Sunday, March 25, 2012

Adjusting VIII


I cradle my hand on the couch. I can barely type yet still I stayed up all last night writing a campaign proposal for the Mayor of Braddock. I knew I shouldn't have typed it, know I shouldn't be typing now but I can't stop, I need to get my own words out, the dry language of proposals has made my thoughts restless. I rest my hand between sentences and get up and grab one of last beers to dull the pain. I almost wonder if I'll make it to my doctors appointment tomorrow afternoon.
And then it happens, I've actually hit my limit and can't type anymore.

Memories of the long weekends since ghost hunting that have brought me here beg to be set on a laptop screen, but they will have to wait, for now.

Monday afternoon bears a neon pink cast. I make a big deal of it, it is the first cast I've ever acquired in my 21 years of recklessness and adventure. [D] picks me up in front of the hospital and we make our way to Wing Night. I want to get a head start on everyone, I'm in pain and need some alcohol. We down the first pitcher and reminisce over the past couple weeks. A mass arrest, one spontaneous trip to New York City, new tattoos and a broken hand, we agree that we've done well. Eventually our friends filter in. [DL] has pity and offers me a joint, after all he is the one that dodged my fateful drunken punch that ultimately landed into a bus shelter's frame. The rest tease me “What did we learn?”, I begrudgingly reply “Fuck St. Patty's Day.” We all have a good laugh. Life goes on.
It's the weekend now and I'm feeling low. The anger and hurt that makes up the core of my being is boiling inside me, refusing to be pacified by my routine smile. I gripe at the flesh on my bones. I want to sharpen my finger nails to tiny claws and tear it from my frame with my own bear hands, but that leaves scars, I know because I tried that once when I was seventeen and had yet to learn the value of discretion, so I beat my self against Braddock Hills instead. Sweat runs down the small of my back beneath a Spiderman book bag as I kick trash and debris behind me on the shoulder of the road. I stumble once where the incline is steep and some girls weave, discarded in the gravel, slips beneath my foot. I recover and continue on. I will not slow down. Giant Eagle is only two miles uphill and I don't have time for any other exercises today, I must make the best of my trek. My mind is a hurricane of all the memories I hate. All the chances I had to set things right, and times I was on the cusp of happiness that I destroyed, unaware, for my own selfish angst. I think back on California and Canvass For A Cause, when [R] said Well I may just have to come to CA then. When I swore that I was happy there, before I got into that mess in Mexico, and my puppy died and I lost my mind. I wonder how things would have been if I never left CFAC. I consider running away again, taking my next pay check and getting on a plane, but I know I couldn't bring my pets and I know they probably wouldn't take me back anyway. I wouldn't if I were them, God knows I fucked that chance up over a year ago now. Still it nags at me. I reason with my loneliness, Christina Perri sings in my ear “Don't count the miles, count the I love you's.” I imagine there's a boy that loves me like that, for “i love you”s are words not said in my life, though I know if they were to come from anyone but [R], I'd callously snub them out like I have done so many times now. The doctors said when I was a teenager that I was too damaged to ever be emotionally capable of feelings of closeness or romance. [R] is a scientific anomaly of my psyche. But still, I like to indulge in the fantasy of a love song. It eases the pain of my fate to be a crazy spinster animal lady for the rest of my life. It's not so bad, I whisper to my shadow on the pavement. When I am involved with someone all I seem to successfully do is worry them, and then I feel guilty, as though everything I do to hurt myself I do to hurt them on purpose. If no one is close to me, no one gets hurt, and I don't have to add guilt to the repertoire of negative emotions that I shuffle around beneath, like a dark little rain cloud above me. But that too, I know is wrong. Because I feel guilty, just for feeling this way. It's been a great week, and besides a pain in my hand and an itch under my cast, I have no real complaints. I have no excuse to be feeling this way. My thoughts continue like this until I arrive home, emotionally torn and feeling no better than when I left. My sister, [K] greets me there. I feed my guinea pig, Occupig, and the mourning dove with a broken wing I found in the freight train tracks last week. She resides in a milk crate in my room, much to the cats dismay, for they have not been allowed in since I brought her home. I know they'll get over it though, they always do. I shelter 2-3 little wild things a year, and when they're healthy and strong I return them to where they belong. Most of them live.
I take pride in that, atleast.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Adjusting VII

