Sick and experiencing a lot of self-loathing today. That's unusual. The last month and a half has in many ways sucked balls, but also there have been some really bright spots. I need to say that and know it.
Some nights you go to bed and wake up a different person.
All my adult life I've gotten into these mixed-message relationships that went absolutely nowhere except a whole lot of hurt. The only exception is the man I married, and even that began in a similar vein.
Here's where I learn to stop mapping myself to other people, especially those who in the end bring more pain than reward.
I can't say I won't write about this going further, but it also means that moving on is serious business. And I mean business.
It’s over. I’m glad. It was toxic. I’m done. This isn’t someone who ever gave a damn. I could have been anyone who was decently well connected. That was all he wanted.
It’s all he ever wants.
Or, in the words of someone he only wishes would respect him: That requires no effort, for one, he'snot half the man Adam is.
And boy, does he hate Adam. He’d never admit that, but it’s true. I don’t know. What do you do when you’re left holding the emotional bag? If you’re me, you open it up and spray out the contents like confetti.
Father of my child
Co-wrangler of my puppies
Living companion for the past nearly 12 years
Most accepting person I have ever met
Person who's seen me through just about everything imaginable
The one who calls me on just about everything.
Listening to Sloop John B at Coffee to the People while Lor explores the Haight. It's awesome having her in town. We don't see each other nearly often enough. It's good to talk to an old friend who knows and understands me. I mean, we've known each other two decades. That's something.
Damn, I sometimes wish I lived outside of my own head a little bit more. I hear it's nice out there in the world. I'd like to experience it now and again.
Random: All I want in my life is honesty and authenticity. I'm not sure anything else really matters. I just found myself writing this: People become zombies because they don't act from their heart, from a place that's real and authentic.
I believe every word.
I just asked who smoked and BAM! Am I ever getting responses. Mostly people seem to do it for relaxation and to defeat anxiety, but many just do it for fun. I do it for all of the above. I recently got something called Girl Scout Cookies. Man, selling Thin Mints was never so much fun.
Before that I was sadly without supply. I did have this crappy freezer-burned beef jerky that had been given away to me by a friend whose kid was just starting to break into the fridge. Since I figured I would never be with child, I accepted it gladly.
One night I was texting with The Dude and he could tell I thought I was hilarious. Then I told him why I thought that.
You. Crack. Me. Up.
Something I miss is that I never had to be anything but myself. I mean, he could be a picky and critical son of a bitch, but I always felt so much myself around him. Just purely on the level of friendship, that was amazing.
Adam and I met in July 2002 when I came home from living in the Czech Republic. Technically he was my editor, but only technically. We were very different but shared a sense of humor, and we quickly grew to be friends. He was the sweet Jewish boy who also drove a convertible and liked getting bagels in the morning. He always left for the day without saying goodbye. I knew I was in trouble once I noticed that.
The nice Jewish boy had a girlfriend. Long-term, live-in. It didn't stop the feelings from building, the fights from happening. Two and one-half years in we found ourselves hissing fuck you at each other over the phone. If you haven't heard Adam say fuck you, you should. It's cute.
Three weeks of silence followed, some of the hardest moments of my life. I got drunk at MFA parties and made an asshole out of myself. I cried in front of my ancient computer, waiting for the emails that never came.
I sold my car.
He broke up.
We were reunited and making out at Raleigh's Bar on Telegraph. It burned down and was later recreated almost to a T. Our secret spot under the dartboard never came back to life. It remained ours, forever.
Pets right now.... 2
Surgeries ..... 3
Tattoos ..... 0
Piercings.... 2 in each ear
Shot a gun ......... nope
Quit a job ...... yes
Ever been on tv.......yes
Been to an island...... yes
Flown on a plane ......... duh.
Hit a deer........ nope
Someone cried over you...... yup
Fallen in love ....... absolutely
Watched someone die .... yes
Ridden in an ambulance... no, and don’t want to
Sang karaoke.... yes
Ice skating ..... of course
Been surfing... hell no, if I did I’d be dead
Been on a Cruise... a Tom Cruise? Sorrowfully, no, not a real
Ridden on a motorcycle... you betcha!
Ridden a horse.... yep
Almost died.... not so’s I know. That’s because I don’t surf.
