... in April & May I was more alive than I've ever been before or since ... which is just to say that I had a lot of feelings. Every moment was rich and full: terrifying & beautiful, perfect & ugly, heartbreaking & heartbursting, devastating & hopeful, thunder perfect shameless strength & fear. We lived lifetimes in a day. My brain was called upon to perform daily & hourly emotional, logistical and intellectual leaps rapidly & unexpectedly and the crazy thing is that it actually did -- and coming down took months. I was and often still am a Post Traumatic Stressed Out Mess. [Also, April & May: a picnic compared to June.] It's been a long path towards my "recovery" and she, too, after a few false starts, is truly recovering now, and by doing so is making this particular story one that actually ends well, instead of one that ends with me damaged & reeling and her still manic-as-ever. I lost all my faith in everything at one point: and sometimes you have to lose everything in order to get it all back, but more grateful & humble this time around.
It's tough to figure out how to write about serious madness and mental illness respectfully but truthfully, and here. I'm scared of TMI and unfinished thoughts ... I dunno ... so ... I don't know how to write about this. I may've been better equipped to when I took a stab at it in August. I was still pissed and suffering in the aftermath, she was still mad, and I hadn't even acknowledged on my blog the wide-scale internet attack launched at the height of her madness that most readers witnessed (the elephant in the cyber-room) ... and I had to say something, and so I did, and now, I'm at peace with it. Number "One" on that Top Ten covers what we've determined was defo The Weirdest Day of My Life and kinda gives you an idea of what April and May was often like -- moreso than I can communicate now. 'Cause I'm not angry anymore.
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved."
(The Holy Bible. St. John: 3.)
"To err is human, to forgive divine."
(Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Criticism")
Because to be honest: what I've gained in the aftermath -- which I think (I'm not sure) are things I wouldn't have gained, or not quite in the manner that I did, had things w/Tara worked out better -- are beautiful things. It'd be rotten not to admit & recognise that many friendships and creative collaborations were enabled by my damaged aftermath and most of all, that my increased and loyal readership was enabled by my unavoidable vulnerability and the devotion I developed to this space because of/following that.
I've been blessed by so many heroes, and angels, since. This almost killed me, but it didn't.
in the bluesy middle ground/of desire and withdrawal,/in the industrial air,
among the bittersweet/efforts of people to connect,/make sense, endure.
The angels out there,/what are they?"
(from "Between Angels," by Stephen Dunn)
There's this Dave Chapelle skit that was super popular, everyone quoted it all the time, the "It's Rick James, bitch!" skit? Remember that? This might seem like the most randomized association of all time, but there's a part in that skit where Rick James, following a story of him acting crazy, goes "Cocaine is a hell of a drug." I'd often think, in that same voice: "Bipolar is a hell of an illness."
April is the cruelest month, breedingAnyhow, these months were like the mega-important transitional period of this blog. Number "5" on Live Through This holds the most important point.
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
-T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land"
WTF 2007 EVENT #5: While girlfriend is in hospital, my article gets killed.
WTF 2007 EVENT #6: While girlfriend is in hospital, the doctors do nothing productive.
WTF 2007 EVENT #7: "6" a few more times, and all of that. That happened.
The first weekend of April, my Mom visited -- totes charmed by Tara & Haviland and vice versa. We had dinner with Peter & Natalie. Tara took her out so I could finish my article. The next weekend, TB got arrested, a photographer from [redacted] magazine came. Then it was Easter, then ... and then. I published a Second OurChart post, about how I met Haviland. And so on.
So: holy shit, I totally funneled boatloads of energy into April and May posts ... hyperlinking, Tara's copyediting, needing somewhere to focus all this ridiculous energy ... each blog post was like a full scale project, like a mini-zine every week. Like, reading these, is just like ... surreal, and it makes me happy that I learned how to spell. Mostly I knew people were actually reading so I felt legit about putting more effort into it. This is where some of the stuff I like best is, like the Top 15 Clubs thing: Part One, Part Two.
