Eulogy

I’m still struggling with the depression but I’m trying. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but never got around to posting it. I received word that a lifelong friend of mine died.

When I was fourteen I met my friend George. I first saw him staring at me at the carnival. I had just moved to the town and was alone, walking the carnival circuit. I saw a big biker guy working one of the rides. He had this intensity to him even then that drew me to him. When I first noticed him, I froze for a moment. I remember I was wearing a Harley Davidson shirt with the neck ripped out so it hung off one shoulder, “Flashdance” style. (I’m dating myself but yes, this was the 80s.) It’s funny the things you remember. We didn’t speak. He just stared, and I was shy so I didn’t approach him either. Then I saw him in town and a few other places, always stopping to stare at me but not speaking. Finally I saw him at the County Fair. I was there with my brother and stepmother and we were about to leave. I was heading in one direction of the fair and he was heading in the other when we passed. He turned and came up behind me and said “I see you everywhere I go but I still don’t know your name.” Fourteen year old me thought this was romantic. He was three years older than me, a big biker/teddy bear of a guy. He was good looking but a little heavy, with dimples, biker boots, a leather jacket, a great smile and a shitty attitude. I think I may have written about him before. If so, bear with me. I had a crush for a while, as did he, but we didn’t get together. We became friends and sort of dated a little, but more friends than anything. I used to run around with him and another mutual friend named Scott. There were nights spent drinking and nights spent running and days spent hanging around.

George stayed a friend. When I broke up with my first serious boyfriend and fiancée at 22, George cut the engagement ring off my finger. I remember him asking “Do you wanna keep the finger?” while laughing with this demented expression. George was always funny. That was probably his best attribute. He briefly got a gig doing stand up comedy in Baltimore. I’m not sure what happened but it didn’t work out and he never tried again. George helped me move into my first apartment after breaking up with David and while moving I remember him in the bathroom singing “Roxanne”. It had gotten to be somewhat of a running joke between us and I got the giggles so bad I couldn’t breathe. He lived with his grandmother and I picked him up from there many nights. We fought once in a while, but always made up. Sometimes he would crash on my couch, or other times he would come wake me up to go do something ridiculous

He came to think he loved me, and was charming and persistent in trying to get me to be with him, but it wasn’t working. I don’t know if he actually did love me, but he thought he did. I remember him singing various songs to me, riding motorcycles, and being in a riot in Pennsylvania with him. I remember being angry with him one night and screaming at him from my balcony. My apartment was on the second floor and I remember flinging everything I had of his off the balcony and then throwing two liter soda bottles at him. He could do that to me… make me so angry that I would see red and lose my temper completely. I had quite the temper back then too. I beat up a girl at the carnival one night. We had history that’s not really relevant, but I had been after her and she had been hiding from me instead of facing me. George was with me that night. We were hanging around a little before I had to go into work. When I saw her at the carnival I laid into her and I really beat the crap out of this girl. The carnival workers jumped on me and two of them pulled me off her. They had me on the ground with my arms pulled back when this girl’s husband came after me. He had his fist drawn back and dropped down on his knees to hit me as I was pinned, when George stepped in and told him to back the fuck off. (Yeah that guy was a giant pussy, trying to punch a girl who was pinned down.) Then we ran before the police showed up, with me high on adrenaline and victory, and George trying to get me out of the carnival without getting into another fight with some friend of this woman who thought she might try to avenge her. It was not my finest moment, I admit. I was young, wild and pissed off.

I remember being at the apartment I lived in after that one and George showed up one night. He was drunk and was at the foot of my stairs proclaiming his love for me –loudly and at length. He had someone drop him off at my place specifically so he could do this. I had to drive him home again because I would not let him stay the night. I remember being scared for him and hunting for him in the graveyard late one night. He had left his truck on blasting Ozzy’s “No More Tears” and had wandered off into the graveyard. I was so worried. I remember him trying to get in my pants at the gravel pit, standing in the moonlight with his pants pulled down. I turned on the car and drove away, leaving him there like that, and giggling like a banshee. I remember taking him to his friend’s house and being absolutely furious with him when I realized what was going on (activities I wanted no part of). I remember spending time with his son, who had developmental problems. I have so many memories of him. I could go on like this for a few pages telling George stories. My best friend used to say that we’d be in our rocking chairs and he would still be after me.

