dec. 14 – madness

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Some things are beyond comprehension. I mean, I think I understand parts well enough, the threads that seem to make up this kind of violence, but not the whole. How can it be that somebody was sick enough to take 26 lives today, at a goddamn elementary school.

I really don’t like the talk happening around this, even when people make points I agree with.

I don’t think it’s wrong that people insist that we address gun control, as Gabrielle Giffords’s husband did recently, because if the issue is not relevant now, when is it? Because we are a nation with a short attention span and it’s only a matter of time before Dancing With the Stars or some shit returns and makes us feel better and complacent. Because we can commit the sin of “politicizing” tragedy if there’s any chance it can do any good, in my opinion.

But…all that seems self-righteous. But…It may make someone feel better, it might feel like doing something.

The thing I hate is that no belief about politics, psychology, or any combination of beliefs can bring me to understanding the reality of what happened. That today happened, that any number of atrocities happened, and that they will continue to happen. Chimpanzees form tribes and fight and kill and eat each other’s babies. Someone in Lawrence, Massachusetts is torturing and mutilating cats in notably horrific ways. Three women in the United States are murdered every day by current or former intimate partners. I’m not saying all these are equal, how do you quantify cruelty?

I would like to say that I don’t comprehend but the truth is, I’m afraid that it might not be that complicated. I’m afraid that every person is born with potential and something is written into our genes or our being such that…look. Look what people do.

It makes me think WHAT THE FUCK and it brought be back to this Dear Sugar column that has been so deservedly acclaimed.

Cheryl Strayed said,

It took me years to figure that out. To hold the truth within me that some things are so sad and wrong and unanswerable that the question must simply stand alone like a spear in the mud.

People are quoting Fred Rogers on Facebook, too.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

I’ve been dwelling on all this and it’s not as though it’s going to get me anywhere. That’s just it.

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hulk smash offensive eulogy

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I went to a memorial service for a very special, exuberant young man named Kory today. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was attended not just by his former caregivers (my old coworkers) but by his family. A lot of people showed up to celebrate Kory’s life and that is nothing but a positive thing.

I wish that some of those family members had been present in Kory’s life. And I wish that one of those family members, a super duper Jesus Crime Stopper Minister of some kind, could have spent his eulogy honoring Kory instead of welcoming those in attendance to seek eternal life through the one true path that he magically and fortuitously had stumbled upon. (He even managed to add a jab at Muslims in the midst of the general Jesus-centric proselytizing, which was above and beyond the call of zealotry.) But. It isn’t really wise to go to a funeral expecting a good time, so it is what it is.

This is what I want to say about Kory.

Kory loved to smile and he loved other people to smile. It delighted him to see how big you could smile. If he was happy, it was infectious. Not hyperbole. I’ve never met another person who could radiate joy in the pure and innocent way that he did.

Kory was not good at not getting his way.

Kory loved money and hated to spend it. Kory converted a lot of his funds to quarters.

Kory was a pretty bright 22 year old, but generally he was childlike and he liked to stick to anything he liked as a kid. Chucky Cheese was a major obsession. Kory lost his mother when he was young and there are some blanks in his history but basically, things were not good for him after that.

Kory’s life was too short and too painful, by any fair estimation.

Kory reminded me of Lenny from Of Mice and Men because he was not a small guy, because he was kind and gentle at heart, because he sometimes did not have control over his behavior, because he could be misunderstood, because he did not get a fair shake.

Kory frickin loved mayonnaise. Mayonnaise on eggs for breakfast, tuna fish for lunch. Unfortunately, Kory hated brushing his teeth.

Kory was a most enthusiastic fan of all things Batman.

Kory had frequent seizures at night, which caused him to be physically exhausted the next day. For some reason, he would apologize to his caregivers for having them. We would apologize to him that he had to go through them.

Kory gave the best hugs. Kory loved fiercely. No amount of bad breath would make me avoid being near him.

Kory was one of the best bowlers, I remember him scoring a 104. His peers didn’t often break 100. And he was mighty excited to have such a great game.

Kory did talk about heaven, mostly about his mother being there. He liked seeing his friends at church every week. Kory easily earned his place in heaven by their standards. But by any standard, he was amazing. And he deserved better than he got here. So in that respect, I hope his self-righteous minister is at least partly right.

“He’s in a better place.” Who the fuck knows. But he’ll be missed here.

 

 

 

 

if death wasn’t difficult enough already

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I hate people dying.

I hate that it’s always a surprise.

I hate the agony of losing someone close to me (thankfully, not this time).

I hate the nagging guilt and discomfort of losing someone who should have taken up more space in my life.

I hate looking at a Facebook profile full of posted messages to the deceased. We r goin to miss you R.I.P and miss and love you always. What the everliving fuck? I can’t wrap my head around the concept, or if I can, I know that my perspective is so harsh and nasty and judgmental that I hate myself for having it.

#itshouldhavebeenme! as my brother joked.

Believe me, I know I don’t get to say how other people should grieve. And the further away I am from the loss, the more I should keep my damn mouth shut.

Being far away makes a person feel alone. Though it’s very clear to me tonight, I could have much worse problems.

life

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I occasionally work with an amazingly charming client. He’s young and outgoing with a great sense of humor and today referred to me as, “my sweet little papaya.” He asks questions constantly, often the same questions, about the world, science, mortality and religion. I love the challenge of trying to answer those questions in a way that’s honest, appropriate, and that he can understand. It’s always equally fun and exhausting working with this person. It’s also frequently heart-breaking.

