carose59: my mother's family (it seems to absolve us)
I Couldn't Go To A Queer Halloween Party Once Because The Only Rule Was You Couldn't Come In Costume And Darling, I Had Nothing To Wear.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I've written this never-ending series of Wiseguy stories called Roadhouse Blues. I sort of thought I was finished a few years ago, but other stories popped up and I wrote them and did nothing with them (except the one I wrote for Christy; I showed it to her. Considering the number of stories I have that I wrote for/dedicated to her, Christy telling me she didn't think I was her audience is abso-fucking-lutely bizarre.)

Anyway, I'm writing on them again for reasons. But I'm breaking all the characters and at three of them are having meltdowns and I'm crying. This is effect and cause; I'm doing this because I need to cry and I'm a lot Irish and crying over imaginary people is what we do.

(I once wrote a story I only worked on when I was depressed or having PMS. And one I finished right after Pat died. You could wipe out a whole dealers' room of fans with those two stories.)

And in two days it's Thanksgiving and I've been invited by my cousin.


1. I love my family.
2. The food will be good.
3. There might be a few moments of feeling like I belong.
4. It will make them happy. I guess. *shrug* They invited me.


1. It will take four hours I could use for writing.
2. It will be loud and I will come home with a headache.
3. I will feel alienated and alone.
4. There will probably be a political argument which will leave me feeling even more alienated and alone. Unless I keep my mouth shut, in which case everybody will agree.

What I get when I see my family is sarcasm and whimsy. It's the language we all share; we're good at silly.

But it's like a garnish. Would you order an expensive dinner just for the garnish? (I might, because I'm like that, and if I had a use for the rest of the meal, like giving it away.)

It makes me so sad that it's this hard, that I do not feel a part of my family.

When my cousin in Texas wrote me that he had been thinking of coming to Indianapolis to look at train stuff (don't ask) (but now he wasn't because he was punishing us for something—again, don't ask), I wrote back and told him I'd be happy to go with him to look at train stuff.

He said he didn't know I was interested in trains.

I'm not. Except for liking to listen to them, I have no interest in trains. I'm interested in him.

I didn't tell him that because he wouldn't understand it!

And so it goes. I'm supposed to be interested in their lives when they're not a bit interested in mine. I'm endlessly weird, and as such, a source of amusement. I cause endless trouble by not enjoying my role as prop in the latest holiday special, sitting on the sofa and pretending everything is fine when nobody is talking to me (except my one cousin's husband who sees me as prey and wants to argue politics. It's fun. Fun. The destruction of our country is fun).

I want to say no and I want to be honest but I don't want to hurt them (well, yes, I do, but I also don't). I want them to actually be able to see me and that will never, ever happen and I need to stop wanting it but I don't know how.

And even if I tried to be honest, how many words do you think I'd get out? How many of my meaningless, incomprehensible words is anyone willing to listen to? I've written almost seven hundred right here. Nobody's going to listen to seven hundred words. Maybe I could pare it down to four.

I won't be happy no matter what I do, but staying home is a more productive use of my time. Sonny's having some serious PTSD, and Vinnie's throwing up from stress, and I don't even know what happened to Roger. It would be more fun to stay home and untangle those tangles and watch Humphrey Bogart. And I can make my own damn food.

(I did buy food. I decided to make smoked sausage and carrots and potatoes and onion and cabbage. I'm partial to red potatoes—I like the ones that are so small, you can hold two or three in your hand at a time. So I picked out a bag of small red potatoes. And I thought I'd get red cabbage instead of green, for no particular reason. And then, of course, when it was time to get the onions, I got red ones. I don't know if you've ever cooked with red onions, but they turn a sort of pale mauve, and from what I've read, so does red cabbage. I should have a really interesting-looking dinner. And while my family might find this funny, it would be in a despairing sort of way. Pat would find it hilarious. She'd hunt me down some red carrots, without me even asking.)

*Aaron Raz Link

The last of May

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 11:13 am
carose59: dealing with people (the same as people who aren't different)
"Forget Enemies; The Guy Didn't Have Friends!"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I've written about this before, but now I have a TV show to use to illustrate my point!

Growing up, I watched The Andy Griffith Show. By the time I was a teenager, I'd developed an aversion to it, and when Pat and I got together, it was something we talked about. (We talked about a lot of TV shows, it was one of the things we had in common. She thought Andy was a terrible father, but that's not what I'm here to write about.)

My aversion to the show started with a dislike of Barney. I didn't find him funny. Like Ted Baxter, he was incompetent and arrogant, but he was presented in such a way that I understood I was expected to like him. It left me frustrated with the people who made the show.

But as I got older, I realized the one I really, really disliked was Andy.

Sure, Andy seems like a nice guy. He's the opposite of Barney: competent and self-effacing. While we're supposed to like Barney because he's funny, we're supposed to like Andy because he's a good guy.

Only he's not.

Andy uses his knowledge of Barney's flaws to ridicule him. I don't like Barney, so I don't want to spend time with him, but Barney is supposed to be Andy's best friend. I don't like Barney, but I wouldn't treat him the way Andy does.

The basic set-up of a "Barney acts like an idiot" episode is: Barney gets himself in trouble and Andy rides to the rescue. What we're supposed to take from this is what a great friend Andy is, helping out his good friend.

That is not the message I get. What I get is, this is a guy who will only be nice to you when you're in trouble.

Which is where we get to my weird philosophy.

It has been my experience that most people will be kind to you when things are going wrong. If I walked into the grocery crying, strangers would ask if I was all right, and some of them would listen while I rambled about my mother and how lost I feel.

What's hard to come by is a friend who will listen with interest when you talk about some obscure thing that you just love.

After Pat died, there was no shortage of people who were more than willing to sympathize, but finding someone who just wanted to be my friend and have fun with me was nearly impossible. I got sympathy cards and flowers from people who wouldn't talk to me for two minutes unless I was crying and going on about missing Pat. I actually got a card from someone who had told me that my bad housekeeping was killing Pat. (I was afraid to open it; I was expecting her to tell me I'd murdered Pat. But, no.)

What I craved was some way of getting out of my own head, someone to play with, but apparently that wasn't allowed. Or I wasn't fun enough. Or something.

And it'll happen again. My mother will die, and people who don't want me in their lives will kindly send me their condolences. What the fuck do I want with their condolences? Am I crazy, or is this just cruel?

*Phil Guardino

Three random things

Friday, 20 May 2016 11:14 pm
carose59: crime and other violations (i read the news today oh boy)
"Yeah, Good News From My HMO. What Do You Think, I Won A Free Colonoscopy?""*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The other day at work we had a health evaluation thing that's connected to how much our insurance costs. It consisted of a blood pressure check and a blood test for the standard stuff.

I was expecting a finger stick, but there were needles.

I'm not afraid of needles; I just loathe the whole experience, how hard it is to find a viable vein. I hate how they don't take me seriously when I tell them how hard it is; I hate getting stuck multiple times; I hate how I feel like this is my own fault for being fat.

I was lucky. The phlebotomist was very, very good and got me with one stick. He was also very nice.

The next day I got an email letting me know my results were available.

My numbers weren't anywhere near as bad as I was afraid they'd be. All the bad stuff was too high, of course, but not oh, my God, I'm going to die! bad. This is good, because it means I can do something about it without being paralyzed. That's what happens when the doctor acts like something being a little high is EMERGENCY! CODE RED! First I freeze, then I cry, then I just quit eating until I'm too hungry to think, then I eat whatever I can get fast, which is seldom the best thing. This, I can deal with.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The other night I dreamed I was having lunch with Christy.