Stayed in a hospital.... yes
Favorite fruit... your uncle
Favorite vegetable... your mom
Favorite dessert... See above
Still talk to your first love... in a sense.
Morning or Night.... yup
Favorite color.... magenta
Last Phone conversation.... With a client. Video call no less.
Last text.. Fuckface.
Soulmates are real?.... too much so.
I want to tell you the story behind this picture, but I can't. Not yet.
Meanwhile, I'm digging these lyrics to The Lumineers' "Cleopatra":
I was Cleopatra, I was young and an actress When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress With my father in a casket, I had no plans, yeah
And I left the footprints, the mud stained on the carpet And it hardened like my heart did when you left town But I must admit it, that I would marry you in an instant Damn your wife, I'd be your mistress just to have you around
But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I'll be on time
While the church discouraged, any lust that burned within me Yes my flesh, it was my currency, but I held true So I drive a taxi, and the traffic distracts me From the strangers in my backseat, they remind me of you
But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I'll be on time
And the only gifts from my Lord were a birth and a divorce But I've read this script and the costume fits, so I'll play my part
I was Cleopatra, I was taller than the rafters But that's all in the past now, gone with the wind Now a nurse in white shoes leads me back to my guestroom It's a bed and a bathroom And a place for the end
I won't be late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I'll be on time
Adam and I are just lying around dying of the dread disease. I’m sitting here thinking that not much is truly coincidental. He would disagree. He’s the logician of the family. Me? I’m the professional emotional wreck. I just read this to him and he laughed. “I’m keeping my amateur status,” he said.
Woke early to find that the USA Today has laid it down hardcore. This makes me wonder -- and I'm not kidding -- if we're entering a new era of candor as we've never seen before.
Truth becomes most pressing when the situation is dire. Few times in remembered history have warranted this, both in a political and personal sense.
That said, I find this morning that I'm more able and willing to let people from the past be in the past, to release them back into the world of strangers from where they originally came. May this continue to be the pattern.
On an entirely other note, been listening to this song this morning. My dumb ass used to think the video was filmed in Paris, but no. Every time I went to Kampa Island, I was amazed by the string quartet and the couple dramatically embracing.
But it's from the ending section of the manuscript:
MEREDITH. YOU CAN’T TAKE TWO SECONDS TO TALK TO ME?
He’s pissed that I haven’t responded?
has always had a bad habit of disappearing. He’ll cut off in the middle of a
text conversation as if you’d said goodnight
or goodbye or go to hell. Typically, though, all you
might have said was school really blew
the big one today or you know that
new Netflix show or whatever. Then, as if taking off wasn’t bad enough, he’d
blow you off for days. We’re talking like five
in a row.
is it that I haven’t said that until right now?
I didn’t want to look at it, that’s why. It hurt too damn much. It made me feel
so abandoned, so stupid and pathetic and alone. Every time I looked at my phone
and there was no green symbol there indicating a message, no box with words to
make me smile or scream or anywhere in between, I felt a burn in my stomach, my
heart, all the places where pain is not welcome but bangs in anyway.
Regarding some creativity shindig with happy endings:
Dude, you’d fucking hate it. Credit-card writers go to Belize. Real writers watch their husbands flip out when their phone goes missing and wonder what would happen if they themselves went missing. Would Find My iWife locate them? Or would they be forever lost?
I've been contacted by Counsyl, a genetic-counseling firm, to tell my story on behalf not just of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia sufferers, but in a more general, relatable sense. I'm so happy to do this. They were drawn by my writing for The Mighty and went on to read my Washington Post and Guardian US articles.
I'm touched and honored. It makes today just a little easier.
She seems so glad to spend time together. Maybe it's because she doesn't know me. "Your friends think you're one thing," Nails likes to say, "but I know the truth. And the truth is that you're a snake, Meredith, an angry, angry girl. Anger twists you, you know that? It changes you. It ruins you."
Takes one to know one, now doesn't it?
And still. Matt's text sitting, waiting, drumming its pixels with impatience.
My finger, taking on a life of its own. Telling him that he hurt me, betrayed me, all the things a friend doesn't do. I don't want to talk to you again. That's what I tell him. That's what I say. That's what I write, and then I make myself send it before I chicken out and erase the whole damn thing.
Only then can the tears come. But they don't. The cut is too damn deep to bleed.