We did finally have a serious falling out. It was about ten years ago and we lost touch after that. He got involved with someone and I got married and moved out of state. But if I had run into him again, I think we would have greeted each other as the old friends that we were. So now he’s dead. I don’t know what the cause was. A friend of mine that was unaware of my history with George let me know and it hit me pretty hard. I let Tara know, and that was even more pain. God I miss her. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. RIP George. I’ll always remember you fondly.

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depression

I’m really struggling with depression lately, which is why I haven’t updated. I’m trying very hard to not let myself sink to the bottom, but it’s hard to try to swim while fighting it when you’re on your own. I miss my mom, I miss Wendy, I miss Tara. I miss lots of things. I try so hard to give myself goals and to work on achieving them, and I was making some headway. But now I’m sunk again, and it’s pretty bad. I struggle with the urge to self harm, but I am not at that point. It is discouraging that the urge is back though. I haven’t done that in a lot of years.
I guess this is a bit of a release valve. Nothing literary, or even well written for that matter, but it helps with the pressure.
just a bit.

Alone

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

~Edgar Allan Poe

 

 

Revival

“Revival” was written after my grandmother told me about going to a snake-handling church when she was younger. This was probably in the 1930s, and the church was in the Appalachian mountains. She wanted me to write her life story, but I don’t think she gets what that entails. Still, I should have done it, and should still try to do it. I loved to listen to her talk to me about her life and the hardships she had endured, and I always wished I had recorded it but I never did. She’s very old now and I know she doesn’t have much time. When she goes it will tear me apart. My mother has been dead for a very long time, and my father is probably dead (and good riddance). Anyway, this poem was published in a magazine called “Penumbra” and collected in my chapbook “Psychoentropy”. I hope you enjoy it.

Revival

They share the taste of strychnine,

liquid faith like crystal purity,

bottled in a mason jar

scented with the ghost

of last year’s peaches.

 

Dusty boots thump,

and patterned skirts swirl,

keeping time with the choir

of shivering tambourines,

as they cry with broken voices

of the rapturous divine.

 

The Reverend handles serpents,

armed with shining words of God,

and preaches fervent sermons

with the cadence of

the hissing snakes,

sliding coils through grasping fingers

scarred with memory of sin.

 

He sways,

moves with strange conviction,

and teaches salvation

to the undulating devout,

singing in blind ecstasy

in obsolete tongues.

 

They dance,

caught in serpentine embrace,

anointed by the Spirit

with sacred revelations,

as the congregation burns,

wrapped in spiraling religion.

 

~Julie Shiel

Fireflies and Twilight

I’m feeling quite melancholy tonight. I try not to think about these things but sometimes I get overwhelmed. I mean other than my normal depression. Sometimes I just get filled with such sadness that it takes my breath away. I keep hoping to see lightning bugs, or fireflies, depending on your part of the county. I haven’t seen them in years. I remember chasing them when I was little, and it’s something every child should be able to do. I remember being maybe five, and having a firefly in a jar. I smeared the phosphorescence on my fingers so that I would glow too. I showed my mother and she told me that I shouldn’t do that. I asked why, and she explained that it hurt the insect. Of course I cried, but I never did it again. I don’t think I even caught them any more after that because I felt so bad and was afraid of hurting another one. Five year old me wanted to glow like the fireflies and I never thought about the insects being harmed.