We were sitting outside at a restaurant in Lansing, Michigan. We were saying goodbye, in a very friendly way. We'd decided not to talk for a while—a few years—but it wasn't the "I'm never speaking to you again" situation that happened in real life. It was nice, but bittersweet. I wish that's how things had really been.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Could somebody explain to me what happened to the word cheeseburger?

I like hamburgers. I do not like cheese on them. It used to be, you could order a hamburger and that's what you'd get. Now, if you're lucky, they ask you if you want cheese on it (which just makes me want to say, "Did I say I wanted a cheeseburger?"). But chances are they don't even ask, because it just comes with the damn cheese and if you don't say you don't want it, that's what you get.

What the hell?

They need to just keep their cheese to themselves unless they're asked for it.

*Adrian Monk
carose59: friendships gone wrong (and my poetry to protect me)
If I Am Indeed Different, Who Am I Different From?*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I could explain why—at least, I could tell you what she told me. I'm assuming that from her point of view it's true. My point of view doesn't matter. So let's not bother with that.

After I got her email telling me she would no longer speak or correspond with me, my first thought was that I was going to tell Diane I had not set this bridge on fire. Diane and I had discussed how there was something I really needed to talk to my friend about, and I had done what Diane told me to do. And my friend hung up on me, then responded to my email by telling me, among other non-responsive things, that I need to see a psychologist. Yes, she knows I see Diane. I cannot explain this. Also, I need drugs.

Anyway, since then some things have happened that have led me to understand that the bridge didn't catch fire, it crumbled under its own weight.

I've been feeling like a burden for some time now. I've been pretty sure that we were talking too often, and that my friend was talking to me out of pity because of Pat being dead and all. I couldn't figure out what to do about this, how to walk our relationship back some so that it would keep functioning—and I knew it wasn't functioning. I knew she was bored with me, either because our interests have drifted too far apart or because I have stopped being someone she enjoys. I'm even more sure of this now.

I spent Sunday, the day we used to talk, feeling alternately like crying and so relieved I was giggling. I knew I had been feeling bad—dull, stressed out about trying to be interesting. I wrote about it just last month. But I didn't know how bad it was until I knew I didn't have to feel that way anymore.

There have also been things I've done lately, movies I've watched, and TV shows, where normally I'd make a mental note to mention them to my friend. I'm still doing that—it's an old habit—but now it's followed with two thoughts. First is, "Oh, right, no need," then, "Even if she was speaking to me, she wouldn't be interested."

On some level this is sad. On some level, I'm sad. I miss my friend, but what I'm missing is who she used to be and who I used to be: two people who had stuff in common, who laughed a lot together. We aren't those people anymore.

*Aaron Raz Link
carose59: friendships gone wrong (and my poetry to protect me)
I'm Shorter Than People Think I Am. I'm Not Actually Any Shorter Than I Am, But I Am Shorter Than People Think I Am.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Let me tell you a story.

Many years ago, I had a couple of friends: Killa and Ninon. We used to spend time on IM, talking and having a good time. I was having a good time anyway; what do I know about what anyone else was feeling?

After a while, we drifted apart.

Well. Things with Ninon got strange and sad and we stopped being friends.

Things with Killa . . . I still don't think I know. All I could ever put together was that on her top ten list of favorite people . . . I was number eleven or twelve. She liked me a lot, but not enough to spend time on because there were people in line ahead of me.**

What can you do? What can you ever do?

But one conversation we had has stuck with me all this time. Killa told me that one of the problems was that when we were IMing, I would try to keep her from signing off when she needed to.

I didn't say anything.

There wasn't anything to say. It wasn't true.

It was Ninon who would try to pressure Killa to stay. Part of it was that Ninon was convinced Killa's husband was abusing her emotionally and she was trying to keep her in a "safe" place. I didn't think too much of Killa's husband either***, but that was her business. She was an adult and she hadn't asked for help.

I had been so happy then. I'd loved those talks and I used to save them, thinking I would go back and read them over. After that conversation, I did go back, just to be sure, and I was right. So I could even have proved that it, but it wouldn't have changed anything. People decide who you are and that's it. That's who you are.

And if I'd shown her the IMs, I would just have been an obsessive who saved these conversations for years just to prove I was right. You can't win. So, like I say, I didn't say anything. But I knew everything was over, and it was.

*Bob Newhart
**It was a relief, really. Because having a friend tell you they like you, they really like you, only they're just always too busy to spend time with you is like having an affair with a married man. You keep hoping someday you'll get to be a real person in their life, but you never do. It wastes so much of your time and energy, and it's a cruel and cowardly way to treat someone.
***I've had a couple of friends who have done this same thing: talking about their husbands in a way that makes them sound awful. They say they love their husbands, but the only stories they tell are about how badly they're being treated. It leads one not to think well of these un-met husbands.
carose59: dealing with people (the same as people who aren't different)
"Oh, No, I Haven't Seen Anyone For Years."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Saying anything out loud to anyone has begun to lead, invariably, to anxiety and self-recriminations. No matter how mild the encounter, the odds of my walking away from it feeling like something other than a failure are slim to minuscule. I always say the wrong thing, even if only by saying too much.

I'm not interesting.

I can see the interest die in people's eyes practically the moment I open my mouth. But sometimes the urge to connect is too strong and I ramble on for seconds at a time, pouring out what are supposed to be amusing words, thoughts, ideas.

What comes out instead is rambly disjointedness.

I work well only in support, in being interested in what other people have to say. My interests are weird, esoteric, or old and passé. We've all moved on, I hear people thinking. Nobody cares about that anymore, so even the height of eloquence and wit are tedious and irritating.

Recently I reached out to a former friend. I'd been thinking about her and having . . . I don't know. Not premonitions. Strong thoughts. I wanted to check. (Two friends have died without me knowing about it, so I'm a little sensitive on the subject now.) So I wrote.

And she wrote, said she was fine, asked how I was.

I should have known better, but I answered. Used words. Spoke of myself.

I won't hear from her again.

A weekly phone call from a friend has come to mean an afternoon of tears. I shouldn't have spoken so much. What was I thinking? I try to talk only about the things that are interesting, but what would those be? My life is not interesting; my interests are not interesting. I'm looking for a way to tell her I can't do this anymore, a way that tells her how grateful I am for her forbearance and that I enjoy listening to her, but I'm afraid: afraid of hurting her and afraid of crying. I don't know what to do.

*Venus Flytrap
carose59: friendships gone wrong (and my poetry to protect me)
"OK, I'm Glad You Had This Little Talk With Yourself."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

There used to be a show called The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, starring Blair Brown. It started off on NBC, but was cancelled; then it was picked up by Lifetime. We first watched it because it looked interesting, but the tone was discordant. Then I found out David Strathairn was on it (he wasn't to begin with) and we started watching it again.

David Strathairn played Moss Goodman. He hires Molly to work in his bookstore and they become romantically involved. He was strange and shy and awkward—probably somewhere on the autistic spectrum. When Molly says she wants to talk to him and he thinks it's about their relationship, he can't look at her, he wants to go out to buy bagels. When she tells him she wants a raise, he brightens up—he's happy to give her a raise, he just can't talk about emotional stuff. When pressed, he tells her a story about how, when he was nine, he saw Ingrid Bergman bathing outdoors, and how he had thought that was the most beautiful thing he'd ever see until he met Molly.

Throughout this you can see Molly's impatience. Why is he telling her this story about Ingrid Bergman? Is it even a true story? Finally, she becomes interested, involved, and when he gets to the end, the part about her, charmed, touched.

That happened because this is a TV show.

When I was a little girl, this was my favorite joke:

Who's there?
Apple who?
Who's there?
Apple who?
Who's there?
Apple who?
Who's there?
Apple who?
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad apple went away?