My boys were in Los Angeles, coming home that night. I'd spent the weekend enjoying my time, seeing friends, watching stupid YouTube videos, and eating Chinese food. I had coffee plans with some random dude.
To be honest, my first thought was that I
could maybe use her for some kind of connection. She had an agent. A big, good one. A New York one. She’d
published in some solid magazines and papers.
But when we met up everything changed. We
got coffee in Richmond, just north of El Cerrito, some coffee shop she liked. I
thought, Ok, we’ll meet up for an hour, hour and a half, tops. We met for six
hours. First in the coffee shop, then outside, then standing in front of our
cars, and by the time we walked away I thought to myself: This woman is incredible. I need to be her friend forever. Not
because of her potential connections, but because she is clearly stupendously
Joseph and I went up to Spirit Rock for a daylong on forgiveness. We didn't last long. It just wasn't resonating with either of us, so we decamped to Fairfax. Super fun, as always. I drove him home and going over the Golden Gate, well, it never gets old.
I cried during the opening meditation. I was just so aware of how broken I felt in that moment. It felt like a bunch of mismatched pieces inside. If that's all I took away from this, that's enough.
Because, you know, in between angsting over the stupidest of shit, the room mom does occasionally post photos of her unearthly-gorgeous child at his school holiday party. Also, that the room mom sends missives such as these: Hi guys!
I know you want to buy [the New House Day School staff] all a couple of Teslas each. Lord knows I do. But my Tesla taste is outstripped by my Charlie Brown budget. So here's my suggestion: we all go in on something for each of these fantastic people. Maybe something really sweet that they can split up, or ...? I'm open to suggestions, budget, and monetary donations to my personal Patron fund.
I don't know what reform-school morons are starring in this basketball game that Adam and Baz are watching, but they're yelling so loud that I'm convinced Tom Hanks (who also yells half his lines) has trained them all.
I got really pissed today thinking about the whole stupid situation. There were a lot of control factors at play, I realize that now. As I wrote this, I just made the mistake of reading the last email he wrote me. Fucking A. Best part of all of it was how he used to get pissed at me for expecting some element of response (i.e., don't drop a conversation in the middle and then take five days to pick it back up, all the while acting like I did something wrong), but in the end he got tweaked because I stopped responding.
As I was nearing the end of the revise, I went into the city to participate in a storytelling event. I felt miserable sitting on BART, just struggling to make sense of what was going on and trying to manage my reaction to it. Meanwhile I was listening to my music and a song came on that I'd always skipped. This time I listened to it. It gave me the ending. It happens like that sometimes.
I think about all the people who have the slivers of my heart. The guys, mostly. The ones with whom you swap confidences, the ones I thought about for hours. Somehow they are never and always strangers all at once.
Getting drunk and weepy sucks. It's like truth serum. Not a good idea.
I was blacked out, had no idea of whether or not it went down, and lacked the courage to even ask.
So romantic. Instead of candles, a bong. In place of kisses and holding hands, the mystique of not knowing if it even happened.
"You think I don't know? You think just because I blacked out I don't have an idea of what you did to me? You think I'm so stupid and ugly that I deserve it, or don't deserve it, or however you want to see it? Is that what you frigging think? Because you're wrong. You're wrong about everything. I loved you."
I take a breath, long and deep and ragged.
"And now I hate you. So take me to the fucking train station and we never have to see each other again."
Is this me? Seriously, is this coming out of my mouth?
Easily half of knowing him was the fights. Seemingly every day, every way, we would be getting into it some way or another. I've never experienced anything like it. I thought I was an intense person -- and I am -- but this was something entirely different. We would quiet rooms with our hissing. We stopped still on Valencia to yell at one another.
During one of these summits he announced that he had written an essay on sexual tension and that it was going to be published. I blushed when I read it, because I understood.
(NOTE: I have removed the link from this post. While I write more candidly than many other people, it is not my goal to break the bounds of privacy.)
I'm at a cafe in San Leandro, waiting for Rosa so we can write together, There is a group of serious Mommies here, strollers, Mobi Wraps, and all. They talk in terms of the kids: he won't sleep through the night unless ... she only eats blah blah blah ...
Why are women so keen to give up whatever identity they've allowed themselves over time? Change your name, have a baby, live through everyone but yourself. Then you've got these mommy groups where they all pressure each other to fall in line.
