Roughing it:

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So last Friday night I stayed over at a friend’s house. It was later on in the evening when I got there – 8:30, maybe – and she and I had a great time eating delicious food, drinking delicious wine, paraffin waxing our hands, and dancing to music on her iPod. She passed out around 11 or 12, but I, ever the night owl, decided to stay up and do some work.

And finish the wine.

Whatever.

After about an hour or so of Lightroom and Pinot Noir, I decided to go outside for a cigarette. And you know that feeling you have, sometimes, right before something goes completely wrong? Like, that moment where you catch your breath and realize a mistake is in the works, JUST AFTER it becomes too late to stop the pendulum from swinging braggishly toward disaster? It’s a little hiccup, a certain slowing of time, before everything clicks back into place and you realize you’ve just locked yourself out of the condo.

Locked. Out.

The doorbell was no use – my dear friend, it seems, is a very sound sleeper – and anyway the buzzer is two floors down from her bedroom. To make matters worse, I could SEE her cell phone on the granite countertop just inside the door. My options were limited.

Inside the condo were my purse, license, cash, credit cards, laptop, hair elastics, and the rest of the wine. Outside, I had my car keys, a pack and a half of Camels, my iPhone, and a case of Diet Coke. Also a bottle of vodka and a jar of tomato sauce. But I didn’t see how those last two things were helpful.  I retreated to the car to think things through.

My parents lived nearby, but it was almost 2am. And I was kind of drunk. Plus I didn’t have my license. For the same reasons, driving home to Revere wasn’t a viable option. As if to concretize the situation, I turned on the Yaris and realized I was running on fumes – the gas light blinked eyelessly from the dash as my phone buzzed it’s 20% battery warning. I lit another smoke and contemplated my fate. I’d done this before, I thought, that time in the hospital, with less battery life and certainly less Diet Coke. People bivouac on the sides of mountaintops. Come on, we’re just in the suburbs here. We can do this. It’s like a vision quest, but without the peyote.

After a moment of rummaging I came up with an iPhone charging cable and my trusty DC converter with dual USB out, but the gas situation was problematic and it was really, really cold. Plus, I figured I wouldn’t be able to get inside until at least 6am. I browsed idly through my apps, trying to find something to occupy my mind for the next 4-6 hours. Music would be nice, I thought.

And then, it happened. I downloaded Spotify. And somehow, by some miracle, I got a free upgrade to a premium account. For the uninitiated, this basically means that not only did I have “some music”, I had *ALL THE MUSIC*. I mean, almost all the music. But still, SO MUCH MUSIC. Feverishly, I began to search. I found a Bassnectar remix of Underworld’s “Rez“, which led me through both their entire catalogues, which somehow led me to my old favorite Akufen, which brought me to a multi-disc mix called Up All Night, which brought me back to Bassnectar. And then, dear friends, then it was sunrise.

The snow was falling gently as I clomped through the drifts up to my friend’s doorstep. I rang the bell, firmly, once every three seconds until finally I heard her start to stumble down the stairs.

“What the – ”

I grinned like a moron, shaking snowflakes out of my hair.

“How long have you BEEN out there?”

Best night ever? MAYBE.


How I Saved My Own Life (warning: may be triggering)

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This thing in Connecticut. It’s awful. Many have made an emotional corollary between this and 9/11, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s that kind of sickening disbelief that this is really the world we live in, this is really what people do.

Many have also made the connection to mental health care and the difficulty obtaining it, something I can also vouch for. A Twitter friend had this to say:

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And it made me remember.

On June 7, 2009, after weeks of fruitless searching for a caregiver to help soothe my rage and depression, I suddenly knew that I would kill myself. I’d been crying for hours, I’d engaged in self-harm. My mind was going at light speed in a million directions, and the only thing I could clearly understand were the steps I’d need to take to carry out my suicide plan.

I got up, grabbed my computer and my journal, and stumbled out the door to my car. My husband was long abed – it had to be after midnight. My hands were shaking as I turned the key in the ignition. It was really happening.

I knew right where I was going. I knew where I’d park, and then where I’d walk, and then where I’d jump. But something inside me must have had a different idea, because I turned left instead of right at the end of my street and wound up outside urgent care at our local health clinic.

It is some kind of miracle that I was able to make that decision. And it was the hardest thing in the world to tell the kind-eyed receptionist, who seemed very normal and sweet, that I felt unsafe in my own hands. That I wanted to hurt myself, that I wanted to hurt others. I felt like such a desperate loser – I mean, people have REAL problems, people have REAL diseases. But the doctor took one look at my body, covered as it was in razor-thin scarlines, and decided otherwise.

You all know the rest of the story – and if you don’t, I’d encourage you to spend some time in the archives – but as grateful as I am for the care I was able to obtain, it might never have come to that point if I had been able to get that help sooner. And, today, for them, it might never have come to this point at all.

Really, if you have these feelings, you are NOT alone, and it is OK TO BE BROKEN. Just get the help you need, as soon as you know you need it. Don’t wait for it to be too late.


How to make a good impression:

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1) Wrangle a situation where you’re staying overnight with your boyfriend’s grandparents, whom you’ve met only once or twice before.

