The Moon, Monsters, and Emotional Mayhem

Depression has seeped itself into the marrow of my bones once again.  I shut my bedroom door against the world, especially this week.  Especially being a reeling, grieving queer person this week.

On my dead end street, I shut my bedroom door against the world, and draw the curtains against the light.  I wrap myself in a blanket mailed to me by a long-gone lover in the hopes that it would help with my sleeplessness and I wonder:

“How long will this time last?”

Depression is a monster.  I am depression.  I am a monster.

Late at night, driving home, I park my truck on my street.  I stand quietly in the yellow glow of the streetlight for a moment before walking into the house.  Our street dead ends into the woods, and I hear coyotes howling in the distance.  Hope the dog circles around the edges of the light, sniffing at the air.  I can tell she’s spooked.

I’m spooked too, but it’s not the coyotes.  It’s the passing hours.  Its’ the passing days.  It’s the passing years.  They all add up to the same mounting sense of panic and isolation that set my skin crawling.

The streetlights flicker.  Hope growls softly at the tree line.  I almost wish I smoked cigarettes, or drank alcohol.  At least I’d have something to do with my hands, or something to meet the darkness with.  Instead we turn towards the house.  Hope runs ahead of me and beats me to the door.  We walk inside and go into our room.  She settles herself at her place on my bed, and I mine.  I open the window, and outside I can still hear the coyotes, growing distant.

Tonight I love them for howling at the moon to keep me company.

I really don’t want them to eat my housemates’ cats.

I ended the night reading old journal entries.  This is never a pleasant way to spend the small hours of the night.  You realize how similar you are to the person you were at 19, at 21, at 25, at 30.  Maybe we never really change.  We just grow older, and more embittered as the lines wear into our face and the years pass by in a flash.

I’ve always talked about depression.  I’ve always talked about feeling like an alien.  I have always talked about isolation.  These themes have defined my life.  It wasn’t just a passing teenage phase.  It wasn’t just a passing early adulthood adjusting phase.  I don’t think my experience is unique by any means, but it’s the experience I know the most intimately.

A breeze flutters through my window.  Hope snores.  I turn a dried and cracking page from a fifteen year old journal.

June 27th, 2001

I slept in the back of my car in Lauren’s apartment complex last night.  I arrived too late to knock on the door and ask to sleep on the couch.  I think I pulled up around one or two and fell asleep.  Lauren knocked on my window to wake me up around seven when she left for work.  She handed me a spare key, and told me I could go inside and brush my teeth and shave if I wanted. 

I probably looked like hell. 

I haven’t wanted to sleep at J’s house.  I can’t bring myself to, knowing what her next door neighbor did.  He tried to say hey to me and ask how my drive from Minneapolis was.  I ignored him.  Are you fucking kidding?  I have some of my things stored in the garage, but that’s it. 

J says I’m too angry.  She says sometimes these things just happen.  The phrase “quiet atrocity” reverberates in my head over and over.  Fuck this.  If this is how adults live and treat each other, I want to stay a fucking kid forever. 

We got in a fight that led to me sleeping in Lauren’s parking lot.  I cried more than I’ve maybe ever cried in my life.  All that helpless, impotent rage came pouring out of my eyes and my tiny body in racking sobs.  We agreed to go to therapy, but I don’t know if it will help.  I know I am doing literally every wrong thing here, but I also don’t know where to turn for advice. 

I don’t sleep enough at night.  I drive around looking for quiet places that will set my mind at ease.  I listen to the same four or five tapes on my tape player for hours. 

Catharsis.  Gehenna.  His Hero Is Gone.  Tragedy.  Born Against.  From Ashes rise. 

I dig through suburban dumpsters while The Rebel Sound of Shit And Failure grinds away in my tape player.  I sped through the intersection of 14th Avenue and Ogden Street half hoping a car would slam into me and end it all while The War of the Sons Of Light and Suns Of Darkness vomited all of it’s hatred and bile out of my speakers.  Driving north on Wadsworth Boulevard I pull over to cry and punch my windshield until it cracks while Tragedy howl about the Tension awaiting imminent collapse. 

The words have never rang truer than now.  I once told J that I needed music that sounded as ugly as I felt on the inside every single day, and this was it. 

Earlier today I recalled the story of how a friend and I met to her with such detail that she was kind of amazed.

“Maybe it would help you if you had partial amnesia.  I can’t imagine what remembering all these tiny details might do to a person.  I was horrified.  I actually got kind of upset and wanted her to apologize.  I’m so attached to memory, and the details that I feel things just as deeply a decade later as I did when the event occurred.

Case in point:  Reading the above journal entry.  I remember the sinking hatred that filled my body when I encountered J’s assaulter.  I remember the sinking, helpless wrath that filled my being almost every single day that summer.  I remember exactly how it all felt.  I remember.  I’d like to say that I’ve moved on, but recalling that helpless anger with ease, maybe it’s not the case.