I love my kid and he is not my whole life. I had him at 41 years old, a happy accident. It often confounds other mothers when I tell them this.
I've never been the average female-type. I don't look like a typical woman and I sure as hell don't think like one. Take the #metoo stuff that swept social media a little ways back. Women who I know damn well court guys' attention were bitching because they actually got it. Honey, you are not a rape victim because some dude is staring at your tits. Get over it.
This is why I've switched from Facebooking to blogging. I would get crucified for this shit.
I grew up with domestic abuse and emotional violence in the home. The child of two narcissists who couldn't get their collective heads out of their asses long enough to see their daughter turning into a human werewolf before their eyes, I learned first to duck and cover, then to parry with anger, and finally to flee northward when it came time for college.
As an adult, I shied away from relationships, never understanding the vibe I was putting off, how closed I seemed, how guarded, how furious. By the time I met Adam I was 28 and had dated, but never been in a serious relationship.
I fell in love, hard and fast and furious. But shit, was I scared.
Flash forward to almost exactly a year ago, when I met a charismatic guy with whom I shared a near-terrifying connection. I flashed my wedding and engagement rings at him, but what I didn't do was give him an unequivocal no. He never lifted a finger to me, but he pushed verbally.
And, according to Adam, he was abusive.
Against the advice of everyone close to me, I've been re-reading the many emails we exchanged, revisiting the literally thousands of texts that zinged between us. I'm not ready to use the word abusive, but I understand that in some ways I was repeating my experience with my own parents. In a way he was doing that too. The difference was that he was smart enough to see it before I did.
Charm is fantastic when the charmer is happy with you. Cross them and it's a different story.
By the end we were both exhausted from fighting. We were both flat-out from the damage we continued to inflict on one another.
I miss him terribly. But I think this needed to happen.
If you're anything like me, you pick up the phone, feel its weight in your hand for a minute, tilt it up so the home screen appears. Then you thumb over to your messages and stare at them like an idiot before ducking into the one you're thinking about the most, hoping for those three dots that tell you they're still typing, that they're still with you, that they haven't done the Text-and-Run.
Your thumb hovers over the little on-screen keyboard, debating. You kind of start to hunt and peck, typing out something slow and stupid, something you're going to delete anyway. Something not worth hitting SEND for.
Since pot is becoming legal, how bad is it that I talk about being a junior league stoner here? Ah, fuck it. It’s that teary kind of stoned where I got all confessional and cried all over Adam. Then he fell asleep while I was still bawling.
I don’t get this fucking pattern I have with guys and relationships. I just don’t. It’s been going on a long time now and maybe Dude (why don’t I name him? Because somewhere in this blog I already have) was right, I was down with the drama.
Fucker called me out. All the time. The night we were sitting at Cato’s and I said: “If I told Adam I’d be home by 10, I would be.”
He popped a French fry in his mouth and laughed. “No,” he said. “You wouldn’t.”
Talking about this is growing less painful, but I’m still a ways from fine.
It would have helped, for the record, if he could not have been as funny or cute as he is. Like the time he told me that he was going to solve a longstanding rivalry between me and another East Bay writer who shall not be named even by my stoned ass. “Here’s what’s going to happen,” he texted one night. “I’m putting you and Dildo (disclaimer: Dildo is not Dildo’s real name) in a hotel room with a jar of peanut butter. Locking you in. You’ll work it out.”
Baz was two days old the night I stayed up with him until sunrise, watching out the hospital window and playing him song after song. I sung this to him and I could have sworn he understood what I was saying.
It's not like I've never met a them, not like I haven't read first-person accounts from writers who identify as they in Teen Vogue. "When did they get so fucking woke?" Nails likes to ask, the sarcasm dripping like poison from her tongue. "When I was a kid, they just talked about eyeliner and the best ways to diddle yourself."
As I was driving home from Sausalito today, I really tried to figure out what the hell this thing was all about.
I hit on something essential: very rarely in my life have I felt attractive. Adam has definitely made me feel awesome in that regard, but this took it a step further.
He never hid the attraction, not from day one until the end. He was completely unsubtle about it. And the thing is, I liked it. Maybe in a way I needed it. Maybe that's the takeaway. I don't know. I keep trying to wrap it up and it resists the packaging.
Yesterday Adam came home and shook his head at me. "I turned on the damn car," he said, "and the Macarena came on. Again."
