Wake me up, when this madness ends

There’s a Green Day song called “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”  Billie Joe Armstrong wrote it years after his father died of cancer.  It’s said that after his father’s funeral on September 1, 1982, Billie ran to his room and when his mother knocked on his door, he said, “Wake me up when September ends.”  Both of my parents are still alive (excuse me for a minute while I go knock on all the fucking wood), but I understand the sentiment.

September 2017 ended on Saturday.  I was awake for a lot of it, trying to become more #woke (yes, this is a joke in case you’re not sure).  I won’t tell you how I ended it because that’s not your fucking business, but I woke up in October hoping for a better rest of 2017.  Sunday was kind of a lost day for me, hanging out with the cats and making a list of what I want to do to help our country get better.  Jesus this sounds trite, but I did it while I was watching episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.  I had good intentions.  I made lists of the laundry I’m going to do when my washer/dryer arrive next Saturday.  I started planning out where I want to go to knock on doors.

I scrolled idly through twitter before bed, and I saw something about Las Vegas.  I didn’t see much, so I figured it was one of those small-type shootings where only one or two people died and went to bed.  Yes, it’s become that commonplace that I was like “oh, just another one of those,” and went to sleep.  When I woke up, I learned I was wrong.  I was terribly wrong.  As useless as they are, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the people who died.

I’m going stop for a second to remind you to not forget that Puerto Rico is without power.  Something like 55% of their population doesn’t have fresh water.  People are DYING every day.  Donate to reputable sources.  Las Vegas doesn’t need your cases of water.  They have water.  They have power.  The citizens of Puerto Rico are AMERICAN CITIZENS.  Do not forget.

Anyway, I woke up this morning and saw that 50 people had died in a mass shooting.  I immediately wondered what crazy fucking white man was responsible for this, and I was right.  Note that I use crazy in the “not diagnosed as mentally ill, but fucking crazy and I don’t know how else to put it” sense.  I listened to details from news sources while I was in the shower, and when I heard that it was at a music festival, I lost my shit.

You know how I feel about crowds.  You know how much I do love music festivals, even if I bitch about the lack of bathrooms.  I didn’t know the details yet.  I thought someone had gotten guns into a festival.  Turns out it was worse.

There were tens of thousands of people gathered to listen to their favorite artist, Jason Aldean.  I don’t know country music at all, but I know he’s a big deal, so the motherfucker who did this probably waited until Jason was on stage to make sure there was a big audience.  People who’d traveled from all over to see their favorite artist or even checking out someone they’d heard of but didn’t know.   And we know what happened.

This guy had 10 or 12 or 19 guns, depending on what you read.  And not simple handguns.  Rifles that he’d made fully automatic and could shoot what I presume are hundreds of rounds a minute.  There’s no way he could kill 59 people and counting and injure at least 519 more in such a short period of time without having altered the guns.  But WHY does one person own so many guns in the first place?

I have lots of friends who have guns.  Some of you hunt.  Some of you have them for protection.  If you hunt?  Prove to me that you need that gun for hunting and show me the freezer full of deer meat.  I don’t want to see a dead deer.  I want to see a freezer full of meat you’re going to fucking EAT.

Those of you who have it for protection?  Your side piece wouldn’t have done shit firing back at the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas.  So don’t give me that crap.  You have that gun because it makes you feel more safe.  I’m not sure how it makes you more safe.  I don’t think it does.  The person who wants to hurt you isn’t checking to see if you have a gun.

Let’s get back to Puerto Rico for a second though. THEY DO NOT HAVE ELECTRICITY OR WATER. Let’s work on that, okay?  Passing gun control laws ain’t gonna happen, so let us work on this instead for now.

What happened in Las Vegas is fucking tragic.  What’s still happening to our citizens in Puerto Rico is fucking tragic.  Show that you can care about both.

This madness isn’t going to end, but we can wake up.  Even if September ends.

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Baseball is ending, and I’m about done

Last year, I didn’t really watch the world series, even though my city was ALL ABOUT IT. I am not a Cubs fan, and that isn’t looking to change any time soon. If you don’t know why I’m not, feel free to ask me, and I’ll tell you all about it. It’s not a fun conversation, and if you “well, actually,” me on any of it, it will end our friendship.  You’ve been warned, though if this week is any indication, you probably don’t value my friendship too much anyway.

I understand that when people come to my city (a popular tourist destination), they don’t come here to see me.  I get that.  But if you come here and are just hanging out in my town being a tourist and can’t find thirty minutes to say hi?

It hurts my feelings.  I know you’re not here to see me.  You’re here to see the fun parts of Chicago.  I get that.  But I work downtown and traverse about half the length of the city to get home.  I’m flexible.  And I know that schedules don’t always work.  But if you tell me you’re here? And then don’t take a second to try to meet me?

I know this seems hypocritical when I go to the baseball cities and don’t see you if you live there, but I do try.  I invite you to the game.  Someone took me up on it this year.  Got her own damn ticket and met up with me.  Scared the hell out of me in the ballpark shop, and we went and watched some fucking baseball.  I will forever remember Arizona.

I’m usually in these cities for a day or less. If you can’t come to the game, or don’t seem receptive to meeting me for a minute I let it go,  Otherwise, I make plans to meet you for a drink unless I’m arriving late and leaving early the next morning.  I HAVE SAID HELLO TO PEOPLE FOR A MINUTE IN STARBUCKS, AND I HATE COFFEE.

I have a friend who I go to games with 4-5 times a year.  But I’ve discovered that she won’t invite me to games with her other friends.  I have no idea why, so I guess I’m embarrassing or something.   I kind of realized it last year, but it became obvious this year.  We had fun this year watching our teams be crap.  I hope you find someone else to go with.

“Elizabeth, you’re being petty and cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

I am. I admit it. I own up to it.  I always have.  I don’t want any of you to get too close.  It’s easier to be alone if you don’t let anyone close.