Nothing cheers me up like sending [R] sexy pictures first thing in the morning. He resurfaces around Wednesday and my mind returns to its normal whir of craziness and anxiety. A manageable level at least. It's going to be a great day.
About a week ago a friend from the Occupy Pittsburgh camp dropped my name on a ghost hunt suggestion and I happily agreed to host a tour of the abandoned buildings with which I've become so familiar. They are arriving at 8pm with cameras and a supply of headlamps. I am ecstatic, bouncing off the walls, glowing like my cigarette butt in a basement that was forgotten years ago. I'm not going adventuring alone tonight! Around 5:30 I make the long journey up the hill to the Giant Eagle outside Braddock to buy beer. I end up hauling two 30 cases home on my back, much to the amazement of the sales clerk and my neighbor. 7Pm rolls by. I pick up after Brooklyn and the cats a little bit then play guitar. I'm supposed to writing a theme song for a Burrito stand [W] and an Americore worker in town, [B], are in the process of launching but my heart isn't in it. I play “The Anarchist” instead. 8Pm and I'm twiddling my thumbs, chewing off callouses and feeling dumb. Maybe this isn't happening after all. [B], calls and I tell him no ones here yet. He says not to worry and is on his way. Before I know it my phone goes off again. They are here.
Spooky stories and shots of whiskey. I proudly boast my tale of walking 60 beers on my back down from Braddock hills. Gear up and pet Brooklyn goodbye. Seven people squeeze in a car in search of the ghosts of the Ladies GAR Home, I grin as [L] screams out the window with a breath of cigarette smoke “Mutha fuckin urbex of the season! For. The. Win.”
An hour later were in hand cuffs. Giggles as our cell phones go off. “He [D] I'm instagraming you!” “I can't believe I'm in hand cuffs and it's NOT because of a protest.” “I can't believe you popped my arrest cherry!” “I can't believe I got searched for a slingshot.” “My headlamp itches.” We bond, in that strange way you do when your arrested with a good group. We return home at 2am and commence cleaning off the alcohol. It has been a good night. In the morning with the car in impound we opt to explore abandoned buildings. I immediately lead the crew to all my favorites. “Watch out for the rubble here.” I finally get to say. We discover a building I've never entered before and take our parting souvenirs. [L] gets a bar sign, [MW] gets a bottle. I get an old carpenters belt. When everyone's gone I'm in a glow and drink the last beer alone. Could it be possible? I think I might have just made friends.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Adjusting VI