Right now I'm listening to John Denver. Thank God he was a country boy. I remember when he died. It moved as a bulletin on the AP Wire. That was when I was a full-time journalist, which means it was also a hell of a long time ago. From that newsroom I also witnessed the death of Princess Diana, the massacre at Columbine, and Bill Clinton's Ah did not hahve sex-u-al relations with that woman.
Don't get me wrong. I think Bubba's adorable. His accent is just part of his cute.
I'm rediscovering the joy of rambling for the masses, or rather whoever happens upon this thing. The last few years it's been more limited to Facebook, where I can rant and rave in the blue-and-white confines of Zuckerberg's creation, but lately I've shifted over and I like it. Maybe that means I don't so much want commentary as an audience.
I'm also halfway through editing the manuscript. That is, reading and marking it up. The beginning is rocky, as beginnings are, but it quickly hits its stride. I'm happy with it.
Joseph and I had dinner in Alameda tonight. Afterward, over coffee, he explained the gist of one of his stories. It involves a century-long battle of the sexes.
"Eventually they split and go their separate ways," he said. "All the fighting."
I felt my hand go to my heart.
And later ... I’m up semi-late, all pissed off. Once this guy was some random tattooed ex-addict. Why couldn’t he have stayed in the fog with the rest of the strangers in this world?
A few weeks ago Joseph lay some truth on me and we got INTO it. Basically, he told me that I was letting this shit get to me and that I have a family, a book, friends, a life. I have responsibilities — all ones I have taken on with joy if not always knowing what I was getting myself into.
Boy, did I squeal. Boy, was I pissed. And ultimately I came to realize he was right.
Something else: I was babbling to him about Baz, about Adam, about how I feel that we are all stronger than ever despite the fact that I seem to be a professional-level dumbass. His eyes went soft. That's because -- like all good friends -- he supports my family life.
No shit you’re a rule-breaker. You’re an animal.
Just a little more than a month ago. What the fuck happened? There’s so much unanswered, unaccounted for. “I have my role,” he wrote, but would never discuss specifics.
I’m baked. And it’s maddening. All of it. People in general. I don’t usually talk like that. It doesn’t ring right. But somehow in my life I’ve attracted these intense, neurotic types who don’t take any responsibility. Except for one.
Yesterday Deborah said to me, "Allison, I have never seen you manipulate anyone. And I've known you a long time."
Compare that to this accusation: And I think that’s the part that hurts me the most, the fact that you
have warped the version of who I am to benefit yourself in your drive to have
drama because there’s stuff you don’t want to see. Even though that’s not about
me, and even though Adam’s view of me is about Adam and not me (cause he
doesn’t actually know me and I don’t actually know him) it still hurts me.
I've had a lot of close friendships with guys. Not a one has pulled this shit on me. I wish I had never met this person. I wish my husband hadn't had to go through pain as a result. I only hope I can continue to move forward and be a better person in the future.
I checked in with myself just now, as they like to say in hippie circles. The hurt is not what it was even a few days ago. That is always subject to change, but I think I'm moving in the right direction.
I can't help wondering what specifically drew him to me. I know he'd seen me at a few readings -- been with me in one of them, apparently, though I honestly don't remember -- but one of the first things he mentioned was being at the Lip Service West when I was holding Baz at the microphone. Did we exchange any words there? Who knows?
I was talking to Deborah about it today. "I told him the connection was outsized for the friendship," I said. "I don't consider friendships watered-down romantic trysts. Those are two different things. This wasn't a friendship."
"You know what?" she said. "If you had slept with him, he would probably have disappeared not long afterward."
Sleeping with him was never in the cards. Yes, honey, you know how you happened to spot the car outside the no-tell motel on MacArthur? Well, I was tired and checked in for an hour's rest. For his part, he never made a move. He just talked a really, really good game.
I met Joseph Kim in the MFA program at St. Mary's College of California. I think I knew straight away that this was my Korean soul brother. He is beyond an inspiration. The guy is by turns humble and brilliant, challenging and sweet as hell. This is someone who cares. How could you not love that? Not to mention that this is the person who taught me how to finish a project. He never let up until I wrote THE END.
Today he has published something that I think is incredibly brave and soulful. Read it and comment. Share it with those you love and hate. Scribble it on the walls and make sure the link is clickable. Just don't ignore it. You can't.