And besides:

I AM TIRED OF ASKING ALL OF YOU IF YOU WANT TO DO STUFF. You’re probably tired of me not committing to any of your stuff.  It’s literally not you.  It’s me.

The people that don’t ask me to do stuff aren’t the people who I’ve turned down, so it’s not you.  It’s me.  Oh.

Back to you coming to visit my city.  You can’t find a minute to meet up with me.  Fine.  I get it.  We’re not really friends.  You’re not someone I can count on.  Good to know.

It’s literally not you.  It’s me.  And I’m sorry.

CALL YOUR SENATORS THIS IS BULLSHIT

So you voted for Trump for any number of reasons that you want to tell me.  Great.  Good for you.  I do not fucking care. Quit Trumpslaining your actions to me. I don’t care. I’m done with you, even if you’re family. Blood may be thicker than water, but you don’t get to tell me why you did what you did and now tell me you love me and wish me a happy birthday.  Huge props to the person who’s sent me a birthday card for years and didn’t this year. I actually respect that.  I’m a little surprised you wished me a happy birthday on facebook.  I’m actually surprised you haven’t unfriended me yet with all of my, “foul language.”  And no, I won’t do you the favor of unfriending you.  Suffer. Or unfollow.  But know that you’re connected to me by blood.  Just as I am connected to you.

Yes, this has actually happened to me.  People know how I feel about this, and two people in my life have tried to justify this fuckery.  The fact that they voted for this.  That, in my mind, they’re OKAY with this.  They don’t have the option of saying, “I didn’t want this,” because I yelled (admittedly not terribly loud) when Obama did shit I didn’t like.  Or even if I didn’t. What’s happening now is next level bullshit.  We can’t always yell super loud when the leader of our country does stupid shit.  Maybe we should.  I dunno.

Until now.  The person who is currently our president is a fucking JOKE. We are a joke. He is dangerous. And I do not fucking give one single shit about what you, you who voted for him, has to say now.

I don’t care.

I don’t give one single solitary fuck.  I don’t care if you’re a friend I’ve known since birth, I don’t fucking care if you’re related to me.  I. DO. NOT. CARE.

I especially don’t care if you’re related to me or someone who I considered a close friend.  Because if you’re in one of those two categories, then you especially can kiss my fat, white, mentally ill ASS.

Yes, I, your beloved or hated, elmtree, is mentally ill.  Bipolar.  General Anxiety. Social Anxiety.  But you already knew that, amirite?

 

I’m a pretty (not) solitary person, but sometimes I want to (not) be around people

If that title isn’t confusing, then I don’t know what is.  But it describes me perfectly.  Sometimes I want to be around ALL OF THE PEOPLE as long as I don’t know a fucking one of them.  Sometimes I want to be around NONE OF THE PEOPLE unless I know them very well.  And sometimes I just want to be left the fuck alone.

I can go days without speaking to people if I put my mind to it.  I’ll never forget a trip to Hawaii where I barely spoke to another human being unless it was my parents on the phone for about four days.  I said things like please and thank you, and I ordered meals in restaurants, but after I arrived in Kona, I said nothing of meaning to anyone after the guy who I met in a Cubs bar left my hotel room.  Yes, a Cubs bar in Kona.  Even then I knew about baseball.  He was impressed by my baseball knowledge.  I wanted one thing from him, and being a girl who knew a lot about baseball guaranteed I could get it.  Probably could have gotten it anyway, but whatever.

No idea if the bar is still there, but it was a very “50 First Dates” kind of situation – girl from the mainland shows up a hot mess and has a night of hot sex with a guy she’ll never see again.  If I recall correctly, he claimed to be British (maybe?) and worked on some oil rig something or other.  It was tawdry, and after practically suffering a mental breakdown getting myself to Hawaii, it was exactly what I needed, thousands of miles from home.  When he left my hotel room that morning, I had his number, and the number of a woman who’d been sitting next to me at the bar.  We’d made plans to meet up the next day to go see turtles.  I never saw either of them again, and I hope they’re both doing well.  I saw some great turtles and finally found myself way over my head in the ocean, terrified, but crying huge heaving sobs of relief that I wasn’t entirely broken.  (I don’t recommend this. It was terrifying, and I was afraid I was going to drown.)

I’m starting to think another trip to Hawaii might be in order, even if there is no British guy.  These baseball trips stress me out.   They seem like an obligation.  I’ve seen the Tigers in 19 parks, and I’ve been to 20.  I cancelled the Colorado trip this year because my cat sitter had to take care of her Mom, and I think it was one of the best things that ever happened because I got a full refund from Airbnb and a travel credit from Southwest (that I will use).  My goal is to see the Tigers in all 30, but it’s taking me to places that I don’t care about going.   Maybe I feel this way because the Tigers aren’t good right now, but I don’t think that’s the case.

I had a fucking BLAST in Arizona this year because I went with someone who has turned out to be a dear friend.  We didn’t just do baseball.  We saw butterflies.  We had amazing Mexican food.  We sat and drank beer and she let me BE ME when I needed time. Arizona turned out to be my only new “seeing the Tigers” park this year.  And that’s OKAY.

I have 10 parks left, and I may turn those into trips I will only take if I have another purpose or if I REALLY want to go.  Not out of a sense of “HAVE TO DO THIS THING.”  I’m not in a hurry.  And I’m not looking for another Brit.  If one shows up?  Fantastic, and I hope there’s an ABC store we can stumble into to buy condoms, laughing and saying “YES WE ARE GOING TO HAVE THE SEX IN A WHILE BUT WE ARE DRUNK SO IT WILL BE A BIT OF A MESS AND WHICH BOOK SHOULD I BUY TO READ TOMORROW WHEN YOU ARE GONE?”

Always one step ahead.

But I said no (a guest post)

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I’d help her tell her story on my blog, and I hesitated because it’s her story to tell, not mine.  But sometimes you don’t want to attach your name to your story, and so she and I talked, she wrote a thing, I edited it, she wrote some more, and I edited a little to take out identifying details before she agreed to it being published here.  This is her story.