More than once, he has expressed purely and furiously that he can not understand why he has a disability (coupled with mental illness). He fucking hates it, he says, because it’s not “fair” that he should have these challenges if he is a good person. He asks why and I can’t tell him why. He expresses frustration that everyone tells him that he needs to accept his circumstance because it seems, due largely in part to the disabilities he hates, that he is incapable of accepting it. Everybody has something to deal with, whether they appear to be average or not, I tell him, everybody has pain. And he asks, why? Why should we all have to deal with these things? I say that’s what they call the human condition. I say that I wish I had an answer. And I do.

His struggle is accepting all kinds of limits – he tells us he wants to be able to fly and run at sonic speeds – and, with time, he might become better at that. Everything is filtered through the lens of his condition(s). Still, today he said with total sincerity, “I’m always angry in my heart and I have a darkness inside of me because I want to be normal and I can’t be like everybody else.”

How can you not feel for that?

I haven’t been able to articulate to him that experiencing dark and horrible shit in life can make us better, stronger and more beautiful people. I don’t think he would believe it. I don’t want to invalidate his experience. I love the way you are, I said, and your disability is part of you.

I have never been a person to have regrets, which is easy to do because I like myself. In the past few months, so much in my life has changed, to the point where it often feels I’ve been living with my roommate and a little girl and just one cat in this apartment for forever, though it’s only been three months. My life just is this now, and I like a lot about it. It’s comfortable. It’s strange to think of where I was just a year ago. Anyway, my point is that for the first time, I question whether or not something has made me a better or stronger person.

I don’t ache like I did three, four, or five months ago. I don’t feel heartbroken. I don’t miss him, specifically. Instead, I wonder how I’m going to manage the future disappoints and rejections and longing that I’m in for, and how I’m ever going to love somebody the way that I did. I wish I could be different, though I don’t think it would really be the right thing, I wish I could be less sensitive, less damaged, less fearful, less proud, less open, just…less. Sometimes I hate the human condition just as much as my charming, vibrant friend.

None of the answers I give make him feel any better, of course. Do you ever feel that way, he asked today. Yes, everybody feels that way sometimes, I said. An answer that didn’t make me feel any better either.

january

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So I discovered habitforge.com and I haven’t bitten my nails in 7 days. I’m always able to stop for a little while if I think about it but right now my nails are longer than they have ever been and I’m obsessed with them. First of all, and most annoying, they are filthy. I wash my hands all the time and still, mysterious crud lines end up under there almost constantly. To keep my mouth from solving the problem I’ve been carrying nail clippers around and scraping the stuff out several times a day. It’s probably the number 1 thing that made me want to bite my nails, seeing dirt under there – which I would then consume with the delicious nail clipping which is, yes, gross. But I’m finding the scraping oddly satisfying, if somewhat ineffectual. The real problem is that when they get too long, I don’t actually know how I will clip them using traditional methods. I have never purchased or owned nail clippers before now and, though I have honestly tried, I have no friggin clue how to use them. That goes for my toes too, because I typically just wait until they are long enough, peel them off, and then suck on them for awhile.

 

This is turning out to be a thrilling and fascinating post, is it not? I have been insanely focused on my average-length nails (it’s like having a new body part for me) but everything else on my mind has been more…complicated.

 

Like death, death and more death. Right after the holidays, Rob’s aunt passed away (she was 90 years old). We went back to his family’s for the wake and funeral. I found out yesterday that a friend of my family died as well on New Year’s Eve. This man was actually my father’s boss for at least 10 years and he was one of my favorite people when I was younger (and lived closer). He and his wife gave his daughter money one year to take me shopping for school clothes. My dad never liked accepting charity from anyone, but Bob could do it through us and get away with it. Actually, he was always slipping me and my brother cash when we saw him as well. He was just so good to us and always happy to see us, like we were his own family. He was only 60, I believe, but was ill for at least a couple of years. This time (exactly) last year, one of my friends and former coworkers died unexpectedly, and it was shocking and horrible and it hardly feels like it’s only been a year. For many reasons, it comes up for time to time. And if I feel that way, even a year later, I can’t imagine the pain that her family has gone through. It’s cold and there’s snow on the ground and I think I’m always going to associate winter with dying, which I suppose is obvious, with natural symbolism.

 

When my uncle died a couple years ago, it was also unexpected, but after a life of struggling with mental illness, it was generally looked at (by my religious extended family) as a blessing, for his soul to be at peace, finally. At the Catholic funeral last week, the priest spoke about faith being a gift for those in grief. I can’t buy into that because I can’t assume that I could ever understand the afterlife. I don’t presume to know that it’s all over, or about heavenly judgment, or anything else. It makes life more meaningful to me, to think that this might be all there is. That the limited time I have is of the highest importance. I wouldn’t really say that my beliefs make death seem more permanent and final. I’m not really afraid of dying, one way or the other, because I guess I just have some sort of trust in the universe. If it’s the end of my existence, like I suspect it is, it won’t make a difference to dead me. If it’s not, then sweet, because I live my life with good intentions and I recycle. I don’t know what it could be like to die, I don’t know what’s become of the people I’ve loved who have died and it’s not really so important to me to know, anyhow. Their lives meant something; I believe in that more than anything.

 

I don’t know where this is going. I’m sad today.

 

Tomorrow, I’m taking a standardized test for a state job and I need to have two #2 pencils and a calculator with me. I haven’t seen a Scantron in over two years. That should cheer me up hardcore.