And if you're in the market for an editor, look no further. Joseph rocks.
Lately Baz has become obsessed with my diamond engagement ring. Last night I spent 20 minutes slipping it on and off his finger, explaining the significance, telling him that when he's older he can give it to the person he loves. He listened so intently, with such feeling in his eyes. Then, at the end of my spiel, he leaned over and said: "Trucks." And now, Adam ... in 2011!
Reading old emails is like a horror film. You know, the kind you see in the slightly gross but very cheap theater, where the woman stands up and yells: "DON'T GO IN THERE!"
Chile, what were you thinking?
Especially when you're a little bit inebriated? Except maybe that's the best time. The most honest time. I mean, shit. Like I can say this stuff publicly on Facebook? Shit would explode. It might be fun for a while, and then ... not.
We're so fucking dishonest with ourselves. I'm talking all of us. If ever we really sat down and said what we thought, what we knew, the universe might contract and implode.
When we were day drinking with Marcus at McNally's Irish Pub today, I leaned over and kissed Adam. "I love you more than ever," I said, and I meant it.
The Dude used to say that he felt used, that Adam and I were working out our issues through him. Part of me thinks he has a point and another part of me thinks it's just another bit of the bullshit blame game that I encountered just about every time I saw him, those times we would hang out for like 12 hours and then I'd get the silent treatment followed by an eight-page letter about how much I sucked. But I was awesome and incredible and he was into me twelve ways to Sunday. So. Yeah.
So did we work out our issues through him? I only know that Adam stayed with me during a time that many people would have thrown their key -- and their ring -- in my face and left. When I met up with a friend a few months ago and told him what was up, he shook his head. "Two things," he said. "I would never put up with that shit, and I want to beat the crap out of this guy."
I feel myself stabilizing, able to get some distance and perspective. I tried to present him fairly to people when I talked about him, but how fairly can you present a situation like ours? I'm sure his therapist and AA buddies and girlfriend all think I'm a bitch. That's the way it works.
I'm caught between writing something positive, something negative, and something all Buddhist and understanding. Let's try for the latter and maybe we'll hit all three points eventually.
We're drawn to people for so many different reasons. One of them is shared pain. That's certainly the case with me and Adam. Neither of us is anything close to typical, normal, whatever you want to call it. We saw that in each other. We see it in each other. We love each other for that.
He was so damn bitter about Adam. Whenever you talk about how everyone loves Adam, and how perfect he is, and how I'm the only person on planet Earth that doesn't think he's God, that just makes me feel bad. It's not fair. And it's not fair for me to hear about what he thinks of me. Ya know?
He was of the belief that I skewed Adam's opinion of him. I asked Adam about that last night. He said, "You know where I stand on that. I didn't judge him for his past. I judged him for the fact that he was macking on my woman."
But I can't just leave it like that. That wasn't all it was. You don't spend a year trying to get in someone's pants. You just don't. You move on to another pair of pants. He loved me, loves me, whatever. At one point he wrote this: Describing why Allison is amazing is sort of like trying to describe why
hitchhiking or skydiving is a thrill. It’s both obvious and yet you only know
for certain when you do it.
Similarly, you had to meet her to
understand the breadth of her amazing-ness. She was intelligent, articulate,
brave, a survivor, emotionally deep, unpretentious, helpful, loving, kind,
open, slightly naïve, both immature and profoundly mature, and had had, like me, a wild journey. Eight years older,
she was 43 years old. Married, with her partner for 12 years. A
nineteen-month-old baby. So there is no single truth. I can portray this guy as an asshole or a saint, but in the end he's just a guy. Maybe that's the end of what I need to say. Also, I've stripped all elements of the essay from the blog. I'm submitting it to Modern Love. I'd way rather see it published there than here.
After I wrote this, I woke Adam up. I was losing my shit. He sat with me and calmed me down. “He built it,” he said. “He pushed his way in and convinced you it was your fault. He found a pressure point. ‘If I can’t have you ...’”
Jesus. Jesus Christ.
I’ve asked myself many times not if I had a role in all this, but what my role was.
Tonight I keep returning to this passage. It stops me in my tracks and makes me question everything I am and all that I do.