I went to the bar that night with friends, a group of men and women I’d known for years, including a guy who had hit on me in the past but didn’t really know.  I’d always ignored his advances because I wasn’t single when he was hitting on me.  Some of us had gone out to dinner before, and I’d had a couple of drinks with dinner (vodka and cranberries, which used to be my favorite, but which I’m not sure I’ll ever drink again).  I don’t drink very often, but it had been a rough couple of months after a breakup with someone I’d dated for almost a year, so I decided to “let loose.”

After spending my Saturday running errands and cleaning the house, I got dressed and put on my favorite dress, a dark green, boat neck, cap sleeve, knee length dress with a kind of swingy skirt.  There had been talk of going dancing later, so I wanted to have a fun outfit to dance in.  When running errands, I’d stopped at DSW and considered a new pair of sandals, but I didn’t want to have blisters that night, so I decided to just wear my brown leather strappy sandals I’d been wearing for a couple of summers.  I carefully put on my makeup, brushed out my hair, and ordered a Lyft.  As I waited for the car, I talked to one of my neighbors who was coming home after a trip to Ikea.  We were talking about how ridiculous it is putting that furniture together when you live alone, and I agreed to help her put together her new couch the following afternoon.

Dinner was fun, something I hadn’t had in a while.  I hadn’t been out to dinner with friends since my ex and I had broken up.  A couple of drinks, delicious steaks and amazing chocolate desserts.  We paid the bill and decided to head to a bar fairly close to my house.  I was tempted to head home because I was a little tipsy and full after dinner, but I was wearing my favorite dress, and there might be dancing, so off we went.

When we got there, I asked for a glass of water, and my best friend brought me another vodka cranberry.

“A, you need to have fun.  Relax.  Have a couple more drinks.  Forget about that asshole.  Have fun.”

I decided to heed her advice, and one drink turned into two, turned into three, turned into this guy I knew from before handing me a shot of god only knows what.

“C’mon! SHOT TIME!”

I remember jokingly singing “shots shots shots shots shots shots”  with everyone before drinking it and slamming my glass on the table like everyone else.  I remember going outside to get some air and someone offering me a cigarette.  I’ve never smoked in my life, but I remember taking long drags and coughing while a girl laughed in my ear and then asked if I was okay.

I’m okay.  I thought about going home and actually pulled out my phone to order another lyft once I got back to the table.

“Where are you going?”

It took me a minute to remember his name, but I’d always thought he was attractive from before.  Some part of my brain was yelling at me to just go home, but my loneliness of the last few months and the alcohol surging through my veins was stronger, so I told him I was considering going home unless he had a better idea.

I would give everything I own to take back that statement.

I remember yelling goodbye to C as we left together a while later, her laughing and screaming, “CALL ME TOMORROW!”

I remember kissing him as we waited for the car.  I remember getting out of the car and realizing I wasn’t home.

“Oh no. I need to go home. I’m so sorry, but I should go home.”

He kissed me again and assured me that everything would be okay and that it was totally fine if I slept on his couch.  I remember being a little too drunk and thinking I didn’t want to take the time to get home and that sleep sounded fantastic.  I remember walking up the stairs, kissing him as we went up three floors to his apartment.

I remember going to the bathroom and wishing I was at home, wishing I could brush my teeth, wishing I had my pajamas to change into, wishing I was home.

When I came out of the bathroom, he was standing there waiting for me.  He tried to kiss me again, and I backed away.

“I really need to go to sleep.”  I knew I was slurring my words, and I asked for a glass of water.

“But we were getting somewhere.”

“I really just need water and sleep. I’m sorry.”  I was starting to get scared at this point, but my purse was in the living room, and I figured it would all be okay if I could just go to sleep.

“You should be sorry.”

I remember what happened next, but I can’t talk about it.  Not yet. Maybe in another guest post.

I finally passed out around 5 am.  I woke up again at 6:30, disoriented and in pain.  I desperately had to go to the bathroom, but I also had to get out of there.  I picked my favorite green dress up off the floor, now torn down the right sleeve and the front, so I had to tuck it under my bra strap to keep it up when I put in on.  I did this while in the hallway, very quietly so he wouldn’t wake up.  I couldn’t find my underwear, but I found both of my shoes.  I crept into the living room, picked up my purse, checking to make sure I had my keys and my phone, and quietly opened the front door.

“We should do this again.”

I jumped at his voice and went through the door, closing it quietly behind me, utterly ashamed.  Completely humiliated.

I pulled my phone out of my purse and realized that I was only about a mile from home.  I considered walking home, but I looked down at myself and realized the walk of shame isn’t a good look for a woman of 34, particularly when her dress is barely on.  I probably should have called the police, but I wanted to go home.  I ordered a lyft, it showed up, the driver asked me if I was sure I was okay, I assured him I was, and I finally got home where I could go pee.  I slammed the door open and rushed to the toilet.

As I sat there, I realized that while I’m on the pill, I wasn’t entirely sure he’d used a condom, so I grabbed my extra pack of pills, googled what to do for the morning after, took three of my pills, and got undressed while sitting on the toilet.  I know most people would have called the police or gone to the hospital by this point, but I was embarrassed.  I finished taking my clothes off while sitting there and realized that I had bruises.

A lot of bruises.  Dark purple almost black, these are new and don’t even hurt yet bruises.

On my calves.  On my stomach.  On my hip.  On my arms.  On my wrist.  On my buttocks that are now hurting while I’m sitting on the toilet.

And my face hurts, so I lean back and pick up a small mirror that I keep on the bathroom counter to check my hair before I leave.

I have a black eye.  Just the beginnings of one, but I can already tell it’s going to turn into a shiner.

While the bruises on my inner thighs make sense, none of the rest of these do, and I realize I must have blacked out.  And now I’m wondering if it was from alcohol or being hit.  I end up sitting on the toilet for almost two hours, unable to move until the phone rings.