Earlier tonight I thought I saw a light flashing on the edge of my garden, but no. It was just someone’s house light flickering through. Everyone knows that bees are in serious trouble, or they should. It’s still not being taken seriously enough here in the US, but people are at least aware of it. This year there are hardly any. People are aware of the plight of the bees because we rely on them to eat. What people may not know is that fireflies are in trouble as well. There’s no big money being made from fireflies, and we don’t rely on them to eat so they are relegated to backpage news. However, while bees help us to sustain our bodies, fireflies do the same for our souls. Seeing the flash of fireflies in the night with the sound of frogs and insects singing is a peaceful experience. It’s quiet, but beautiful and it will move you if you have a heart.

There is something about twilight that has always sang to me. The fireflies are part of it, but it’s more than that. It’s a period of “in between”, a time of no time at all really. It’s not day and it’s not night. It is the transition, the shifting of universes, the curtain fluttering between acts. Everything has a blue tint that muffles the world, but it can also accentuate things. It’s like if you’re with someone, that person is a bright cut out against a cloudy sky. Maybe if I ever experience it again I’ll find the words. It sharpens my senses but smoothes my soul, providing me with a clarity that is hard to find otherwise. It makes me hyper-sensitive to magic and things that don’t exist under the blaring sun and that are hidden under the darkness of night. The natural world takes a deep breath

and exhales.

 

 

 

I should be writing a book but battling demons is messy work. Goodnight.

 

“I slept under the moonlight and set my soul free, caged within jars like fireflies”.”
― Prajakta Mhadnak

Missing t

T has been on my mind a lot. I miss her badly and wish I could talk to her. I’m also seriously pissed off at her. She was the closest person in the world to me, including family. She was my family as far as that goes, and I would have done absolutely anything to help her. From the time we met I was looking out for her, whether she knew it or not. I have no idea how many times I had to stand up for her when we were teens-20s. When I was still scrappy, I suppose. Any time she needed anything I did it for her. I’m the one she called in the middle of the night when something was bothering her. I’m the one who would drop everything and come over if she needed me to. She always had two best friends, me and the other J, but I’m the one she talked to more, saw more, and who was always there. I was the only one at her first wedding, and I did everything I could to make her second special. That’s not putting down J in any way… she lived further away and had kids to deal with. But it remains that it was me that was always there. So when she said I had never done anything for her, I was stunned. I know she’s parroting some bullshit someone must be feeding her, but she should have given it some fucking thought before she repeated that shit. Besides being a damn good friend, I got her a job when she needed it, a place to stay when she needed it, lent her money when she needed it, brought her things she needed, and on and on…. And for her to forget or to dismiss all that I’ve done for her is just appalling.
I hate what alcohol turned her into. It broke my heart. When she started putting the kids in danger, enough was enough. Driving drunk with the kids in the car, leaving them to fend for themselves, leaving them at sleazy motels while she went chasing after her ex… Just not acceptable. When she decided she was going to try to get Jason back after what he did to R, I could not be a party to that in any way.
Still, I thought eventually we would work it out. I thought she’d sober up and realize how she had been behaving. That’s what other people thought too. I was the fourth person to call about the kids. I hated to do it. I cried for two weeks before I gave in and did it. That was after talking repeatedly about it to various people who encouraged me to do so. I know it was the right thing to do but I still felt bad about it. Still, we had been friends a lifetime. I didn’t think anything could break that.
Then damn if she didn’t move in with my ex, of all people. I know she has a problem being alone and God forbid she actually has to work or something, but that was really fucking low. He let her drink so she stayed, and in doing so, made it clear that she did not think we would reconcile. I was already pissed at her, but she still threw away our friendship for a place to drink.

Then to find out that she somehow thinks her fucked up life is somehow my fault, is just too much. She’s the one that ruined her relationship with her kids when she chose her child’s molester over her child. She’s the one that ruined her relationships with her friends over drink. Then her drunken ranting on facebook about how “I’m evil” and to “give her back her daughter” like Raven was a thing I had stolen. She did apologize for that and her excuse was that she was drunk. But I am sick of being blamed.