There's a lot of first comments, like Razia, Crystal, Carly, LK, Caitlinmae, Brooklyn Boy and so many it makes my head explode to even begin to list them. This kinda got me a job: The Unpaid Internship You've Waited All Your Life For (later, we'd joke that I'd actually hired Carly for this unpaid internship -- she did apply) and prompted genius responses from everyone. Aw, the short-lived obvs segment Carousel of Progress Parts One and Two, my first run-down of my Automatic Skills. Yeah. Urm. A lot of over-compensating for things I couldn't say.
ps. Taken me 4 ettempys to do the word veri."
Subtext Award: Presented Only to Myself as only I Know My Subtext
Nalia: "Tara is so stupendous/arresting looking, like and I hate to be intrusive, but what genetic mix has produced this?"
Riese: "Arresting indeed ... the literal irony here is INCREDIBLE."
The Lozo Award for Bold & Inappropriate Sexual Come-Ons: Presented Only to Lozo
Lozo's First Time: "i'm not sure who you are, and i'm not sure where exactly you linked to me, but i just wanted to say you really remind me of elliot from scrubs, so i'm going to fall in love with you in about 7 minutes."
Lozo's Second Time:"i just wanted to say that you are my new, what people would call, "blog crush." i think i've only had two ever. but i prefer to call it what it really is, a blog horniness-toward-a-girl-i-really-don't-know-who-may-or-may-not-be-a-lesbian-because-i-haven't-read-everything-yet-but-i've-seen-"L-Word"-a-lot-so-i'm-not-sure-but-i-totally-want-to-have-sex-with-her-anyway-because she-looks-like-elliot-from-scrubs.
i hope you appreciate all that hyphening."
Best Comment Posted in October, Six Months After the Post Went Up In April, (while I was reposting my whole blog after deleting it all):
Tara: "Um. I nearly spit out my coffee when I saw this. I forgot this was here. Sigh ... I'm such a weirdo. And, I just look frightening I think. Anyhow, good morning Autowin."
Best Response to Commenters Wanting to Call Her Out [for Repeating the Dead-Dog Story]
m: "My OTHER friend, unknowingly ate a bag of pop rocks while she was drinking a coke, and exploded. I swear."
Best Suggestion for Saying Goodbye to All That
merc: "Peace corps sounds fun? Like you'd have a lot to make jokes about in blog posts? It would totally, like. EXPAND YOUR WORLD. And um, have this wole new element to your writing? Like, DIMENSION or DEPTH or SHINE -- oh, sorry, I was thinking about hair."
The Earnest Award -- featuring excerpts from -
[stef's first time]: "totally no reason for writing this comment but whatever, i fucking love this blog. i originally wrote a long comment about how i found it and what i love about it and it was so cheesy and i am too new york cool for that, so let me just say i love this blog."
[stef's second time]: "ps, this blog is still awesome, but i live in brooklyn and it's illegal for me to be enthusiastic about anything. i am bound to a life of wearing sunglasses on the subway and sneering at tourists."
Putting Graduate School to Good Use Award
Ingrid: "Ri, From my reading today, I would guess that being an African woman forced to strip down naked for photographs to be published in 19th century Anthro-porno-gynecological medical books, books that would be perused (and probably jerked of to) by Picasso as source material for paintings that have come to symbolize modernity, would have been worse than software breakdowns. But this isn't meant to take away from your pain; it's all relative! Love you!"
I'd Like to Quote Awesomeness from the Intern-Applicant Thread ... but I already basically did that in this post about the comment awesomeness from the intern applicant thread (in the "teleportation" section), so, you know. On with it.
"If they say in the car that I am insane, I will take over the wheel." (Thomas McGuane, 92 in the Shade)For my 25th birthday, I wrote a parody of the Esquire "What I've Learned" feature -- one of my favorite magazine features, and when I was reading this month's Esquire, entirely devoted to "What I've Learned"s, I decided that this is how I'd write about April and May. This format assumes a certain authority: its subjects, e.g., Evil Kenivel, Tim Burton, Mia Farrow, Otis Redding, Muhammad Ali, Homer Simpson, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Mel Brooks, Yogi Berra, etc., generally have authority. I don't. I'm totally irrelevant and highly unwise. If you're not familiar with this format, you might think I'm a pretentious fuck. I assure you, it's a guise, I'm totally insecure, otherwise I wouldn't have to talk so much about myself or need all this attention.
