blood moon

December 31st and January 1st are just a sun set and a sun rise apart, although they feel so different. You could be someone different with the new year: someone who went to the gym, someone who didn’t worry, someone who ate more vegetables. But you still don’t go to the gym and I still worry myself sick, but we do eat more vegetables. You win some, you lose some.

Time pauses once you step on an airplane and the earth just spins beneath it. The time at the destination changes, the time at the departure changes, but I notice no change except for the aches in my muscles from sitting still. Then you’re in a time zone between the two, and it’s hard to go to sleep and it’s even harder to wake up, and then you’re wearing the sad, tired eyes, too.

“Did you hear about the blood moon?” I asked. There were only a few more hours left until the lunar eclipse — morbidly, the Blood Moon.
“Wasn’t that yesterday?” you asked.
“Nope, it’s tonight. At 3:40, if it’s clear out,” I said.
“Hopefully we will be finished by then,” you said.

I was driving home, flying around winding curves, but slowed to a stop when I saw pairs of reflective eyes from a thicket of trees. A fawn stood, knobby knees pointing inward, ears at awkward angles. It was small enough to have just been born, the mother standing behind it, watching my headlights. “Born under a blood moon,” I said to the fawn, but really just myself. It’s a phrase I haven’t quite been able to shake. There’s something beautiful about something so innocent born with a curse.

0:15:00-0:19:55

“talk to yourself for thirty minutes and record it, then transcribe it.”

0:00-10:00 10:00-15:00 0:15:00-0:19:55

I have come to accept that I will be fine. I’m relatively healthy, I have a family that loves me, friends who are there most of the time, and have enough hobbies to keep me busy. If I want to reject the idea that I am a GYPSY, does that make me one? I work for those people, girls who break their phones a couple times a year, drunk, doing laundry. I have to tell them no, we can’t take your mom’s credit card information over the phone. But am I that girl if I drive a BMW? What if I told you it was falling apart, fifteen years old, and I only got it when my dad got a better car? What if I told you we had to move six hundred and sixty seven miles away once my Dad’s company was bought out? My dad’s company consisted of my dad, a desk, and an office chair in our basement. They didn’t want the company, they just wanted him. What if I told you about how when I was little we had to live in my grandmother’s two bedroom rancher because we had no money? I shared a bed with my Grandmeré, but if I was going to be technically correct, I slept on my grandfather’s side of the bed. They had two twin beds pushed together, fifties sitcom style.

In the almost twenty two years since his death, I have slept in that bed almost as much as my grandfather did. Sometimes I would hold her hand when I was scared of her old pipes creaking. She would mumble Tony under her breath, (predictive of the dementia that was developing but still asymptomatic,) and squeeze my hand a little. Instead of giving her a kiss in the middle of the night, like Tony might have, I would lean my head close and listen if she was breathing. She has been every time I’ve checked so far, but one day she won’t be. She’s been forgetful for years now – showing significant symptoms for at least four years. I will miss her, but I miss her already. She’s not the same person, instead a stubborn child in a wrinkled skin that tells off color jokes. But what really worries me is that I will have to do it all again, but with my mother. One day, maybe someone will have to take care of me that way. But until then, I will be fine. I will be as happy as I can be, and if not, I will do what I need to to be happy. If that means getting over my fear of needles to be inoculated against the unfiltered world, so be it.

At this point, depressed and tired, I turned the recorder off.

0:00-10:00

“talk to yourself for thirty minutes and record it, then transcribe it.”

0:00-10:00 10:00-15:00 0:15:00-0:19:55

I want to boycott this assignment— I don’t want to talk to myself aloud for thirty minutes and record it. I can barely talk for twenty minutes, period. I’m not a fucking talker. I have other, more productive, things I could be doing besides sitting here talking to myself. It doesn’t help that I am already on the verge of melodramatics and hysterics.

This morning, I went to a doctor’s office where I dealt with my worst fear. I walked into the doctor’s office – late, as usual – where a blonde woman was lying in wait for me. “Hi, are you Lauren? I’m Myra. I’ll do your allergy testing.” Someone had called ahead to warn them I was coming. She looked like I would imagine a nurse named Myra – heavy set, short, curly blonde and grey hair pulled back into a pony tail. She had sons my age- one was studying equine management, whatever the fuck that is. One could assume, as I did, that he was in Clemson, South Carolina, jerking off horses. That was where my mind immediately went – why would anyone want to do such a thing? He was probably a deviant for all I knew. My knowledge of horses is limited, despite having taken several horseback riding lessons as a child. But he was probably taking care of them. Not their sexual needs, don’t be gross. Is there money in horse care taking? Myra was probably wasting her tuition money. I did not say that to her. The only people I have ever met who took care of horses could be summed up: young blonde white women, retired yuppies who owned an equine sanctuary with the money from their OBGYN practice, and adult men outside of Nairobi, Kenya. An eccentric bunch in their own right becomes more bizarre when categorized. But Myra’s son is one of them.

Before she would torture me, she showed me the devices – the piece of plastic dipped in poisons that would make my skin flush and swell, the individual needles used for the control tests. Fine, I said, and tried to distract myself. As soothing as Ira Glass usually is, it didn’t work. I felt every prod, every poke, every milliliter of the outdoor environmental irritants as it was pushed beneath my skin. Sixteen on my left arm, sixteen again on my right. Great. I grit my teeth and sit still, an accomplishment in itself, for twenty minutes, letting my immune system soak up enough to thoroughly freak itself out. Three spots swelled up to a lima bean, white with an angry, red, pointillist halo. The rest, because they were only raised to a “four” on her scale, were tested again.