I loved this joke, but I seldom told it. At a very early age I understood that what made the joke funny was apple being annoying. If you only did the apple part a couple of times, the joke wasn't as funny; the more you could do the apple part, the funnier the punchline was. I knew this at seven, eight years old.

I also knew nobody would let me tell it right. Nobody would listen long enough.

Nothing has changed.

I used to think the writers of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd weren't very good. When Molly first started working for Moss, she liked his strangeness. They'd spend days in the bookstore just reading, not talking to each other, just being together in their books. Then she became impatient with him, constantly annoyed because he was the same person she'd liked. I couldn't figure out what was going on; it seemed abrupt and badly written.

Maybe it was. But it's also what's usually happened to me.

*Lance Sweets
carose59: the Algonquin Round table (by that time i was too famous)

by Franklin Pierce Adams

On the way to my daily occupation,
Passing adown a chill, a dark way,
Entered I into the subway station
Known as Cathedral Parkway.

Ride who will on the elevated,
Tramp who will on the open road,
I took the subway, be it stated
It's nearest to my abode.

Life, I thought, is a game of cricket;
Life, I mused, is a thing alive.
I bought a ticket, I bought a ticket;
I think that I purchased five.

Those are the things that seethe and foment;
Those are the things that weight my brow —
Not that I think they're of any moment,
But Poetry's like that now.

I waited six minutes upon that landing,
And at 9:42 I took an express;
Women and men were seated and standing,
Thinking of things, I guess.

And I looked over a gentleman's shoulder —
He was probably forty-six years of age —
And read — though he may have been six months older —
All of the Times front page.

But something happened on which I reckoned
Not I was reading, I said, the Times,
When the gentleman got off at Seventy-Second,
So I stood thinking of rhymes.

There were many persons standing near me,
Dull appearing and silly of face;
But in modern poetry, thought I, dear me!
Nothing is commonplace.

If I describe them, not acutely,
Telling, at length, what clothes they wear,
Manneredly, prosily, overminutely —
Merely that they were there.

I shall achieve quite a reputation
For seeing the Calm above the Strife;
I'll be a Poet of Observation,
One who has Looked on Life;

One who can give interpretation,
One to invest the crude with grace,
One to — but then I reached my station.
It was, I recall, Park Place.

And I walked to the office, far from skittish,
(I walk that way, as a general rule),
And I wished, I wished I were one of the British
Bards of the modern school.

A bard who could take his pen and ink it,
Listing things in a one-two-three
Order, till critics and men would think it
Utterest poetry.

Oh for the storms of wild applause it
Would receive from the human race,
Most of whom'd think it was great because it
Merely was commonplace.

Still, on my way to my occupation,
Passed I adown a chill, a dark way.
Entered I into the subway station
Known as Cathedral Parkway.
carose59: friendships gone wrong (and my poetry to protect me)
The Problem Is Invisible, So It Doesn't Make Sense, So It Must Not Be Really Happening.*

-:- -:- -:-

This is the only way I know to keep this crap from building up and eating me up from the inside. Sometimes I just have to scream. This is me screaming.

I never set out to write for strangers.

When I was a kid, I wrote because there were always stories in my head. I couldn't finish them; there were too many stories, and too much blank paper, and I was a kid.

I wrote for my friends, when I had friends. When I had friends, I had friends who liked stories. Mostly the stories were fan fiction: The Mod Squad, The Partridge Family, other things I can't think of right now.

I didn't write much in high school, and no fan fiction. But I was still writing for my friends. Even when I had no friends, I was writing for my friends.

When I met Pat, I wrote for Pat.

For a long time, I didn't write at all, not on paper. There were stories, but they were stories Pat and I created together. Our life was a story we created together—a lot of stories, really. That's not a metaphor. With Pat, I've been everything I ever wanted to be.

Then, a friend at work brought in a zine.

There were stories to write.

For the first time, I wanted to write for a reason that wasn't about having friends. I wrote because if I wrote—and wrote well enough—I could have stories to read. I wrote because I was broke, and writing and getting trib copies was cheaper than buying zines.

That worked out great, and along with the zines, something unexpected happened: I got friends.

I don't do well with friends. I never have.

Eventually, one of my friends turned on another of my friends. Ugly stuff happened. Sides were taken**, and I was on the unpopular one, the one that left me out in the cold.

I wrote a whole novel in a fandom nobody else cared about, but there was always Pat, and she would go anywhere with me. There was always Pat, and there were always our stories together.

Onto a new fandom, one that wasn't new in the sense of just starting, just new for me. A lot of people had loved it, but they'd said all they had to say about it. But I kept writing, and my friends liked my stories. And Pat liked my stories.

Then the world ended: Pat died. Let me rephrase: worlds ended. All our worlds.

And people moved on.

They still liked my stories, but that was all. I wasn't a part of it.

"Please, just put down the stories and leave quietly."

I don't blame them; honestly, if I could get away from me, don't you think I would? But I can't.

And somehow, I'm an unreasonable bitch because I won't just hand over parts of myself.

If I wrote for strangers for money, that would be reasonable.

If I wrote for friends, to make them happy, that would be reasonable.

But I can't find a single thing that's reasonable about writing for strangers for nothing. If people wanted my stories, they should have pretended to like me.***

*Aaron Raz Link

**If two of your friends have a falling out and you drop one of them because you “don’t want to get involved,” you have chosen a side. Also, you're a coward.

***I have been accused of trying to replace Pat because I want someone to fucking talk to me when they like something I've written. This is like telling someone who has turned on a lamp that they're trying to replace the sun.

Posted simultaneously on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth

A Day in Late September

Saturday, 18 July 2009 11:49 am
carose59: friendships gone wrong (and my poetry to protect me)
The final chapter of my personal fannish history: an overview.

"I Am Insane, And You Are My Insanity."*

-:- -:- -:-

Part Three: Believing lies
Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.**
You tell lies thinking I can't see,
You can't cry 'cause you're laughing at me.***

[Spoiler alert: if you haven't read my story A View to a Kill and you're thinking of doing so, don't read this until you have. (I'll be posting it over on my fiction LJ soon.) If you have read it and found it disturbing, you might want to skip this part, too. Because what you've read isn't the original story, it's my edit, which toned it down significantly.]

I watch Gaslight every time it comes on, to remind myself that I didn't lose the broach, or move the painting, or take the pocket watch. I do it to remind myself that no matter how little I feel I understand reality, I am most definitely in touch with it. And that no matter how many times people act as though my being a diagnosed crazy person means I can't be trusted to look at a clock and tell the correct time, the truth of the matter is, I'm more logical and pragmatic than most of them. And if they're simultaneously being unkind to me and questioning my sanity, they probably have an agenda of their own.

There were a couple of novels I just listened to, about a cop and the female serial killer he was pursuing. Only she caught him and tortured him for days until she finally killed him--and then resuscitated him. Eventually he was rescued and she was imprisoned, but he couldn't put his life back together. She was all he could think about, and every Sunday he would go out to visit her, on the pretext that she was giving him the names of her other victims, but that wasn't why he went. He needed to see her. They had become entwined in some kind of unhealthy fleurs du mal , and even though his wife wanted him back, and his partner loved him enough to do anything for him, the healthy world couldn't sustain him. He'd become addicted to her sickness as surely as he was addicted to pain-killers.

Sometimes that's how I feel about Ioannia.