-My senior quote in my high school yearbook
-Tara described me as "sunshiney/bright" and herself as "moonshiney/dark" in her guest Sunday Top Ten. I'll take that.
-Zoho Writer crashes and the help-line is not helpful, they are outsourced and speak fuzz. Don't use it.
-Actually ... use Zoho Writer. Because that crash was serendipitious, proving even the most frustrating things happen for a reason: I asked silent readers to comment on their own electronic tragedies, and they did, and then I shared their stories, and then they kept talking, and that's everything.
-The mental health system in this country doesn't focus on "curing"/helping the mentally ill, but rather directly on ensuring the mentally ill won't become violent criminals. Sanity for sanity's sake? Ha! Every single employee of every NY psychiatric institution she checked into let us down. Nobody did a good job. Nobody did a mediocre job. Everyone did a notably terrible job. [I know: they're overworked & overburdened, tired, beaten by the system too] Instead they cared only if she'd possibly kill herself or others and once that liability seemed muted, they'd let her go. Everyone just held their breath til it wasn't their problem anymore, and thus it became mine. It turned out, not surprisingly, I wasn't qualified.
-The Auto-Win Equation of Coolness: x+2x=y (x=quality and rockstar factor of my actual life, y=quality and rockstar factor of autowin's life), unless my whole life is falling apart, in which case, x=y.
-"We're in love with our sadness sometimes" (Chris Pureka)
-Yeah, it's true, you're better off than the third world children who live in shacks. Do you feel better now? Urm, me neither.
-The psych ward is actually nothing like Girl, Interrupted. But they do have karaoke on Friday nights, there is yelling, and the nurses subscribe to the general philosophy that it's always easiest just to shoot 'er up with Ativan.
-It's really crazy how fast you can get used to really crazy shit.
-We had fun, too. Like, a lot of kick-ass fun.
-I think the world could do a better job of proving its lunatics wrong. Could've provided better material for me to argue against impending mass apocalyptic extinction and the human race's desperate unknowing need of redemption. Seriously: the snow in April, the Virginia Tech shooting (one of my favorite posts, I think), the Bush Administration, national disregard of moral responsibility in favor of celebrity, mirror, artifice, false idol worship and consumerism. You know, your average, run-of-the-mill firstworldian douchebaggery. (Auto-Lexicon)
-There comes a point when you've gotta cut your losses -- usually it's the sixth or seventh time you've thought to yourself "I oughta cut my losses."
-Miss Girl Nation, Haviland, is pretty much the hottest thing ever. Howevs, Miss Hot n' Fit turned out to be like amateur night at Deja Vu but with more expensive drinks.
-In high school, I watched a lot of "Slacker" films. These movies, best watched when it all seems so far away, characterised the unemployed/underachieving twentysomething as a beer-guzzling, television-watching, psychic-hotline-calling, mall-crawling, pot-smoking, shampoo-foregoing, ironic-vintage-t-shirt-wearing quasi-hipster who spends 95% of their time tucking their hair behind their ears and pontificating. But I'd never been so busy as I was whilst 100% unemployed: reading like crazy, playing Sancho to crazy adventures, looking for employment, writing, trying to figure out how to save someone when I still thought people were things you could always save without killing yourself, or leaving.
-I'm not entirely convinced that a liberal arts education prepares its graduates for anything aside from a career as a liberal arts educator.
-I love Rosie O'Donnell because she's moved so much by national/global problems that it affects her, deeply, and makes her depressed. We should all feel that way but if we did, we'd all fall to pieces. She does what I hope to do: create a relationship w/the mainstream through non-controversial entertainment to eventually earn the "power" to speak out and be listened to by people on all sides.
-I'm still an advocate of "running away" as a top ten coping mechanism, but I'm glad that I didn't.
-There's a book out there to validate everyone, whether it be The Bible or Kathy Acker, Elizabeth Wurtzel or the Marquis de Sade, or my old friend Matty's choice "The DaVinci Code," there's a book for you. Reading a lot of books about crazy people can make you a little crazy. Look what happened to Don Quijote. Don't even get me started on the internet and what that's done for maniacs all over the world.
