in closets at parties? Well guess what SHE did."

A33 And "Weren't you friends with her? Did you see the signs?"/I don't know it all, but I know this: self-immolation… has no warning signs.

A34 What's the difference between drama & melodrama? A cry for attention or help? Successful suicide or botched fake attempt? Beige or ecru?

A35 The distinction is intent. To observers, that combines subjectivity, opinion, reflection, consensus. The dead don't intend anything.

A36 They might have while alive, forming their plans, writing a note, pulling a trigger or, in Kay's case, lighting matches. But not now.

A37 If forced to form a conclusion, I'd still offer it as multiple choice. I can see her playing with the matches, thinking about burning.

A38 Maybe she'd even burn a few magazines to watch the celebrities on the front crinkle and blacken. She'd make the connection to herself.

A39 See how long she could hold her hand to flame. Smell burning hair. How long could she hold a flaming page until she had to drop it?

A40 Exploring the boundaries of what she could feel included vodka and Xanax on top of Effexor, Wellbutrin and endless Marlboro Light 100s.

A41 On any given day she could swing from manic, anxious harpie to cold, emotionless zombie; all points in between, below and beyond.

A42 At what point is it OK to bail on a fragile nutjob? How many times can YOU be fucked over and get away with it? Once? Twice? 15 times?

A43 I've found my tolerance pretty high. I have more empathy than a grown man should and a sad desire to feel needed as a love surrogate.

A44 I'd benefit from a slightly more egocentric outlook. Waiting to be appreciated by others is high irony if you don't appreciate yourself.

B1 It's not true that no one gets what they want, but it is pretty rare for people like me. It requires an astute sociological imagination…

B2…and the will to live as the person you want to be not as the person you were born to be. The middle class never understands this.

B3 Their sense of entitlement is innate. They might know hard times, but their hard times are never made worse by the assumption…

B4…they don't deserve everything they can get their hands on. The entitled believe hard work pays off because for them it does.

B5 They can ignore inequity because if anyone can be denied what they've earned, what anyone deserves becomes questionable.

B6 Life isn't fair and justice has a price. Only the fear of retribution stops anyone from testing the limits of these concepts.

B7 "Life isn't fair," taken to its rational conclusion, negates the social contract utterly. It works as an aphorism only in moderation.

B8 Americans disdain empathy for this reason. Pity acknowledges weakness as part of the human condition. twitter.com/deathandgravy

B9 Being a self-aware human being means acknowledging that at any moment you might be the next to beg mercy in a cold, uncaring world.

B10 Reactionaries call for fewer social safeguards after benefitting from them. Irony is dead; sarcasm flourishes like flies on its corpse.

A45 "A work in progress." That's what Kay called herself the last time we talked over 10 years ago. I'm sure we differed on the subject...

A46…of who needed more work. We had argued about breakfast of all things. She'd make plans with me then blow them off; leave me waiting.

A47 Nothing new. This time was just the straw that broke the camel's back right before the camel got its head bashed in with a jagged rock…

A48…for crying "uncle." The weak and stupid deserve what they get, right? If a grown man can't save himself from the caprices of a girl…

A49…who's emotional instability is unquestionable, demonstrable and ongoing, he's not really worth saving.

A50 After expressing my disappointment at having been stood up once again and my hope that it should never happen again…

A51…Kay screwed my roommate that night and made sure I heard the entire thing. I'm sure it struck her as a wily form of revenge at the time…

A52…I was grateful for such a grandiloquent "fuck you." It was liberating. Like coming to terms with getting your toe cut off.

C1 "Amputation" carries a bluntness thinly camouflaged behind it's elegant Latin root, "amputare." It's a word that carries more horror...

C2…than the concept it obfuscates because of its construction. At least it does when a doctor looks at you and says ...

C3…"We have to amputate part of your foot." I can tell you honestly, it's the worst part of the day—for both of you—bringing to mind...

C4…bloody Civil War images and a reflection of the mixed, sick feeling you get looking at an amputee with pity and revulsion.

C5 A reflection because even though you don't know it yet, you will look at your own naked, mutilated foot the same way and mourn.

C6 Modern medicine has eliminated the graphic audio-visual effects of amputation. There's no blood spattering or screaming, but…

C7…there is still the realization, the clarity of knowing like faith, that whatever else you do, you are only so much meat. Long pork in clothes.

