I’m going to go ahead and apologize in advance – I just spun up the hard drive with my photo archive only to find that my Lightroom catalog for said photo archive had disappeared. So I’m making myself feel better by going through old pictures and admiring them in their natural beauty. Here’s a pretty one, taken in 2009 with my friend Stephl’s camera. It was pretty cold out.
Here’s Jake passed out on my parents’ old couch. I think this was the first time I ever used a 50mm lens.
The infamous “beauty” sign near the Produce District in Chelsea… I loved it so much I got it tattooed on my left calf. No picture I could ever take would match the splendor of the real thing. It’s gone now. They painted it over.
This is my mom’s Nativity set. My sisters and I used to get so excited if we got the Baby Jesus, and super bummed out if we got a big ugly camel.
I don’t know what this is. But it looks pretty tripped out.
Uff, God, and now I just got into newer pictures that I did a lot of editing work to, and I kind of want to die again. So to close it out, here’s Totoro. Because nobody can want to die after looking at his sweet face.
It was senior year of college – Syracuse University studying at the Newhouse School of Public Communications. It was the first day of first semester, and my film business class was going around the room introducing themselves. Saying what they wanted to do with their lives. There were an unsurprising number of aspiring producers and directors – it WAS a film BUSINESS class and all – so it kind of threw everyone for a loop when I said I wanted to be a mom. “A mom?” I could almost hear them all thinking. “I mean, why is she even HERE then?”
But I did, I really wanted it.
That stayed with me through graduation, through my first job, through my marriage. More than ten years of the tumult that is life, just waiting for the day I’d hold my own baby in my arms. And then, of course, everything changed. You might think it was the going crazy, or the going broke that did me in. Or, surely, the divorce? The divorce must have been the nail in the coffin.
It wasn’t the Bin, it wasn’t the cash, and it wasn’t the men or my own poor decisions – It was that goddamn Jake that finally made me realize I might not want to have children. That goddamn Jake and his liver disorder (or whatever it was) that nearly killed him last summer. I mean, I’m usually able to accurately describe most feelings with words, but I have no language for how awful it was to sit by and watch him suffer. This poor sweet creature, just so sick and so sad. It literally hurt my heart. It broke me. And I thought: what if this was my child? What if this was my own child I had to hand over to others, what if it was MY kid that was being poked with needles and force-fed pills, knowing that he hated every second, not knowing if he’d even make it to the other side? I don’t think I could bear it. I truly don’t think I could.
Watching someone you love suffer is the worst pain of all. We want our children to be happy, but life, intrinsically, is the most painful wish you could grant. As the Buddha teaches us: life is suffering. I find that to be the noblest truth.
That Jake has a history of jailbreaks. There was awhile where Katsu and I used to take him out on a leash, and that was really fun until he wriggled out of it and jumped the fence. Katsumi found him three doors down, in a tangle of old bike parts. Then there was the other time when he clawed his way out the window and our friend found him, shivering in the rain, much later on that night. So he’s intrepid. He’s a street cat. He does his thing.
But, I mean, he HADN’T. Not since we got him snipped. So B! and I were pretty surprised to find him on the other side of the window the other morning in the middle of a torrential downpour. Somehow he’d slipped out while B! was taking the garbage downstairs, and he’d been out all night in the most horrible weather. You’d have thought that would teach him a lesson, but tonight, just after I typed that last sentence, he escaped again and burrowed underneath the back porch.
In the meantime, he’s taken to defecating in the bathtub. So there’s that.
This is like a superhero movie where everything turns dark all of a sudden. Like Spiderman 3, but with whiskers and fur. And let me be the first to tell you, if the pissing comes back, I’m ready to get all Sandman on his shit.
So I’m writing this essay for this contest, and it’s about my personal journey from sickness to health. Well, I mean, it could be about anyone’s journey to any old place, really, but for me it’s about that. There’s a cash prize, also, so I’m especially motivated to make it a good read. And, as usual, I’m fine with talking about my depression, my anger, my marriage, my stay in the Bin, but it is SO HARD to describe how I got well. The journey from there to here is impossible to relate, and, in some ways, more painful to remember than my days in despair.
I mean, how do you describe how your husband left you, and you were living in the apartment alone with a cat who pissed not just everywhere but EVERYWHERE, and you barely had heat and you slept on the pull-out couch, but how during that time the Universe saw fit to give you amazing friends, shiny fun toys, and a brand-new lease on life? How do you describe how you were actually GRATEFUL to your husband for leaving, and how much sorrow you felt about how everything turned out? And then, if you can manage all that, how do you convey the beginning with B! – how a phone call from an old friend turned into capital L-O-V-E in a matter of weeks? Like, crazy fast but it was gravity, and the realization hit like a crash-test dummy faced with 65mph of brick wall.
Maybe it’s hard because those last days with Katsu were so hazy and strange. Maybe it’s because the months after were stranger yet. Maybe it’s this way because I’ve yet to figure it all out. I never want to come at my story from a position of being totally well – I mean, I’m still amazed by each day without utter catastrophe – but it’s true that my mind is much better now. Regardless of whether I win or not, regardless of how I tell the story, the essay will bubble up here eventually. It’s good to have things to rely on.
My bed has been killing me lately. Not physically, I mean I don’t have backaches or anything, but it pops, it sags, and the frame has fallen apart no less than three times. I made B! drill it together with wood screws at 3am last April, and it seems lately that the wood screws are about to give way. It was the bed I shared with my husband and the bed that our friends (now married with child) shared before that. It just drives me totally insane. And this Saturday, I decided it was high time to do something about it.
B! and I marched our way down to the neighborhood Sleepy’s, blazed through the double doors, and were assaulted by a sea of headboards and mattresses. Greeted by a heavily-makeupped woman of indeterminate middle age, I made no compunction about our need for a cheap bed. “On the lower end of the price range,” was how I delicately phrased our requirement.
Mind you, we are in no shape to be purchasing anything on any end of the price range. My computer’s hard drive died on Thursday, and the repair is a cool three hundred dollars. Jake’s medical bills? Please, let’s not even think. My OWN medical bills? I have a payment plan with my providers. But the bed was wrecking my life, and at thirty-two years old, I mean, why should I have to live like that?
Zero percent financing. No money down. Delivery, assembly, AND disposal. A thousand-dollar mattress slashed to nearly half its original price, with a nice brand name and a five-year guarantee. I signed on the line three times and, just like that, became the owner of my very first self-purchased brand new bed.
Anyone remember the Mr. Rogers “Proud of You” song? It’s kind of been in my head all weekend. Like, I’m singing it to myself.