-There's a fascinating cultural history related to madness. It's enough to distract you from its logical application to your actual life for a long time.
-Scattergories is the best game ever and fun for people of all ages.
-I deleted my MySpace because it made me feel safer -- one less public & vulnerable space, also cutting off my friends' ability to keep close tabs -- that day was, we agree, one of the worst, TB-wise. I was drunk when I wrote that post, because I was fully resorting to such things, anything for oblivion. Officially surrendering control of the situation. I was sad to lose all my friends' comments, but I think it's good, sometimes, to delete all of something. I still find the click-to-impact ratio stunning.
-Cream: the color. My blog became much better the day I switched from black to cream.
-Poland Spring Water Bottles Will Explode in your bag every time. Unlike people, they will never change. They will not stop exploding.
-If you are sad, try highlights and a manicure.
-It is impossible to argue with someone who is totally both wrong and 100% convinced of their own absolute rightness. I mean; where do you begin?
-She'd ask "What do you need, autowin? Are you okay?" but by that point, I was done accepting her offers cause I knew they'd be used against me later. My answer, which she affirmed proudly, was always: "I don't need anything." It was untrue, unfair, and I've always believed strongly in the validity of relative needs/wants, but for me to lose, temporarily, the privilege of my small tears, the forum to freak out over nothing, the ability to even buy stupid things for myself w/o inciting a fight ... it was very humbling. It wasn't the healthiest way to earn humility, but nevertheless, I did.
-Really, you save yourself by checking in -- therapy, emailing Haviland, ichatting w/Lainy and Chase, phone convos w/Natalie. That's how I maintained perspective, and was able to participate, strategise, without losing my mind myself ... errr ... mostly.
-When you've been on the Metro North with a woman yelling at the entire train about messages from her father in heaven and their first world Angelina Jolie-worshiping-problems, you develop an extremely high tolerance for being embarrassed in public. Seriously, just try to embarrass me in public, I dare ya. Impossible. Also I'm not ticklish.
-I am a decent writer. I'd never taken myself seriously enough to even proofread before, and hiding behind sloppy syntax was part of my subconscious announcement to the world that I didn't think I was good enough for it to matter. But yeah, I believe in myself now, holla.
-I now know: that [TB] wasn't her [Tara].
-The difference between crazy people that run corporations and have huge record deals and crazy people on the street yelling at strangers is money.
-One of the most fascinating aspect of mania is how it challenges commonly accepted limits of the human body. Maybe R-Kelly really could fly, you know, 'cause he believed? It's incredible what some bodies can tolerate, it is amazing how much the mind's conception of its own capabilities translates into what is commonly conceived as hyper-human power. Consequently, being able to break barriers we all could break if we desired to (but why? why would we want to walk barefoot on glass? get mugged and walk 105 blocks?) proves, to the manic mind, superpowers.
-The Book of Revelation is a manic's wet dream. It has become, over time, fodder for thousands of manic-bipolar-schizo episodes the world over. It validates the following: hearing voices, delusions of grandeur, the validity of yelling at people as a way to change things ...
-Also; Revelation probably was a manic's wet dream, like that literally might be what it is. There's a lot of theories. I know all of them. Also, it's beautifully written, stunning, a fantastic grand story. It's kinda awesome, as long as you don't think it's actually true.
-Being forced to accept the possibility of certain circumstances -- a solider, resolutely alive but always prepared for the fatal shot -- and the lasting impact of paying heightened attention to the immediate possibility of highly unpleasant circumstances -- can change the way you think a whole lot, can make you care a lot less about things you used to care about.
-It is possible to survive on Ramen noodles, eggs, peanut butter crackers, vodka and coffee.
-Madness is highly contagious.
-Taking too many amphetamines is a lot like madness.
-From an article about the double suicide of Jeremy Duncan and Theresa Blake: "You could, in a sense, rationalize their occasional erratic behavior. They were artists, after all, and artists are allowed a degree of lunacy." (The article's title: "Conspiracy of Two: A Chronicle of Their Descent Into Madness.")