“Hey girl, did you get you some last night?  I was worried about you for a minute, but B is totally into you, so TELL ME.”

I hang up the phone, ignoring it when it rings again.  And again.  All day.  I send a text to my neighbor telling her that I’m so sorry but I’ll help her put her couch together tomorrow.  I spend the evening figuring out how to use makeup to mask a black eye.

I may have gone home with him, but I never once said yes to sex while I was conscious.  I certainly didn’t say yes to whatever happened to me to cause this bruising.  Yes, I was drinking. Yes, I kissed him.  But I did not consent to this.

 

 

In the end, it doesn’t really matter

This is hastily written and not edited because I feel like I need to say something.

So when I was in law school, I first heard this song “In The End,” by a band called Linkin Park, and I was young and stupid and just thought it was a fun song to scream along with when out partying with friends.  Spotify wasn’t a thing, youtube wasn’t a thing (it may have been, but I sure as shit didn’t have internet at home – only school had that), so I only heard music on the radio or on cds that I bought. I didn’t have a lot of extra money then, but I bought the CD (Hybrid Theory) and I listened to it a lot.  “In the End” was my favorite song:

“I’ve put my trust in you, pushed as far as I can go, For all this, there’s only one thing you should know. I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter.  I had to fall to lose it all, but in the end it doesn’t even matter.”

I’m pretty sure I listened to this song on repeat when my boyfriend/sometimes fiance broke up with me/we ended our relationship.  I was in my early 20’s and so naive.  We got back together, and I still don’t know what happened to that CD.  Asshole probably took it with him, but WHATEVER I AM NOT BITTER.  I’m still a little bitter.

Fast forward to 2007.  I’m at a job I’ve had for about a year or so and I hear this song on the radio (I always have background music or talk radio.  I have a hard time with pure silence). “Shadow of the Day” and the lead singer’s voice sounds familiar.

“I close both locks below the window
I close both blinds and turn away
Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way, oh

And the sun will set for you
The sun will set for you
And the shadow of the day
Will embrace the world in gray
And the sun will set for you

In cards and flowers on your window
Your friends all plead for you to stay
Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way, oh”

My mental health issues weren’t diagnosed then, but I was definitely dealing with them in my own ways, not always good ones.  I bought the CD and listened to this on repeat for weeks.  I wasn’t yet suicidal, but I thought about it sometimes, kind of abstractly.  One day a year or so later, I went to listen to the CD, and my stereo (still in my house but only the radio works now) refused to play it.  I took it out to my car and listened to it in the car.  I wondered about hoses and how that works when you park on the street rather than in a garage.  When goodbye is the only way.  But I couldn’t sort it out, and I got out of the car.

Where I promptly dropped the CD and stepped on it.  Seemed like karma.  Not my time and all that.  I took it as a sign.

If you know me IRL or even from FB or twitter, you know my musical tastes trend towards rap.  But every now and again, I like to just rock out.  It’s rare, but I like to do it sometimes.  When Jay-Z and Linkin Park released Numb/Encore in 2008, I vaguely paid attention and this was PERFECT.  Eminem and Dr. Dre even got in on a remix.  My mind was BLOWN.

“I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
I’m tired of being what you want me to be . . .

For one last time, I need y’all to roar!”

And I promptly forgot about it unless I heard it on the radio, and then I CRANKED IT and sang/yelled at the top of my lungs, not giving a single fuck about who saw or heard me.  Poor those people.

When Chris Cornell of Soundgarden (a band I always liked but didn’t love) died by suicide on 5/18/2017, I decided I needed to listen to some rock music and turned to Foo Fighters (love me some Dave Grohl) and Linkin Park.  I turned to my old favorites and screamed in my house to “In The End” and “Burn it Down” and wept while listening to “Shadow of the Day.”

“Shadow of the Day” has been in regular rotation since then.  If you haven’t heard it?  Take a moment and listen to it here:

 

In some ways, it’s perfect for the way I’ve felt for a while.  In other ways, it makes me sad.

And then today, I did a presentation for our legal interns with a co-worker about what we do and the kind of law we practice.  It started at noon, ended around 1:40, and I only wanted to slap the shit out of one kid for being a smartass.  (Kid? I’ve been doing this for years, don’t be a wiseass because you think you’re cute.  You might be handsome, but you’re an asshole, and that makes you ugly.)  I got back to my office and checked twitter to see if I’d missed us being bombed off the map yet (obviously we hadn’t been).  First headline I see:

Chester Bennington committed suicide.

And I got ANGRY because he did not COMMIT anything.  He was a victim.  He was a victim of his own mind and his own brain, and he DIED BY SUICIDE WOULD YOU ASSHOLES GET THIS RIGHT ALREADY.

Then I realized who Chester is.  Who he was.  He was a husband.  He was a father.  He was a friend.  He was the man who screamed those lyrics that saved my life more than once.  He was the man whose friend died by suicide on 5/18/2017.  Who had struggled.  Who couldn’t find his way to the light because depression is a fucking monster who drags you DOWN.

And I sobbed, big ugly heaving sobs at my desk because I try to ask for help, but what if this happens to me, and right now I’m in a place where I DO NOT WANT TO DIE, but sometimes the depression is louder, and it SCARES ME.

I’ll maybe edit this later and make it a bit more coherent, but for now, this is the best I can do, but I needed to say something as I’m silently screaming through my tears and the voices are telling me I’m not worth shit.  That I may as well find a belt and hang myself from a doorknob.

And on a happy note? Because I can’t leave you like this.  May I have this dance?

