Listen Here, Internet Girl

Monsters

I got really upset today about well, misogyny in general. I’m not sure what’s going on but it’s like up until now I’ve had somewhat of a dim understanding of what it truly means to be living in a man’s world. And recently it’s just hit me like running into a brick wall. It’s overwhelming and if I think about it too much, I get upset like I did today.

A lot of bullshit has happened to me because of misogyny. I am not the only one. The facts are: I was raped in Oakland three years ago. Last year, a man followed me home with his pants unbuttoned and his dick out. The list goes on and on and it bums me out because how the fuck can it not?

I called one of my guy friends to try and get some sort of understanding or perspective and he said, “Since when did you become such an activist?” As if getting upset about being treated like shit is activism and not just being human. But then I thought well okay I guess this is activism and why should I feel bad about that?

My tolerance level for this kind of shit is nonexistent now. I just absolutely refuse to let anyone, man or woman, treat me with disrespect. And it’s not even that I never believed that I deserved better than what I was getting because I’ve ALWAYS known that I do deserve 10000000%. It’s just that when you use other people to fill the voids in your life, you are willing to put up with all kinds of monstrous shit. People can be monsters to one another. I don’t know how to reconcile any of this except by not being another monster.

How to get through it

You deactivate your Facebook as self-care.

You recognize yourself in a song with the lyrics “I’m in your city and you’re nowhere near me/What is it all without you?”

You realize that you just got distracted. You met him and he became a distraction from the things you came to the big city to do. Write. Earn your Bachelor’s Degree. Invent and re-invent yourself. Drink whiskey at piano bars in the West Village. Important stuff like that.

You think “He has no idea how painful it is for me to know that our friendship meant very little to him,” and you realize it doesn’t matter because you will never get to tell him to his face what he’s done. You will never get a chance to look him in the eye and call him a child, which you would do while not batting an eye or missing a beat.

You can’t understand why you still don’t want to hurt him the way he’s hurt you and everyone around you tells you it’s because you are a better person than he is. You don’t want to believe them because that would mean you were tricked. And you learn that sometimes love is all tricks and no magic. You learn that it was never love, anyway. You realize it doesn’t matter anyway.

You learn that assholes will use a mask of “honesty” to hide behind so they can pretend that being an asshole is a virtue, instead of seeing it for what it really is: a personality defect. You learn that knowing he is an asshole doesn’t mean you won’t yearn for him when you are awake at 3am.

And you learn where in your body sadness resides. You learn it feels as powerful as Niagra Falls caught in your chest. Rejection will first sting like a knife to the chest, then will become a ticking time bomb in the pit of your stomach. Fear (of what? Of losing him, of losing yet another important person, and fear in general) feels like a jackhammer against your rib cage, shattering almost everything inside. Almost.

You learn what ought to kill you doesn’t have to. You learn that “dying” can happen in a multitude of ways. First thing in the morning you can die by not getting out of bed. You can then die, by just lying there all morning and eventually all afternoon consumed and woozy from the thought of him. That’s the first death of the day.

Second, you can die if you do not shower or eat. Or if you eat too much. And obviously, you die each time you drink whiskey or cheap red wine in lieu of feeling what you should be feeling but do not want to feel because you are convinced the feeling of it all would kill you. You can also die when you don’t keep your commitments to your friends or your job. The dying is a hell on earth, and while it isn’t a literal death the hellishness of it all can make it feel like one. That you can actually die from a feeling is a lie that should be smashed to pieces in your mind and heart. Don’t fall for that witchcraft.

That too

B,

I guess a mourning period is needed now. For me, I mean. I would bet my life that you are going to go on living as if nothing has happened. Because that is how you get through shit. Because that is what you are doing now. You know that I know you better than what you probably know yourself, but I cannot for the life of me understand why you would consciously choose to hurt me.