Still, it’s my brain.  I’ll take it’s functions as they are, thank very goddamn much.

Howl.  Crackle.  The early summer breeze comes in through the window again.  It is nearing two AM.  I’m glad our street dead ends and is silent except for the chorus of nocturnal life the woods provide.

April 6th, 2005

It’s been almost two months since the accident.  I can walk upright with a cane now.  The last two months have been so hard.    The apartment I lived in when the car hit me was cramped and infested with roaches.  My housemate was an unsupportive fuckass, so I moved here. 

Molly lives in a one bedroom apartment on 2nd and Acoma.  I live in the living room.  She is the only one on the lease.  The rental agency doesn’t know I’m here.  If they every check, we will have to hide most of my stuff somewhere, or at least make it look less like I live in the living room. 

I got drunk by myself a few nights ago on a bottle of plastic whiskey from the liquor store a few blocks away on South Broadway.  I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling while Molly’s copy Lucero’s Tennessee spun on the turntable.  Call me elitist, but the record just sounds right on vinyl.  I get it.  It’s punks playing country music, or hipsters, or whatever.  These ridiculous sad bastard songs sound like they are supposed to with the accompanying crackles and pops that come with vinyl. 

I kept thinking about a line I read in a Derrick Jensen book, about how humans inherently hating themselves and each other.  With liquor swimming around in my belly and my head spinning, I had to admit he was right. 

If we didn’t hate ourselves we wouldn’t commit atrocity after atrocity upon one another.  We wouldn’t poison the planet.  We wouldn’t poison our bodies, or murder, or rape.  Or fucking commit genocide.  We wouldn’t commodify and consume everything within reach if we weren’t full of a self-hating death urge. 

We wouldn’t have to numb ourselves to the horrors we commit, or uphold, or ignore, with three dollar plastic bottles of whiskey. 

I just admit it.  I drink because I hate myself.  I said that out loud at a party at Villa Kula last summer when someone asked me what made me want to start drinking.  The room fell awkwardly silent. 

 When I was straight edge, I used to say that I never wanted to numb myself to the experience of the living no matter how difficult or horrific it was.  Now I just want numbness.  I hate the person I am becoming.  I hate it when I have days where this city just looks like a rotting corpse, and it’s inhabitants are just maggots crawling and gnawing through the flesh. 

My eyes are all fucked up and bitter.  I’m only 24.  Alcohol alleviates that bitterness for a while.  Sometimes I pray that alcohol poisoning will take me in my sleep. 

Last night was largely a blur.  I definitely remember Molly and I meeting up with an old high school friend at a queer bar just north of Colfax.  I’m still walking with a cane, but felt well enough to walk around.  Before we left the apartment, Molly and I planned our “Night of Mayhem”.  If I was well enough to walk (albeit with a cane) maybe I’d be well enough to run too. 

We filled our bags with spray paint, bricks, a crowbar, and one bottle of whiskey each.  Kentucky Gentlemen, of course.  This is the only gentlemen either one of us trust.  I can’t bike yet, so I bussed it up to East Colfax.  The Zero, then the fifteen.  I was only mildly self-conscious of the rattling spray paint can knocking against the whiskey bottle in my bag. 

We didn’t know what we were going to break, or spray paint, but it was going to be awesome. 

We hung out at the gay bar with my high school buddy, and watched the drag show.  My high school friend bought Molly and I two shots each.  I’m definitely feeling it by the time Molly and I get up to leave and meet our other friends, and respective lovers at the 404 Lounge on South Broadway, one maybe three blocks from our apartment.  L. and I have already been having a strained conversation through text message, and I’m not looking forward to meeting up with them.      Molly and C. had been broken up for a week or so, but were in that awkward ex-lover phase where the cord wasn’t quite cut.  It had been a rough winter, for all of us. 

“You know, you could jump on the bus now, or we could walk down Colfax and drink some of this whiskey.  It’s such a nice night.” 

She was right.  No reason to hasten what was likely going to be an awkward night at the bar.  We made our way, stumbling and giddy down East Colfax, passing back and forth the bottle of Kentucky Gentlemen. 

“You know what fucking song I love?”

“What song?”

“Kiss the goddamn bottle!”

“Goddamn.  Me too.  We should sing it.  Mattie Canino sang it for me at a house show last year when I started drinking.”

We went on like that; west on Colfax towards Broadway, where I’d catch the Zero, stumbling and singing.  We sang it so, so badly.  A man walking on the south side of Colfax even stopped to watch and laugh at us. 

“It gets loneliest at night.
Down at the liquor store.
Beneath the neon sky.
Our moonlight.
Six A.M., the floor comes alive with lice.
The pan’s dried up so tight.
With hardened beans.
We’re hungry.
So I lean on you sometimes.
Just to see you’re still there.
Your feet can’t take the weight of one.
Much less two.
We hit concrete.