Sometimes you feel low for no reason

Except there is a reason, and it’s called your brain or your biochemistry or whatever you want to call it.  And you’re tired of feeling low.  You’re tired of feeling broken.  You’re tired of your brain (possibly) lying to you as you wonder if it’s true that nobody other than the people who have to care give even one single shit about you.  You were on a high just a few days ago, but now you’re lower than you’ve been in a long time.  You wonder if the pills you have would be enough to do the job before you remember that your therapist has told you it’s time to lay off the xanax for a while because it’s addictive, and if the ones you have left aren’t enough, then you end up in the hospital or just VERY hungover and have no xanax, so that’s not an option because you’re not sure if 5 prozac (for the depression), 3 xanax (for “emergencies” for the anxiety), 2 depakote (it’s a mood stabilizer to work with the mania when the depression is low and the mania is high because of the prozac), and 2 leftover cymbalta (from when we were mainly worried about the anxiety) would do the job.  Yeah, it’s a lot of meds, and half the time, I’m shit at remembering to take them or even decide to not take them because they make me feel a little dead, hence my wild ups and downs.  It’s complicated.

A week ago I threw away the razor blade that I originally bought to scrape my city sticker off my window but had put in my medicine cabinet just in case because knives really aren’t practical.  I just now went and checked to see if it’s still there.  It’s not, but I found the pencil sharpener that I use for my eyeliner, but that razor is tucked deep into its plastic shell.

You also remember that you have reasons to not do this, that today wasn’t that bad, that people got shot today, that people went out to dinner and were murdered today (Somalia, I think?), that someone was raped today, and that your life is actually good and you need to stop feeling shitty about your life because really it’s quite good, isn’t it?  I mean, three people told you you looked cute today (so the fuck WHAT if two of them were sketchy as fuck dudes who probably wanted money or smokes), that the voice in your head telling you that you’re fucking worthless and nobody wants to hang out with you is probably lying, that someone accused you of fabricating evidence during a pre-trial when you KNOW what you said is true, but you had to ask the arbitrator to consider recusing himself because he admitted from the get-go that he thinks the doctor in your case isn’t credible and can’t be trusted but you backed down on it because you don’t want a reputation as THAT lawyer who causes trouble, but you stood your ground on standing by your doctor’s opinion because you believe you’re not wrong on this.  You got mad and you got indignant, but the only outward indicator of your anger was your left eyebrow going halfway up your forehead as people accused you of lies, but you told your boss, and he listened and believed you and he believes IN you.  That you are good at your job, that people who are on your team come to you with questions about their own cases, so obviously you’re not an incompetent moron, and the imposter syndrome is real sometimes.  Sometimes you also don’t care about run-on sentences or commas, and this whole paragraph makes you mad because normally you care about grammar.

So you pour another glass of wine and wonder if maybe you should quit drinking altogether, if maybe you should go to an AA meeting even though you NEVER drink before work and you wouldn’t DARE to drink during the day on a work day, but maybe you drink too often during the week after work.  But you drink during the week because you had a bad day and because, yet again, nobody invited you to do anything after work or last weekend or next weekend, and you’re back to thinking about the pills and wondering if there are enough.

There aren’t enough.  There might be enough if you finish this bottle of wine.  You’ve had two glasses, and if you finish it and add the pills?  You go to google and you do the math.  It might be enough.  It might not be enough.

Excuse me, ma’am, can you take our picture?

I’ve come to realize there’s an age when you truly become a ma’am when you live up North.  You might occasionally be called miss, but that’s usually a kid whose mom is around your age and knows the dangers of calling a woman ma’am when you don’t live in the South.  He’s veering on the side of caution, hoping you’ll be flattered, smiling back at you when you beam your very best smile back at his face.  That smile where you hold your head just right, praying to a God you only occasionally believe in that the wrinkles on your neck don’t show.

There are times when you don’t have the energy for that smile, when it’s been a long couple of weeks and an even longer day.  A guy who is probably five years older than you approaches as you pray someone is walking next to you because you just used up every ounce of your give a fuck and don’t even have time for this.

“Ma’am?  Excuse me, ma’am?  Can you take our picture?”

And I do because I’m not a complete asshole.  I line them up just right, Dad with his three kids, one of whom needs a little reminder to stay in the shot after the fourth one of him running away.

“Kid, get in line or your Dad won’t buy you an ice cream on the way home.”

Yeah, Dad was pissed about that, but I didn’t give a fuck because I didn’t want to be taking this picture anyway.  I said I wasn’t a complete asshole, not that I wasn’t an asshole at all.  I handed the phone back to Dad, who asked me where he could buy an ice cream.

“I have no idea, but I’m sure you’ll pass a gas station at some point that has a cooler.  Enjoy your weekend.”

I hear you asking why I was so rude about it.  I know I didn’t have to be, but I said it was a long couple of weeks and an even longer day.  I’d just used up what was left of my smile taking a picture with one of my cousins who was at the baseball with her gorgeous family.  And the sole of my shoe had literally just decided it was DONE and half detached from the rest of my shoe, so I was limping along, trying to keep my shit together after a day where everything had been going so well until the Tigers fell apart.

I had a fancy seat for the game, I had a seat at the bar for the rain delay, I had a delicious vodka lemonade, I got to sit in the sun and chat with the great guys sitting behind me.  The Tigers shit the bed, but I was having a good day, great even (y’all know how I am about sunshine).  And then it was time to go meet some of my family to say hi before going home to relax.  I was washing my hands in the bathroom at the same time as a woman wearing a Konerko jersey.

“I don’t know why you all even bother to come here when your team sucks.  Why don’t you go support your city?”

Excuse me?

“I mean, Detroit sucks, obviously, the city and the team, so shouldn’t you and your friends be there trying to improve it instead of spending your money here?”

I stopped washing my hands and faced her, raging with anger, wanting to run away, but I couldn’t let that go.  In all the years I’ve gone to games here, of all the shit I’ve taken, NEVER has anyone been this rude.

“I’m here by myself.  I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and consider it home.  I come to games here because I like seeing my team play.  I can’t afford to go to Detroit that often.  Usually people in Chicago are really nice.  I actually live in the city, and I’m not sure what suburb you must have come from, you rude cunt.”