Don’t forget that you met me. And that for a small moment our lives intersected and what that meant. Although, what exactly, now, I can’t say. Do you remember all the times you told me “we will be in each other’s lives for a long time, Teresa”? You said it at Jimmy’s and once you said it while looking me straight in the eye on the couch in my apartment. Was “a long time” a mere year? Do you remember the time you told me you’d walk me down the aisle on my wedding day? What am I supposed to do with those memories now that it is obvious you were just faking it? My only sin is that I believed you. God forbid.

I almost wrote “god forgive”, which, I mean, yeah. That too.

-T

I wanted to know what was normal but no one was talking

B,

It’s now been four days since we saw each other. How are you doing? I’m kinda falling apart, but luckily I have really great friends who remember to ask how I’m feeling, and luckily I make myself do yoga and take a shower and eat dinner at a reasonable hour. I do these things so I don’t fall apart all the way.

There was a time when I would let myself crumble completely. It was before I realized that, despite my track record and previously unsuccessful attempts, I could actually love myself. What that means is that instead of lying on the couch all day, unshowered and in last night’s makeup, I get up. I go for walks after the sun has set (despite the bitter cold). Because before, I would just stay on the couch, dirty and crying and hungry. Paralyzed, I guess. I would let myself drown in the pain because I thought the drowning was just what I deserved.

I know I probably shouldn’t be confused about why you haven’t said a word to me, but I am. I thought differently about you and I. It’s me. The girl who held your hand as you cried about your dad on my couch a month ago. Have you forgotten? I feel like there is a problem. I mean, at any given time you are already ten feet ahead, arms in front of you like a shield. I want to talk to you but I’m afraid of pushing you away. It seems like probably you have already done that for me.

I wish for things to be normal again. Remember what that felt like?

-T

Harry was right

When you have lived in New York for just three weeks, go to the dive bar on the corner of 8th Ave and 14th St. These things will happen:

-You will meet a lady claiming to be a hairdresser and a psychic. She will tell you that you are ballsy for coming into that dive bar (“This is the kinda place for men only!”) She will ask if you miss your mom.

-You will see him standing at the other end of the bar. Notice his height. He’s tall. His dark hair makes his complexion almost shine. Notice the way he comes across as confident.

-Decide you want to know him.

-His loud, obnoxious friend will walk over to you first. He asks what you do and will call you the “Carrie Bradshaw of this bar” after he finds out. You will not hold it against him.

-Tall Guy joins the conversation, then spills his beer on your jeans. He promises to buy you a new pair.

-You will not see him again for seven months.

In the span of one year, you will become very good friends who do the following things:

-Hang out basically every weekend.

-Drink enough alcohol together to float a cruise ship.

-Discover a favorite dive bar in Times Square. Joke that it is now your Cheers and laugh even harder when it really does become the place everyone knows your name.

-Flirt, cautiously.

-Have a three-hour conversation about your lives at Washington Square Park after midnight in 23 degree weather. Make the obvious comparison to your life and a Nora Ephron film.

-At the beginning of the summer, drive to Long Island together, then the Hamptons, and then finally, Montauk. Eat lobster rolls on a dock while watching people climb a rock jetty.

-Find it charming and hilarious that he becomes Facebook friends with your Mom.

-Find it charming and endearing that he makes plans to go to California with you to meet “the family.”

-Against your better judgment, find yourself falling in love.

-Love him so much you will wonder what it was you felt for all the ones before him.

-Move into a new apartment at the end of the year. Invite him over.

-Eat bacon mac and cheese on your couch while debating gun control.

-Drink too much vodka and console him as he cries while telling you about his father.

-As if it is 1997, turn on the Christmas episode of The X Files, hold hands and share a blanket like teenagers.

-Two weeks after the New Year, he tells you he loves you. You say it too even though you know he only means it platonically, and you, you do not.

-Fall asleep in your bedroom together. Kiss for the first time. Run your hands through his thick black hair as he kisses your inner thigh, then kisses lower and lower.

-Make note that he is tender with you.

-When it’s all over, hear him say “We can be adults about this, right?” and “We wouldn’t work together.” Imagine he is speaking a foreign language, one that only makes sense to him.

-In the morning as he leaves, embrace each other a little longer than usual.

-Play it off so cool.