I was so angry over this the other day I started to log on just to say “fuck you, Tara, you broke my heart”. I managed to control myself, but I tell you, it took both hands to grab hold of myself. I’m so lonely I could die sometimes, and I miss talking to my friend. So many things remind me of her. The memories of 25+ years are wrapped up with her. When she messaged me recently I laid into her. I was still furious. I am still furious. But underneath that I’m just really hurt and I miss my sister. I keep telling myself that she has shown that her friendship is no longer worth having. She has shown how easily she will turn on someone if it is to her advantage. It makes me wonder if she was always such a shitty person or if it’s just the booze. I want to believe it’s the booze, but I honestly don’t know if there is any of her left in there.
I just wish I could go back in time and stop all of this.

Planned Parenthood

I was raped as a teenager. I had just turned seventeen and was a senior in high school when I found myself in a very bad situation. I do not want to go into what happened that night. It is enough that you know I was raped and terrified. I was from an abusive home, and there was no way I could tell an adult. However, I knew I needed help. The rapists were not kind enough to use protection, and I was afraid I might be pregnant or have gotten an STD. I was seventeen, had been traumatized, and my boyfriend, who I loved very much, had decided to blame me for what happened. Suffice it to say, I was not in a good place emotionally.
I did the only thing I could do – I contacted my local clinic. I remember calling them from school, using the payphone out front. This was when payphones were still a thing and before everyone had cell phones.  I made an appointment and the lady asked me what I was coming in for. I told her I needed to be tested for pregnancy and STDs. She asked if I had reason to believe I may have been exposed, such as having sex with someone who was a known carrier. I didn’t want to tell her, but I did. I told her I had been raped and that I just didn’t know. I remember the woman was horrified and asked if there was someone I could talk to about it. She wanted a phone number, but I told her I was calling from school and did not have one  to give her. I told her I was fine, I just needed to make sure, and no, there was no wonderfully wise and compassionate adult I could speak to about the issue. I made the appointment and held my breath.

The day of the appointment, I had to get to the next town over, where the clinic was located. It’s been some years ago since this happened and I don’t remember how I got there, but it would have been complicated. I did not have a car so getting there would have been a real problem. It was a rural area so there was no public transportation available. No taxis, no buses, no trains. I may have hitch-hiked, but after my recent rape I rather doubt it. At any rate, it would have involved some planning to get just to the next town over. Thank God I didn’t have to go to another state. To get to my appointment, I would have either skipped school or taken time off of my job. At that time I was working 4-12 after school, full time, trying to save up the money to escape my miserable home existence.
I don’t remember getting there, but I remember the appointment. The lady I spoke to was the one I had spoken to on the phone, so she knew what had happened. She was compassionate and concerned for me. I was seventeen, isolated, had serious trust issues, and was highly independent. I often adopted a tough attitude as protection, hoping my prickly exterior would keep people at a safe distance. I had not cried over what happened since that night. I had been trying to pretend like it hadn’t happened. Until that appointment. The lady at the clinic was gentle and she was so genuinely concerned about me that I started crying. I don’t remember what she asked me, but it came out that it had been two men, which made it that much worse. She examined me, tested me for STDs, spoke to me, gave me a bag full of prophylactics and a referral to see a therapists, all for free. This is what Planned Parenthood did for me.

Her compassion was what broke me. I had expected her to blame me, to think it was my fault, and that I was a horrible person. She didn’t think any of those things, and she helped me feel a little less tainted. My results came back negative and I went on with my life with one more scar, but I have never forgotten the kindness of that unknown clinic worker.
The current attack on Planned Parenthood by a bunch of old men is unacceptable. Planned Parenthood does so much for so many women. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have been able to be tested. They do cancer screenings, pap smears, give classes, and give prenatal care, among many other services. Providing safe abortions when necessary is just a minuscule part of what they do, and zero funds from federal money goes towards that. Planned Parenthood clinics help millions of girls just like I was. These old men would have demanded that my father was told right off the bat. That would have gotten me beaten and more, and it would have made the whole experience a lot more traumatic. My story is just one, and it happened long ago, but it mattered. Planned Parenthood matters. Abstinence education doesn’t work… teenagers will do what teenagers do. When provided with birth control and protection, unwanted pregnancies and STDs drop dramatically. When you take them away, they rise dramatically. It’s really not a difficult concept. If you want less federal money spent on supporting unwanted children and their woefully unprepared young parents, you spend a little up front on prevention. In my case it wasn’t even a matter of teenagers doing what teenagers do – it was rape. And Planned Parenthood was there.