It isn't that I didn't know she was lying to me--there were things she said that were too far-fetched to be believed even if I'd wanted to, and they were nudged further to the edge of unbelievability by the lies I could prove were lies: the Christmas present she claimed to have sent, which not only never arrived, but which she didn't investigate the mysterious disappearance of. The times she'd say she was getting a phone call from someone else, only to claim the next time we talked that she hadn't spoken to that person in months, couldn't get a hold of her. She didn't bother to keep her story straight. Why should she? I wanted to believe her, and she's an expert bully. Any questions would be overridden with what a bad friend I was compared to everyone else she knew.

And it wasn't as though she actually listened to me. Hour-long, two hours-long conversations we'd have, with her telling me how she'd spent the afternoon at a neighbor's house, polishing the woman's diamonds. It made me think of a stoned Johnny Fever staring at his palm and asking, "Did you ever really get into your hand?" Or contradictory stories about her life that made her sound like a combination of Mary Sue and the heroine of The Burning Bed.

I knew she was a liar and a bully, I knew that she wasn't interested in me, and that she was trying to make me paranoid, alienate me from Starsky & Hutch fandom (which I was dabbling in again). That last part seemed a fool's errand since I was already nicely alienated from Starsky & Hutch fandom, but it was interesting to watch. I have no doubt she would have tried to alienate me from all of fandom, if she could have, only she didn't know the people I knew, and that made it harder. (She used to tell me about the Starsky & Hutch people talking about me, which should have made me paranoid, but I was just bemused. None of the people she mentioned were people I knew, or at the most, had met briefly at MediaWest. I'd wonder what they could be saying about me, not knowing me either. But I didn't care.)

We wrote a story together, a Wiseguy/Starsky & Hutch crossover called A View to a Kill. It's conception was an IM conversation where the idea came up of Hutch going to Sonny to get help killing Gunther after Starsky's death in Sweet Revenge. I was terribly excited about this, and we decided to write it together. I promptly went off and wrote a bunch of it, gave it a lick and a promise edit, and sent what I had off to Ioannia.

For a while, everything went all right. Ioannia wrote parts and I wrote parts. Then . . . she told me she was writing parts, but she never sent them to me. I got very confused about what I was supposed to be writing, so I stopped, waiting for her to send me her parts.

That didn't happen. And then it didn't matter, because Pat died. (I know, Pat died at the end of Part Two. But there's overlap. We started the story in March and Pat died in June.)

That was really when Ioannia stepped up her--attack? Seduction? Some kind of combination of the two? Before she had been like Glinda, floating in in her pink bubble, the disappearing, and while I wanted to spend more time with her, I was busy.

After Pat died-- Well. Ioannia assured me she was the only one who understood what I was going through, and even though it was very clear from the things she said that she had no idea what I was going through, she was the one I was talking to on a regular basis. I got lots of calls and cards the day and the day after Pat died, and then I never again heard from most of those people. I don't blame them. We weren't friends.

I wanted what she said to be true.

I was amazed to find out that I could still write, even with Pat dead. And I wanted to write something hard. (Since Pat's death, I've found I have no patience for soft stories anymore. The gentle stories with the happy or poignant endings annoy me even to think about. To comfort myself, I watch The Manchurian Candidate, and Mildred Pierce, Gaslight and Panic Room. I'd rather watch terrible things happen to people. [That's not completely true. I still love The Big Chill, and all the other movies that I've already seen, where I know the people. But I don't want to meet any new happy people.])

The hardest thing I could think of to write was the A View to a Kill, so I took it out, asked Ioannia to send me what she had so I could piece it together, then we could finish it, or I'd finish it. Whatever.

After that we worked together smoothly. The only problem (for me) came when Ioannia sent me Frank's murder and the aftermath. Hutch had cut out Frank's tongue and skinned him alive.

Are you horrified? I was horrified. It wasn't something I would ever write, or ever want in a story with my name on it. But in all writing collaborations, the other writer always comes first with me, which is one reason I wonder if I'm a real writer. I told her it was horrifying, but I didn't tell her it was horrifying in a bad way.

We finished the story.

It was a beautiful autumn day, and I was terribly happy. We came up with a pseudonym which I could find if I looked for it, but which I don't remember right off-hand. The story was incendiary--Hutch murders two FBI agents, two heroes from Wiseguy; he sleeps with Sonny Steelgrave; and Starsky is dead. Oh, and he dies in the end. Incendiary.

We sent it off to Flamingo for submission to one if her Dangerous zines. I sent it. From a yahoo account made up just for that purpose. As far as I knew, there had been four people who knew about the story before I sent it out: Ioannia, my friend from Twin Peaks, Pat, and myself. I talked to Ioannia later that day, and I was giddy about it all. She was supportive, but while I called it our story, she always called it my story. From the moment I sent it to Flamingo, in every conversation we had, she disavowed any responsibility for A View to a Kill. When I'd correct her, say that she'd written fifty percent of it, she'd demur and insist it was all me. I think it was supposed to sound like modesty, but I was just confused, and wary.

Flamingo was very interested in the story, wanted it very much. There was a SHareCon that fall, and I went to it (and things went about as badly as they could have without me ending up dead or in prison), but at one point Flamingo asked me if I would read over a story she'd had submitted. It was a crossover with Wiseguy, and she needed someone who knew the universe. Oh, and was it all right if it was dark? Because this thing was ultraviolet.

I had no idea how to react to this. My purpose in the pseudonym was to protect myself from the fallout I was afraid was going to come my way, and to have it judged on its own merit, with out the baggage of my name. (I'm using the first person singular here because I can't tell you what Ioannia's motives were.) I hadn't set out to deceive Flamingo, it was simply a byproduct of keeping myself safe. (I've always wanted to like Flamingo, but I've always had the feeling she was . . . impatient with me. And I did want her to read the story cold, without knowing I'd written it.)

I never heard from her about it again. The few times I talked to Ioannia where the story was brought up, she insisted it was my story, she hadn't written any of it, it was mine, mine, all mine. And like I said, it made me wary.

My "friendship" with Ioannia had ended with her telling me what a selfish, self-centered person I was because I didn't ask about her cancer every time we talked. (Did she have cancer? I have no idea. She told me she did. When she told me she'd been diagnosed, I sent her roses. But now, a few months later, I "had never acknowledged her cancer" and was self-centered because I didn't start all my conversations with her with, "How's your cancer?" I had foolishly thought that starting a conversation with "How are you?" meant the other person could answer as they chose, and that if she'd wanted to talk about her cancer, she would have. Instead she told me about various sordid encounters she'd had with a particular TV star, his personal life, and her unhealthy (her word) preoccupation with him. She also accused me of talking about her behind her back, that I "multi-tasked too much" and had sent her IMs meant for other people. Since I knew I hadn't been IMing with anybody else, I knew this was a lie. I didn't bother to defend myself. I almost never can. My first reaction to this kind of thing is to make it stop so I can go someplace safe and think about it. All she did was scream at me some more, claimed I was threatening her, and told me that no matter how badly I behaved, everyone would still love me. (I can't explain how ominous this sounded, like the sort of thing a cult leader would say to someone who was trying to escape.) Finally she said she was too busy for this and we'd talk later. I knew later wasn't ever going to come. I wrote a long rebuttal to everything she'd said, but I never did anything with it, and it's very possibly gone now, stolen with the iBook.

The story was still out there, unpublished. Eventually it was coming close to the time the zine was to be published but I hadn't heard anything about the story--not me, not me under the pseudonym. I had assumed some edits would be necessary, so I contacted Flamingo from the yahoo email. There had been a death in her family and she was running behind on the zine. But she sent it to me, with some questions.

Perfectly valid questions they were, and I fixed the parts that I'd written. But there was a problem with the ending, with the way Hutch died. I hadn't chosen his method of death, so I had no answer for this question.