Her mouth fell open, and my hands were shaking as I walked out without bothering to dry my hands.

As I stood on the escalator to exit, I wondered why do I live here?  I love this city, but I couldn’t find one single person to go to the game with me.  On a gorgeous day.  When everyone else has plans that I wasn’t invited to because I isolate myself.  I’m not sure it would be any different in Detroit.

And then I met up with my family.  One of my cousins (third cousin? Second? I dunno, but she’s amazing), her husband, and her son who had come here from Grand Rapids to see the game.  O is getting to be the age where hugging his weird cousin who is old enough to be his aunt is gross, but we all hugged, and my cousin B may have noticed that I held that hug for an extra beat.  I will love her forever for not pulling back.  I needed that hug.

As I’m walking away from them, something pulls my shoe and I realize the sole has literally come off of the back half of my sandal.  Great.  JUST FUCKING GREAT.  I’m limping along, wondering why I live here, wondering why I push everyone away, wondering why I don’t live in Detroit, why I even fucking bother.

“Ma’am? Can you take our picture?”

 

I should have said no, but I hope that kid got his ice cream.

 

I wish I didn’t do it, but it hurts so good.

So in spite of the fact that I’ve laid my soul pretty bare for you guys, there are some things I haven’t told you.  I’m going to tell you one of them now.  I know, you’re like, “elm, you’ve told us so much and there’s more?”  Yes.  There’s more.

I’m a cutter.  I know, gross, right? Who DOES that? Who cuts their own skin?  That’s for teenagers with angsty feelings, right?  Adults don’t do that, do they?

They do, actually.  Or I do, anyway.  But not all the time.  Let me explain.

I’m a very clumsy person.  I trip a lot.  I bump into stuff a lot.  I’ve kind of always been this way.  I went over the handlebars of my bike when I was around 10 because I’ve never been very coordinated.  And when you fall, a lot of times, you get cuts and scrapes.  And they start to heal and you get scabs.  And they itch.  And you know it’s gonna hurt if you scratch, but you do it anyway, and there’s something satisfying about peeling the scab off your skin.

“God, elm, gross.”  I hear you.  It is gross.

I know.  It is gross, but the pain it brings is so fucking soothing.  It’s a pain that won’t kill me but still brings some of the pleasure that cutting my own skin will bring when I’m in my darkest hour.  It’s a pain that lets me know I’m still alive without taking that final step.  It’s soothing.  I know other people do the same thing but for entirely different reasons.

My dermatologist has asked me what some of my scars are, and I’ve had to be honest with her about it.  When I’ve had chunks cut out of my skin, she’s begged me to not pick at it until she knows if she’ll have to go back in to take out more after the one time I let the wound dry out so it would become a scab and she saw it.  She asked me why I did it, I put her in touch with my therapist, she took another piece of my skin to make sure the cancer wasn’t still there, and it took everything I had to not let it dry out again.  I don’t know why I do it.  But I can’t help it.

There’s something about peeling the scab away from the skin, the pulling, the pain, the blood, knowing that it will heal over and I can start over.  Knowing that this is the one kind of pain I can inflict on myself that isn’t going to be permanent, other than a scar.  It’s something I do so I don’t do something worse.  Scars don’t scare me.

When I haven’t been clumsy, and there are no scabs, I’ve cut myself.  Only shallow cuts, never anything that will kill me.  Those are the cuts I’ve made when I need to feel the relief, but I’m not ready to die.  Those are the cuts I’ve made when I’m ready to heal again.  The ones where I need to feel the pain, but I’m not ready to die.

There’s a spot on my index finger that I couldn’t leave alone after hearing the news about Chris Cornell this morning.  He is proof that money and fame don’t buy you happiness or protect you from the bullshit that depression is.  I burned myself trying to get a piece of pasta that fell out of a pan over a week ago. I told you I’m clumsy.  It hasn’t healed yet, probably because I keep messing with it.

But it’s better than the alternative, right?

13 Reasons Why (I haven’t died by suicide – Yet?)

I haven’t written a love letter to you guys lately, and it’s well past time that I do so.  I’ve been watching the new Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” which is based on the novel “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher.  I now own the book, but I haven’t started reading it.  I’ve been VERY public about the fact that I’m watching this show.  Some of you have chided me, telling me it can’t be good for me and to NOT WATCH IT.  (and you know how I feel about people telling me I can’t do something – my mania says I DO WHAT I WANT)  Some of you have asked me to watch it if I feel I need to but to please reach out for help if it becomes too triggering.  A couple of you have even encouraged me to watch it and share my insights.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll write anything about how I feel about the show.  I’m having a lot of feelings, but I can’t yet put them into words.  I’ll say this.  It’s not my story.  It’s not why I’ve ever been suicidal.  I’m morbidly curious about the suicide on screen as that’s one way I’ve been ready to die by suicide.  I may not watch that part.  I haven’t decided.

So far, none of it has been triggering (thanks new good therapist!), though I can see how it could be if I were unmedicated or happened to be in a particularly dark depression.  Or maybe I’m just on early episodes.  I have very strong feelings about what I’m watching, but none of it has seemed at all like it relates to me, my mental health issues, or my suicidal ideation.  That doesn’t mean it won’t trigger me, and I will reach out if it does.

I know, you’re thinking, “okay this is great and all, but WHERE IS MY LOVE LETTER.”  Jeez, y’all are impatient.  Settle down.  Get your beverage of choice.  Get some tissues in case you’re a cryer like me.  Get comfy on the couch.  Get ready to read.  Because here are my 13 reasons why I haven’t died by suicide.