I don’t think a bunch of old men have any business deciding what woman do with their bodies. Demonizing an organization that does so much for so many is self destructive and it’s just plain stupid. With our current administration, Planned Parenthood is going to need the support of individual people, even if you can only donate a little. It won’t replace the money lost through federal grants, but it might help keep them afloat for a little while. We don’t need more nuclear weapons. That’s ludicrous, dangerous and expensive. But the same old men who don’t think any money should go towards health care are fine with spending money on war toys. They should not be allowed to feel self righteous. They should be called out for the bitter dinosaurs that they are.

You can donate to Planned Parenthood here. They will even let you donate in someone else’s name, so that person gets a nice little thank you note. I, and thousands of other women, have donated in Mike Pence’s name, just because he’s such an extreme miserable example of an old man mucking about in matters that he should have no say in.

Just a suggestion.

Well I had planned to finish writing about my medical emergency, since that’s what’s currently dominating my life. I don’t remember where I left off. My husband took me to the ER, where we found I had sepsis with organ failure, something going on with my kidneys, a host of other things, and of course, necrotizing fasciitis. You know, this is one of those things that is rare and horrible and you never think you or anyone you know will get it. So of course that”s what it was. They rushed me into surgery and cut out all the bad tissue, which was at my abdominal incision and was about to start chowing on my organs. I was in ICU for a while. My husband says it was like 5 days but I honestly don’t remember it. I have a giant hole in my stomach and it always hurts and itches but I was lucky.

The nurse comes three times a week and changes the sponges and all that. That is actually a nightmare because I’ve started healing into the sponges, and need to be separated from them first. The incision is 11″ long, where they did the hysterectomy and them cut it open even more for the flesh eating disease. (There, that’s so much easier to type than necrotizing fasciitis.) It was about 4″ deep, or all the way through, and about 2.5″ across. It is uneven, with a sort of channel that has to be kept open so fluid doesn’t build up. I go see a Doctor, either the gyn or the wound specialist once a week. And the rest of the time I’m home. My husband has been babying me, and waiting on me constantly. I hate to be a burden but he has really been wonderful. I think maybe it scared him that I almost died. Whatever the reason, hes been wonderful. My grandmother called several times and my uncle sent a card. Once my brother found out I wasn’t going to die, I guess he went on with things since I haven’t heard from him. I hope he’s doing the things he should be. My adopted kids haven’t called or anything. Maybe it’s their age, or their generation, but both of them are old enough to know better. It makes me wonder if they even give a damn about me any more.  It breaks my heart, because I would do anything to help them, and I tried so hard with R, but there’s nothing I can do. They’re either thoughtless or don’t care. I gave up the closest family I ever had when her mother did the things she did, and I’d do it again, because I had to do what I could to protect those kids. Now they’re grown. Maybe R living here was a mistake. I’m sure she doesn’t see me the same. I’m human, and I make mistakes and I have faults just like everyone else. I know she was angry at me at times, because she was rude and sometimes mean, and lied about things. That’s her way, but I had hoped she wouldn’t be like that with me. I hope she eventually learns that she has to talk to people, not just disappear or wonder why things aren’t the way she wants them.

Enough. I have the wound vac for 2-3 months, and I certainly don’t want to write about every agonizing episode to healing. I think I’m just moody from hurting tonight.