I called Ioannia and got no answer. I left a message--I probably left several messages, until I got to the last message which boiled down to, "I don't know how to answer this question, so I'm just going to change the ending."

That got her attention. She called me back, and once again acted as though she had no idea what I was talking about with trying to edit "her" part of the story, because there was no "her" part of the story. It was all mine.

I was at work when she called and didn't have time for this bullshit, so I told her I'd see her online that evening.

That evening I had one of the most singularly bizarre conversations of my life. Ioannia kept insisting that "it" wasn't hers, that she'd contributed a word here and there, but that was all. So I asked her to please be specific about what "it" she was talking about. I wanted her to officially disavow all rights and responsibilities to A View to a Kill, but she wouldn't do that. Instead she got on her paranoid horse and rode like mad, claiming I was threatening her and that I had always been like this, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Finally I told her that if she really believed she hadn't written any of the story--though by my count, she was responsible for approximately half of it--I was going to have to re-write the parts she'd written. She wanted to know why, and I told her I couldn't publish something, purporting it to be mine, when I hadn't written it. She continued to say she hadn't written any of "it" and continued to refuse to specify what "it" was.

Eventually I called April and told her the whole story, because I knew I was going to have to tell Flamingo everything that had happened, and I was very nervous and unhappy. I hate lying to people, and I felt I'd done something--I felt I'd betrayed her, betrayed her trust. Talking to April calmed me down, and I called Flamingo and told her the whole story.

Except she already knew that I'd written the story. What I remember is her telling me that she'd read part of it that I'd sent to StargalE.

Which I had never done. I'd never sent anybody anything, except Ioannia. And if I was going to send it to anybody, it wouldn't have been StargalE, who had, just a few months before Pat's death, accused me of endangering her health with my lousy housekeeping. That accusation still haunts me. We weren't even on speaking terms at that point because she was insisting I needed therapy (because it was helping her so much) and I was dubious about the usefulness of therapy, at least for me. (By the way, that's still true. I love Diane, but I'm not seeing her to try to fix myself, I'm seeing her so I have a support system when my mother dies. She's my emotional insurance policy. And it is nice having someone to talk to, and I use her as a reality check. But as a far as breakthroughs in understanding myself go, I make those here, or when I'm out walking.)

Anyway, that explained why Flamingo hadn't sent me the story to read over for her. She had assumed that I'd just wanted to use a pseudonym, and she was respecting that. I don't know if she knew I hadn't written it alone; I can't remember. I was so upset, my mind wasn't absorbing information properly.

I told her that I was going to have to make substantial edits, which seemed to displease her--she liked the story the way it was--but I told her I was not going to have a story published under "my" name that wasn't entirely my story. This was a Thursday, I remember that, and I told her I'd have the story finished by Monday.

And I did. There were a few small things that were Ioannia's that I left as they were, but by the time I was done, it was my story. I pretty much just cut the scene of Hutch killing Frank, leaving it to the reader's imagination. No skinning. No tongue being cut out. No nothing I wouldn't be proud to have in a story. I got it in on time, and with the pseudonym of Paula Alquist, Ingrid Bergman's name in Gaslight.

When I started writing this, I contacted both Flamingo and StargalE, to see if I could get some clarifications as to what exactly happened. Flamingo gave me a little information, but claims not to remember exactly what happens, and says of Ioannia, "[Ioannia's] view of the truth or of the way events happens rarely jibes with anyone else's. Hers is a fluid, creative reality. Trust your memories over anything she might tell you." Which is a nice way of saying she's a liar and not to be trusted.

StargalE has not only not answered my request that we talk, she's blocked me on AIM. (I have to confess, that makes me feel good in a mean way. I like the idea of her hiding from me, even if it's only because I'm bothersome and not because she's ashamed.) I've also sent her several emails, which she has not answered.

Of course, there's no advantage to any of them to tell me the truth anyway, so even asking the questions are just a waste of time.

I'm not trying to blame my lousy track record with friends on fandom; I had a lousy track record long before I found "organized" fandom. Friend-wise I'm attracted to control freaks and women who are either very busy or have short attention spans. The control freak thing is an attempt at finding someone who can help to organize me, and the other is distant women. I lost so much attention from my mother and grandmother and aunt, all at the same time, and I've been trying to get it back ever since. Someone like Pat, who was very much not distant, couldn't make up for that. I'm trying to win the attention of someone too busy to give it to me. This is not fandom's fault.

My point was to show that fandom isn't any different that the rest of the world. It isn't a safe haven where your own personal problems will be coddled by everyone else. It just feels that way, for several reasons.

One thing [personal profile] melodyclark said in response to my first post was, Fandom is like everywhere else. The difference is that it brings tons of emotion and, in the case of erotica-laced fandoms, tons of sexual energy into the fray. She went on to elaborate that the sexual energy is there even in gen fandoms. We're caught up in these fictional relationships that contain so much intensity, and to varying degrees we're living vicariously through them. It makes the real relationships we make just that much more intense, and therefore more painful when the nice show Starsky & Hutch has mean fans.

Another reason is that for so long, fandom was like a speakeasy, where you had to know someone who knew someone to get in. That's changing, but until media fans are seen as as ordinary as a sewing circle, we're still going to have that feeling of drawing together in a world that doesn't understand us. The assumption there is that we understand each other--and we do. We understand that we all consider some form of media very, very important, and we become emotionally invested in the relationships of the characters.

And that's as far as I'd say any real, across the board understanding goes--and I wouldn't be surprised to find out I'm wrong about that. Some writers understand why I write, but not all of them. Some non-writers probably understand, too. Trying to create a ven diagram of fans who understand each other in one way and not in another probably wouldn't be any easier than doing the same thing for the population of the United States.

Fans are not better than other people. Fandom is not the nicest place in the world. Every time I read someone talking about how some of their fan friends have done something wonderful for them, and then saying how nice fandom is, I feel like screaming. It's not because they're fans, it's because they're your friends! And your friends are supposed to treat you well.

*James Cole
**Little Lies, Fleetwood Mac
***I'm Down, The Beatles
carose59: fandom (the lunatic fringe begins here)

"Hate Is A Prison. But You Know What, Rick? Prison Is A Prison, Too."*

-:- -:- -:-

Part Two: Strange in a stranger land

As I said, without Starsky & Hutch fandom, I felt like the man without a country. I had loved that fandom and those people so much, but they were so intertwined, I couldn't unravel the love of the show from the disconnect from the people. For a long time, I kept writing and submitting stories, even though I never read the zines I got. I was writing because it's what I do. Eventually I was overtaken by anger--I didn't want the people who had exiled me reading my words! and I finally stopped writing Starsky & Hutch.

Then, quite by accident, I stumbled across Twin Peaks.

I loved Twin Peaks, and I loved writing my novel, but it was lonely there. If there were slash fans, I couldn't find them. I missed having a peer group. I wanted some friends to jump off a cliff with.

And once I'd finished the novel, I didn't have much more to say about Twin Peaks, so by that time I was ready to fall in love with a new fandom.

April introduced me to Wiseguy, and I was hooked. And it was so exciting to be in the same fandom with her again, and I knew other people were in it, at least one a very good friend. This was going to be great.

I met Ninon de Lenclos right away, and we seemed very compatible. (That is, she was an organized control freak and I was me.) I started into a hypo-manic state and felt the need to redefine some old relationships that were making me unhappy. Ninon encouraged this--until I wanted to redefine our relationship. (It's been my experience that people always want you to stand up for yourself unless it's them you're standing up to.)

Long, long, really long aside: There are many things I don't care about. For example, I'd rather go to a restaurant I don't like with a person I do like than to a restaurant I do like by myself. I don't mean I don't like to eat alone, I mean I can eat alone wherever I want to, and I'll give up going someplace I like to spend time with somebody I like. People come before stuff.