-If you give money to every homeless person you pass, you can go broke in approximately two blocks. Also, as the only one doing so, many will ask for more. Another five, cigarettes, baby formula (seriously), another ten. A sandwich. Crack. JK about the crack. Crack is expensive, probs, otherwise there wouldn't be crack whores.
-You should probs still give money to homeless people, sometimes. Or food. Whatevs. I understand why you would or wouldn't, and why I do or don't.
-People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, but if you're totally chilling naked in your glass house like, what's up, here I am in my glass house, and someone starts throwing stones at you, you should probs reconsider your battle plan.
-[From the Club Blog, Part Two]: "No one ever guessed anything about me just from looking: no one'd guess that I'm queer, or a writer or a or even smart. "I would never guess that _______" I can be anybody, I can be anything, tell me what to do, you say jump I say I'm already jumping, look-- For every apparent revelation: a million secrets, stories denied and squelched by each reincarnation. A love/hate relationship with everything I've stood behind. Gay/straight, Jewish/Quaker, Genius/Airhead, Sane/Insane, Artist/Robot, Social/Recluse ... It's like I've been everything and it's opposite, and've gathered enough narratives to hold my own amongst any of them, now. Though I refrain from anything of import following "I am." Maybe here's a place where I can be all of those things at once and be validated instantly simply by the very fact that I'm writing it and I have a sitemeter. In fact, this particular truth feels indulgent, why should anyone care, that even acting as though I think you should care is breaking into another character, which's the only one I've yet to actually play: confidence."
-"You have to laugh at yourself, because you'd cry your eyes out if you didn't." (Emily Saliers) That's what I did more often than not, was try to turn it into a joke. I mean, it was really fucking funny sometimes. We laughed a lot. You take what you can get, you know? You wait for the next joke.
-Madness + Genius = Toxic
-Anything that can be said in three syllables can be said better in one syllable.
-There Were Good Times. More Good than Bad, srsly.
Like Emily Dickinson: Seriously, I've really never read any of her stuff, I just think it's awesome that she spent so much time in her attic.
-I don't regret losing what I lost, because I eventually got it back and then some.
-I only regret ... no. Nothing.
I weathered the accusations: masochist, depressive. Trying to distract myself from my own problems. Enjoying the drama. Voyeuristic satisfaction. Doing it all for the good writing material. I guess if I'd felt like any of those accusations were remotely true, I would've been more self conscious about my choices, but they weren't -- and I know this because before Tara/TB, I'd made a lot of choices for those reasons, those up there, and I know what that had felt like. I was bored and tired of all that. But no ... I went into the relationship seeking stability. I didn't want or expect what I got. And I wasn't going to turn my back on someone I loved because they were sick, I just couldn't -- I've compared this inability to the basic web template you can't change, no matter how much HTML you learn. That seemed awfully selfish to me? Eventually, I had to lose everything in order to walk away -- eventually, she had to lose everything1 in order to choose, willingly, medicated health "forevs and evs" over the endless highs of provided by oh-so-seductive immortal mania. I tried to make the best of it -- "I never would've read The Book of John, it's a good thing to read!" -- which really isn't the same thing as being manipulated into believing it's okay. Trust me. I knew. Things.were.not.okay.
Why'd I stick it out? Because of love, obvs. Because she would have done it for me. Beneath this white-on-black retina-burning agoraphobic cynical depressive emo exterior is a heart made of cream and purple, fo'serious.
1 TB's Sunday Top Ten: "And meanwhile, back @ Marie's shower, she's blasting showtunes. I'm cringing. Cause music is nearly everything to me. Therefore, Marie and I agree to disagree, re: tastes, and that's cool. Cause now she's nearly everything."2
2Speaking of music, I like these: "A Better Son/Daughter" (Rilo Kiley) ["And sometimes when you're on, you're really fucking on, and your friends they sing along and they love you, but the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap and it teases you for weeks in its absence, but you'll fight and you'll make it through, you'll fake it if you have to."], "Manic Depression" (Jimi Hendrix) ["Music sweet music, wish I could caress caress caress"],"This is Everything" (Tegan & Sara).