Marcus asked you if you wanted to be married, if you wanted this domestic life. Maybe he’s on to something. I really don’t know. But I think there’s something inside of you that wants to break shit, that really wants to cause some havoc. I don’t want to be the core of that chaos, or on a trip with you down somewhere bad. I’m not saying I think you ARE doing that…but whatever is going on I know I need to be careful and smart. Again, I have been to war in my life and I have no desire to go back into battle.
Picture: After he kicked my coffee all over me. I still love you, Bazzy.
I was all upbeat this morning. I dropped Baz off at school -- the happy room mom who just happens to fuck around emotionally with younger guys -- and watched him play with his trains for a while before heading to Philz on Shattuck, the former Cafe de la Paz, where we were married.
Then I joked about whether there is an X-rated version of Dr. Seuss (of course there is; the guy suggested "Cat in the Hat ... and Nothing Else") and found a comfy seat to continue the essay.
My new reading series, On the Cusp, is now accepting submissions for our debut event at The Bindery on Jan. 31! Check it out here for all the details and to buy tickets.
Or if you're link-averse, here's what you need to know:
On the Cusp: Resolutions Gone Wrong
A new nonfiction reading series based around the theme Moments of Change. The smaller and subtler these moments the better big, seemingly important life events can work (or not work!), but were most interested in unforeseen instants that result in lasting change. For our debut event, we want to hear about your Resolutions Gone Wrong.
Submissionswhich should ideally run between 1000-1500 words, with a maximum of 10 minutes' reading timeare open through January 10, 2018. Submissions should be sent to On the Cusp organizer Allison Landa, at firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than end of day 1/10/18.
Admission for this event is $5 in advance or $10 at the door.
I wrote to him. He's not going to write back. Or he will and be cold about it. In any case, I shall drown in a river of tears, a death of my own making, and the stray cats will come and eat me, and they shall spit me out, saying the backside has too much fat.
In other words: fuck technology. It's wifi's fault.
Waiting for Joseph at The Pub. I love Joseph. Sometimes he pisses me off royally, has since we met in grad school, but he is one of the funniest, most sincere motherfuckers I have ever known. Not to mention an insanely incredible writer.
I drove over here with a heavy heart. This is all weighing on me so much. Earlier tonight I had a conversation that gave me insight and helped me feel freer about the situation, that it wasn't as much my fault as I tend to believe, but right now I'm back to carrying what I seem to think of as my share of the burden.
I've talked to several people who know him, but they don't really know him. That's what they've told me. That doesn't quite compute with me. We were telling each other these blood secrets from the beginning.
Such a different connection than with Adam. I came to caring for Adam slowly, baby steps over time, but when I cracked, I cracked hard. I love the man I married. I can't say that enough.
I know I'm writing about this situation a lot. That's because it went on for a year and I barely said anything about it. I didn't know how to broach it. I didn't know how to address it. I only knew that I was running risks, many of them, and I was liking it.
From another email:
I've never had a friendship like this before. It's like Vietnam, Nirvana (both the band and the spiritual state) and a car crash mixed with the best novel ever and some really tasty pie. I don't know. Whatever the fuck it is: I like it and fear it. I desire it and push it away. ... Do you realize how many people wouldn't even TALK about this shit? This is the subtext in novels that drives internal tension but is never directly spoken of. This is the shit that breaks people because they're too pussy (to use a Landa term) to pony up and speak the truth. This is why I LIKE AA...people speak the damn truth. For me, that's a breath of fresh air. I think it's pretty badass that you're able and willing, though sometimes grudgingly, to do it, too.
This, among the many, many missives that flew back and forth in an attempt to establish boundaries. Ultimately, it never worked. I quote him not to disrespect privacy, but rather to give him a voice in all this. He's not the villain. I'm not the victim. Life doesn't work like that, does it?
For some reason this is the post I want to take down. His voice comes through so clearly here and I do feel as though I'm violating some privacy. It's my own fuck-you to him, I guess. I feel like I was a more innocent person a year ago, that I learned things I didn't want to know in ways I never would have chosen.
Something I did learn that I needed to learn was the folly of mapping myself to someone else, another person's emotions, choices, feelings, particularly when they are not the person with whom I've chosen to share a life. I had my family and he had his; it was always awkward when the two combined. I so often felt as though I was angering or disappointing him in some way, like I just couldn't be right enough, and yet I was always being told how great I was in one way or another.