2) Drink what could plausibly be considered too much vodka at your boyfriend’s brother’s wedding reception.

3) Wake up from a dead sleep at 8:30am screaming profanity.

Seriously? I *never* talk in my sleep – much less scream at the top of my lungs – but sure enough there was B!’s hand over my mouth, and sure enough there was that memory of the dream, and sure enough there was his grandfather shouting from the next room over, probably thinking someone was having a heart attack. I’d been a teenager fighting with her mother, and we all know how THAT can get (don’t we?), so it wasn’t surprising that what I howled, with all the force and hatred I could muster, was: “MOM! WHAT THE **FUCK**??!!”

Yes. Out loud. Out very loud, at 8:30am, in my boyfriend’s grandparents’ ranch-level house. It was a sheepish E$ indeed who emerged from the bedroom moments later, wiping last night’s makeup out from underneath her eyes, and a very confused Grandpa who blinked back a smile at her stammered apology. Let’s just say it was an awkward silence.


Free Advice: if you don’t know, probably just don’t ask.

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It’s no secret that I’ve gained some weight since B! moved out here. All told, there’s around a 35 pounds from lowest to highest. And, you know, I’m not in love with it, but it’s not like it’s wrecking all my time. I just ate a fro-yo cone with sprinkles. So, there.

But it’s gotten a little awkward lately. More specifically, people have started asking me if I’m pregnant. And I’m not talking like “that random stranger this one time”, I’m talking PEOPLE. Like, best friend people. Like, coworker people. People people. More than a handful. And it’s never just like, oh are you pregnant? It’s always like:

“Boy or girl?”

“When’s the due date?”

“I hope she has your hair!”

For any readers who may themselves have asked the burning question in question: it’s not the asking that bothers me. I’m well aware that I’m no longer the lithe sprite of yesteryear, but I’m also no longer smashing dishes or throwing glasses of wine at things. My eating disorder is in remission. I have a full set of dinner dishes. Weight gain is a small price to pay for sanity, I think, although it’s not always appropriate to say in the moment.

What bothers me is the whole awkwardness of the situation. Like, they say it, and then I have to say, you know, “no”, and then they get all flustered and I just laugh and smile because really – REALLY? It’s funny. Come on, you know it is.

That said, I’m still thinking of getting a couple T-shirts made that say “NOT PREGNANT, JUST FAT”. It’s summertime now. Anything goes.


If we all did our jobs this well, we’d still be beating our dinner with clubs (part II)

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So B! and I went out to meet some new clients tonight at this cafe on the lower side of Newbury St. For those of you who don’t know, Newbury St. is the Park Avenue of Boston, and the side that I call “lower” is actually “upper” in terms of money spent per square inch – so much so that I actually felt a little squidgy going in. If I’d thought better, I would have brought my Gucci bag. Turns out, I needn’t have worried.

First of all, we walk in, and it’s like, ninety-five degrees and humid. Almost uncomfortably loud. Although the place was half-empty, every available table was covered with dirty dishes, and a single bench provided the only available seating which means we would have had to sit, all four of us, in a row, backs to the wall. Meanwhile, there were three kids behind the counter snapping gum and texting.

Luckily, SEAT seats opened up while I (inexplicably) ordered a hot coffee. “I’ll make you a fresh pot,” said one of the counter kids, just as our clients arrived. I was a bit flustered, having been almost late and kind of sweating in the tropical climate, so, after clearing the trash to a nearby table, I tried to act normal and got right down to business. About twenty minutes later, some other young lad strolls out of the back and decides it’s time to (finally) bus the tables.

“Excuse me – ” says my bride, flagging him down, “She ordered a coffee awhile ago – is that coming?”

“Oh um, I don’t know,” replies the kid, who i now recognize as the one who took my order. An uncomfortable pause ensues, as though he thinks, perhaps, that *I* know where my coffee has gone to. “Did you order it from me? I probably just forgot.”

“Right,” I say. What I think is: “Oh, OK, kid who works in the high-rent district of Back Bay but can’t be bothered to do his job. That’s cool. I mean, not like I paid for it or anything – not like I even WANT it. I’d rather have a Diet Coke, or even a cold glass of ice water. Have you noticed how warm it is in here?” I’m starting to seriously worry about my deodorant.

A beat. “I guess I’ll bring it over then. Hold on.” And he disappears.

“Um, that was weird,” I tell our clients, who are as mystified as I. And we continue talking about their wedding.

Five minutes later dude comes back over with this HOT HOT HOT cup of coffee. “My coworker must have forgotten it,” he says, totally blame-shifting but who am I to say, and pretty much walks away without another word. I mean, the coffee must have been sitting on top of the cappuccino machine, or in front of a heating vent or something. The saucer was SUPER warm.

I look down at my atomic coffee, which, though I smile and compliment, tastes like rustic battery acid and cigarettes.

Ten minutes later, they started blasting hardcore rap. We collectively decided it was time to leave. Another successful mission, by EcA Productions.

PS: For those of you who are interested, “If we all did our jobs this well, we’d still be beating our dinner with clubs (part I)” can be found here


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