1. My parents deserve better from me

As y’all know, I’m an only child.  I’m not the person my parents hoped I would turn out to be (40, single, no kids, mental health issues), but I know they’re proud of me.  I know they love me.  I know they support me and have since I was born.  They’ve let me make my own decisions even when they had other hopes and dreams for me.  And I know it would destroy them if I took my own life.  I am unapologetic about the fact that I don’t want children and about the fact that I have zero intention of ever getting married.  I cannot apologize for my mental health issues – I hate them too, but there’s only so much I can do about them.  But I can do everything possible to make sure that I stay alive.  This isn’t to say that the families of people who did die by suicide didn’t deserve better or that the person who died did anything wrong.  It is not for me to judge.  None of this blog post is about anyone other than I (me? Hell if I know for sure).

2. My cats deserve better

Torii Hunter M. and Tyrus Raymond M. (last names protected bc this blog isn’t entirely public) are my current cats, and if I died, I’m not sure what would happen to them.  Sure my parents would take them, but Tyrus has become insanely bonded to me (like right now, he’s literally trying to climb inside the fleece I’m wearing and purring so hard he just choked a little).  And they’d be home with me when I did it, and I don’t know how cats process stuff, and my cats deserve to have me here.  That litter box ain’t gonna scoop itself.

3. I’m not done with my baseball quest (this list is not in order of importance after numbers 1 and 2)

As you may or may not know, I’m on a quest to see the Detroit Tigers play a game of the best sport in the world in every park in the MLB.  I’ve been to 18 of the 30 parks (Oakland, Chicago White Sox, Comerica, Wrigley, Cleveland, Camden Yards (Orioles), Fenway, Minneapolis, Kauffman (KC), Busch (STL), Angels, Great American Ballpark (CIN), Ballpark at Arlington (TEX), Marlins, PNC (PIT), Nationals, Yankees, Turner Field (ATL – I’ll do Sun Trust after I get the 30 that existed when I really started this).  I’m getting Arizona in 11 days.  11 more to go after that.  Interleague play makes this easier, but it’s going to be a number of years before I’ve gotten them all.  I’m hoping to get them by the time I turn 50.  Donations for my travels are encouraged since you’ll never have to spend money on a baby shower gift. (I’m kidding.  Maybe.  Not about the baby shower thing.)

4. Baseball has literally saved me from myself

There was a night I was sitting in my bathroom with a razor at my wrist with a bathtub full of warm water, about to take off the rest of my clothes (Who gets into a bath with all their clothes on?) when I got a notification from MLB that the Tigers had taken the lead in a game I wasn’t watching.  I was so deep inside my head, and usually my phone is on silent.  And I have notifications turned off on MLB.  But I’d done an update earlier that day, and I’d taken my phone out of its case – putting it back in the case usually flips the sound back on.  So I looked at my phone and ran to turn the game on.  The Tigers won the game, and I stayed alive for another day.

5. Chance the Rapper

When I was a child, I was pretty religious in a sense.  I went to church every Sunday, I was a junior deacon.  But eventually I declared myself done with god and with religion in general.

Until I started listening to Chance the Rapper when I was 36.  This mixtape Acid Rap came across my earholes thanks to an NPR show called Sound Opinions (hosted by local music critics).  I listened, I loved it, I listened some more, and then I kind of forgot about it. Surf (by The Social Experiment) released in May of 2015, and I listened to it (it might have been Sound Opinions again, I don’t remember).  I remembered why I love Chance (Sunday Candy is magic, y’all).  He gets closer to god in this one, and I started to wonder.

Then Coloring Book dropped in May of last year.  I forget exactly how I heard about it, but it literally changed my life.  If you’re FB friends with me, you know how much I love him.  “All Night” is a fun song and has always been my favorite, but “Blessings” touched me somewhere deep inside that I’d forgotten.  Something I’m realizing needs its own number.

6. Blessings keep falling in my lap

“I’m gon’ praise him, praise him ’til I’m gone. When the praises go UP, the Blessings come down . . . it seems like Blessings keep falling in my lap.”

From the very first time I heard it, this song spoke to me.  “Are you ready . . . for your miracles?”  There is something about this song that reminds me that I am fortunate.  I know there are people who have it MUCH worse than I do, but I also subscribe to the theory that just because someone has it worse than you doesn’t mean that you don’t have problems.  I was ready for my miracles.  I was ready for the Blessings to fall into my lap.  And I started to believe in God again.  I didn’t start going to church again or anything, but every time I was in the bathroom seeking out the razor, I tried to remember that I am blessed.  I am privileged.  I have mental illness that I can’t control, but I can fight against it.  I can use my privilege to fight for other people.  Because I have my Blessings and they keep falling in my lap.

7. Beach glass

In 2011, I left a job I hated more than any job I’ve ever held, even the one where I got fired basically because I wouldn’t sleep with my manager.  I didn’t have another job lined up, and I spent the winter of 2011/2012 looking for another job.  Mother Nature smiled on me, and it was nice outside that winter.  I started going to the beach to listen to the water and began picking up what some call sea glass but what I call beach glass because Lake Michigan is fresh water.  I was picking up a hundred pieces at a time, and I needed a hobby.  I started making jewelry out of it.  Some of you have pieces that I made, and I hope you still love them and wear them.  Once I found a new job, I didn’t go as often to the beach to pick up glass, but there’s still something about going and listening to the water, eyes on the sand, blocking out the sounds of the city.  The day after the election, I took the day off work, and I went out to brunch, followed by a gorgeous November morning, picking up glass, taking a nap in the sand, and picking up more glass.  They’re treasures from God only knows when, probably beer bottles if they’re green, brown, or white, but who knows.  And when they’re aqua, lavender, red, or, my favorite, royal blue, you wonder where that glass has been and whose life it touched.

8. Walkenchippen

I have no idea if I’m spelling that correctly, but it’s my thing with my Dad, so that’s how it’s spelled.  When I was a little girl, my Mom worked as a florist, and she often had to work Saturdays at weddings and whatnot.  So I’d hang out with my Dad.  He’d do a Daddy-do (a really terrible pony tail) and let me eat cheese all day.  You know those rounds of cheese that are about 8 inches long and covered in wax?  I knew where to find the cheese slicer and would eat so much cheese.  But I also remember there being records played and getting to go walkenchippen.