Myra gave me sixty four shots this morning, thirty two in each arm.

She was very worried about me passing out, which I laughed off. Once I got past the primal fear of someone pushing a piece of metal into and through my skin to deposit some sort of venom, I chuckled it off, feeling light headed. “No, I’ll be fine. I got teeth filled with no Novocain, got major surgery and took tylenol,” I said, your allergy shots have nothing on my pain tolerance. But I do feel woozy, now, saying this. I felt woozy in the car on my way home. I caught myself wanting to close my eyes and just let my car drift across the double yellow lines, onto the left shoulder and into the woods. I tried to hold onto the steering wheel, tight, and keep the car in control. But my eyelids were so heavy, and the sunlight was warm and NPR did nothing to excite me, despite how lively the discussion was. I’m laying in bed now, trying to force myself to talk, but finding it difficult. I want to close my eyes still, as heavy as they are, but there is so much work to be done.

BIC

James was thirteen when he got his first tattoo. He sat on the peeling linoleum in a double wide trailer, with no shirt or shoes, watching his best friend get a tattoo. The tattoo “artist” was his best friend Mat’s older brother. Bryan was paroled that morning, got home and immediately started making up for the lost two years of getting Mat in trouble. Bryan held the tattoo gun (which was really only a melted tooth brush, a pen with a needle stuck in it, a little motor and some other stuff James couldn’t identify) and dotting a smiley face with crossed out eyes on his younger brother’s shoulder.

“Stop moving,” Bryan said, and tried to hold his squirming sibling still. It was already crooked from Mat’s fidgeting but Bryan’s shaking hand didn’t help, either. Bryan pushed the needle deep into his brother’s soft shoulder, marring it until his brother finally asked him to stop in something closer to a sob than a scream. After pelting him with curse words, Bryan dropped the tattoo gun, picked up his cigarettes and stepped outside.  Mat tried to play the pain from his shoulder off, “Well at least I didn’t pussy out”

James had declined earlier, saying: ‘ladies first.’

“Let me do it,” James said — he had seen Mat cry after falling off their skateboards, so he was sure that he would be able to do better. James flipped on the tattoo gun and paused— not for fear of pain, what his mother would think, or future regret, but deciding where it should go. The hair on his legs and arms were just starting to darken, his chest was still bare as it had been on his birthday thirteen (and a quarter) years before. He decided on the nautical star (he was not a sailor, but had seen it on a band’s album cover and had doodled it ever since) should go on the left side of his chest, where he put his hand over his heart for the pledge. Instead of pledging allegiance to the United states of America, he would give his to punk rock. James took several deep breaths and then plunged the needle into the skin of his left pec, exhaling through gritted teeth.

Smell

I spent my Friday afternoons suffering in an oncology waiting room (that smelled sterile and like bad air freshener) for Andy. Other patients and their caretakers sat in the uncomfortable chairs waiting for treatment, too. The “plus-ones,” caretakers invited in for moral support, were waiting for their loved one to be called in for treatment – and they usually were loved ones – only to wait again for them to come out, sedated, and carrying the discharge instructions.

I stared off into the TV, trying to ignore the sensationalist news. Is there radioactive waste in the sewers? More after this break. This cable news channel had the senior demographic wrapped up – preying on fears of big government taking away rights, medical malpractice, inferior vaginal mesh. There were commercials for medical implants and personal injury lawyers, perfectly curated for a hospital. My favorite was for a catheter: an old woman (on a couch) and a middle aged man (in a wheelchair) sat, knee to knee:
“I use catheters. It’s so messy and expensive!” the white haired woman said, wringing her hands together.
“I’m worried about infections,” the man said and reached out to touch his costar.
“I wish there were a better way!” they both cried out.

I leaned back and wondered where I could get these magical, easier to use catheters for all my pissing-in-a-bag needs. I wrote myself a note: order catheters. Neither Andy nor I needed them, but we were never sure what the next side effect would be.

The door to the treatment room opened and a man hobbled out and crumpled into the chair across from me. He smelled like he had been sterilized and doused in the same bad air freshener. But the smell of sickness still oozed out of his pores – it was in his hair, on his breath – the smell was thick and hung around my head like smoke. I watched the man out of my peripherals – he was waiting on his significant other, his loved one.

He was just like my Andy waiting for me. Maybe she would walk him down to the cat, drive him home, and tuck him into bed. He would sleep all of the next day, she would leave him alone and go to work. By Tuesday or Wednesday he was coming out of his pharmaceutical stupor. By Thursday he felt great and visited work, but was never strong enough to actually finish anything. Then he got the treatment again and the cycle started over again. I knew after laying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV and with that week’s worth of poison flushed through his system to kill what ailed him, Andy would smell like that when he came out, too.

2014.

kentucky mule.

I feel the words rumbling in my stomach, churning, bubbling,
threatening to make the journey from my stomach and out of
my mouth, puking fill words and syllables I shouldn’t say:

So, hey, and bray like an ass. it’s just the mule unbridled.
Watch him withdraw, dive behind walls, turn away. Suddenly,
I’m sure I am going to throw up more than just “um.”

I’ve done it again, always saying too much, too soon.
I’m painfully aware of every over share. Let me start over.
I care, but let’s pretend: I forget names, I couldn’t care less.
Until the whiskey makes me miss you again. Take a long
sip from the metal mug. cut my lip on the the edge,
sharp as my tongue, the taste of copper in my mouth
mixed with the bitters and bitterness
that comes with wearing my heart on my sleeve, and
all my emotions on my face.
Another day, another night,
another mule, another try.

january 2014.