So I have this tendency, when I make a new friend, to go along with what they want, particularly if it's something I have no feelings about. So for a long time Ninon and I (metaphorically) went out to eat regularly, with her always choosing where we would go and me not caring. She always had logical reasons for her choices. I'm a great believer in logic, but I think one of the most logical things you can do is do things you enjoy. This went on for a while until I said I wanted to eat someplace different. And my reason wasn't logical.

Now, I have this foolish idea that if I let the other person have their way repeatedly--and without question--it's not unreasonable for me to ask to have my way occasionally--and without argument. I see it as a matter of taking turns, and I've allowed them to have numerous turns without taking one. I should be allowed to have my turn, too.

This is not true. Other people see this as suddenly changing the rules on them, and they get really upset about it. This is especially true of control freaks. When I raised this point, I had my manic-depression used against me. I was crazy, so anything I said that Ninon didn't want to hear could be dismissed.

(It has also been my experience that most people value the thing over the person. That is, if I tell someone about something is important to me and they can't find any intrinsic value in that thing, my attachment to it is illogical and can be dismissed. But I learned from my mother to value the person over the thing. If something is important to someone, and that someone is important to me, then that something is, by extension, important. Fans are good at transcending this as far as TV shows and movies go, but my experience has been that other than that they aren't much better than anyone else. It's important to me is not a good enough reason.)

I don't want to make it sound as though things were always bad with Ninon; it's just that that's what I'm writing about here. And even before there were problems between us, there were problems.

Before all of this, when things were good between us, virtually none of my old friend could stand her (for reasons that had nothing to do with anything I've written here), and I was dissuaded from being friends with her. She wasn't supposed to come to our room at Media*West--though I don't recall ever being asked by a roommate if I minded who they brought to the room, and sometimes I did mind. Once again I was being put in the position of "her or us," and once again, I chose her. I always do. It's not about being right, it's about being loyal. And what was I supposed to say to Ninon? "I'm sorry, I can't be friends with you anymore, my other friends don't like you"? Really?

With my older friends now distant, I had no one to turn to when things got bad with Ninon. She didn't like the way I wrote. Not what I wrote; my writing habits. I was too undisciplined, I wanted to play, I didn't get down to work. We were writing together at this time.

Very true. If writing had been hard for me, I never would have started it. I don't have the discipline or the focus. And for me, writing is play, particularly writing fan fiction. If it wasn't fun, I couldn't see the point. We'd have these arguments where I'd feel like I was in a Laugh-in sketch. Sid Caesar and Henry Gibson were oarsmen on a Viking ship, and Sid says to Henry, "I've never been on one of these cruises before. How much do you tip the guy with the whip?" It got to be where I was wrong about everything, and I was still supposed to tip the guy with the whip.

(Are you wondering where Pat was in all this? She was right there with me. The problem was, Pat was--

Have you ever watched Burn Notice? Pat was Fiona. Somebody hurt my feelings? Let's blow them up! This was fine if we were talking about my arch nemesis, but when I was just having what I believed was a temporary problem with someone I wanted to stay friends with, I'd have to keep the details to myself, or Pat would be out mailing off pipe bombs to people who'd made me cry. I spent a lot of time talking her down.)

Besides the problems with Ninon, there was the little fact that there really wasn't a Wiseguy fandom anymore. There were people who were still very fond of the show, and were happy to read my stories, but I was in the first throes of love, and there was no one but Pat to share that with. The friend who had gotten me into Wiseguy in May was onto something else by October, and disappointed in me for not following her, which really got my back up. Still, it was satisfying writing the stories; the characters resonated with me in a way Starsky & Hutch never had. They still do.

I don't remember how things fell apart with Ninon. I know it was before my father died, because I contacted her to let her know. I did it because you have to. If you don't, it's weird later. I told her when Pat died, too.

After Pat died, everything was different.

*Charlie Crews

Talky meat

Thursday, 16 July 2009 11:27 am
carose59: fandom (the lunatic fringe begins here)

That Is One Last Thing To Remember: Writers Are Always Selling Somebody Out.*

-:- -:- -:-

This has been slithering around my mind ever since the warnings war started--well, really before that, but the warnings war caused it to coalesce. It's not about warnings, it's about some of my experiences in fandom and why I now see it the way I do. I want to stop thinking about it, so I've decided to write it down once and for all. It's an epic in three parts. Names are kind of an issue, not because I don't want to use them but because I feel I shouldn't. On the other hand, if I don't use some names, it's going to get very complicated to try to tell this story. So where possible, I'm going to use writing pseudonyms and screen names. It's the story of my time as a domesticated fan, and it's mostly bad stuff. The reason is that this is the story I want to tell, the slithery pieces that won't leave my mind, that I'm hoping to exorcise. I would tell the whole story, good and bad, but it would be much, much more than three parts, and would be very hard because I don't remember them chronologically. The bad parts make a story; the good parts are separate anecdotes, if that. So often the good parts are so of the moment, they don't even make good anecdotes.

My personal fannish history: an overview.

Part One: The side effects of idealism

I'd never had a peer group before I found fandom when I was twenty-nine. That is, if you consider a peer group the people you'd jump off a cliff if they were doing it. There wasn't any group I belonged to, and most of the few friends I made eventually dumped me.

The one who didn't was my friend off and on from the first grade 'til after high school. She was my first control freak. Eventually--

Well, it seemed as though I was the only part of her life that she had any control over, which became stifling for me, and I had to get out of the friendship. I still miss her, and I still feel guilty about leaving her.

So, fandom. I was asked to come to the first SHareCon. I'd already been sending submissions to the Starsky & Hutch APA** and the letterzine Friendz. And I'd submitted a story to a new Starsky & Hutch zine, and was considered pretty impressive not so much because my writing was good but because when I was told my story needed edits, I did them and sent the story back the next day. I knew how to take an edit, and I understood what to do with it. So as a writer, I was very welcome in fandom. I don't really know the other reasons people were anxious to meet me in person. Like my mother, I seem to attract people. Unlike my mother, I seem unable to hold onto them.

The last time in my life that someone had sought out my company was when Pat came over to me the first day of library-whatever class and asked if she could sit with me. That was eleven years earlier.

That SHareCon was not pure, unadulterated bliss. The vid to Lost Emotions premiered there, and if you haven't seen it--well, it's very emotionally intense, and because it was new, it was played over and over and over again. If it hadn't been my first con where I actually knew people, I would have just let go and cried, but I was trying to make a good impression.

Right up until Saturday, when my meltdown started. A bunch of us went over to the mall, and I went into the restroom at Sears and cried for a while, then when I got back to the hotel, I locked myself in the bedroom with Pat and sobbed hysterically for a couple of hours. It wasn't that anyone had been unkind to me, I was simply emotionally overwhelmed, and the Prozac I'd been taking for about six months was losing its effectiveness.

After that, things were better. And the upshot was that I made some friends and left feeling that I was a part of something. It had been a very long time since I'd felt that way.

Things were good for me for quite a while. I wrote stories and they got published and I got free zines. Pat and I went to cons and hung out with our new friends. We talked on the phone with them for hours. I used to cold-call new fans and welcome them to Starsky & Hutch fandom. Things were very good. I didn't notice the storm warnings.

The publisher of Frienz (hereafter known as PtE) became a very close friend of ours, as did April Valentine, who was at that point practically the only one publishing Starsky & Hutch zines.