At one point I wrote to him:
I guess one thing I want to say is that I always said my friendships need to be somewhat self-maintaining. Blowups here and there for sure, but this is something entirely different. Yes, of course I have pondered whether we can actually maintain this friendship given who we are separately and together. Like you, I’d like to try.
I know he's hurting just as much or perhaps more than I am right now. I'm not sure if this is a factor for him, but it certainly is for me: I betrayed my marriage. I betrayed the person who accepted me as I was from day one, in ways no one ever has. What would this guy have thought of me 100 pounds heavier? I don't know. Maybe I never will.
Sometimes I want to write to him, to say I'm so sorry you've gone through so much, so sorry you've felt so much pain. I wish I could have done more. I wish I could have done something. Most of all, I wish it didn't end as it did.
BUT I was just re-reading a few emails that really pointed up a theme: bombarding me with his feelings, but forbidding me to react or even have my own. Case in point: an email where he thrashed me for, among other things, talking about Adam’s opinion of him and daring to posit that my husband is a good person. This is followed immediately by an attachment of an article he wrote:
You are in it, as are other people/writers I know. You are forbidden to be butt hurt about anything I say about you in it. Eat me. Early draft and I'm riffing and being honest.
Not out of character whatsoever. And yes, I’ve wondered if I should post this stuff. But you know what? Fuck it. I’m angry. I’m pissed at so many things. And Reader, just know that for everything I say there are ten things I don’t.
Maybe, as a female writer, you don’t kill yourself, or abandon your children. But you abandon something, some nurturing part of yourself. When you finish a book, what lies littered on the ground are small broken things: broken dates, broken promises, broken engagements. Also other, more important forgettings and failures: children’s homework left unchecked, parents left untelephoned, spousal sex unhad. Those things have to get broken for the book to get written.
Addendum: Just posted this on Facebook in response to others:
In talking to Adam just now what I realized is that what I quoted above is bullshit, for me at least. Having just finished a book, I can tell you NOTHING lies on the ground broken. My kid only knows what it is like to have a mother who has passion, ambition, and something beyond him and his needs.
I'll tell you who has shut me down the most (or tried to, at least) for daring to have a life's ambition outside of simply reproducing: other women. And I'll say it: other women who were other MOTHERS, primarily stay-at-home mothers, and primarily people who had ambitions and goals and dropped them to be mothers full-time. And good on you if you want to do that, but then don't turn around and tell me that what I'm doing is fucking up my kid, because it sure the hell is not.Think there's some feeling behind this?:)
As of 10 minutes ago, BEARDED LADY is done, in its current (and hopefully final) incarnation. I told Adam, and then I wrote to Miriam and Kiley. I'm super numb with excitement. It's going to take a week to edit (that's my estimate) and then it's off to New York.
This has been a challenging time to say the least, but right now I have absolutely no desire to tell The Dude that I've finished. That's surprising. Not long ago he had his foot securely up my ass: Really, Landa? 30,000 words? That's it? How many did you write today, 50? 100? Fuck you I responded, lamely. Then I proceeded to smoke him. Choke on my dust, fuckhead.
first turned me onto Peter Gabriel. He popped in a CD while we were on the 56
one day, headed west toward the beach. The first time I heard the guy I couldn’t
stand him. He just seemed like this whiney English dude whose music hadn’t held
up from 30 years ago.
came Track Five.
is the one,” Matt said, and turned the dial to the right. It sounded different
from the rest of what I’d heard so far, slower, sweeter, more sincere.
from a movie,” I said, “right?”
listen,” he said, and his hand lingered on my knee for a single second.
was called “In Your Eyes”. It spoke to me, but even in that moment I knew it
wasn’t talking about Matt. It was too real, too deep, too loyal to be talking
about him. It was willing to go there.
It wanted to see more than the surface.
the difference between how I felt about Matt and how I feel about Paul: with
Matt, I had to hang on to some sort of veil for protection. With Paul,
protection isn’t an issue.
I'm a writer and storyteller in Berkeley, CA. If you're wondering where that is, follow the smell of patchouli and skunkweed. There you'll find me with my kickass husband, gorgeous little boy, and manic Lab-Australian Shepherd mix pups. I'm represented by Miriam Altshuler of DeFiore & Co., but of course, my views are my own.