-Until he closes the door.

-Freak out after not hearing from him for three days.

-Full-on mental break down.

-Analyze everything he said and did and didn’t say and didn’t do a million times.

-Give yourself a headache.

-Annoy your friends with constant text messages that say things like “Have I not heard from him because he thought my ass was big?”

-Love your friends when they reply “No, and yes, your ass is big but duh, he loved it.”

-Cry.

-Cry some more.

-Cry again.

-Shield your eyes with your bangs as you cry on the subway to and from work.

-SOMEHOW DO NOT GET BLACKOUT DRUNK every night.

-Cry so hard.

Once you can see straight, please do these things:

-First, give yourself freedom from looking high and low for his ghost.

-Despite your memories, he isn’t actually sitting on your couch drinking rum and laughing at you for knowing most of the lines in the Cheers pilot. You can spend time in your apartment without seeing him in every corner.

-Get out of bed everyday.

-Shower.

-Drink so much coffee.

-Write.

-Call your Mom.

-Yoga.

-Go to work.

-Study.

-Take long walks after the sun has set.

-Know that you can’t fix it.

-Be okay with not knowing if things are okay.

-Miss your friend.

I made myself free

On the first day of 2013, I realized that loving the very thing that I thought was what kept me a prisoner would, ultimately, be the thing that made me free.

“marked by enthusiastic or impatient desire or interest”

You are so eager to love me in the evening and too eager to leave me in the morning.

head above water

“I cannot do this hard-knock life alone. You are all the softness a rock dreams of being
. The mistakes the rain makes at picnics
 when Mother Nature bears witness in much better places.

So yes
, I will gladly take on your ocean
 just to swim beneath you
 so I can kiss the bends of your knees
, in appreciation for the work they do
keeping your head above water


.”

-Mike McGee

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a familiar dance

“Remember that time I told you I don’t get depressed?” I poured myself more coffee and looked around the room.
The Christmas tree in one corner, a man in the other.

“Yeah,” he said looking up at me.

“That was a lie. I’m a writer. Of course we get depressed.” He flicked his cigarette ashes into my “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” ash tray. He chuckled.

“You wear your moods on your sleeve.”

“And?”

“And I already knew that about you. You aren’t a hard person to read.” I felt my face get hot. “You look like you wanna punch me.”

“I do.”

He chuckled, again, then stood up. His cigarette was still lit. The Christmas tree, which we purchase at Duane Reade on 145th St, then lugged home six blocks, stood tall and proud. A symbol of the second chance we had granted ourselves.

He walked over to me and tucked my hair behind my ear. By this point “I love you” had become common place. As casual as “I’ll do the dishes tonight.” As natural as brushing your teeth. Tonight, when he told me he loved me, it illuminated the room. I feared what that meant, if anything and I cussed myself out in my mind for trying to analyze when he was trying, with every breath in him, to help me remember.

He wrapped his arms around me. The record we’d been playing finished, now I could only hear breathing. Once he said to me “You deserve to be worshipped. Like Cleopatra”, and I rolled my eyes and laughed out loud. There is a dance I do when I fall in love. Two steps forward, ninety steps back. I stumble, unsure and wobbly on legs that have forgotten.
I wanted him and I was afraid to. I annoyed myself with my love for him, and he was all I wanted in that moment and one thousand others.

A ghost is not recommended

I had been running and avoiding
in order to avoid running into myself.
I should have just stayed. I should have just stayed near to where I was instead of bumping into my shadow that lingered all around my life like cigar smoke. I never could have escaped me.
Silly 20something. Now you know why love must be all tricks and no magic. Our shadows danced, but I stayed still until it was time to go to the next place I wouldn’t have to face what had become of me because of you.

A mirror shattered into countless pieces all around us. We saw our shadows as a reflection of what could have been.
You were gone, gone, gone and I was here, finally still. I did not cut myself as I put us back together. And I meant to tell you before we parted on 42nd St last December that I was wrong. That people who love one another leave ghosts out in the snow. And magic shines as proof from their houses. Even, and maybe especially, us.

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