How were we born into this mess?
I know I painted you a prettier picture, baby.
But we were run out on a rail.
Fell from the wagon to the night train.

I kissed the bottle.
I should’ve been kissing you.
You wake up to an empty night.
With tears for two.

Cigarettes they fill the gaps.
In our empty days.
In our broken teeth.
We’re jonesing.
Say mister, can you spare a dime?
Some change could make a change.
Could buy some time.
Some freedom.
Or an ear to hear my story.
It’s all I’ve got. My fiction
beats the hell out of my truth.
A palm upturned burnt blue.
Don’t call it sunburn.

You’ve been shaking on the job.
Just one drink ahead of your past.
There’s a white light coming up.
You draw the blinds hoping it’ll pass.

I kissed the bottle.
I should’ve been kissing you.
You wake up to an empty night.
With tears for two.

I kissed the bottle.
I should’ve been kissing you.
You wake up to an empty night.
With tears for two.

I kissed the bottle.
I should’ve been kissing you.
You wake up to an empty night.
With tears for two.”

We came to the corner of Colfax and Broadway where I was to catch the Zero, and where Molly would jump on her bike and bike the eleven blocks south to the 404.  Before my bus came, Molly insisted that we jump over the chains keeping people off the Pioneer Monument and drink a toast. 

“Everything we know is coming to pieces!  Our lives!  Our city!  Our world!  Civilization itself!  Through it all our friendship, and maybe this stupid statue will endure!” 

Molly was grinning and gesticulating wildly with the bottle of whiskey.  A trained opera singer by profession; even with the slurring, her voice carried mightily.  We both pulled swigs of liquor out of the bottle, emptying it into our bellies.  Molly took the bottle and smashed it at the foot of the statue. 

Somehow, nobody called the cops on us.  My bus came.  Molly got on her bike.  Ten minutes later we were at the 404.  Molly was already fighting with C.  when I arrived.  L. became irate with me when I didn’t say hello to her as soon as I walked into the bar.  Her irritation only grew when she realized how drunk I was. 

The details are lost to me in a whiskey blur now, even a day later.  I think that cute boy who flirted with L sometimes came into the bar.  Somehow I tried to walk home by myself.  It was only three blocks.  L. followed me outside to ask if I was okay to get home on my own. 

“Fuck you!  I’m fine!  Let me go!” I slurred. 

The hurt was right there in her face.  I was now that guy.  The guy who gets wasted and jealous and acts like a hurting piece of shit.  Seven words that I couldn’t take back.  It went downhill from there. 

We argued for a minute in front of the 404.  Then walked back to Molly and I’s apartment.  We sat on the porch, crying quietly.  We proclaimed how dearly we loved one another, but it just wouldn’t work.   

It’s a blur.  I definitely remember crying and saying:  “I’m in love with you because you’re so sensitive.  I love you because you cry reading the newspaper!”  I remember asking her what she was feeling, and she replied only with “despair.”.  She asked if she could come in to fuck one more time before we broke up for good.  I said no.  My room was too messy and I was embarrassed to have her in it. 

We kissed goodbye and she walked home.  We’ve broken up before.  I wonder if it will stick this time?

I passed out in Molly’s bed, periodically waking up to leave her a series of increasingly incoherent voicemails.  She played them for me today, and they’re hilarious.  I can’t even tell what I’m saying in the last one.  “Something something something heartbreak”

Molly and C. got in a huge fight.  It’s definitely over for them too.  Molly came home crying and passed out next to me in her bed.  We laughed at our messenger bags full of alcohol, spray paint and bricks the next morning.  Who were we kidding?  We didn’t break anything but ourselves.  Our “Night of Mayhem” quickly devolved into a night of emotional mayhem.  Now we’re left to pick up the pieces.  Again. 

I don’t drink now.  I don’t even really go out to bars.  Lately I don’t even really go out.  In my solitude, I could almost miss the drama and disasters of youth.  Almost.  I look back tonight not with a sense of loss, or wasted days, but a sense of bewilderment of what any of it means.

Some nights I can see it clearly.  Tonight isn’t one of them.  There are good days and bad days.  I’m out here alone on a dead end street, save for the coyotes howling, and save for Hope the Dog, of course.  I’m not sure if I’d have it any other way, but I don’t know.  Pouring these words onto the page makes the loathing dissipate just enough.  It brings just enough light to the darkness.  That’s it.  That’s kind of all I’ve got to go on.

We’ve been picking up the pieces for as long as we can remember.  I don’t really know how to bring this piece to a close.  It feels more like a weird archival journal entry, a look back at survival strategies to see what worked and what didn’t work.  I guess it comes back to the fact that at thirty-five years old, surviving gets exhausting.  I want to thrive.


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