PtE lived fairly close to us--one state over--and she used to come and stay for long weekends. Long as in Thursday to the following Tuesday. (That is a long weekend, Alan.) We had a lot of fun together, and she and I had a lot in common because she had started having panic attacks as well. We put out a small zine together. I trusted her.

Then--and some of this is what I was told, because I wasn't really paying attention--she put out an issue of Frienz soliciting criticism of ZebraCon and the women who put it on. The reason for this, I was told, was that she didn't get her membership dues paid on time and was put on a waiting list and was pissed off about it because she was the editor of Frienz and should automatically get a membership. I don't know if this is true--the reasoning, that is. The edition calling for criticism of ZebraCon was real, and the subsequent issue with the criticisms was real. (I remember my reaction being one of relief because I'd never liked ZCon. There was a vibe that made me edgy, and I'd twice moved up the departure time, once because I started crying and couldn't stop. If you're thinking there's a theme here, you're right, but it's the theme of my life, not of going to cons.)

Anyway, this didn't make any impression on me. I didn't find out until later that PtE had sent a copy of the zine to the head of the concomm--who was not a subscriber. Just a friendly little missive about what people didn't like about her con.

Later she did the same thing with April Valentine because April was, you might say, less than punctual about getting zines mailed out. I've been saying for years that April was a slot machine: sometimes you paid and got a zine; sometimes you paid and didn't get a zine, and sometimes you didn't pay [your check wasn't cashed] and you still got a zine. I don't think there's any argument about whether that's any way to run a railroad, but to try to turn it into deliberate, callous fraud is ridiculous.

I was expected to pick up my pitchfork and join the mob. Only I wouldn't do it. I had a long, tear-filled conversation with PtE, and another with another friend, both of them trying to convince me that I needed to lynch my friend for the good of fandom.

Instead I wrote a long, impassioned defense of her.

Strangely, my letter didn't get published in the zine.

I called PtE and asked her just what had happened, and when she claimed it hadn't arrived, I asked her who she thought she was fooling. If she was seriously asking for people to talk about their experiences, then all experiences should qualify; otherwise she was nothing but a hypocrite.

She sent out my letter by itself as an addendum. Not that it mattered, except as being the hammer that pounded in the nails to my coffin in fandom.

There were a couple of people who stayed my friends. There was one person--PtE--I never spoke to again. And then there was the rest of SH fandom, who said they weren't taking sides. From what I could tell, not taking sides meant getting as far away from me and Pat and April as they could. Starsky & Hutch fandom went on, but there was a nasty edge to it.

Bunker mentality reigned. Pat and I fell into Twin Peaks fandom, and there I met someone who became a true friend, someone who had nothing to do with the ugliness going on in Starsky & Hutch fandom. I ended up writing a Twin Peaks novel, but mostly what I felt like was the man without a country. I was unwelcome in the friendliest fandom in . . . fandom. There were very few people in fandom I trusted.

End of Part One

*Joan Didion
**Amateur Press Association


Wednesday, 19 December 2007 01:28 pm
carose59: common unhappiness (empty and aching and i don't know why)
"A Lot Of People Are Dead. Eventually, Everyone."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Imagine you're on a boat, which is sailing away from the shore. You're watching as the places and people you used to live in and with and amongst gradually disappear as the boat moves farther and farther away. Eventually, all you can see is water.

Now, imagine that you're not on a boat, but this is happening anyway. Only it's not that you can't see them; you just can't remember why you wanted to see them. You look at a favorite sweater and you cannot remember why you loved it. You buy a favorite food, but you don't cook it because the preparation is just too much trouble; it isn't worth the bother. People around you are amusing, but you have to force yourself to pretend laughter, the movies you used to love seem too long, too familiar—just dull. And don't even get me started about that whole reading thing. What was fun about that, anyway?

You're not sad. You're not unhappy. Things feel fine, sort of. They don't hurt, anyway. They mostly don't feel like anything. Sleep is good, and sex is still the same, and there are moments of soaring exhilaration, but they come for the most unlikely reasons: going out to clean the snow off the car, or folding laundry. You haven't stopped laughing, but you're pretty much laughing only at your own private jokes, and that feels simultaneously giddy and terribly sad.

This is what's been happening to me for the last few months. Sunday night, I bundled up to go over and look the lights on Kildare. I walked to the corner, and I could see that the lights were on, but . . . it was cold out. I didn't want to walk that far.

'That far' is about a block. The day before, I walked two miles in a pretty good sized snow. My point is, it wasn't about the distance. I stand there and look at those lights and they're very pretty. But they mean nothing. I try to remember how it felt to love them, and there's nothing there.

It's like—and, I'm sorry, but it's always like. My brain always goes towards analogy. It's having a dream where you discover the meaning of everything. You wake up in the morning and for a few seconds you're really buzzed. You know the secret of everything!

And then you realize that "the secret of everything" in your dream was "postage stamp orange teddy bear cardboard wastebasket."

And that means what, now?

Nothing. No matter how many times you go over this marvelous revelation, there's nothing there.

New York is the same way. I've been watching Seinfeld lately, and there's a shot of the Empire State Building they use that used to fill me with longing. Now—nothing. It's a pretty shot, but—nothing.

(And I feel like such a fool for having rambled on about it so. It isn't my place; I have no right to love it. I've always felt that, but before I was so overwhelmed with feeling, I could barely contain it. Now that the feeling is gone, all that's left is the shame.)

On the plus side, I may have found a way of dealing with my fear of intersections.

Yes, I have a fear of intersections. I have this fear that I'll be driving through one and be broadsided, probably because the light changed suddenly. I started wondering if this was a manifestation of the other things I've been broadsided by in the last few years. So this morning when I was going through the scary ones, I started screaming out the emotional broadsidings I've experienced: Pat dying, Giovanna violating me, Susan betraying me—

It seemed to help, though I'm not sure if it was what I was screaming, or just the screaming that did it. I guess I'll know if I keep doing it and the fear goes away.

*Charlie Crews
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
Sometimes That Happens To You--You Think About the Wrong Thing, So You Won't Have To Think About the Right Thing.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

When it comes right down to it, when the entire world is falling apart and there is no reason left to go on living because it all hurts too much and there is no one left who cares, there is still one thing I can count on: my addiction to stories.

Not writing them. Reading them, or listening to them, or watching them on TV, or even going out of the house and paying to watch them in a movie theatre. Stories are the road out of my head, out of my life. It doesn't matter where they take me, as long as I don't bring back anything awful with me. (This is the reason I'm careful-ish about the scary stuff I subject myself to. Fear is fine, but I do not want to be grossed out to where the pictures or words in my head come back to keep me up night, or make me sick. It's happened before, and those images are still with me. I keep them back behind a lot of other things. I try to pretend they don't exist.)

Reading is a wonderful addiction. Not only do you get to get out of your own awful self, but you get points for it. People who disdain your addiction are the ones who are ridiculed by polite society, which is pretty cool.

Every time something falls apart, I find a story to escape into. The year Pat died, it was The Manchurian Candidate (followed closely by Panic Room, and Law and Order, which I watched compulsively). The stories themselves aren't comforting, but they're like big, fast boats that sailed quickly from the awfulness of real life to someplace compelling, someplace with other things to think about. Part of the key to denial is distraction; you have to keep looking away from what you're not looking at, you have to keep looking at other stuff, concentrating on it.

The summer Pat died, I listened to all the Spenser novels, in order. I also listened to all the Nero Wolfe books I could get on audio. I spent more time with Michael Prichard (who reads all the Nero Wolfe books, and a lot of the Spensers) than I did with everyone else I know put together. It was so incredibly comforting.

I still have the warmest memories of a book called The Stone Carnation. I was thirteen when I read it, and Michelle had stopped speaking to me again and I was bereft. And then I had this place to go, this escape that was mine alone; I was in a book. I was gone.