I can hear you, “elm, what the FUCK is walkenchippen?”

Walkenchippen is when your Dad puts Barry Manilow on the record player, and you’re a small girl so you stand on his feet and you dance together to “Copacabana” and “Can’t Smile Without You” but somehow you remember “Bandstand” the best.  There’s a reason I love Barry Manilow, y’all.  I’m going to see him in a few weeks, and I’ll be there alone, but I’ll remember walkenchippen.

9. You will learn how to drive this car if it kills us

I currently drive a manual transmission 2013 Mazda CX-5, and if you know me at all, you know I LOVE THIS CAR.  It’s pretty basic (not as basic as the first car I bought where a radio was an option), but it’s a manual transmission.

Yes, I live in a city, but I hardly ever drive.  I generally put about 4000 miles a year on my car.  I just got the car’s oil changed for the first time in almost a year (and holy fucking hell there was a dead rat or squirrel or SOMETHING caught in there and they normally never touch cars with that, and thank you, and I still need to send them pizza or something), but when I do drive my car, making sure it’s in neutral, slapping the stick left and right to make sure, zooming at lights, seeing how long I can go in stop and go traffic with never tapping the brakes.

But to get to this point, I had to learn how to drive a stick shift.  Enter my Mom, age roughly 39, with a five speed manual transmission Plymouth Voyager.  My Dad did most of the learning to drive duties, but I had to learn to drive a stick.  On a mini van where the stick was like a fucking baseball bat.  With a woman who has more patience than I, but we are so very similar.  When I was a passenger, my Mom would have me shift with my left hand while she operated the clutch.  I don’t think we ever stalled.  We’re a good team.  Until we aren’t.  I stalled out when driving, and I remember yanking the emergency brake, getting out of the car and walking home.  We were all of a block and a half from my house, but MAN DID I HAVE FEELINGS.

My Mom and I had a lot of fights when I was a teenager, when I was in my 20’s, when I was in my 30’s, and we’ve finally seemed to figure out our shit now that I’m in my 40’s.  But every single fucking time I get in my car, I’m glad she didn’t give up on me learning how to drive a stick.  It brings me joy, and she gave that to me.

Oh, and no I won’t teach you to drive a stick.

10. Baseball/Music festivals

At some point in May 2016,  Chance the Rapper became a pretty big deal, and I got tickets to what is now known as the Magnificent Coloring Day.  It was near on impossible to find someone to come with me, but I’m fine going alone because it’s Chance and I’ve long since quit giving a fuck about going to things alone.

But I wanted to share it with someone because I knew it was going to be a day that would actually change my life.  See above about finding God and Chance.  I wasn’t wrong.

My friend T met me there, and I was in the beer line when Kanye showed up for a surprise set.  He’s texting me, people are running and screaming, and I’m like, “y’all this beer line just got short as fuck, and Kanye ain’t gonna do one song and quit, so I’ll wait.”  I was right.  Kanye was amazing.  Those tickets were $51 (with the bullshit ticketmaster fees), and GODDAMN I COULD HAVE LEFT THEN AND GOT MY MONEY’S WORTH.

2Chainz with Lil Jon might have been first, but then John Legend came out.  AND COMMON JOINED HIM ON STAGE AND WE HELD UP OUR FISTS AND PROMISED TO FIGHT FOR BLACK LIVES BECAUSE THEY MATTER.  This wasn’t trite bullshit, though it may seem that way.  I was tired and ready to go home but SO EXCITED BECAUSE IT WASN’T OVER YET.  Alicia was coming on you guys.

I’m 40 years old, and I think I’ve got myself figured mostly out, But when Alicia came on, I had tears running down my face as I screamed out the lyrics to “No One.” No one could get in the way of what I was feeling, and my friend T and I kept looking at each other and asking “Is this really happening?”  It was.  And that girl was ON FIRE.

We still had one more act to go.  Chance.  I will admit I was a little confused about the puppets at first, but Carlos the Lion is now my second favorite puppet ever (Snuffy is forever my #1).  He basically performed the entirety of Coloring Book, and I. Found. God.  I’m not saying I became a true believer, but it brought God back into my life.

I tried to get you to go with me.  Yes, you, you who turned me down because you don’t like rap music. Don’t doubt me on music all the time, friends. I know what I’m talking about every now and again.

I went to MCD.  Are you ready, for your blessings. I AM READY.

Are you ready, for YOUR MIRACLE. I’m not so sure about this because sometimes I’m still ready for it all to be over.  I can’t lie to y’all at this point.

11. when you take my call

I know people hate talking on the phone.  I get it, but when I’m getting close to or in a full manic episode? I need to talk to someone.  This is complicated.

I don’t call you if I just want to chat.  I know calling people is taboo.  I’m not stupid.  And I’d usually rather crawl into a pillow fort and talk to nobody for weeks.  When you take my call, it eases my soul from the get go, just knowing that someone still cares that I’m here.

I don’t usually want to talk to you either, but sometimes. Well, sometimes I just need to hear a voice so I know it’s okay to stay here.

12.Have you ever tried to list 13 things you love? 13 people?

I love you. Don’t doubt me when I tell you this, but also please know that I don’t trust you, not yet, maybe not ever. I challenge you to give me 13 reasons why you’ve stayed, even if you’ve never considered leaving.

13. You must have lost your marbles. You always were so forgetful. In a hurry.

Every single day, there’s a voice in the corner of my brain telling me today is the day, that nobody actually cares, that nobody will really remember me if I’m gone. That you might even be relieved if today is the day.

Then I start thinking about my 13 reasons why I haven’t died by suicide. Sunshine, music, beaches, laughing, and even crying when it gets too hard. 

Don’t forget the happy thoughts.

I will write more love letters to you, but I’m tired, and I’ve already told you more than I’m comfortable with, so I’ll leave you with this.