It's Monday morning and I wake at 4am, from what I do not know. Sabina is soundly asleep at my side. Willow is on the windowsill. I listen for Brooklyn whimpering downstairs but all is silent. Good, at least I think. My back hurts and I know I won't get back to sleep. Cursing myself for ditching out of my last few weeks of chiropractic care and physical therapy, I adjust my sleeping bag around me and knock my pillows to the floor in frustration. Sabina wakes up and at first I'm worried she'll leave. Beanie... I whisper into her fur. She purrs and licks my nose, then nestles herself atop my chest. Her tiny paws make my empty stomach twist in agony but I ignore it. I need her there. Her weight confirming what is real. I am here, in my bedroom, in a ghost town. The orange glow of snow, sulfur lamps and smoke filter in through curtains made of scarves I've collected over the years and tacked to the window frame. The steel mill groans in the distance, a small symphony of clangs, whistles and the low whir of its constant flame. I am here, I remind myself again, laying a protective arm over Sabina's small mass. I am here, in Braddock, where there's more stray cats than people, but most importantly, I'm here where it is safe. Memories of [R] and I rise to the surface of my brain like oil on water. I shake them off and they seem to multiply. He becomes stray cats and the faces of strangers on the bus in half conscious dreams. I love him and always have, this my loose lips has made to plain for too many, but I fear I've gone to far. That he knows me all to well and that my recent cyber interactions and pleas for attention (mixed with his recent strife for which I've been less than consoling in my own dilemmas) have pushed us to an edge. To lose his love, though its bold for me to even say that, would be one thing I would not mind (as long as he is happy) but to lose his friendship is a separate situation which I'm not sure I could bear to survive. Assuming what I lead can be considered a life.
The morning drags on as such.
The sun rises at 6:48am, I know because I wrote it on my calendar before I retired the night before. [W], my roommate rises soon after. Brooklyn begins to cry when she opens her bedroom door and I feel guilty at first, knowing shes going to have to deal with him even though I am awake. I make a mental not that I seriously need to pick up that dog crate from the Mayors wife so I can have him in my room again instead of getting up. Though I may be restless I am tired, there is no doubt about that. Its about half an hour after she leaves that I give in and stumble downstairs. I pick up the wreckage from the night before and make a mental note that I need to start drinking less, among other things. Everyday feels like a resolution to do more of one thing and less of another. Stop smoking cigarettes, start eating, stop pitying myself, start taking out the trash. Stop letting people get away with the excuse, I can't donate because I have no cash.
The day drags on. I make a bed of memories and curl up inside it. I watch the palm trees sway in the wind outside the La Jolla Whole Foods in San Diego, pondering the bleached white Mormon church on the other side of the street. I watch a ghost of myself in a halter top wielding a clip board like it will save humanity. It's a good day, I was given a $173 check and my staff partner is lenient with his cigarettes. My favorite security guard checks up on my every hour, teasing me about my numbers and if I need to borrow another pen from him yet. He gave me that clip board one day too. I proudly show my dog tags off to everyone who stops. They were given to me just a few days before hand, and though we lost the election, I am far from defeated. You'll see me in November 2012! I tell them, the date of the next ballot.
A sharp sting snaps me back to reality. My knuckles are bruised and the door I just knocked on is inlaid with stone. I'm mildly surprised to find that my body is cold and shivering. The sunlight is still vivid as it fades into my own reflection, staring back at me helplessly on a rich mans porch. Then a light flickers on and it disappears all together.
“Hi! How are ya?”
“Good... what's up?”
“My names Miranda and I'm with Working America, AFL-CIO, out here tonight fighting for god jobs and keeping funding in our schools. Take a look!”
“Oh... I'm not interested.”
“I hear ya. I'm just taking down names of support to join Working America so we don't see any more of our schools get shut down. It's like a petition... but stronger.”
“No, thanks.”
“Sir, it's really important I get everyone involved, If you just take a look....”
The door slams shut. I know I need to leave California if I'm going to make my quota tonight. I begin to whistle, its my little trick to force myself into a feign of cheeriness. Not that I don't ever whistle for fun, it just works in a pinch. I comfort myself with the knowledge that I can go back to being my regular miserable self when my shift is over at 9 o'clock.
My numbers pick up and soon the night ends. I return home and pour a glass of wine. Brooklyn licks the sorrow off my face. Sabina nudges my shoulder from the counter top and purrs. They are part of the reason why I'm stuck here, but I don't know what I'd do with out them. My dad's cat Willow cries. She misses him and I do to. Things were easier for the week he was around. The house was clean and the laundry was done. Food was cooked, if I was willing to eat it. I even forgot about how homesick I was for a few days there. His parting words replay in my mind. Its gonna be like this for a few years Randa, only visiting every few months or so until my debt is paid off. Just hang in there, I'll be here soon and then you can do whatever you want. I'm angry at him and bitter, but deep down I know I have no where else to go. It was no better with my alcoholic mother in New York City, sleeping on the subways because I was to scared to sleep at home.
After a final glass of wine I round up the cats and settle in my sleeping bag. I prefer it to sheets because two people can't fit in a sleeping bag so I can't long for a body beside me, yet still memories laying on [R]'s chest dominates my restless thoughts.
He hasn't called or texted all week.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Adjusting V