They called my grandmother Danny Dreamer (after a cartoon character) because she daydreamed so much. My mother's been telling me about all the stories that go on in her head, and my father used to talk about how, when he wasn't actually reading the book he was reading, he was thinking about the plot and the characters, and what might happen next. I've watched my uncle walk into a room, his eyes scanning for something to read, and the second he's sitting down, the book or newspaper or magazine is open and he's reading. Escape. Who wouldn't fly out the window, if they could?

Well, nobody in my family, that's for sure.

*Lauren Slater

Post Script:

Saturday, 27 December 2003 07:37 am
carose59: RSS (music set me on fire)
They're Talking About You, And It's Bringing Me Down.*

My dryer was delivered Friday morning.

And I went to the doctor, got myself a prescription (sinus infection, surprise, surprise). How much of this excess emotion is post-Christmas let-down and how much is just being sick? And how much is me just trying to self-destruct.

I had my first Christmas without my father, without his voice (with me being sick, I wouldn't've seen him—I haven't seen my mother—but I would have heard him wishing me a merry Christmas).

Christmas was also the only day I didn't get out to see the lights, the only day I didn't take your hand and lead you to those miracles of beauty.

Christmas I laid myself wide open, and spent the day waiting for the verdict, for judgement to be handed down—praying for absolution. Once again, I chose you over everything.

It would be easier to be quiet, of course. But I can't let myself be loved except for myself—I can't let myself be loved for lies—of commission, of omission, it doesn't matter. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth was burned into my mind at an early age, and while I'm not above prevarication, it's important to me now that the people I love see me, so I know that they love me (or don't).

When a guy moves into your head, you'd think he'd be perfect, you'd think he'd be like Heathcliff—

Wait. Heathcliff was perfect? Heathcliff was hardly perfect. He wasn't perfect either, the first guy I wanted so bad, back when I was in grade school—perhaps the least of His imperfections was that He never really saw me.

All right. You're not perfect. But you'd think, I'd think that if someone was living inside you, if your heart and your mind opened up like automatic doors, just slid asunder of their own volition, you'd think it would be to the arch-angel Gabriel, perfect and golden and perfect—

I went to NY in the middle of a manic episode, perhaps the first one I've ever had; perhaps the only one. (I only seem to be able to recognize them in retrospect.) And there, in your mother's home, I suddenly saw everything through your eyes. I was home, and I never wanted to leave.

Not leaving wasn't an option, of course. I left, I came back here, and I've stayed. I still dream of sitting at the kitchen table of your mother's home, having toast and tea for breakfast. Some nights I dream your dreams.

Since that summer, I've been different. There has been a second heart pounding in my chest. Except for moments of my own utter, dark despair, I've felt your breath fill my lungs, felt your blood in my veins. I've lived with a love for you so fierce it devours everything else inside me, and I feed it all I have with such joy it bewilders me.

I know how crazy people think I am because of this, people I've told more than the oblique accounts I tell here. I can't help that. I've been looking for someone who could believe with me, someone besides Pat (whom I could not live without, but who is so much a part of me it hardly counts as someone else). Every exposure of every intimate moment is another opportunity to be written off as crazy, or sick, or bad, or any combination thereof.

Until today. Oh, Jesus. Until today.

Today I opened up and Told All to Giovanna, and was embraced and kissed and petted and told I was not bad, or sick, or crazy. That same sweet understanding love I feel so strong from inside myself (from you), I felt from outside myself (from her).

I know there is nothing I could say that would make her leave me, and the security I feel is like love incarnate.

Which, when you think about it, is pretty much the perfect Christmas present.

All my love,

Monica Rose

*Take It On the Run,REO Speedwagon
carose59: NY, NY (it's also the portal of the bear)
"Yeah, Well, You Think Everything's Boring. You Know, I Mean You Wouldn't Say That If It Was the Lost Hope Diet."*

-:- -:- -:-

I want to die.

Or, as Millay put it, "I've a weary head, and I wish to be dead, but I do not want to die." Only I do want to die. I want to put my weary head down on a cool, cool pillow and never wake up again. I'm hurting in so many ways, an empty feeling that isn't really empty, it's overflowing with loneliness. Filled with nothing.

Much as I hate the big dramatic "you're too much trouble" scenes I've lived through more than once, what I think I hate more is the, "ignore her, maybe she'll go away" way of ending a friendship. If you can call it a friendship, though I always do, always. And the expressions of joy when we run into each other unexpectedly. "Oh, are you still on the planet?" OK, no one's ever said those words. But what else does it mean when someone who has no time for you seems so happy to see you? "I don't have a spare minute" means "I don't have a spare minute for you."

Obviously I'm doing something wrong. Why should this surprise me?

Couldn't I just stop? Go away, forget?

Next month, next month. I can see myself in New York (only I can't see New York), I can see myself on Celia's doorstep, knocking, but there is no reply.

I wrote her yesterday, hoping to sound . . . not crazy. Yeah, good luck with that. Not obsessive and strange, not a stalker, just a fan, and a friend. Does she think of me as a friend? Does she think of me at all?

I have to break down these walls. I guess I put them there, these self-conscious, don't-bother-anybody walls, but they are very much my mother's walls, and probably my grandmother's, too. Probably my great-grandmother brought them over with her from Switzerland. They're Swiss walls, do-not-disturb walls, only it's us straining not to disturb anybody else. I might as well be dead, if I'm not going to make a ripple in the water while I'm here. It's cold here on the mountain, it's lonely. I'm not Swiss enough for it.

I want to sleep. OK? Forget about dying, I just want to sleep, for a year, or two, or a million. And wake up feeling like I can talk, think, smile.

My anxieties are attaching to money (as I believe I have said) and I'm trying to detach them. I'm really afraid of being disappointed with Celia, of Pat having a bad time, of getting lost and never getting home again, of being arrested (for . . . ? Yeah, I don't know), of Something Bad Happening, the Something Bad that has been haunting me ever since the first Something Bad Happened when I was a little girl. Pre-emptive separation anxiety. If I was pretty, I wouldn't feel like this. (Do I believe that? It depends which part of my brain you talk to.)

There's fog today, and it's discombobulated the sparrows. They were tweeting and chirping, flying fretfully from one low-to-the-ground thing to another, afraid to go too high. I nearly got out of the car to join them.

*Michael, The Big Chill
carose59: friendships gone wrong (and my poetry to protect me)
Hitler Painted Roses*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Let's not be paranoid, shall we?

Well, I'm trying not to be, or overly sensitive, or whatever you want to call it.

I'm trying to deal with people who do not get my life telling me how bad it is, and the words feel like anti-prayers. Not curses, exactly, not wishes, but . . . bad vibes. (I'm still a flower-child; bad vibes is a perfectly acceptable term for a flower-child to use.)

I finally had to back off and stop talking about it, because the bad vibes were getting all over me (I know how it sounds!) and I couldn't take it. It was throwing my harmony off, kicking me out of tune with the Universe. (Yeah. I know. OK? But who else even has a vocabulary for these feelings?) But the need to defend my life is strong, even while the necessity makes me angry. I don't want anybody else's bad vibes all over my life, I've got enough negativity in my life.

But explaining gets me nowhere, and I have to absorb a terrible distortion of my life to even try, which eventually just gets too painful. No one has ever done this with stated intentions of hurt, but all that pain does make me wonder. And when I tell them it hurts, my pain is dismissed, which makes me wonder even more.

I need some flowers to put in my hair, need to sing a little, dance a little. Need to lie in the sunshine and mellow out, man.

*Title of a short story by Harlan Ellison

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