C8 We speak of the animated flesh in hallowed terms. A sin of the flesh offends God, after all. Hubris, that's the real Hamburger Helper.

C9 Physically, you feel nothing while they cut. Psychologically, you feel better than ever—truly positive. Narcotics are brilliant.

C10 Conscious, but stoned silly, you note quietly to yourself the funny, little things that happen in the OR during your amputation.

C11The docs played "Name that Tune" on the oldies station. I chimed in as Asia came on. "Are you awake?" asked the nurse. "Yeeaaah," I said.

C12 "Can you feel that?" "Nooo." "Pass the bone-cracker, please," the doc said. "But I could stand to be a lot higher right now," I said.

C13 The return to reality is not a smooth ride. With a foot covered thick in bandages, you can delay the inevitable for only so long.

C14 The inevitable happens two days after surgery. Wound care changes the dressing and you see what's left of your foot for the first time.

C15 Laterally, the foot sans small toe and metatarsal looks like mortadella—ground pork flecked with white chunks. Bone, fat and infection.

C16 A deli clean slice to be sure. The visible man's foot. You make jokes for psychic defense. "At least now I can wear Italian loafers."

C17 The nurses laugh like they're working for tips, but eventually they all read your chart and as, "Why did you wait so long to go to the ER?"

D1 I couldn't swim until I was 12. I learned in 10 minutes when a sadist PE teacher thought he'd get more time than that to shame me.

D2 I nearly died in a crowded pool at 9. No one noticed until I'd done all the hard work of drowning—panicking, splashing, aspirating.

D3 I think it would have been a temporary setback before a great personal rebirth had my mother reacted with maternal concern.

D4 Instead of reassurance and hugs, I was frantically berated for causing a pre-partum, post-resolution primetime panic attack.

D5 And yet it still took three years and a stranger to teach me to swim. There was a lot of existential ennui in that weird span of time.

D6 I remember thinking often that I could've died in that pool. Not piteously, but in an attempt to embrace my own life without fear.

D7 My parents made life a grind. They were plagued by self-doubt, fear of failure & the judgment of others. I'm surprised I learned to walk.

D8 I never felt good about surviving let alone being alive. I wanted to. I gave myself the speeches I thought my parents should have.

D9 One imaginary motivational included the homily, "After you've faced death, everything else is pretty much gravy." And it should've been.

C18 In the months leading up to my first amputation, I had become increasingly despondent. Even before the first foot ulcer, I was sick.

C19 Cardiomyopathy from the blue, uncontrolled diabetes and low thyroid were nothing compared to a crippling depression I'd had since 13.

C20 Everyone think they know what depression is because they've been depressed once or twice. This is a fallacy and a disservice to depressives.

C21 It's like saying you understand cancer because you had a mole removed once. Depression poisons everything. It is physically painful.

C22 It makes existing illnesses worse and creates new ones. It can't be shaken off any more than a broken leg, Parkinson's or leukemia.

C23 Worse yet, depression makes you not want to think about whatever the hell else is wrong with you. It makes you ignore your blood sugar.

C24 It makes you forget to take your meds. And it can make you ignore an infected toe until it is so black and dead you can smell it.

C25 And even then it can make you think, maybe I could wait two days until I see the new Star Trek movie and then go to the emergency room.


Rua said...

Beautiful...well...I know that sounds like an odd comment, but what a great way to get it all out. Fantastically written, too. I can definitely empathize (in very different ways, of course -- depression, different various health issues, etc). I hope in writing about it, it all gets a bit better. You're inspiring me to try to do something creative to let go of all the crap I've got bottled up inside lately.

Greg Jerrett said...

Thanks buddy! I got out of the writing habit for too long until a friend recommended doing a Twitter novel. It helps me focus the ranty, rambliness that is my "style" and which has gotten out of hand lately.
Also, this whole thing is written on my iPod touch. I can't type normally because of neuropathy so the touch screen is perfect for one-fingered typing.
You should totally do it. Nothing allows you to take control like turning yourself inside out and publicizing the things most people think we should be ashamed of. I'll read it and recommend it to people if you Choose to do it publicly.