My dad visits and picks up the burdens of homemaker that I cast into a corner, collecting dust. He does the litter boxes and has dinner waiting for me after work, even though I only eat for a few days. He does not complain. He says I owe you Randa. and I do not dispute, even though I have been doing a sub par job of tending to the houses and animals. I think we both know my moving here was hard enough. My mornings are happy, they have always been the best part of my days. I go adventuring with Brooklyn along the freight train tracks and practice my songs. I feed the cats, I play with the guinea pig, I take photographs. This morning he is enthusiastic about setting up a dark room for me but I am not in the mood. I am sad because he will be leaving soon for New York City and I cant go home with him. We say this is my home now, but nothing will ease the pain of every memory of roof tops and riding between the cars of the 7 train, smoking a cigarette, feeling like flying. Nothing will ease the pain of knowing I can't go back home again. I eat the Papaya King hot dogs he bought for me and try not to cry. I drink the wine he bought and try to justify tonight. It was a good night overall. I made quota on a difficult turf, but like always it is still not enough. I could have done more. The words I just hate myself, I don't even hate Rick Santorum as much as I hate myself. echoed in my head between every house tonight. I think I forgot to flush after I puked at staff night yesterday and it's haunting me that everyone may know I'm bulimic, anorexic and absolutely pathetic, or worse, that they talked about it after I left. I was way to drunk yesterday night. And its funny, because the sheer fact of them knowing doesn't bother me much, just that they may think I do such things to myself to look “pretty” or “thin”. So the words I just fucking hate myself, I don't even hate Rick Santorum as much as I hate myself. echoed in my head, ready for fire in case one of them brought it up. Just so they know that I understand my puke spewing, diet pill popping habits are far from attractive, that I realize they make me look like Skelletor and freak people out ta-boot. Its just an efficient way to take my anger out, and keep people at a far enough distance to feel safe.
When I'm leaving the office I say goodnight. I don't always. I usually prefer to slip out unnoticed, unseen, but tonight I am lonely and homesick, and am craving some sort of acknowledgment. [I] meets me as I'm walking out the lobby doors. He is the only other New Yorker in the office and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but his company is one of the most comforting parts of my days. My favorite NYC band is in town and I'm debating going. I ask him where his bus stops though I'm vaguely sure its akin to the P1 which I'd need to get to the venue. He says on Liberty Ave., the bus I need to get home stops on Wood St. I consider asking him to go with me to the concert but am to tired and to sad. I tell him about the concert I've decided I'm not going to instead and we part our separate ways. According to our conversation I'll be smoking a joint and playing guitar tonight, which will be true after this next glass of wine. My depression deepens on the the hour long bus ride home. I just hate myself, I don't even hate Rick Santorum as much as I hate myself. My mind repeats and I can't make it stop. Not one song on my iPhone is comforting. When I arrive home, with cigarettes on my breath, my dad is already in bed. He talks to me sleepily how was your night? Then I pour myself a glass of wine and collapse to my knees on the kitchen floor. Brooklyn licks my face and nuzzles my hair. I wrap him up in a puppy hug and almost cry. Then Sabina flicks a cinnamon container to the floor. She's jealous, for until recently she was my only pet, or as I say, my original fuzz-nugget. I wrap her up into a hug too, then begin to write.
All the while I imagine someone watching me from the dog gate. Someone witness to the nightly routine I hide with my jokes and laughter. Someone witness to the things I'm to much of a coward to tell to the people who matter.